Issue 1, Poetry

Literalization

Glass building in Thessalonikki.

Look: we are all of us crawling slowly forward and back on the flat plane of the round earth, stretched out and drawn inward and down by its weight. Our eyes strain against the insides of their sockets and then collapse into liquid; every drop of moisture is drawn from our tongues so that we cannot speak; our blood barely oozes through kinked and contorted veins. Every motion of the limbs is hours of agony. And our thoughts—aren’t these also flattened and folded over, so that they can’t follow one from another in regular order but are jolted from us amid wheezing and gasping and then slide just beyond our reach into a disorderly heap? Our beaten-out neurons blast electrical fire through the hairs of our heads into the two-dimensional void.

Among us there are certain quicksilver demoniacs who have learned to move again! But can they think any more than we can? How can we tell, since we can’t see into one another’s faces? They glide in and out, out and in, round and round; and they are more than likely laughing at the rest of us—but who can say. At the end of it they are describing circles: the result is clear enough, same as it is for us, even if there’s something somehow complete about their circuits that is lacking in our linearity. Inward and down, inward and down, into the living fire of absolute compression! Into molten rock! There in the center of things our little gravities will be joined at last to the great mass, so that we, too, can have a part in crushing the men who come after us.

Surely our bodies were at one time proportioned length by width by height. Can it be that the sky was once heavy enough to cancel the earth’s gravity and draw us upward into equilibrium? What was its weight? I’ll admit I sometimes entertain the horrid suspicion that it has fallen and crushed us, as if our old savior had conspired with the earth to make our misery complete.

Likewise and worse, brothers, I have in mind that it might after all be fitting for us to praise this pitiless plane of concrete and glass: for it holds us up, even if only for a moment, even if the very upholding spreads us atom-thin against it.