augury doggerel

Saturday, August 31, 2002


A day off work. Next to the cemetery of lost cemeteries, I walked around to the back of an empty-looking church � the Church of Corpus Christi � to see if there was anything holy left about the place. I woke a yappy dog that was lying in a doorway. Just inside, a shiny new coffin was lying on the floor, either just built or just about to be loaded. Parked outside was the hearse, a black SUV with the firm's name painted in big white letters on the side panels and the back window: Hades.

I went down into the tunnel under the bus station, walked under the river of cars and buses and trams, and emerged on the tourist side of town. Down in the main square, I read a book and sipped a flattish beer from a plastic cup at a shady outdoor cafe near the fountain. It was the middle of the day and the bells were ringing in the tower of the old town hall and in all the churches still open in town. Pigeon-frightening kids screamed by. Pretty girls with bare bellies hipped by. Nuns glided by. A group of German tourists marched by behind a woman holding up an umbrella. Everyone but the nuns (on duty, I suppose) took turns having pictures taken in front of the fountain, at the center of which is a statue of Neptune, this city's symbol, naked green bronze battling a sea serpent and pigeons.


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