The Architecture of The Next Time

A couple of years ago we drove through the very small town of Ovid, Idaho. The largest structure in the town is an abandoned church, which sits in a field off the main road. The single person we saw happened to be the owner of the church. She said, “I’ll sell it to you for fifty thousand dollars.” When I told her I would buy it, she said, “You’ll have to move it off my land.”

For me, there has always been something sacred about abandoned spaces. A lived-in space is too preoccupied with its occupants to consider those who came before. But an abandoned space is always remembering what is now lost. No doubt the church in Ovid remembers the true believer and the hypocrite. And misses them both.

from The Next Time

Nobody sees it happening, but the architecture of our time
Is becoming the architecture of the next time.

And the dazzle of light upon the waters is as nothing
Beside the changes wrought therein, just as our waywardness

Means nothing against the steady pull of things over the edge.
Naturally, we are concerned. Nobody can stop

The flow, but nobody can start it either. Time slips by;
Our sorrows do not turn into poems, and what is invisible

Stays that way. Too bad desire has fled, leaving only a trace
Of perfume in its wake, too bad so many people are moving away,

Too bad no voice comes forth from infinite space, from the folds
Of dust and carpets of wind to tell us that this

Is the way it was meant to happen, that if only we knew
How long the ruins would last, we would never complain.

––Mark Strand


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