After Italo Calvino

The city only appears in the dreams of delayed travellers. As the days become indistinct, and we find there is no difference between an afternoon or an evening, the city settles into our minds. First, a street corner, a shop with a carved mantle above the door and blue terracotta tiles. A tiny Japanese restaurant, with steaming ramen served in deep bowls. The next night, the covered market, stretching on for miles. Stalls with fabric of all colours stitched together to keep out the rain. We pass under linen and velvet and brocade. The next night, the riverside, with glass houses built up into the trees, and smelling thickly of honeysuckle and jasmine. Shops with tall, glass-fronted windows, the grand sandstone edifices of banks, wide bridges with elaborately carved balustrades and statues of leaping seahorses, flowers that open into street lamps. The city is impossible. It carries the images of anyone who wishes to return to somewhere: a courtyard in Leiden, a dress shop in Leeds, the sloped and curving streets of Edinburgh. It has no train station. Here there is no going, only appearing, only wandering through its vast, empty museums and picturesque streets until dawn. Until the next night, when we return again.




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