Unlikely Monuments: The Ornament

There’s a bus stop on Ward Parkway that to my knowledge is not in use, but which nonetheless serves as an anchor in the Westwood, Missouri, neighborhood. It’s more of a little stone pavilion than a bus stop, almost like the little shrines you see in Eastern cultures, if a bit more utilitarian. I stop there for a moment sometimes when crossing the street, but it’s only a few feet back from the curb, wedged uncomfortably between speeding traffic and a bridge people often spend the night beneath, so I never tarry. Tonight, though I noticed a sparkle, a bit of gold, an orb of some sort wedged between two of the boards. I realized someone had taken one of the oversized and increasingly out of date Christmas ornaments from the statue basin on the opposite side of the street and wedged it decoratively between the pillars of the bus shrine. They had done so with creativity and artistry, if apparently not great care. As I got closer I saw the large ornament’s surface was broken, a lower quadrant perhaps having been impaled or dropped in transit, but the overall shape remained intact. It shone like a proud but broken globe, the black of the night sky filling the gap in its glittering golden surface. A plein air installation piece, the first artifact in a new series of celebrating things that might otherwise go unnoticed.

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