Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tour, evening

Though I am fat and stupid, my town was not. But Cedar Rapids' downtown stinks like the third circle of Hell, the cess of ordure and filth reserved for the gluttonous in Dante's scheme of things hereafter.

Downtown, homes and businesses alike stand with open doors, front and back, the contents shoveled into piles lining the streets, trash flung in neighborly sorrow in one long undifferentiated line of chairs, tables, sticks, bags, appliances, sodden baggage. The open doorways, darkness even in the daylight, are a plea: "Take something. Take it away! Please!"

It's not a personal best, though. The Kansas City stockyards flooded in 1951 when the Kaw River surged out of bounds, and I was there to smell that. I suppose only war itself could top that one.

So far, we've avoided the various plagues that would have come downstream in centuries past — typhus, cholera, tetanus. All we've got is mold spore. I could smell the spore when the floods began. Now I can't. But my asthma is the worst it's been in fifty years.



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