Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
See how the deer prance! See how they delight in the fall of mankind!
Panic has set in. The city is lost. For more than 24 hours, the sky has fallen on Washington, D.C., once considered the most powerful city in the world. Still it falls, in the form of tiny jagged ice crystals, which rain down in sheets on the capital of the free world. District delenda est.
The city is lost. Since yesterday afternoon, nature has reasserted its hold over the world of man. In a neighborhood called Cleveland Park—for that is something that human civilization once did; we claimed lands and gave them titles, we called these lands home, we called these lands ours—the fauna have returned. You and I, friend? We were only ever renters, temporary occupants, living on borrowed time.
These deer, prancing across streets on which engines once motored, where business was conducted, where civilization was performed, these frolicking fairies are the sign, the signal: The city is lost.
See how they prance! See how they delight in the fall of mankind! The honor guard announcing the change of regime, the forward troupe of the parade at empire’s end. These deer are dancing in the streets.
What might we say to them? We mistook you: for symbols of innocence, paladins of peace. We were wrong. We were so wrong.
Elsewhere, the rearguard formations take notice of the deer-scouts’ forward progress. Word spreads: The blizzard has undone the world of people. Huzzah! Witness the delight of one who has heard the good word:
Still we practice our sacred rites. Even now, the last remnants of human civilization rally against the dying of the age, embracing drink and sport with bacchanalian enthusiasm. The people of the District flee from the storm by throwing their bodies down Capitol Hill.
As the blizzard mounts, a vision of the future comes into view: the Capitol building, its dome barely surfacing over an uninterrupted plane of ice, deer dancing all over the place. Said Shelley:
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
The city is lost. May it meet a merry end.