Seattle:people of the skyscraper

Seattle appears to be a place that has all its oars in the water. 

Inside the Starbucks Coffee mothership on Pike St. it's possible to watch people without watching people, since the people I'm watching are far more self-conscious than Iam and are only watching themselves. Only watching themselves, they can't see me watching them.

Seattle seems more of a police state than does Portland. I get the feeling that the surveillance cameras mounted on the rooftop of the Seattle Art Museum are there not to watch the art but to watch me. Why I have this feeling is complicated and would take as long to explain as it would take to explain that I now take more comfort in seeing an abstract work of art, such as Joseph Albers "Homage to the Square," than I do in seeing a representational work such as the landscape by Albert Bierstadt, when the opposite was true for me only a few years ago.

At Elliott Bay Bookstore up on Capitol Hill there are comfortable green leather chairs to sit in. I sit and read the new poems of Charles Simic, delighted that every once in awhile he writes a good poem about a flea or the era of manuel typewriters. When I've had enough of Charles Simic I put his book down and look around at my fellow readers reading in their own green leather chairs, imagining they're all reading the late poems of Wallace Stevens and finally coming to love them.

Promptly at 10 pm the sky begins to dress itself in the elegiac colors of a warrior who's just dropped his helmet on the battlefield. He has a sleight headwound and drops of his blood are falling to earth; the earth is a soft orange and pink, sketched in pastels, shot through with streaks of blue.

Finally it's night. A cheer goes up from the ballpark-Safeco Field. The home team has won! Fireworks break out of their sleep, explode into the sky and then disappear forever. The men and women of Seattle walk home from the stadium in one long summer shadow.

image.jpg