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June 9, 2004
Mayor Bloomberg has declared war on noise in our very noisy city: car alarms, honking horns, loud music. Barking dogs will be ticketed.

So will Mr. Softee. New Yorkers know him -- the tinkly song of the ice cream truck used to accompany the recitation of evening prayer at St.Clement's. O God, make speed to save us, the officiant would sing, and everyone would answer O lord, make haste to help us. And the ice cream truck would go by, its repetitive song through the chapel window.

That this evening may be holy, good and peaceful, we entreat you O Lord, we would sing, and a livery cab would go by, the horse's hooves clip-clopping up 46th Street.

That your holy angels may lead in paths of peace and good will, we entreat you, O Lord. A boombox rode by on the shoulder of its young owner, Latin brass blaring from its speakers. Or, sometimes, a car, its window rolled up tightly to preserve the air conditioning, but not tightly enough that you couldn't hear the thump-thump-thump of the bass, clearly audible along the whole block. What must it be like to be in that car, you found yourself wondering when you should have been paying attention to the creed. They must not have any eardrums. In hell I'll have a pizza delivery job and have to drive around in a car like that, but with no volume control.

At any hour, several times an hour, police or ambulance sirens. Older people crossed themselves as the ambulance went by, as they were taught to do long ago: someone is in trouble, someone may be dying, someone may be dead already. May the souls of the departed rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Late at night, a drunken argument. A crying woman. At any hour, even the wee hours of the morning sometimes, a child's voice. Mine were always in bed by seven, you thought as you began the Lord's Prayer. Life is hard here.

It'll be a hot one today, they say on the radio. Everyone's windows will be open. To let in whatever breeze there might be, and to let in the sounds of brothers and sisters they don't even know.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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