[10.5 ToC]



Hilary Plum 

If the first lighthouse was a bell. To sound: to test (lungs or another body cavity) by noting the sound they produce. A body is a body of water. A buoy a bell on the skin of water. A bell can by rung by water. To convey a specified impression when heard.
     A lighthouse is also the wedge-shaped core of darkness. Mrs. Ramsay sits, knitting, and watches: crossing the floor after the triangle of light is the stroke of darkness.
     The stroke of the clock. The stroke of the clapper within the cavity, against the lip of the bell, to meet.
     To lip: to lap against.
     Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by. She looked up over her knitting.
     If knowledge: coolness. If the first clock was the sun.
     If the first map of the sea was stars. To look for one light, lower, to warn, one false star on the lip of the land. The rocks meeting the hull.
     The hull is what a seed is kept in, what protects it. We are all in the hands of the Lord.
     The bell on the water tips until the water laps against the lip of the bell. This is a storm.
     In the first and all subsequent shipwrecks, rock pierced the hull, then water.
     The stroke of water. The first boat was bark.
     The skin of a tree or the call of an animal.
     She is knitting a stocking. The steady light had her at its beck and call. As if it were stroking with its silver fingers some sealed vessel in her brain.
     To bark: to strip bark from.
     A sailing ship, typically with three masts, in which the foremast and mainmast are square-rigged and the mizzenmast is rigged fore-and-aft.
     The first lighthouses were lit by fire though made of wood. Subsequent ships were metal, pistons stroking.
     The bell is the cup and the clapper. Anything hollow that’s struck is the bell. The bell is the cry of a stag, or the bark.
     From the German bellen: to bark.
     The cry of the stag in rut. In rut the antlers cut the bark of a tree. The petals of the flower a bell in which the reproductive organs are held.
     To rut, from to roar.
     The roar of the waves.
     Sonar, a system for the detection of objects underwater, for measuring the depth of the water by emitting sound pulses and detecting or measuring their return after being reflected.
     Sonar is also animals calling in air or water, the bat or the whale, to reflect.
     Radar is from radio from radius: a bone in a forearm, a vein in a wing.
     When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless.
     If radio, radar, light are beams and waves: the sea is light and sound, the maps sea and sound, the sound light and sea. The reflection is a lip. The skin a bell. The surface a skin sound breaks: to meet, alight, a husk, penetrable by waves, reflected light, the seed within, we are all in the hands of, the vessels of blood, bones radiating.
     If the brain, a vessel pierced by light. Light strokes the darkness of a vessel. If light, sound, the lip. If the reflection a cry against the range of the brain. If the bell a beam over the skin of the roar of the water, if the brain a vessel against water.
     Light, neither a wave nor not a wave, is from the same root as lung.
     Often she found herself sitting and looking, sitting and looking, with her work in her hands until she became the thing she looked at.







"Heat, pressure, time..." was a response to an assignment to write a fictional essay, and influenced by an earlier loose collaboration in writing forms of syllabi with Zach Savich. It incorporates some pieces of text from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse and the New Oxford American Dictionary.