June 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The town is tiny and slowly falling apart. Crumbs of mortar dribble from between brick teeth arched over a window’s gape. Stone was rare in the region, but earth abundant, and so the odd creamy keystone or corbel, often sporting some worn blazon, stands out from the pink abraded brick. As you round the slow curve of a cobblestone alley, a sign juts from a storefront, but drawing abreast you find the rooms are empty, traces of departure litter the carpet, and in the window, when not soaped or papered over, a sign proclaims closure: sometimes notice of bankruptcy (A vendre: Fonds de commerce: Suite à liquidation judiciaire), or a handwritten note hopeful of better times ahead (Ose devenir qui tu es! ~ Andre Gide). The black, compacted wood of timbered houses, all the more stalwart for its warp. One worries for the gutted buildings, with a staircase in the cool vestibule, and the dark rafters where it seems owls must roost.

The cathedral can, like most, be seen for miles around: an octagonal, vaguely Italianate bell tower rising over the treetops. The town is built in rings around it, or would be, if the circle closed. As it is, the town seen from above is three-eighths of a pie, with the cathedral backing on the Save, a lazy olive river gorged on recent rains. Gaps in the medieval wall or between a fence’s rusting bars entice the eye down lush backyards to painted doors set in the row of houses forming the next innermost arc. Here and there, instead of squat guardhouses, one of the dovecotes for which Gers is known, or atop pillars flanking what was once a gate, seated stone deer blotched with lichen. » Read the rest of this entry «

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