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What am I doing, trudging around Natick, Massachusetts,
so archetypal in its split-level, clapboard ordinariness,
one house after another like a crowd gathered haphazardly
at an accident site? And why explore the deafening
blandness of the little streets with fenced-in yards,
where day after day—iPod loaded with arias—
Ti prego, rubami il cuore!—I wheel the baby, who will not quiet
unless she's rolling along through a landscape, however dull,
a child who will grow up some day with the sole ambition
of leaving home. And why keep pretending
the sunlight gives the brick walls a ruddy, Hopper-esque gravitas?—
It's a dullness that approaches yoga, a meditation,
a boredom so exquisite it's like nonbeing,
from which even the faint fanfare of cobalt blue shutters
can't wake me—sleep-laden, like a boat covered with a tarp—
though here I am, navigating the seismic faults of the sidewalk
with the side-tracked stroller, in a pebble-strewn jiggling
the baby seems to need for her peace. Ah, this do-nothing
self-abnegation of walking the streets of Natick, Massachusetts,
and its neighborhoods—as if life has hardly emerged yet from sleep,
that first sleep, and—like an infant struggling to turn over—
the soul wants to buy a ticket to anywhere
that's out of town, like Venice, say, where the lacy facades
weep into the tarnlike byways and boulevards,
and there's a music of world-weary, self-extinguishing tragedy
to fight with the sun-spangles on the water

Alan Feldman


Winter 2013-14

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