IT’S DIFFICULT living in this museum, this continent. I walk around at night and read the placards. I educate myself when no one is looking. I find them drilled into sides of buildings, on staircases cut into the hills, embedded in cobblestone alleyways. They tell me that even if something is in a degraded state, it can still be endowed with meaning. I learn that history is much longer than I thought, that it is here, waiting to merge with some newer thing, some accident of chance. I learn, from walking at night and clandestinely educating myself, that many things here have burned. 

On a white wall on the highest hill, there are thousands of blue-inked fingerprints. People have run their hands across a flaking blue wall, slowly transferring the pigment from one wall to another. I see the appeal. Both walls are their most saturated selves. I move back and forth between the walls, slowly making a negative print of my hand like was done in ancient caves when our species was forming language from art. It is when I am almost done that I see another placard. This one informs me that these walls belong to the patrimony, and that to defile them is an affront to our fathers. 

I leave ashamed. I walk, head down counting the rocks in the sidewalk. It is easier for me to calm myself when I am able to break things into their elements. All around me is stone and sand shaped to appear like imposing immovable objects. There is no grass but what grows through the windows and doors of long-ago abandoned houses. 

To love the determination of grass. People say everything is water, but everything is also grass, too.

My shame does not diminish, it only merges with this newly found love of the unyielding. I have walked several hills in order to reach the hill I live on. I do not live at the top, or at the bottom. Many buildings on my street are disintegrating, their doors pillaged, fields sprouting up from the floorboards. They are abandoned, though will not be counted among the ruins. For here the time of ruin is longer. It takes centuries, during which wildernesses and regimes change, before an abandonment can be classified as a ruin. 

As I live in the middle of the block, I am able to see everything. A man lives in one building all by himself, sleeping among the broken floorboards and underneath a fallen roof. On clear nights, I’m sure he has a lovely view. In another building there are hundreds of cats. They cry out at all hours in gruesome wails. The street is calm. 

Another placard in another town once told me architecture always operates under the condition of anticipation. I do not know what this means, though I have tried for many years to understand it. There is within it a confident unintelligibility, a poetic confusion. I think about a perpetual, fixed state of anticipation. How one might thrive in the swell before the rupture. How this space looks not unlike the waiting, the ordeal, of love.

ANALEAH LOSCHIAVO ROSEN is a Brazilian-American currently living in Lisbon on a Fulbright grant to write a novel. She received her MFA in Fiction from Washington University in St Louis in 2019. Her work can can be found in FANZINE, Notre Dame Review, and Heavy Feather Review.

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