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July 2019 Vol. 15 No. 2

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Mark Gilbert

Dream in the form of a Haibun

He’s helping us, looking after the fluid thermodynamics measurements. It’s the turn for my data to be gathered so I’ve come up one floor to have a look. Some don’t bother but for me it’s pretty exciting. Through angles of pipework he sees me and simultaneously pouts and tips his head like he is toasting me in his charismatic celebrity kind of way, and that’s my signal to take a breath and overcome my shyness and clamber over and under the pipes and valves in this part of the pilot plant so I can get up close to him. Yeah he’s short but he’s all smiles. We share “Hi, how’s it goin’?” and “Great!” and “Are you a physicist or something y’know because I wouldn’t think you’d like know about thermodynamics and stuff?” and “No way, I just look after the numbers.”

He’s standing next to a vertical iron pipe say two inches in diameter that’s dusted with rust. Dressed in some kind of baggy informal suit. Holding a disposable coffee cup. Water gurgles down the pipe and through the floor while digits flicker on gauges measuring flow rates and temperatures, silently pinging the information back to some computer somewhere. Once it’s set up he doesn’t have anything to do, really. You can see people moving around below us through gaps in the wooden floorboards. The echoes of clanging boots. My head is buzzing. All this is going to inform my haiku (when I write it).

Before coming to bed I had seen a single ant on a flat surface and had killed it. Now when I look down there are many ants racing around on a plastic box, a crate, a chunky hard drive or something.

varnished wood
rolling it between thumb
and forefinger

Leonardo DiCaprio
water flows softly
behind his face

black & white
the shape of the graph
a starling’s arc

Author's note: A pilot plant is a miniature version of a manufacturing plant, used to test new processes or for scaled down manufacturing runs.