Man steps off a train at central station. A city and boxes and forty seasons before him. Seasons like autumn, where he stands now with a smooth face and skinny legs or a spring ten years later when the snow will still fall in May and gather in his whiskers as he cycles down an empty street from a dinner at dawn. And the park will be empty and the moon will be full and the cross on top of the mountain will stand lit with its oversized light bulbs and razor wire fence. And soon the echo of balls in the tennis courts and silence in winter when they’re covered in snow which crunches beneath the boots on the way to a Christmas party across the park. And what of that balcony and the chorus of girls? Of girls dancing in kitchens. Of girls dancing in living rooms long after last call. What box is there to pack these in when a man departs? What cloth to soak up the drinks in bars long after last call? Or the drinks in bedrooms. Drinks in showers. Drinks in a park and drunks in a park. What bag big enough for a decade of produce from the market with the flurry of a dozen languages. And a dozen apples. Or a dozen black beers. Black berries. Black girls. And the black girl: Chevelure: with lips like pillows on a park bench and hair like a dark forest where men get lost and never return. And what metric system to compute two planes overhead and a decade of fall? The fall of New York. Of Afghanistan. Of Iraq. Of London. Of Moscow and Madrid. Of it all, all this, and all the while: music. On streets. In a house. Underground. Music for a one-night stand. Music for loneliness. Music and a single bead of sweat down the temple of a woman with a face like we’ve never seen before and she’s dancing and we’ll never see her again but we’ll never forget her or her hips that crumble highway overpasses as she dances to music that is a barren wood without her. The smell of her breath that melts the snow which has covered the mountain since the first storm in December.
Then storms in March.
And another in April.
And then a wind to just carry it all away.
And then friends. Good friends. Bad friends. Friends with hookups. Friends with benefits. Friends who are dead and friends you wish were dead and friends you wish would take you to bed so you would not have to go to bed alone in the only city on earth where the sun sets in the north and where is our man from the train? Somewhere in a field on a horse somewhere in Vermont because sometimes you just have to get out of the city for a while and he’ll sleep so well he’ll dream about sleeping and when he’s on the bus on the way back to the city the autumn colors will be bursting so beautiful as the sun sets behind the steeples and barns that the handicapped girl sitting across from him on the bus will weep inconsolably until they get back to the storm that is the city and uncertainty and sweating. And construction. And the bikers and the mob and the dirty politicians. And the Habs. And the Haitians by the taxi stand. Or the Jews at Mile End or the Italians in cafés at wit’s end over Muslims doing tequila shots in La Sala Rosa. In love. Out of love. In love. Out of love. Out of money. Out of religion. Then God. Or gods. Or just being godless. Then French. The French. Or the necessity of French. Then fires. Fires that take down restaurants and our favourite pub. Fires that gut our favourite places to watch a show. Then a fire in the backyard in late autumn and where is our man from the train? In a small apartment. With grains in jars. With sun cutting through the stained-glass doors. And the decade wears on and the wars wear us down and the bodies of our kids pile higher and wash up on the shore or are swallowed by the tides. But here in the city with our man from the train there are only lights. Lights on trees when winter is still romantic. Lights hanging from a backyard tree in summer where the neighbours are having a party. Lights that stay on when the sex is spontaneous. And the flicker of light from the television before we’ve given up on television to choose a wider vision and a wider spirit and a more concerted effort to just be better and now where oh where is our man from the train because the end of the decade is upon us and amid new threats there is a new city.
A city that hopes.
Hopes for change.
Hopes for miners.
Hopes for a new history.
And new direction.
And maybe just maybe
a new story for our man from the train.
Because now the city has given him a single night at decade’s end, or no, decade’s dawn, that starts with a full moon waiting in the trenches of the afternoon a thumbnail above the horizon. And when the night is over and the moon’s been washed away by daybreak there’ll be a woman with Nordic skin pulling a suitcase to a taxi outside and before she leaves she will hold in her fingertips the graying hairs of the beard of our man from the train and in the cool autumn morning there’ll be a promise to find her again. And in the snowstorm of the decade months later he’ll do that. Driving over sidewalks to keep a promise while the buses and the police and the snowplows and the ambulances dig themselves out of snowdrifts that were no match for the intensity of her lips. Of her neck. Of her clavicle. And now sweat is dripping down his back and his quadriceps are on fire as he pedals that shitty red bicycle up the hill to find her because she has come back a final time to take him away. And she’s lying on the hill in a summer dress and later the grass will be wet with thunderstorm and nudity. His bones will be thicker. Skin will be thicker. And the city itself will start to set. To set like the sun that sets in the north. Until there’s only that summer dress. That woman by the fire. That ocean that will no longer divide them. That one-way ticket to Berlin and a baby. And as the plane takes off and he bids adieu to the mountain from the small window the brakes on a train will scream as it settles on the tracks where a young man will step off a train on a platform in the central station.