London, Los Angeles, Lahore: the place hardly matters. All urban spaces have that deep ineradicable stench of so many people so close together. They all decay. They foster the commerce of dishonesty. They breed disease. Peel back the centuries of cracked pavements. The subways, sewers, and rusted steam pipes. The stained soil crushed beneath the city’s unnatural weight. And even then we would not discover the enchanted whisper of beginning, the fresh green breast of a new world. Peel back the city to the time of its foundation. Peel back the corpses piled on corpses, the generations of violence. Peel it back to the bare ground of origin, and all we would find is the first grave of a founding murder. The city is built on death, all the way down. A city of bones.
There’s another city, too, of course. Or, at least, another way to see it: The city is the place of flowers, cut carnations and roses in buckets at the corner grocery. The city is the place of parks and tree-lined boulevards and flags waving over paved streets. The place of awnings and marble vestibules. The place of manners, for that matter: No civilization exists without the civitas. No urbanity without the urban. Nothing politic without the polis.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor