Robert Gibbons The 2River View, 6.4 (Summer 2002)
Rough Seas, One & Two

Surviving a fitful kind of night with the year’s first cold in my chest, throat, ear. Like rough seas. So with all that murky darkness swamping consciousness I'm particularly attuned to the new light. Before sunrise, clouds carry red halfway across the sky. Then sunup throws a cold stick of yellow across the blue cloth of sea. She comes into the bedroom riding an ivory shell from the shower. Better already.

Fine architecture can be man's attempt to equal or surpass nature. Sure, I’m appreciating the usual on the commute to work: cormorants on stone, birch standing out from oak, harbor island’s battle against years of erosion. But when I get into the city each weekday I’m ogling façades, modillions, entablatures. When I turn the corner from Batterymarch, knowing April light this early in the morning hasn’t a chance of filtering through the phallic financial district, I’m stunned by feminine light cupped on budding branches of a pear tree on loan from Arnold Arboretum in the northeast corner of Post Office Square Park.

I stand under it in mystified awe as if it were a Giotto saint. No light at all anywhere in the vicinity. All blocked out by One Post Office Square, Bank of Boston, State Street Bank, etc. Where’s it coming from then, this gold nimbus? There it is. Mystery solved. Through a minor crack in the wall of buildings, low sunlight is reflecting off the top-floor windows of the old building at the corner of Congress & Milk, then caught by understory branches of the pear. A curative light.


Now I’m fascinated by the building’s lion-headed cornice, its green & white tiled heraldry I’d never noticed before, what with CVS & Copy Cop red & blue awnings on the ground floor causing anyone to ignore the whole building. Really feeling great! Until, further up Milk St., at Cosi Deli, a Boise-Cascade office products truck in the driveway blocks the sidewalk, forcing me to circle into the street, & suck down a nose-full of cigarette smoke exhaled by the guy in the passenger seat. When I turn back to see the poison’s source, it’s the face of a shipwreck rusting at the bottom of the sea. I hightail it out of there so fast, coughing & gasping for air, that I could very well have the bends by the time I descend, again, the steps of the Orange Line trying to make it to the shore of work.

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