Sunday, April 23, 2006

The allure of quintessence

My nostrils burned at the sulfurous stench
of the cavern.
I couldn’t tell if the smell emanated from the chasm below
or from the crooked, smoke-stained pipes
that crowned the professor’s monstrous machine.

Across the gorge, I could see her
capering, frolicking, mad,
delighting in the vast metal engine
which pumped its noxious fumes
into the damp subterranean air.

I could only imagine
what nightmares
drove her to such designs.

“Isabelle!” I shouted. She turned and smiled.
Her android glanced up from its work, but didn’t stop
straightening the twisted wires, its delicate black hands
darting in and out of the sinister engine.

Strands of Isabelle’s hair began to rise into the air
buoyed by esoteric fields of energy
called into being as her mechanical assistant
flipped switches, and pushed buttons
and ran its hands, almost lovingly, over the machine’s
dark surface.

“Come join us,” Isabelle called. She waved toward her machine,
gesturing with obvious pleasure to the almost visible energy
radiating from her creation. I could feel the pull of dark matter,
the draw of cosmic force. I was tempted by the allure of quintessence.

I extended a hand over the gaping chasm and
a blistering cold wind bit into my flesh.
I drew back, as Isabelle beckoned,
her face glowing with light, with heat,
with brilliant energy.

“Come on, Benjamin,” she called.
“We’re creating a new world
where we’ll drink fresh rainwater
and androids will learn how to love;
there will be no more bloodshed
and no one will ever suffer

I began to hear in the hissing and clanking of the machine
a distinct melody. Isabelle, my Isabelle, swayed, dancing
slowly, with her eyes closed, on the edge of the abyss. I sank
to my knees as the sulfurous cloud above the machine began

To morph
Into something
That almost
Made sense
To me.

I stayed kneeling, on sanctified ground,
as the professor and her marvelous machine
sang and danced
and the colors of a new world
boiled out of the abyss.


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