Children pelted me in the streets.
I was imprisoned by my father in a miniature city that whorled left and
In the midst of the city there was to be a lighthouse.
The architect, however, had gotten into a crash that had left him with one
arm intact, wife dead.
That one arm was enough; three days after the funeral, he began building
the city, a miniature city carved from odds and ends of marble, placed beneath
a glass dome.
First, the buildings were simply blocks, windows gauged out in approximation.
Flecked blocks stood beside Connemara green.
Small fountains were carved in feldspar and granite or moulded in plaster.
In June, he started over in white Siennese marble, windows of real glass.
In the middle of the city, he built not a lighthouse as I desired but a
small replica of the mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
The original stood 41 meters high.
This model, ten meters high, stood out of proportion to the rest of the
It was magnificently large; the largest sky scrapers stood a mere two.
The colonnade was formed of 36 columns.
A stepped pyramid rested on the colonnade and a statue of his wife, Emma,
naked, high breasted, arms akimbo, topped this pyramid.
He had estimated that the city would take five years to complete; twelve
years and half a million dollars later, it sprawled into a megapolis, half-finished;
he had exhausted all funds from the king.
People swarmed to see it; he charged admission; after two and a half years,
he resumed building.
He ordered a colony of large white rodents and placed them beneath the glass
Most died or escaped but some remained, mutated.
They began to chew paper, stand upright and fashion clothes for themselves,
read whatever books he provided them with, rode the electric monorail that
he had installed in the city.
He carved a small wooden chair and scepter for the queen ant and placed
her upon it.
When the creature squirmed, he applied a small dab of glue to her back and
placed her firmly upon the seat.
There she stayed until she died, a week later.
The new queen was born and fled underground.
A civil war ensued; soon the architect discovered that the rodents had created
a fogging device whereby the city was entirely hidden from view.
Once the last building was placed, the last wire connected, he would seal
it off and vacuum out the creatures.
The city would be clean and lifeless as it had originally been planned.
I could live there in my splendid isolation.
A month later, a summer flood dislodged the glass dome.
Even the headstones in the cemetery had been loosened, swept clean away.
The marble effigy of his wife, now armless, was found embedded in a riverbank
fifteen miles away.
The architect sealed the windows, leaned against the oven and let the gas
fill his kitchen.
He was found, head bowed, in a chair.
Nevertheless, before he killed himself, my uncle erected, from the ruins
of the city, a light pasttime, a puzzle of sorts, a makeshift maze of trees
An apology to me for having waited so long, for nothing.
Here, my cousin alighted with food and made me metallic toys that sang and
But he kept his distance.
After many years, I became silent.
I would sit in the mausoleum much like a spider in its web, watching the
children stumble back and forth, tired, hungry.
I was so far from the sea now.
One day I saw a distant form circling the horizon.
My cousin had finally managed to fly beyond the reach of my father.
0 1 2 +/ +