Urbs Dolorosa

The district is thick with black marketers. They have no language in common, but nevertheless they manage to imply that whatever Cedar wants they can procure. They purse their lips, they leer suggestively, they stagger theatrically. Which means, cigarettes, alcohol, sex. This much they share with the city, which too speaks in only the broadest terms. She is not herself, here, but always the outsider, the masked stranger, the lone wanderer. The unknown potential.

In the cafés they sneer at each other, the waiters with their dirty cuffs, Cedar with her over-worldly parochialism. They battle with rudeness. The service is lousy; she tips poorly. They write satirical verses on the bill; she caricatures them, all nostril hair and beetled brows. None of them expect civility, nor want it. They trade on their wit.

She visits graveyards for the silence. Here too they do not aim for subtlety. Busts are everywhere, huge, imposing and idealized. Weeping angels, mournful verse. Morality tales, postmortem lectures. She smokes like (what else?) a chimney, blows tobacco in their stern, marmoreal faces. At night women all in black throng the hillsides, wailing, wailing, their faces veiled, their voices ragged with loss. They are martyrs, they are everywhere, winning, winning.

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