Friday, November 18, 2011


One barely sees the old spires pointing at the sky unless by chance the landscape opens from an unexpected angle. Brigitte has weekly swim sessions at a middle school called Parcells, and while she swims I go on walks. Returning from that jaunt a while back, I suddenly saw the old brick spire, a dead volcano, as it were. We’ve gotten well acquainted since that time, and I nod to the old thing as to someone of my own generation. The times have passed us both, but we’re both still around.

Middle schools don’t get much glory, and therefore it took me an arduous forty minutes finally to pin down its age. Parcells Middle School saw its completion in 1948 when, presumably, King Coal still had something to say about the heating of large buildings. Back then stacks were high so that the wind could carry the smoke ever to the east around here. Today the smoke is gone, but as I return to Parcells on foot from my walks, I start to see five, six black birds as I draw nearer sitting on the smoke-stack’s rim enjoying the great view from up there. They just sit and, sometimes, rustle their wing feathers.

Does this spire point to the past—or to the future? Who knows. But it’s pointing up, which, come to think about it, is the right direction, either way.

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