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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Allé. By John von Daler

                          The usual metaphors will never do: the Allé is no artery; it has no connection to any heart.

It leads at best to two crossroads, one in front of a large park, where the Allé just stops, and one by an intersection where the Allé runs into one of the real "arteries" in Copenhagen and disappears into busses, businesses and bums, all more or less busy, all heartless in their own way. If the Allé is anything other than a broad, triptych of street, it could in fact be a widowed lady.

                Between the "busy"ness and the park this respectable old dowager in her own majestic tempo plies whatever movement there happens to be between her top and her bottom without comment and with the respectability associated with words unspoken and thoughts unmentioned. Whatever goes up and whatever comes down does so with a kind of solid prestige which her wayfarers wear on their own shoulders like diners donning loaned jackets at a pretentious restaurant. And when they have finished their time in her keep they relinquish the borrowed finery with a soundless sigh, returning to their petty lives.
                As you may have guessed, I live on the Allé and I often sit on the banks of her quiet stream, sipping coffee and watching the sights. In the middle the four lanes of traffic, two in each direction, move pleasantly with the flow you might also associate with butterflies wafting from flower to flower, steady and easy and with measured grace. All right, every third day you might get the odd bee buzzing its hectic way too quickly through the stately trees, but mostly traffic here moves sedately.
                Separated from the middle four lanes by two broad sidewalks lined with the annually pruned trees are two lanes, built there I suppose to take the overflow of workmen and deliveries that might be necessary to keep up the good burghers. These are paved with cobblestones and are meant to be traversed in a slower tempo than the four flat middle lanes.
                As I drink my coffee at the little white table in front of the cafe at the edge of the northern service road I can count in the course of the twenty minutes that it takes to swallow one caffe latte five pregnant mothers pushing carriages, ten pensioners pushing eighty, seven workmen conversing too loudly, nine young ladies on bicycles conversing too quietly on their phones, five men jogging with just as many variations of stomachs, two busses going each way, each one quarter full, seven trucks delivering, three taxies collecting, one stately drunk in elegant motion, a poet or so, a composer of note, a delivery boy on a long, flat bicycle, and numerous dogs, also long and flat, all with owners with vacant looks.
                I note that I have not dared to include or describe myself, this being the ultimate discretion of the Allé, to see in all anonymity, to be seen with discretion. I pay my caffe latte bill, return to my apartment and write it all down, naming no names, taking no prisoners, and accusing no offenders. Such is the Allé, discreet above all. A cheer for the lady, the river, the swarm - from all my heart!

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