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MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE DESIGN OF CITIES WILL BE THE DESIGN OF THEIR DECAY

                                 Where did you grow, before your roots took hold in the garden?
                          Curiouser and curiouser, this allegiance you seem to have with rocks.
                    Bluish blooms bathed in perfection, the moon shines fresh as you melt away.


                                              *


Loneliness is a laboratory; its territory is forever defined; for reasons beyond our conviction
It cannot be lessened; only redirected and made to resemble a crumbling heaven or the year’s 
Grand delusion: I shall no longer want for that which left me long ago—go slow, said the soul,
That you may know the streets of your abandoned city more intimately than any joy
Or cherished season. We were in collusion, this city and I, creating a mythology of desolation;
Feeling utterly evacuated; yet methodically structured; in a post-Roman Empire; previously
Doomed sort of way—and what did the soul say, but know it better, then in a fever, go deeper. 
There are days, I told the translator, when the veil drops and I am no longer inside the No-
Place most familiar, built by me long ago, and I walk through the world as if made real
By the existence of others and the casual way a crowd pauses together on a concrete curbside— 
Perhaps one of them is weeping, perhaps another will gently reach out and twist a knife 
Into my heart and we will lock eyes, and I will fall to my knees, and for a moment
He will hold me. What will I remember? The cold blade’s cruel demeanor? My body
As it seizures? Or the gesture of my destroyer, showing me that in this life, I was not alone.

"More Important than the Design" is reprinted from The Return Message by Tessa Rumsey. Copyright © 2005 by Tessa Rumsey. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"More Important than the Design" is reprinted from The Return Message by Tessa Rumsey. Copyright © 2005 by Tessa Rumsey. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Tessa Rumsey