HERE THE SIDEWALKS END
by Sam Naylor
Here the sidewalks often end. Here the encroaching wild of green swallows the path on all sides, or is simply left unfinished -- leaving a sizable gap to hop over.
Here the sidewalk is more of a suggestion than a direction. Here overreaching branches shade and encroach from all sides -- an experience changes from enclosure to claustrophobia in half a block.
Here the sidewalks traverse more vertical feet than all of Louisiana. Here mature oak trees push up these tablets of concrete -- a leisurely stroll becomes a precarious ascent -- as the pad teeters you leap down to safety.
Here the sidewalks can tell a streets age. Here the material changes from one block to the next -- from concrete to brick to cobblestone -- cast iron curbs on one end and absent on the other -- rusted hitching posts modeled after stallions appear alongside contemporary cars.
Here the sidewalks have names. Here casted tiles of letters signify a cross street more readily than missing signposts.
Here the sidewalks are rarely straight. Here it bends to avoid trees or in some frantic gesture to divert from a forgotten obstacle -- the path never bores, always surprising, always stumbling.
Here the sidewalks aren’t often walked-on. Here groups of people three or more must divert to the street lest their procession be too long -- with a wider zone, flatter surface, and low traffic the road is often a more appealing way forward.
Here the sidewalks are more rural than urban. Here stray cats and rodents dart across from shadows under shotguns -- at night cockroaches blend with fallen leaves -- the jungle footpath is rarely devoid of surprise and life.
Here the sidewalks become dumpsters, foyers, and lawns -- walking on them is usually treacherous and often exciting -- they are three-dimensional, more like tunnels than paths -- they sometimes end, start abruptly, or are entirely absent.
Here the sidewalks are less and often more.