Friday, October 30, 2009

snapshot of Cologne cathedral at sundown

Cologne, August 4, 2009
9:28 p.m.

Sitting on the city-block-long set of steps that leads to a gothic cathedral so big and dirty and hulking and beautiful, it looks like something visited in dreams. The spires of this 900-year-old church rise into the sky. Like sequoias, the Cologne cathedral gives the impression of something that has been here before us and will be here after us. The soot caked on its sharp gothic features testifies to its old age. But still it rises. World War II didn’t even destroy it, so I guess it’ll be around for a while longer. Sitting on a city-block-long set of rough marble steps, hanging out here with about 100 other people. The sound of laughter. The sound of low German, of street German, being spoken. The scratching sound of flint wheels as people light up a smoke. The sun has gone down and the sky is a light blue, a soft-August-twilight blue. In the west, however, the sky holds on to some orange. The sun has sunk past a horizon not visible. Apartments and trees block it. But above these apartments and trees, an orange glow. Sitting on a city-block-long set of steps that leads to the gothic cathedral. Sitting, looking at the Hauptbahnhof. The Hauptbahnof has large illuminated letters on its roof that spell out Hauptbahnhof. Each letter is about the size of a person. The font of the letters is characteristic of another time, before Hitler. There’s something 20’s about the style of the illuminated letters, something Deco, something Weimar. There’s a football-field-size stone plaza in front of the Hauptbahnhof. People are crossing it. Back and forth, back and forth, they go, keeping beat with the metronome of time. Sitting on the city-block-long set of steps that leads to the cathedral.

Cologne, August 4, 2009
9:45 p.m.