176: Mall

175 Mall fidlerjan mf

Spreading mollusc like, arms burgeoning everywhere, it seems, and stores begetting stores. A lichen upon the tarmac, breathing in card payments, breathing out sparkling things to hold our attention a little longer. The smell of newness, factory wrap, stodgy powdery chocolate muffins and coffee that tastes of polystyrene, any real edges dulled smoothly soporific by the muzak. Here and there a blot on the landscape, a piece of grit in your shell of perfection, threatening to dispel the mirage: a mad bag lady, obscenities dripping from her mouth like angry drool; a volunteer rattling a tin, asking for a little attention to be paid to reality; a woman in a lavender hijab, seditiously being different and reminding you that your homogenous waspy whitewashed shops are a sorry sepulchre of sameness.

Your flowers are cut and covered in cellophane, your paintings mass-produced by machinery, and your shine blinds us and your neon tempts us further in. But the grit may yet make pearls in the bright artificiality and the unwashed man carrying his endtimes sandwich board may well one day cause the screen to short-circuit, and for a moment, a hundred thousand shoppers might halt and see the world as it really is, bags dropping like tears from their unclenched hands.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com


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