The City

by Stav Poleg

Read by Emma Rye

Summer solstice (first scene). A girl with a knife cuts a pear

in half. Think “Venus Rising from the Sea” goes city

and smoke. At the bar, a man dreams a glass of champagne

like an unbalanced thought. Think “Streetcar” goes “Gatsby,” the scene

with the boat. She lights a cigarette as if it’s made of thin glass,

he’s telling a story as if it’s a city uncut. Cut.

A nightmare. The girl shouts in a black-and-white dream. Cut.

There’s a gallery. Think MoMA but rough. She looks at a pear

made of bronze, in a nest of cast iron and glass.

The gallery turns into a field of white roses, a white city,

is it still June? Think Fellini’s dancing scene

in “8½.” One hand’s filling a glass with champagne

the other offering the glass. Champagne?

The girl dances and dances. Think Matisse, “The Cut-Outs.” Cut.

Close-ups: Scissors. A dancer. Another dream scene.

Think “Last Year at Marienbad,” the moon like a pear—

the shape of a question. The actors arrive at an improvised city,

think musical setting, the sky made of turquoise-stained glass.

London. A waitress with eyes like stained glass.

Think Soho stilettos, fake mascara, cheap champagne.

The phone rings with a “Moon River” cover. Think New York City

at the end of the line. Can you hear me? We’ve met at the—. Cut

to a mirror. Think Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.” Cerulean pear

made of a girl and a corset too tight. But next, it’s the girl with the scene-

stealing smile. Ready? It’s “The Perfect Summer” deleted scene:

a lake, pink lemonade, a girl’s wearing soft tan. Think “The Glass

Menagerie,” anything but. Sunglasses like a Venetian mask, a spiral pear-

and-amaretto tart, she drinks too much champagne

then hides and throws up. Think “Manhattan,” the outtakes. Cut.

Rome. A girl opens an envelope with the tip of a knife. Think “La Città

e la Casa,” pages revealing city by city as if every city

is cut into rivers and sliced into streets down to the seeds of each scene.

The phone rings. Don’t hang up. She hangs up. Cut.

Later, she watches how sand travels like rain inside hourglass

bulbs as if it’s a low-budget film. Sound effects: rain, champagne

flute drops from a hand. Somewhere a girl wears a ring like a pear

on a knife, like the deepest of cuts. Somewhere a city

is closed and is endless, is the shape of an 8, a pear mise-en-scène

where a glass stem is held like a spine and a promise. Champagne?

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