Photo by Kelsea
Photo by Kelsea

Close your eyes. It’s time for an immersion of the senses. First, what do you hear? The sound of music, fast tempo, something Latin, but it’s ominous too, almost melancholy. Gypsy music. It’s all around you. Vendors are yelling out their sales, and people are chattering every which direction. Now what do you smell? Fire.. It’s strong, directly in front of you. A musty, damp smell, not terrible, but not pleasant, it’s overpowered by the fire. Something sweet, bread, oils, sugar and cinnamon. It’s fried dough from one of the stands. You can almost taste it. What do you feel? The cool night, a breeze that chills the bone, stark contrast to the farm blaze of the fire not too far away. Now..open those eyes.. What do you see?

What I See.. I see the pyres on the water, suspended in midair by metal fingers that hold it secure. I see the dark sky, covered in the haze of this city, glowing with a sickly orange. I see my town, alive and bustling, being brought together by this one summer event that happens each month on the very first Saturday. This is Waterfire, the best night of the month. The college kids from RIS-D come down and some perform musical acts, others are living statutes and still others set up painting booths. It doesn’t matter what color your skin, what profession your job, for this one night, the city is like a mixing bowl, and we all agree that it is a night of fun. On the pillars of the bridges, fire dances show their craft, dancing to the music that plays. The entire river becomes a snake of living fire that forces everyone down from their high towers and dark corners. Tonight is a night of magic and fun, where no one is looked at in strange ways, the children all get to play safely in the protected streets, the police officers are thanked for helping you cross the street.

But what do you see when your senses are assaulted with smells, sounds, and feelings of merriment? What crosses the mind when you close your eyes and see without seeing?


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