You think about them while sitting in the sun. The tip of your cigarette throbs orange between the grey of the growing ash as you inhale, sitting at a café, sipping your latte. The noises around you are muted, quiet trams and foot traffic. A bell mounted on a bike handle chimes, cautioning. Wind pushes itself through the streets. The morning light reflects off the canal in front of you. It darts across the rippled water among swimming mallards and sinking leisure boats, shining up to the buildings pulled forward by the weight of their many windows. The water sparkles as if covered with coins.
They are tall navy coloured houses with decorative white trim, lining the canals, leaning into one another like narrow books stacked loosley on shelves. You wonder how to describe them; their endearing unevenness, their lines attempting the elusive right angles. How can you illustrate their pultritude? As European as empty wine bottles, as crisp as tailored suits, as romantic as tulips in basketed bikes...Bricked rivers flow under, beside, in front. An arced bridge is a conversation between them. You sip your latte. They are exquisitly handsome yet oddly familiar, their grace stands unaffected. They remind you of prostitutes tied upright to benches to sleep, but that reference does not do them justice; their beautiful dysfunction is too charming. Next you try to imagine them as windmills tipped into one another, but then ask yourself what would happen to the overlapping blades; Victorian dollies on display; fat crows on telephone wires; crooked teeth in fat women’s mouths; illustrations in a graphic novel about the life of Vermeer. You decide that none of these work, you need to be more economical in your phrasing. ‘They lean’, you say to yourself.