We sit in silence along the brick sidewalk—strangers, but somehow knowing each other under the sun, unified by watching people and cars pass. A fan from the café is all that can be heard. Those of us sitting on the sidewalk facing the street are silent. When I try to look up at someone’s face, I see only a shadow where heads should be. Then the shadow becomes my own face, with sun for eyes. a city I’d never been to before now, and everything is different than I’ve ever seen, yet everything is familiar. I keep thinking I’m on the pacific. I keep dreaming at night that I’m at home, just for the weekend and that I must soon return to homelessness and travel. I hope that everyone at home is sitting in the sun experiencing newness and contentment.
“I am the Bread of Life.”
Black suits and Sunday dresses preach at monument square, making the street kids flee with their brochures and comic book strips in the name of Jesus. I’m sitting outside a bar and grill with a Vactionland Summer Ale. The wait staff and cooks all come out, laughing, “The show’s begun.” One by one, people in the line of black suits step out to the front, preaching the gospel and shouting reverently their personal stories of being born again, then turn and direct the message towards us eating ones, who grin and toast our beers to them. Fire trucks and ambulances shriek by, muting the pleas that we save our souls by repentance.
Twilight comes and I read the gospel from a T.S. Eliot paperback I found downtown for $1:
“If you come this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you come this way in may time, you would find the
white again, in May, with voluptuous sweetness.
It would be the same at the end of the journey,
If you came at night like a broken king,
If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull façade
And the tombstone. And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfillment. There are other places
Which also are the world’s end, some at the sea jaws,
Or over a dark lake, in a desert or a city—
But this is the nearest, in place and time,
Now and in New England.
If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is New England and nowhere. Never and always.”
-T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets