Sidewalk Game #4: Interiors


Someone insists: There are no footprints to be found on a sidewalk's pavement either. To that I reply: There are not many paved sidewalks in these small towns yet. Certainly the street itself, where the vehicles go, is almost everywhere still a river of dust, from which you escape to the firmer roadsides. But my girls stride straight down the middle of the street, wherever they can feel the most sky above them, and the walk through the whole town on little white clouds. With no whence behind them, so without any whither. Just walking. Maybe so that they won't hear the tides of their blood surge so loud. Walking in the tentative rhythm of this secret inner beat of the surf. They are the silent shore of their restless infinity. They never find the same pace. They bump into each other as through blown by a host of inimical winds. Wave in different directions. Turn the corner, hesitating, when the wind tears words from their lips which they didn't yet intend. Come back the same way, and wander back and forth again and again between two streets. Like someone waiting. Always finishing their roaming around within fifteen minutes. Instead of venturing out into time like a white procession with a fiery foreign flag.


Go walk behind them. Your gaze will involuntarily lower; their bright clothes are blinding. Your eye will fall with wings half singed off onto the road, which lies spread out and wide like an open book. In its pages, bygone carriages have laid down their lines. And that is good. For the steps of the girls can't write straight. Many lines of writings run alongside the furrows. Up and down. As if someone had written them at night, or like the letters of the blind. Still, with a little effort and practice, you can tell that these are nothing less than long poems, improvisations, through which, waxing and waning, runs a strange rhythm. The same rhyme-words return again and again. As if pleading. You find the same ones waiting at every door. They are moving, simple words; lutes with only a single string. A silver string, you think – and its note can bring you all the way into a dream.

[Ranier Maria Rilke, from Interiors.]

[The Café Stephanie in Munich, c. 1905.]

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