All who would see the sky must gaze upward between these rockets of frenzied architecture, which are as beautiful as the terrific can ever be beautiful.
In the vertical city there are no horizons of infinitude to rest the eyes; rather little breakfast napkins of it showing between walls and up through areaways. Sometimes even a lunchcloth of five, six, or maybe sixty hundred stars or a bit of daylight-blue with a caul of sunshine across, hoisted there as if run up a flagpole.
It is well in the vertical city if the eyes and the heart have a lift to them, because, after all, these bits of cut-up infinitude, as many-shaped as cookies, even when seen from a tenement window and to the accompaniment of crick in the neck, are as full of mysterious alchemy over men’s hearts as the desert sky or the sea sky. That is why, up through the wells of men’s walls, one glimpse of sky can twist the soul with—oh, the bitter, the sweet ache that lies somewhere within the heart’s own heart, curled up there like a little protozoa. That is, if the heart and the eyes have a lift to them. Marylin’s had.
* * * * *
Marylin! How to convey to you the dance of her! The silver scheherazade of poplar leaves when the breeze is playful? No. She was far nimbler than a leaf tugging at its stem. A young faun on the brink of a pool, startled at himself? Yes, a little. Because Marylin’s head always had a listening look to it, as if for a message that never quite came through to her. From where? Marylin didn’t know and didn’t know that she didn’t know. Probably that accounted for a little pucker that could sometimes alight between her eyes. Scarcely a shadow, rather the shadow of a shadow. A lute, played in a western breeze? Once a note of music, not from a lute however, but played on a cheap harmonica, had caught Marylin’s heart in a little ecstasy of palpitations, but that doesn’t necessarily signify. Zephyr with Aurora playing? Laughter holding both his sides?
How Marylin, had she understood it, would have kicked the high hat off of such Miltonic phrasing. Ah, she was like—herself!
And yet, if there must be found a way to convey her to you more quickly, let it be one to which Marylin herself would have dipped a bow.
She was like nothing so much as unto a whole two dollars’ worth of little five-cent toy balloons held captive in a sea breeze and tugging toward some ozonic beyond in which they had never swum, yet strained so naturally toward.
That was it! A whole two dollars’ worth of tugging balloons. Red—blue—orange—green—silver, jerking in hollow-sided collisions, and one fat-faced pink one for ten cents, with a smile painted on one side and a tear on the other.
And what if I were to tell you that this phantom of a delight of a Marylin, whose hair was a sieve for sun and whose laughter a streamer of it, had had a father who had been shot to death on the underslinging of a freight car in one of the most notorious prison getaways ever recorded, and whose mother—but never mind right here; it doesn’t matter to the opening of this story, because Marylin, with all her tantalizing capacity for paradox, while every inch a part of it all, was not at all a part of it.