Sunday, March 30, 2008

Two Hundred Feet Above the Earth

On the brightest of sunny days, a flying contraption soars on a current of crisp blue wind. At about two hundred feet above the earth, it coasts, like an oversized time machine on a rogue mission. Its speed is high, and it easily leaves behind the flocks of white birds on their yearly migration.
The pilot is a mystery, whether man or machine, I cannot tell, but the contraption flies well, maintaining its smoothness and speed amongst the aggressive wind. I sit upon a wooden bench at the helm, a rickety old fence post once stolen from a neighbor’s yard. There is no floor, and my legs dangle loosely over the seat, each new gust of air sends them swinging wildly, like the limbs of my companion.
The machine is small and compact, made mostly of copper tubing, sheets of metal and a huge brightly colored air balloon which keeps us afloat. It looks like a lunatic’s invention, created quickly from a doodle using found scrapes and stolen debris. It has traveled far to make this journey, centuries or more, but there is an excitement that permeates the whole of it, blanketing us in newness and innocence. The wind feels like a friend playing upon our skin, the birds wink in our direction. This is a maiden voyage, clean from any past experience. All is new, and from this flight, we will not be returning.
We are directly above a city. A potpourri of structures stretches to the horizon in all directions, a striking mixture of large and small buildings, civic centers, offices, houses, museums, and monuments. This is the eternal civilization- the one that has spawned countless poor imitations. This is Rome as it could have been. This is the city philosophers have spoken of…the ideal city thought only to exist as concept. The edifices shine, scrubbed clean and glowing in every possible glory. Their hues are soft and inviting, only the palest shades of marble have been used in their construction. Under the light of the full sun, everything is immaculate. Stretching to eternity, the avenues are precise and wide, dividing the immense landscape into navigable blocks. They are so clean…so exact. Their possessive symmetry shouts far into the sky and reaches my ears. The best engineers and mathematicians have created these roads and I am breathless in the precision of their art.

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