Once upon a time there was a street lamp who was lonely and looked out
onto the world. The streets he hovered over were decayed and broken. Every
so often he could hear a foghorn blow, and although he couldn't see them,
a few blocks away, ferries, tugboats and carriers all sloshed through
the river, manifesting their ant-like existence. The marsh reeds along
the shore swayed in the wind at dusk - its surrounding water metallically
luminescent with oil and otherwise a fluorescent green.
The street lamp had been there before most of the buildings had been raised.
In his golden days, he had been a patriarch, the wise one, the one everyone
turned to for answers. Partially because of the omniscience his height
granted him, but also because he was the first the winged messengers from
afar would confide in. Besides, the buildings were much too busy, cradling
packs of people into their wombs. The sidewalks and moss that grew between
them were often at war, the cars came and went, and the litter had too
short of a life span, and always blew away in the wind.
Birds used to roost on the street lamp, but this was no longer true, because
the street lamp wasn't as sturdy in his old age. He hobbled even as he
stood, against the wind, against time. Sometimes, he talked with the trees.
In his bolder years, he had laughed at them when they were shaven and
shorn because they grew their hairs too long, too long for the telephone
Even though he had laughed, secretly the street lamp loved everyone.
The birds stopped telling him news from afar, because the street lamp
could no longer hear them.
One day, his bulb burnt out. He could no longer see. A few apples remarked
on it as they passed by in baskets people carried. Weeks later, some workers
came. They blasted the concrete around him, and unscrewed the screws at
his base. Now he was more rickety than ever. Someone mentioned that his
wires had burnt out. Slowly, they tilted him and loaded him onto a truck.
The street lamp didn't even get to glimpse his beloved neighborhood before
the truck sped off, for the scrapyard.
© 1990 - 2003 Katharina Woodworth