Piel expands outward like tree rings and onions, with each new skin a new era. The inner wall, that of ancient Pellum, is hardly visible, long ago assimilated into the frames of churches and tenements. It surfaces now and then, an archway peeking out the back of a tea shop, half-sunken into the earth; a crenellation misplaced atop the exchange.
The second wall is more easily distinguished. Its bulk contains Piel’s labyrinthine core, the density of which once choked its citizens, losing more light and air with each passing year. From each of its six gates Piel spreads. Between the second and third walls, the city begins to breathe. There are light-filled squares here and free-standing markets and buildings unencumbered by the barnacle-like growth of its core. The streets too are broken by statues and monuments, and the third wall, though imposing from the outside, hosts a genteel covered walkway popular with strollers and picnickers.
But Piel continues to grow and its leaders have proposed a third wall far out in the distant countryside, encompassing old farmsteads and forests and grazing lands. Why is it that cities grow in rings, subsuming fresh pastures outward year by year? What if a city, like a bloated hermit crab constricted by its old shell, went searching for a greater wall to house its citizens? Would we be roving until our expiration, always in search of new clothes to house our limitless corpulence?