Friday, October 25, 2013

On Heaven's Walls

The Bricklayer
scored his brow.
Despite his straining art
he now
had not one course
to plumb.
The sweeping arches in his mind
would not form,
for each brick placed
would fall
into the endless depths
that swallowed all.

His many bricks
and keening skill
could not bridge
gravity’s will.
No strata
could be found
from which to spring.
No ground
on which to lay.
No mix
of cement and stone
would fix.

Despairing, he watched
the downward arc
of his industry.
Each creative spark
illuminating nothing
as it passed
through eons of empty night
and at last,
shunned by the indifferent void
it died,
crushed in a weightless world
by weightless pride.

Your back, bowing
beneath the weight
of knowing
would but elate
if your feet would yield.
Yet you see what falls
because you stand
on heaven’s walls.
as you mete the edge,
the Architect of
your teetering ledge.

An Explanation

What I have tried to describe here is one of life's great paradoxes - the paradox of knowing. Of all the creatures in the universe we are (as far as we currently know) the only ones that can survey their own finitude. We have knowledge of what we are, but that knowledge tells us that we are almost nothing.

The gravity metaphor explores this. If we were in free-fall, we would perceive a weightless world and all our efforts to build would simply disintegrate as it fell around us. Yet we perceive the pressure of weight, like the action and reaction of a weight above our heads and our feet on solid ground. Could we feel this pressure because we live in a peculiar juncture between time and eternity? The picture I have attempted to invoke is of someone peering over the edge, into the void below - his perspective possible not because he is falling, but because he is standing. Is it because his vantage point is from the walls of heaven? And, what would he see if looked up and around?

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