We need a new home with good bones,
he said. That first winter, he scanned
every surface with a laser.
Now a surgeon with a keyboard
and mouse, he dissects the model.
We have got a home with good bones,
and I see them as he slices
one way, hallways musculature
and stairs, arteries. Two more
clicks reveal organs: couch, chair, bed.
Our hundred-year-home with good bones
looks like a doll’s house with its front
sheared-off, but its dolls aren’t home, no
pixelated ghosts either, just
sheer pools of color: toy, blanket.
We’re lungs in a home with good bones,
and outside the umbrella spines
of old trees hover as we breathe.
The project of Lead, South Dakota is to negotiate between the Homestake Mine and the town’s fabric—or, to be cliché, the space between the two. We should build in and over and under the Open Cut. It will just subside in entropy unless it is made urban. – Brian T. Rex
I found you raw, cratered knee mapped
with scar tissue of the railroad track variety.
You’d finished with the one whose words
‘I don’t love you anymore’ cleft you,
and you’d left the one who mined the neglect. The topographical change of Lead— twelve-hundred fifty feet— breaks across a valley and the Open Cut; the pit
won’t fill with water as once imagined.
What vision one needs to design in spaces
between, to bring the open cut astronauts
can spot from space into conversation with
the sloped streets and picket fences of that
mining village. Your model features ghosted
structures that collapsed into Lead’s maw.
Her words, the next one’s guile, and my hand
on your thigh exist simultaneously. My project
builds in and over and under. No one had ever kissed
the skin the oncologist stitched so close to the bone. We work because we questionin love. Fingers against cheek,
it leads where it leads; we make it urban.
Brian Rex is associate professor and founding head of the Department of Architecture at South Dakota State University. His scholarly interest is in “-Grounds”. His various projects and studies form a constellation of civic work that presumes architecture must work in relationship to the land. See more of his work at briantrex.org.
South Dakota’s poet laureate, Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author of several books of poetry, including Untrussed (University of New Mexico Press 2016) and Bluewords Greening (Terrapin Books 2016), winner of the 2018 Whirling Prize. A professor of English at South Dakota State University, she released the poetry anthology South Dakota in Poems in October 2020 and looks forward to The Poet & The Architect (Terrapin Books 2021). Find her work at christinestewartnunez.com.