I Have Been To Younger Lands

It dreams of burning, of smokebelch and wheelscrape, of dark days ill-lit by gas or fluorescence. Of novelties. Of trains rushing through woods hung heavy with romance and the fear of wolves loose in the eternal park.

Here and now they prowl its streets, as common a sight as their half-brothers, long and grey and shy. Sometimes there are hunts, to keep their numbers down; sometimes they are chased off from dumpsters and packing yards. Outcasts, it thinks fondly, mad with loneliness.

It remembers the breaking of the falls, the bridling of that great torrent, how lights sparked and fizzed across two hundred miles and Edison killed an elephant to prove it could be done. Of Leyden jars and van de Graff generators, of days when symbols were words and mathematics was literary theory.

It has been cut back, again and again, burned by fires, scourged by plagues. It regrows; what else can it do? Now and then it dreams of lighter days, and wakes, pleased to let the past be past.