Saturday, August 12


And here is something of how we understand ourselves, in the last century's twilight, our pleasures and our ambitions. And we understand then, perhaps without saying it to ourselves, that our moment's just as fleeting, just as certain to seem antique and quaintly lit; that we become, in time, one of those figures on the shore, not very detailed, not particularly individual, a representative of our era, when seen from such a distancing perspective. Oddly paradoxical, and oddly moving—to be reminded that we stand at the center of our own lives, and that those lives are historical, and fleeting. What could the effect be, then, but tenderness?

Now we stand on the wet street, Paul and I, in the center of a realm of light and shadow—reflections off wet cars, a "walk" sign distorted in a puddle over cobblestone—and anyway we step that world shifts around us, an optical paradox. Already I seem to be recognizing that the Panorama is better in memory—less quaint, more profound, more troubling, not a large bad painting but an accomplished chamber of recollection, a parable, something to keep. We're walking back toward the train station, carrying our souvenirs. Our shoulders keep touching as we walk along the sidewalk. I'm aware of our paired steps, this cool late afternoon, the physical fact of us, his body, mine, how even in motion we seem to stand in the center of circle after circle. Having been in a Panorama once, it seems we never entirely leave.

-- Mark Doty "The Panorama Mesdag"

Mesdag Panorama Website

Mark Doty