Eduardo N. de valle
high on a girder
arcs fusing steel
swarms of fireflies
Down the southeast shaft the pounding echoes in a muffled humdrum, mallets on flanges and baseplates, setting steel columns and beams in to their blueprint places — work on this mission going on now in finely designed fury, racing against the red intensity of a descendent sun.
This one here was the first of thousands still coming, prepped, primed and dressed — holes bored precisely to align with its gussets, set for erection— in a cloak of white sheen.
This one’s special.
Cyanotype clarity filled the sky that day. Sun threw low-angled light on its flange and welded studs, shinning a collage of architectural, biotic and perdue-present shadows on its waist-high web. By design its nature a column, strong enough to bear up to ten thousand men, fabricated to withstand lateral and dynamic and seismic loads of untold magnitudes — it spanned awkwardly between two wooden blocks as they stooped in front of it —thus it looked discomfited, lying in such illogical horizontality, when it wanted to be as it now stands, erect, doing its job, taking on more loads as the tower rises.
hundreds queued in
No peaks or lows of cold or darkness among anyone that day, no hardness or harshness or gloominess in the heart of that host, nothing but a sense of collective December-cool reflection, self-withdrawal to affirmation and self-control. I remember it all clearly, as I’m dwarfed in its presence again. (I like standing next to it, now especially when it is the quietest it could be this low below in the hole) It could’ve all been nothing but my inculcated instincts, guilty then as now of self-sprung reactions, like that to a column acting like a beam — something unnatural in the sphere of physics: gravity: comprehension of some realities obviously beyond the reaches of my reasoning...that, too, it could be.
And it’s because, or it may be more appropriately said in spite of all that’s happened that we hear and see the pounding drilling hoisting bolting torquing above grade, the work-mission going on relentlessly, each trade playing out its feat under this cerulean realm. And as the welder lather carpenter mason concreter ironworker display the flairs of their crafts, the thought comes to me, here, standing by its mass-shadow: It is what they had to do — remit:
on column J-12