Saturday, January 26

Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte

In summer the park is full. Although it is not a park but a small patch of grass, it is surrounded by the jagged buildings that lean and sneer. During summer it is full; there are those on the benches who crowd it on all four (equal) sides, passing out sandwich corners to waiting birds, there are those who lie and sit on the grass, and there are those who pass by. It is not a common path, but those who work local know about it. The grass is a good quality grass. When I walk past in the summer, I give it a look and I see everyone relaxing most pleasantly in the hour-long sunshine. Human beings look so good in sunshine, like they were designed for it, melatonin and bashful limbs. The fountain bubbles away. There is a cafe nearby where cabbies stop too, and they look at everything, hips against the bonnet, a coffee in hand, they talk and the city is reclined.
Now it is not summer.
The park is much emptier, the soil darker. One holds their coat fast. Once there were shadows but now there are not. Everything disappears in the mist of cold smells.
I walk by the park and tilt my head over the wall. Empty.
There is a man who walks the same speed as me; for a moment I imagine that I am following him, that he is a person of interest and I am one of the world’s finest detectives, but the park is still empty. Where is Suerat?Even the most petty of summer’s fine romances is reprieve from a day’s work. Labourers lie down with their skulls craddled in a high-visibility jacket. All that is gone and it feels like another world, a different millennia. I am almost struck by a man carrying window frames; we apologise to each other.
The entrance to the park is well-kept. There were plants but nowadays they are not plants at all.
O, they are statues!
Someone has wrapped the plants in a material to protect them from the frost. Across the step of my escapism, a gesture of resentment toward my bosses, I see that, yes, there are white statues where once there were sprung plants. They are slightly bowed, the plants dressed in white. Their branches poke. Imagine the sheets of fabric torn by something or other underneath!
The Virgin Mary hangs with her hands clasped and a tear dried down her cheek. Furthermore there are other plants protected against the brutal January cold, they stand in rows like a choir hung out to dry by the church organ. In a second I regard them and they me. They guard not the park but the cemetery. There will be a date when they are uncovered, when they can photosynthesise once again, as though they were children at the window of an ice cream van. But for now they are statues, mute and motionless as I walk on by.

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