The end of a workday becomes evening and on the mall a subtle struggle for your attention keeps just below the level of atmosphere, a cool tranquility of shadows and day-grown clouds. September. It seems this heat will never end. The mall, which was quieter this August, is being replenished. The restaurants are just busier. You notice. Kilwins keeps its doors open. Splendora’s itself looks like gelato, must be cold inside. The students are back. There are children, dogs, men with old pieces of luggage beside them. Order Up! is packed, the owners are hitching up the cart. It smelled so inviting, but not as strong as Kilwins. It’s like being in a tunnel beneath these trees.
On both sides, the storefronts blister with the sort of age you hope for, the sort of age that does not pop or beg. The paint has settled. No two storefronts are alike. A man is balancing a cup of water on his head. He is never still, yet the water hardly ripples. You think it might be the soundwaves of this woman’s saxophone disturbing the water. She plays loud, never speaks. Who put those dollars in that case?
Thursday. Families, executives, couples out of a perfect advertisement enjoy their suppers. The executives drink wine of stemmed glasses. You could be any of these people. Have been. The hotter the food the keener it smells. All that’s missing here are great bells, as of cathedrals, like they have in Barcelona, Autun, Prague.
What has happened here?
The children are laughing. A woman holding a cat passes a waiter with a braided beard.
The sunset fans faintly into the clouds, the colors so gentle you might be imagining their hues and blends. A couple on a rooftop heads inside.
A distant trail of cars, seen by their headlights, rolls stop-and-go down Carter Mountain.
The streetlights swallow all but the brightest stars.
John D’earth is here. He brought jazz.