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District Nurse

Sidewalks.

The sidewalks of city streets; the sidewalks of any city; your city, mine. But not of any streets. Not the sidewalks of the manicured boulevards, the wide tree-bordered avenues. Not the sidewalks which lie, relatively immaculate, before the doorsteps of the rich; not those lightly trodden upon by eighteen-dollar, bench-made shoes, desecrated by the crass, if functional behavior, of leashed and high-hat dogs; nor yet the sidewalks decorated by the spotless uniforms of Generalissimos in the Doorman’s Army. Not these.

Just sidewalks, over which the same sky arches, but a sky made vocal with the hoarse shriek of the hurtling L’s, just sidewalks built on a common soil beneath which, like as not, the clamorous mole, the subway, weaves and burrows its vocal path. Just sidewalks, littered with paper, with casual garbage, marked with the pressure of countless feet, hurrying feet, feet which go unshod, feet protected against heat and cold by the makeshift leathers of the poor. Sidewalks, endless highways, leading to birth, to death, to success and to failure; leading to the cold, crowded windings of city rivers, leading out to freer, wider areas, leading — back