name this city

by uzwi

A prison for the heart. The heart’s longings emerge squashed and distorted, in grimaces made inhuman by the sheer length of time they have been held in place: as if everyone you see there had spent their lives walking poorly-dressed into the wind and rain, which they have not. Hurt from the very beginning, the heart eats too many cakes. It deforms itself looking away from mirrors. It learns to ironise everything. At eighteen years old it has already collapsed like a senile face. You burst into tears on its behalf without knowing why. This city is no place for the heart, which therefore tries not to recognise itself in shop windows full of too-cheap clothes but keeps up a bright chat about its contact lenses, its colon & its high fibre diet. When the heart stares straight out at you here–as in children or lunatics–it’s a frightening, exhilarating experience.

A drawing of the town hall: the artist has subtly accentuated the portico, with its monolithic pillars and architrave, to make it seem menacing and gloomy. Old men sleep in the side doorways. There’s a blanket, a pile of dirty coats. Further on, outside the mall, someone is hosing down the pavement.