Architecture II

By Rob Carney

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Old Roads, New Stories: A Literary Series


The newest building on my campus isn’t good. The inside design is like an airport terminal, and the elevators are a crapshoot; it’s anyone’s guess from hour to hour if they’ll work. It’s been 13 decades since they built the Eiffel Tower, but I bet its lift goes up and down just fine. What else?—it’s been under re-construction since the week after we moved in.

But there is one feature about it I really do like: the windows facing east above the courtyard. There’s something accidentally great about the glass, the way it bounces sunlight, so sometimes you’ll find this zone where the air is 40 degrees warmer. Well, not a zone, a small spot, a thin column, maybe two feet by six feet at most. Think of the transporter room on Star Trek, only random and diagonal.

If you’re anything like me, you want a whole house made of this glass. Better yet, a geodesic igloo: all those surfaces, mosaic tilts, a panoramic spaciousness, the sun reflecting in a hundred directions through the late-fall forests of Canada. Think of the bears there—sun-dazzled grizzlies—delaying their hibernation, spending a few days leaning against the trees, these thousand-year evergreens with trunks as warm as August. They’d track the sun as the morning circled, searching out the next oasis. And they wouldn’t do it by smell, though they’ve got world-record noses. And they wouldn’t be guided by eyesight, though they can see around a river bend and upslope into the future. No, they’d navigate by fur and muscle and joy. And otters too—they’d hang around swimming, taking turns crisscrossing from hot to cold, from cousin-of-ice to cousin-of-jacuzzi in an improvised game of hide-and-seek. Maybe even wolverines. And lynx. Those rare ones, most solitary. They’d follow the rumors of crowsquawk, arrive, and find it good: plenty of geese zonked out, and rabbits like stove-warm dumplings. And you there, standing at the window since everything’s a window, the whole house, even the staircase to the loft where you’re perfectly naked, looking out at a great blue heron drying its wings in four concentrated sunbeams.

Or you’re dressed. Or you’re holding a coffee mug. It’s up to you. You decide on the details…. When you close your eyes, is anyone with you? Do they strike you the same way, like sunlight reflected on the place you’re standing? Is your heart awake? Is it a ricochet?

What will this magic make you feel like next?



Rob Carney’s fourth book, 88 Maps, was published by Lost Horse Press (distribution by University of Washington Press). Previous books and chapbooks include Story Problems and Weather Report, both from Somondoco Press.
Read poetry by Rob Carney appearing in Terrain.org: 6th Annual Contest Finalist, 4th Annual Contest Winner, and Issue 30. And listen to a new radio interview with Rob Carney, and here’s an older radio interview.

Photo of forest light courtesy Pixabay.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.