Saturday, July 16, 2016

Silence of a City

Night sounds of the city beat and hammer not from sirens, but the gentle splatter of spray from a sprinkler soaking a tiny patch of lawn that graces a hotel parking lot to remind one of a minute parterre set on open plains that are now covered with concrete and asphalt.
   A place where roses bloom, but cast no scent on the vagrant breeze that meanders along canyons of marble, brick, stone, and steel.
   It's three o'clock in the morning. Sleep alludes me. I'm sipping a cup of tea waiting for my eyelids to grow heavy listening for the sounds of the night.
   The distant rumble of a train breaks the quiet of my mind as the sound draws near. A lone whistle blows when the passenger train picks up speed to plunge past the station. Where are all the people going that is so important they will spend their sleeping hours sitting upright in stiff seats lulled into slumber by the rocking of the wheels along the track? It passes in the night as it moves along the rails and fades into the future sucking sound into its vortex.
   A soft thump catches my ear as a black cat lands on the high wall that encloses the patio from the street beyond. Silently it strolls along the rough surface on soft pads. It ignores me as if I'm a piece of statuary which has taken up residence in his domain though we both know his acute olfactory sense has detected my human presence. His inky blackness melds against the midnight sky. He stalks his prey with the noiselessness precision of his race - hunter of the dark.
   A single leap - a sudden high squeal. A field mouse who reached a greedy nose for one last budding rose hip has met his demise. The cat was hungry and does not pause to play with his prey as cats are prone to do. The mouse becomes a meal for the night stalker who carefully grooms his paws to rid them of the creature's blood. Then the cat is gone, back behind the wall, into the darkness of the night.
   Not long after the cat has slunk away outside the wall a baby rabbit emerges from under the thorny canes of the rose bushes. His nose twitches as he tests the night air catching the faint aroma of the recent meal. He is a brave little soul who joins me in the open under the glow of the street lights. There is no morsel of food for him on this paved expanse and he soon scampers away into the shadows.
   The rose red of a grime encrusted neon sign dims and flashes on a distant street as a bar closes for the night. Its few patrons make their way down the vacant street. Can they escape the silent vastness of the canyons or are they like me - alone - comfortable with the night?
   I ponder the silence of a capitol city

- there are no cars on the streets. Void of traffic where the hum of mighty air-conditioners is the most constant noise of the night. There are no birds or insects flying round the tall lights. The breeze does not ruffled the stiff leaves of foreign ornamental trees. It is as if the great edifice of government has collapsed in upon itself awaiting the light of day to live.
   Sounds of the night ring in your soul. They cry out to be heard, but there is no one to listen while the city sleeps.

   Images used for this piece are from Google of Springfield, IL at night.

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