Poetry & Prose

A Paper City

by Anne Carlock


I want to bring home the whole city to you. A souvenir is not enough. I want to be able to fold it all up like paper, like origami or a pop-up book. My careful fingers will smooth every crease, sharpen every folded edge between delicate fingernails. And then I’ll fold it all down so that I can slip it inside a big manila envelope for you. Paper skyscrapers will topple onto one another, the mountains will crumple down, the islands will be stacked up neatly. And when I am home with you again, we will unfold it all, our own miniature city quietly rustling back to life on the floor. We’ll lean over the wrinkly sea and examine it by the light of the lamp above us. “Here is where I lived,” I’ll say, handing you a magnifying glass so you can peer in the cutout window of my building and see my tiny bed, my desk with its minuscule chair. Here is where I bought my coffee, here is where I went to class, here is my favorite street to walk along. Here is the graveyard, with its thin white tombstones, here is the bench where I realized I’d finally fallen in love with the city. Here is where I missed you, and here, and here.

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