Wednesday, December 17, 2008

House of Light and Shadows

I love the peculiar way the light casts shadows on the chipped and broken surfaces of this old house on the Calle de los Muertos, street of the dead, where dust mingles with the afternoon heat and deep shadows poke out of dark and ancient doorways, carrying memories of those who were sheltered here before. Doorways to rooms that are now collapsed and open to the endless sky.
A thriving bougainvillea rises up from a hole in the courtyard, oblivious to the decay of manmade things. Its drying flowers swirl around the rubble like magenta butterflies.
Soon these walls will receive fresh coats of cement, reinforced with brick and mortar. Channels will be chipped into the walls to lay in the wiring for lights, televisions, and refrigerators. Pipes will carry water to boilers and bathrooms. Floors will be laid with terracotta tile and new concrete steps will replace this crooked iron stairway, inlaid with painted tiles. The bougainvillea will be cut to make way for the workmen, its roots buried beneath the new cement patio. Perhaps it will find it's way back, or a new one will be planted and their roots will mingle, joining the past with the inevitable future, twining the stories together into a mysterious continuum.
Meanwhile I stand on the rooftop and listen to the faraway cries of roosters, playing with the shadows until they disappear with the fading light.


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