local_library Construction

by Michalle Gould

Published in Issue No. 42 ~ November, 2000

Lately, I’ve been dreaming of architecture.
After all, does not architecture hold a mirror to the human condition?

In the shape of the Opera Bastille, a gray hippopotamus idling
along the bank of the Seine, swatting at flies and passersby with its tail,

is there nothing to be said about the French?
Perhaps not, if the architect was German.

In descending towards Manhattan, by airplane, or hot-air balloon, and seeing
amidst the customary mixture of clusters of first fir trees, and fields, and then

housing: a perimeter of water, and beyond to massive towers bulging hysterically
out of the concrete like a nesting place for some ancient race of giants,

so that everything else for miles appears eclipsed by their shadow, in danger of withering from an absence of light,

can one really ask merely of the person in the next seat, if it would be possible to close the window against the glare?

And in dreaming about blueprints for a building with tens or possibly
hundreds of stories and a ladder along its side “For Emergency Use Only”

and a greenhouse towards the bottom, for experimentation
with the effect of different temperatures rather than shadings

of light on the angle at which sunflowers grow,
and a waterfall, the newest fashion, from the tip of a steel tower,

gathering force along a specially designed series of gutters, like a pinball,
dropping unimpeded starting halfway down the building,

so it hits the ground beneath with the force of a small earthquake
so it opens like a geologist’s map to a cross-section

of not centuries but eras
and the skeletal structure of ancient civilizations:

what do you think it means that the open-mouthed ruin of the Tower of Babel,
whose head was meant to open its eyes to the heavens,

rests miles beneath even a tent in the desert
where nomads offer coffee in small cups to sun-dazzled travelers

sitting cross-legged on the ground
which has buried and will bury again.

account_box More About

This year Michalle Gould will receive her MFA in Fiction/Poetry from the University of Texas at Austin where she held a James Michener Fellowship. Her writing is forthcoming in Salt Hill and Another Chicago Magazine. Her fiction has been nominated for the 'Best New American Voices' anthology, and has won the Fania Kruger Fellowship Competition for the best story or poems with 'social vision'.