|The Demolished Transmitter
You start in the audience, standing
on a park bench on Mutual to look east
beyond the hoardings that mark the limit of the orchestra.
The background consists of ranks of half-rooms
that eruptfrom faades which still wall Jarvis's west side
into bristles of lath and plaster, hardwood, rod, pipe and wire.
On the proscenium, the radio mast, felled,
is sprawled amidst the driftwood, the junk trees
plowed under during construction and dredged up with the razing.
The wings show the gashes left by ghosted roofs,
indications of the structures that enclosed the moorings
when the transmitter stood,
local type of the city's grander tower.
With pinnacle visible but base obscured
by the neighbourhood's low ceiling of leaves and shingles,
it had flowed earthward, a metal Nile,
the ironwork, painted in sections white and orange,
branching from its unmysterious source,
a single blinking safety light, to form a delta
that suggested fathoms hidden from the street,
waters now fled. The stage is desiccated, set
with images from one of the Black Sea's lost expanses
where evaporation has revealed the contents of the beds
and beached the hulks of the marine.
Waved from the stresses of the taking down, the latticework
proceeds horizontal, lines of music
in counterpoint, a sculpture of a score
for skronking horns, nuclear takes
on those notes sung across miles of deep ocean,
a song of demolition, its elements
the low moans of bending steel,
the trills of the wrecking ball's chain,
the roaring sounds of the cutter's engine,
the chirps of bolts giving way,
arranged in simple patterns, phrases,
then grouped into longer themes,
the themes sung in specific order
from first to last with surfacing for breath
at the end of each union day, all sounding
again with the morning, repeating the entire song
until the tower was toppled from its piles.
A driveway off Jarvis has been gravelled over,
access to the site. It's Sunday and you pass
the unmanned trailer office to enter stage left,
finding your mark at a railing that divides
the level footing of the path from the ragged
area surrounding the tower that is a tower no longer
even the tower image, the crosshatch once plotted in elevation
by technical pens, has been bitten away. The remaining form,
skeletal, leviathan, shows awesomely
what abstract dimensions had failed to show:
the size of the whale. Nearest to you
are the wider sections of the base, now curled into crown
and ribs, the mass slendering not to a tip
but to a tail from which the flukes have been violently torn.
Enter another, a man naked above his jeans,
grey hair and beard, pushing an empty shopping cart
on his days' journey across the exceeding great city.
Automatically he leaves the cart, clears the railing,
picks his way through the littered scene;
you watch him flailing inside the belly, pulling at the wreck,
wrestling with pieces larger than himself,
unlikely salvage. You watch his untiring
assault, inexplicable in this performance.
The fish dead and the city overthrown,
there can be neither vengeance nor anger.
He tells you, "I'm working; can't you see
I'm working?" You exit, vomited out
of the theatre, alone escaped to tell.
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