Urban

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Under the highway, as traffic rumbles upon its route along one of the main arteries of the city, I sit. Removed from the constant motion above, relinquishing the necessity to move towards an indeterminate destination, I listen. Watching; shadows appear and vanish between pillars, daylight casts late afternoon tones. A hundred meters away waters continue upon their constant quest to find the ocean. Beyond them the city resumes, a wall of concrete and a conglomeration of bridges as the Keelung river bends leading off towards Songshan.

The first time that I’d ended up here, lost following a cycle path, looking for a gateway to the city before night fell and the rush hour traffic clogged the streets, I’d found a soprano sax player. Then I’d put my bike onto its stand and sat, listening as he improvised his phrases against the fading light. I sat, smiling and thinking of Sonny Rollins, remembering a crazed weekend in London when he was playing there.

Today, other sounds inhabit the space. Other times inhabit the hour, as tunes form from another age, the bowed strings of an Erho sounding a lament against the concrete columns, drifting outward towards the city beyond.

Closing my eyes I listen to echoes and fragments, small runs of notes which verge upon reminding me of old songs, heard long ago and. Tunes flicker and, in my attempts to put names to them, fade as their notes drift into a different landscape. I listen as different fragments, those of the player’s  memory, offer glimpses of those places where, maybe, his imagination wanders.

I remain seated, entranced by the unexpected melodies, their familiarity and difference. Fail to notice, once again, the dimming of the light.  I look out towards the city centre, tower blocks rising, a sequence of peaks under the shadow of 101, the first lights beginning to shine through windows. Outside in the gathering dusk the sounds of the city are grown silent, only the wind carrying the sounds of the Erho penetrate through my ears.

In these places I wonder, gazing out upon the living city; of what does it dream?

 

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