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tearing the rag off the bush again
Art Kills One, Injures Two! Special to the Corpse Direct from Campus PDF E-mail

The geologist came each day to the sculpture garden for lunch.  Sometimes it was egg salad he brought from home.  Other days it was pizza from the man with a cart.  Then coffee if the weather was cold.  He liked the idea, the geologist did, of stairs that slanted down into the earth.  He liked descending into a garden with travertine walls.  There he could listen to a little stream drop into a reflecting pool.  See something by Henry Moore reclining.
    One day it hailed, icy beads bouncing like a string of broken pearls, the water dancing.  Another day the skater kids made a racket, motoring clackity-clackity-clack over joints in the paving stones and grinding down the edge of the reflecting pool until the guard chased them away.  “You kids get outta here.  You’re gonna bust your ass, and then what?  Get the hell outta here!”
    Then the art descended.  Now that was a cold day!  They cleared the street for a hundred yards, and a crane unspooled itself, dangling what appeared to be a piece of ship, a hull pried loose from skeleton and set piece by piece in some new configuration.  While the geologist cowered.  Any shadow from above would frighten him, and now these monstrous sheets of metal.  After the artist himself made a speech, the homeless man in fingerless gloves shouted, “We don’t need no fucking experiential space!  You can’t even walk around down here no more!”
But the pigeons came.  And tourists too.  Of course it was no longer the same garden, although the publicity machine implied there was a certain fame to be acquired from walking among these ribbons of rust.  Which rose to fourteen feet and, nestled inside themselves, looked like something from God’s own broken watch.  Only, the pigeon lady never returned, and the geologist himself thought about buying a pair of fingerless gloves.
So those skater kids came back, and there was this boom.  Like the ringing of a temple bell.  Everyone felt but no one saw, at first, the constricted space.  One leaf of steel had slipped catastrophically against its brother, and now both lay on the ground nested in complementary curves.  Not a dollar bill of thickness in between them.  Just the boy.  And, oh my God, once again the geologist at the top of those stairs who had to explain the nature of sedimentation to the firemen and policemen who arrived.  And had to be restrained.
Another one of the boys, his foot caught between two plates, was allowed for some minutes to make sounds like the ambulance.  And a third lay stunned against the wall.  There was nothing you could do.  Someone gathered up the skateboards.  The medics went in to amputate the foot.  But it was quite a while before anyone thought to put up yellow tape.  Then even longer before a crane arrived.  A little one, like something from a storybook and barely stout enough to lift one edge of sculpture.  While they slipped in hydraulic jacks and rigging tools.
Two detectives brought the mother of the boy to the experiential space, and there on steps several strata beneath the street, she lifted up his name the way no one could lift the metal plates.  The geologist himself looked for billowing clouds and people rushing in the street, but this was just an accident.  Just a boy who was now a fish.  He told the fireman with a radio, “He’s just a fish, a fossil you have to understand; and you’ll need me to separate the layers with utmost delicate care.  I’m telling you even a trilobite can be damaged if you don’t do it with a brush.”
“Keep outside the tape, sir,” the fireman said.  “Step back, or I’ll get the cops.”
So there you have it.  An expert in these matters, who could have helped, sat slumped against a railing and, like everybody else, watched the rescue workers jack the metal plates apart.      Then further waiting as the captain asked for volunteers.  Finally a youngish fireman took off his fireman’s coat.  Passed to a friend his heavy hat.  And went in and out a different man.  Into the gap between the artist’s renderings, at one point asking for a trowel.  At another waiting for the hose.
“There’s no coming back here now,” said the ragged homeless man.
“We’ll find another place,” the geologist replied.   “Maybe deeper underground.”
“That poor boy,” said the homeless man.  “You should say something quick, before they take him away.  You’re an educated man.  Say something that will help.”
The geologist ran through the yellow tape, snatched up the coat, and draped it over the young fireman’s shoulders.  “I’m sorry you had to see that,” he said.  “Sorrier still you had to go inside.  That makes you a geologist now, like me.  You’ll never be all right.  But someday, I promise, you’ll. . . .”
“Get back,” said the cop.  “Sir, get back outside the tape.”
“Remember,” shouted the geologist, “love is all that counts.  This happens wherever airplanes fly inside of buildings.  We’ll be there for you!  Find us when therapy doesn’t work.  We’ll be waiting!  Somewhere deeper underground!”
 
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