The Narrow Houses of Amsterdam
by Megan Sexton
To get to them, think in circles,
think of the skinny streets of dreams,
of paintings before the discovery of perspective,
before the first Baedeker was written,
roving at dusk, then midnight
along rows of café shelved like antique books;
think past the narrow houses of Amsterdam,
first spring, then summer, in a toy city,
a pop-up city with glass windows,
the linden trees, their leaves tarnished filigree,
the bicycles choking the streets,
and bells ringing out from handlebars,
bells ringing out from church towers,
past the houseboats bobbing on their anchors,
and the tulips spare in their beauty,
under street lamps where Spinoza polished his spectacles,
where none of my family ever visited,
where I came ten years ago and am now with you
standing in front of the narrow houses of Amsterdam.
Gezelling. My guide calls this warmth, well-being—
seeing behind the wimple of open drapes
we are supposed to, allowed to, expected to,
look through each window, each wind’s eye.
PHOTO: Narrow houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands, on canal of River Amstel. Photo by Dbajurin, used by permission.
NOTE: Read more about the narrow canal houses of Amsterdam at theculturetrip.com.