The Ribbon
She peers out from encrusted watery windows in an edifice which was always there, having existed even before architect touched pencil and paper. Unreinforced masonry, lath and plaster, hand planed moldings, copper pipeline, hardwood floors, perhaps maple. Structure predating knowledge. Existence predating consciousness. The route below, spelled out in an infinite I with macadam and made shimmery by ageless flowing glass. The river of concrete and asphalt, flowing with a current of glass and polymer and steel. It looks to her a thing alive, knowing, thinking. Each nucleated cell dashes by, Toyota, Ford, Peugeot, once encoded in magnetic DNA, brimming with pulsing air, Vinyl, Acrylic, and High Density Polyethylene. Better things for better living through chemistry. Each occupant is a simple entity to her. Elementary and eminently knowable. Stimulus. Response. Red and amber lights speed through vessels, the lifeblood of society, with their own intricate and delicate protocol, their own subtle and confidential language, the slang of flashes and swerves and bleating horns. She holds her hand before her face. Twenty-eight bones. Carpals, Metacarpals, Phalanges. Opposable thumbs. The mechanism of manipulation, the name of construction, the name of ruin, the line separating man from beast. She grasps the cream-colored sill, thumbs below, fingers above, dust as lubricant, her hand slips slightly. Miniscule motes awakened by her sliding hand settle in tiny wrinkles of her fingers. I am larger than this, she wails plaintively, the sound rebounding from clear flowing glass, creating an amalgam, a superposition of waves: Compression and Rarefaction in the direction of propagation. Superimposing her whine with creaking settling beams in the building that always was, and with humming oscillating Pistons and Internal Combustion. Inside, the sound reverberates, becomes almost lost amidst whistling wind, the cells coursing through concrete channels, the muffled swishing of her pulse in her ear. Tympanic Membrane, Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup, Cochlea. I am more than just this, whispered pleadingly with a sound escaping her lungs, a child's cry in which she heard each separate dwindling aspiration. Aren't I?

©1997 Timothy A. Clark