he is a town

the town is quiet when you first meet. houses don’t all look alike but each one contains something tangled inside: a necklace or perhaps some yarn. the townsfolk are both wary and warm. they aren’t cat or dog people, but will tolerate the occasional retriever.

waking children is difficult, they complain with mussed hair and sleep-pulled eyes, but the adults enjoy their morning-time and mixed-fruit juice. neighbours skirt each other on their way to work, pretending last night was full of sleep instead of secrets. eyes glittering.

there is a high petty-crime rate here, courtesy of the charming thieves. they will talk the average man out of his own watch.

all the buildings are on wheels. some nights the strong men push each building to a new place. chatting, thigh-muscles straining. townspeople wake up on new streets, wave to new neighbours, then continue on with their days. new maps reflect the change and old maps lay forgotten in a damp cardboard box.

this place is full of stories. short ones graffitied. long ones carefully documented and bound. the town storytellers have permanent lights in their eyes, and can develop night vision as they grow older. prime tales are told on bonfire night, or at the pub, and each child dreams of being one of the tellers.

the music teacher carries a trundle of instruments on his back. he knows how to play every one, and his voice is like water. it carries over the pavements and makes people pause. sometimes his songs are lonely.

there is a place where people in business suits go to work. they debate around the water cooler and the bosses find them hard to control. sometimes they disappear into cities and return with briefcases full of cash. at night they sneak out to play poker.

there are temples on the outskirts of town that are treated politely. sometimes god shows up.

it is always summer here. unless two people fall in love. then the sky gets heavy with snow and the children rush out to feel flakes against their eyelashes and cheeks. old couples are bundled in wheelchairs. they hold hands through mittens and feel the delicious frost again.

hot chocolate is free when it snows. the aged never live alone or go without good meals and hot water.

sometimes the sky holds its breath with thunder-filled wait. the people close their shutters and the few dogs whine. this town can be a drum-roll.

it also gentles in sleep. legs entangle under blankets and arms tighten around torsos. midnight is the softest hour.

Artwork by Wayne Thiebaud

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