After the rain

from an imaginary visit to Lucerne, 2010.

Things are a bit better since the last time I wrote. The carnival is over, and the streets are less crowded then they were. But there are still a lot of people around—mainly tourists like me. I find myself following the guided tours at the interesting sites, keeping at the edges so they don’t ask me to pay, trying to discern which language they are speaking, hoping that they will be speaking mine. The city is beautiful, and more impressive than I had expected. Everyone makes fun of Switzerland for being built on a small scale, and for being clean and efficient, as if running an orderly society is a mark of dullness. Hardly any of the buildings are more than a few stories tall, but there is such variety in the facades, from medieval wooden cross-beams to Renaissance palaces. Many of the streets in the city centre are cobbled, so that even your feet adjust to a new surface, are forced to be aware of the difference between here and home.

Towards evening, as the sun was about to go down, I was returning to my hotel when I saw an interesting looking woman crossing the square ahead of me. There had been a brief shower which had coated the cobblestones in a bright sheen of reflective water. She was walking with the sun at her back, so that her figure was in shadow and seemed to be joined to the shadow reflected in the wet road to create one vastly elongated person. As we passed each other, she glanced at me, briefly, and for a second I glimpsed her face, and saw that her right eye was missing.