If Petersburg is an imaginary city, Manila is an invisible one, disappearing under American bombs, under banks of smog or monsoon rains, under sultry nights in call centers.
The static charm of another rainstorm lulls me to sleep at noon, while others are busily about.
"And in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day."
First the tops of the high-rises go, like mountains into cloud, and then it descends further until there is no city left, fallen into grey oblivion, and one is perfectly willing to believe that the city has sunk after all, and the streets are silent even of the soft shush of tires on wet pavement… But the call comes, and out we go into the dark of a world we’re not sure is there, and arrive bedraggled, and in doubt that the outside will last much beyond the first footstep through the door into the light again, and the huddled camaraderie of a quiet office.
Goodnight again to Manila Bay.
Franz Kafka arrives, fresh off the boat from NYC, bearing words of wisdom. The rain returns, washing away the traffic sounds, only a shushing now and then as a car passes below.
The rain is radio static in the streetlights, the sidewalk is a midnight promenade; bursts of laughter float from groups hidden in the shadows of neon bank signs. But nothing lasts: the monsoon sweeps it all away again, and now we’re knots of strangers growing intimate under the overhangs or in doorways, or atomized in the deluge.