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CONVERSATION: DECEMBER, THE NIGHT CITY / Mark Rudman Coffee and buffalo wings at Houlihan's. Four luminous globes pass by on Broadway, against gravity, against the grave, and only when they had strayed far into the sluggish rhythms of the traffic did we see the bicycles' spokes and the four figures in black, back to back. She said, "You think I'm the Rock of Gibraltar but Tm just a piece of sandstone chipping away in the rain." This Ught, this street, this sense of possibUity without Umit— our bodies wUl never know eternity but we wiU know eternity through our bodies— the ache in my neck, the tingUng down your arm— these impose limits. And yet you say the place is wrong. Steamshovels pour more tar into a hole— a round hole and a hole with the odd length and odd imprint of a body faUen to earth—___ The driver of the tarpauUned Mack cranes his head— what's taking so long, he wonders, why can't they get it done? Night faUs through soundless space. Streetlights flicker The Missouri Review · 45 and cars fan their way through the ambiguous light. Nothing happens the same way twice. And yet we court repetition. And the milky sky above the city blurs what Ues above this sky. Today the snow is faUing soundlessly, weightlessly, in the ruins of New York City. The eve of his fortieth birthday he feels heavy-Udded at one turns off the Ught and spends the hours till dawn in anticipation. Eros and the common good flicker in his left eyelid and his right. Dawn sleep brings a dream of traveUing somewhere he has never been, he wakes, exhausted but not entirely without hope. It was a time of conversations. He was an older man, nearly twice my age, who circled and circled a point. I thought it would never arrive. There was a fUm he happened to catch on the CUNY cable station, early Bergman, a minister in a small town, and a woman, that summed up for him a sense of human longing and unfulfiUment 46 · The Missouri Review Mark Rudman —just when I was about to interrupt he came to his conclusion with an abrupt twirl of his fingers. The moon rose, bold and furious that night— The moon, she says, as we cross the Square, is the source of confusion: it's why so many people are jumping out of windows this week, look, it sweUs Uke a melon, looks Uke it could topple out of the black sky, but we're in the wrong lunar phase— what you think you see is two days away. And though I dream this night of the desert when I wake my first thought is— there is also the present, there was, yesterday, the eternal ride over the rumbling bridge, the lights of the city stall mysterious—if scrutable the dark pouring of the East River---Vast spray of buUdings. Every kind of Ught but starUght. Mark Rudman The Missouri Review · 47 ...


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