Opposable

It’s all here. Everything there ever was or ever will be on this, the planet of the doomed. We are the zombie hoard that lumbers about inside our bodies as if that’s all there is – blood-filled bone housed in fragile flesh, feeding on each other, devouring each other, like protozoans in a primordial puddle. The puddle is what made it all possible. Liquid water. The puddle is our mirror and our womb. See the tall edifice of power rising. The hand was indeed the tipping-point of evolution. The thumb. Just look at what it means to own such a digit. One to touch the four. The grasping component. The vital ingredient to the recipe. Tinker, fiddle, fabricate, fix. They call it opposable.

Consider the puddle. A shallow body of rainwater. Fleeting, the very definition of ephemeral. Yet within it there are clouds, themselves a form of water, floating above the asphalt in a narrow strip of cobalt sky. Water mirrors sky, sky mirrors water, office tower scrapes sky, the medium of missiles and planes.

Consider the asphalt. A conglomeration of bitumens. Bituminous. A hot slurry of hydrocarbons, gravel, and sand poured into long, shallow troughs that becomes roads when it cools. Another illusion of permanence in a very impermanent dream-world. Hard as stone but yielding, unlike stone, so that it expands beneath the heat of the sun and contracts in the cold, shape-shifting, rising,collapsing, forming depressions where rainwater will pool to create obstacles for the walkers and mirrors for those who choose to see.

Consider the curb. Consider the painted curb. Consider the yellow paint. In the language of traffic and roads this is a beacon, a caution signal, it demands we pay attention. Go slow, be wary, yield. The sky yields to the curb. The building yields to the sky and the edges of the water; it’s perfect, unnatural, geometry torn in half by the ragged edge of rain.

*

He is walking. His gait has been adjusted to match the terrain. Quick, measured strides favoring the ball of the foot, which is the switch you make for the city. This favors the necessary pivots, the avoidant skip-step. He takes in a wealth of information through the eyes in his head, some of which trigger these rapid counter movements. He is essentially alone within the enormous canyons. There are others around him, moving with him in his flow, and also in other directions, but he is, in his animal mind, alone. This is another of the crucial adjustments. The glass and concrete jungle is a labyrinth of potentially dangerous topography and wills. His shoes are made of fine-tooled Italian leather and his clothing the rarest of wool, but he holds no illusions. These are animal skins, refined, and his brain is in the savage mode. This is what he learned. A boyhood mantra drummed into his head by a father who has seen the very worst a man can do.  Growing up in 1970’s New York. Run, fight. kill. In that order if you can manage to choose. Never forget what you are. A skinny little tree-monkey in an open zoo.

*

So here it all is, in a narrow band of reflectivity. The very crucible of dreams. Sand, water, carbons. With this kit you could build a new world, a world where the lines are never straight and the angles never right, and the soft, protean clouds yield not to the asphalt gods of forced and rigid dominion. There is that moment, that flashing moment that passes between the beat of a sparrow’s wing, in which that whole world is conceived and born, as he deftly steps over the puddle to avoid getting any of the water on his sock.

o O o

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4 thoughts on “Opposable

    • Strange thing about that photograph. Like most things I shoot ‘artistically’, it was random, and sat for years buried in a pile before I ever truly ‘saw’ it. I don’t think I knew what I was getting even in the moment. That’s a gift.

      • I love it when that happens. Just the other day I almost trashed a photo when I noticed a corner of it was quite exceptional. Just a little cropping and a little editing and I had something worth keeping.

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