the speed of the wall


Introduce me to the lifeforms that thrive. Introduce me to the lifeforms that thrive not because of their surroundings, but despite them. I want to hear about the ones that grow ecstatic under pressure. The ones that explode into life because they are being annihilated.

On our search, after having scaled every distant peak, the decimated ruin finally reveals itself. This charred wall still stands despite a history of endured assaults, and it is here we will meet its bubbling population. Starkly backlit by a brown sky, a piercing light gouges into the clouds that ooze above, and arctic howls pummel our bodies. We kneel, lowering our heads to the gravel, and the wall hums.

This remnant of an obliterated home still remains a home, but unlike the distant past, it will no longer speak to us until it is engaged. The pieces are fearful. The pieces have learned their lessons, and will never again beckon. So lean in closer and whisper back.

Gloriously, the wall’s mere existence is an act of overt defiance. We learn that this wall has a biography, a family tree, this place was once kissed by other peoples’ senses. Only swiftly did they taste the wall’s virtues, clearly thankful for providing physical shelter, but it was without ever savoring the inner details. It was without ever dissecting the residues that they themselves helped forge.

We are in orbit looking towards Earth. By never having squinted to see beyond the slow gray expanses as seen from the sky, growing like a rot linking mountains to shorelines, those who skim surfaces forgo the abundance of deeper realities. As brown shifts into green, then gray, a vibrating flicker emerges. These inner neighborhoods and deeply entrenched buildings were once accessible. We once dined here, held hands and laughed here, but now all our loved ones are either gone or are leaving. So we have no place left to rest our heads.

All that remains is the shell that once cupped us all in its palm. All that remains is a clumsy inclination to engage with dead mass, to stroke the crevices, to flirt with cold form. And not knowing why. Mortar still exists, and concrete collects in piles, but like a drunkard unable to operate a house key, we are unable to breach ancient gateways. Impatience prevents us from ever mustering truly fresh considerations, our responses are reflex, and our languages learned.

Three more hours pass beside the wall. A tiny horn chirps from within a brick. We can hear it! Holding our breaths for fear of slipping, we become increasingly inquisitive and silent, and further communicate with the ridges and indentations. We no longer dictate the wall’s purpose, we no longer recite pre-appraised values, instead we merely sit. We recognize.

Smiling softly and listening, we detect a series of squeaks. If we are generous and visit the neighbor-matter on its terms, we will learn to decode this musical chatter. In return for our briefest moments of consideration, the wall will love us, and gift us with its cipher.

For us, the warmth from our touching forms blends for the first time, but for the wall it is a reunion. Together we shine and fabricate affection; sharing a pure empathy unencumbered by patterns or protocol, walls or planets. At last unhinged and chaotic, we blend our favorite memories into the concoction that was always intended, drink, and slowly lick each other’s new tongues.


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