New York’s subways are a patchwork of swatches and layers,

of bits and pieces, slapped together until you cannot see

the fault lines for the surface, nor the surface for

the patchwork.  Subway corridors, stairwells, and sidewalk entrances are known

to have disappeared, and tiled alcoves, designed to accommodate vintage

phone booths, have vanished behind newly erected walls that sprout

doors to become makeshift toolsheds.  Ancient men’s rest rooms, famed

for their shady practices, have mended their ways and have

been converted into candy stands.  Nothing is ever really demolished

or dismantled down below, but everything is tentative and amorphous.


Paraphrases from False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory by André Aciman.