City Deluded

Arriving at Thekla, you can see little of the city
with the fences in the way.
Step a little closer,
put your eye to a crack.
Take a peek at the city
that somehow, somewhere, lost track

Of logic, of dreams
and so it seems
of purpose.

Glancing at Thekla, you notice little of the truth
amidst the chaos they’ve designed.
The scaffolding, the trestles, the fences and the screens
mask the effort of her people
to evade reality by any means.

They construct in attempt to perpetuate and preserve
but pay close attention and you will observe
that their building
lacks purpose.

For what has seemed like forever, perhaps a little less
the Theklans have continued to build.
You’d think that by now, they’d have found a way how
yet still, they remain unfulfilled.

Terrified of the future, blinded by the past,
dedicated now to making the present last,
they’ve given up
on purpose.

Their ‘Blueprint’ is one they believe devised by fate
so instead of taking charge of their futures, they wait

for nothing at all to happen.


Cities and the Sky 3.

Those who arrive at Thekla can see little of the city, beyond the plank fences, the sackcloth screens, the scaffoldings, the metal armatures, the wooden catwalks hanging from ropes or supported by sawhorses, the ladders, the trestles. If you ask “Why is Thekla’s construction taking such a long time?” the inhabitants continue hoisting sacks, lowering leaded strings, moving long brushes up and down, as they answer “So that it’s destruction cannot begin.” And if asked whether they fear that, once the scaffoldings are removed, the city may begin to crumble and fall to pieces, they add hastily, in a whisper, “Not only the city.”

If, dissatisfied with the answers, someone puts his eye to a crack in a fence, he sees cranes pulling up other cranes, scaffoldings that embrace other scaffoldings, beams that prop up other beams. “What meaning does your construction have?” he asks. “What is the aim of a city under construction unless it is a city? Where is the plan you are following, the blueprint?”

“We will show it to you as soon as the working day is over; we cannot interrupt our work now,” they answer.

Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. “There is the blueprint,” they say.’

Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino


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