By the Chicago River, Ravenswood

10 May 2011

The fire crackles, and children laugh with the evening birds. Ducks and geese careen in the air, touching down across the river’s murky surface tension. Someone unknown is organising cans from behind a makeshift shelter — each clank and crack mistaken for breaking kindling. In the distance trains and traffic hum together, married. A thrush wobbles her whistle in the wind ; it flurries in the air like warm smoke-lights, being born.


Autumn reflection, from then

18 October 2010

Just as the darkness of a given night may suggest infinity, it can also provide an illusional containment. Sometimes at night we are encased in a cap of blackness, whose size is only determined by borders of buildings, lights and trees. Tonight on my walk, however, a mass of checker-patterned clouds swept slowly over the dark sky dome. Consistently patterned from one horizon to the next, one could see the breadth of the sky and its enormity. I felt so small gazing up at their perfectly pockmarked formations, with billowing contours held softly together by the moon’s light. It gave my gaze a reason, especially in the city. To take the sky into and within my eye, I had to turn my body and crane my neck and release a deep white-warm sigh into the chilly air – as I felt for a moment defeated underneath such a presence. The city sustains its own wonderful lights and lives, but in doing so it overwhelms the pointillist clusters of natural spots of light which a night sky always comprises, reminding us of how “big” it truly is. So when these far-reaching cloud sheets gracefully crest the horizon and spend time above our heads at night, the city lights help us to see their beauty ; and may we also remember the endlessness of the sky’s shape, for we cannot see the stars that guide us.