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This was looking from Station Street, I think, toward the old 5 and dime cafe. Now it's occupied by a library and parking and public facilities.Culvert in Herndon

STOP! says the red sign,
but sunlight and shadow lead the eye
onward up the rough gravel
to the verge of the culvert,
where we pause, on the brink
of two different worlds, one,
above, beyond a flimsy white railing,
a world of pastel houses (beige,
pink, yellow) beneath a soft breezy blue,
strewn with spindly trees
and unlit streetlights that stand guard,
ready to flare up should darkness appear;
the other world, just beneath and
as full, leads a winding path into
the culverts, a wilder place, I think,
since shaggy hordes of tall grass
lean that way. The upper world
has a smooth tarry road that,
in the distance, acquires, like
a gold star for good behavior,
it's yellow median stripe. Below,
from the culvert, pours a bumpy gravel path.
This painting tells a story about
the upper world by focusing on two holes
that plunge beneath it. There, at the
center of the painting, our eyes
are given pause, then released to notice
what would usually be the painting (a
road going off into the sky) shoved up
out of the way by a weedy culvert,
transformed into a thin layer of paving
and homes above whatever world the tunnels
plunge into. A steep sandy path, a hillside
of brown weeds, and, to our left, a pole
of unspecified utility (telephone?) link
these worlds, as do our eyes, for the face
of the culvert, except where its depths
could not be faced, are as bland
and beige as the walls behind which
we switch on the lights and live.
The two worlds are one world, but
they take from each other a charm,
the culvert's of adventure, the town's
one of dollhouse-delicacy, a luxury
of toy detail, little road going somewhere
that is everything to that road and to us
the richness of glimpsed, never-to-be-exhausted
opportunity, like the ten-thousand toy towns
and run-away streets that flash by
our speeding train. But here it is
the view from the nether world that
enchants our street and holds it spellbound
in a distance like memory.

Dean Blehert

Last Updated: October 6, 2002

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