the man who lived on

We stood in a canyon of dark, massive buildings that soared over our heads and extended for as far as the eye could see. Yes, I want to have hope, she said, but what are we going to do about all this? Waving her arm vaguely at the blind dark towers all around. Unassailable. Millions stirring inside them: unique and transitory as snowflakes falling on the river. The air smelled of steel and brick, nothing else.

“In a thousand years,” I said, “all this will be gone.”

And look! Here is a forest of ferns and reeds, swaying unbroken down to the sea.

I turned out to be exactly right. That’s some comfort, even if I’ve been wandering, alone and lost, ever since that day, even if my home is gone forever…

And all those millions! What did it mean that they were here?