Why Things Stay Up
Scheherazade was half an engineer —
the whole point of those stories is not to end.
Engineers like up, smooth, solid, stay.
Barefoot in breechclouts, they sling thin lines across
ignorance, tie on heavier cables hauled
across the gap by other anonymous arms.
On civilization’s table Engineering
isn’t the ice sculpture shining where it rises
between the bowls of roses — it’s the table.
Stories want friction, want splinter, want fast, want crash.
Stories need sand in the engine, a crack in the brace.
The point of a movie rope bridge is to fall.
Engineers change genius into thing
in incremental, undramatic steps.
Not many stories about engineers
whose questions changed our hands, which changed our brains,
deeper-pleated them, rewiring their circuits.
Engineers may be humanity’s thumbs.
Or maybe they’re the bridge itself, always linking
the current world to the new possible.
Defying gravity like tightrope walkers
they deflect pressure down the sides of arches,
out around barrel vaults, groin vaults, outward through
buttresses that fly like petrified lace.
They toss steel into the sky where against the sun
on a cable strung between two towers
you can just make out a dancing man.about the author