I live in a city full of turn-of-the-century Victorians and foursquares, stained glass windows and front porches… and curious patches of sidewalks with quotes and bits of poems and random thoughts pressed into them. Why or how this came to be, I have no idea.
Of all the curious patches I cross as I walk the neighborhoods, this one, on Selby Avenue, brings me to a stop every time.
It has no rhythm to it, no beautiful words. It’s awkward, clunky. Not even particularly inspired. Wet cement,/ Opportunity./ It only takes a second/To change this spot forever.
The first thing I think is, someone lost the actual poem that was supposed to be there and just made something up on the fly. Next I think, someone somewhere is laughing, thinking about people stopping to ponder their little prank, like the guy who put the glasses on the floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and visitors thought it was an inspired statement on the lowering of culture in the modern world. Ha.
Wet cement. Formed, yet malleable. Like a blank canvas, a blank page. The lens of a camera before the aperture snaps. There, waiting to be given its final form. For someone to make a mark.
We all have one chance to stamp our words, thoughts, ideas, and pranks into the wet cement. One chance to change our spot in the world forever. To make a mark that will last long beyond us, stamped into the sidewalks future generations will walk upon and, perhaps, stop and ponder. Formed, yet malleable.
A funny thing happens when I walk by a stamped patch of sidewalk. The silence of the unstamped ones screams at me. Why are those empty? What wisdom or beauty or prank am I missing, because no one put it out there?
So please, people, fill those sidewalks. Give me something to ponder. And if I think of anything, I’ll do my best to stamp it, somewhere.