The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse
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And yet Tevis transforms these eerie destinations into sites of creation as well, uncovering powerful points of connection. Whether she’s relating her experience of motherhood or describing the timbre of Freddy Mercury’s voice in “Somebody to Love,” she relies on the same reverence for detail, the same sense of awe. And by anchoring her attention to the raw materials of our world—nails and beams, dirt and stone, bones and blood—she discovers grandeur in the seemingly mundane.
Possessed throughout with eclectic intelligence and extraordinary lyricism, these essays illuminate curiosities and momentous events with the same singular light.
strapless ball gown the color of winter wheat. She’ll stand there the whole time, swaying gently, looking over your shoulder at America and wearing a little smile that says there is nothing better than this, to be here in this place, young, feeling this song in your body, warm inside the theater while outside the wind blows, louder and louder, sneaking its way in through any crack it can find and shrieking now in your ear, higher and colder and harder and harder until finally it stops. Amen!
rare specimens. I must have coveted the quartz lining this room, would have been tempted to worry a piece loose, like a tooth, knowing that even the impulse was wrong. I would have longed to sit in this niche for hours, hoarding this sharp beauty. Not long ago, I uncovered my old rock collection, its specimens packed away in newspaper. There were tiny garnets I had sieved from mud at a North Carolina mine; quartz, still stained from the red clay it had been buried in; fluorite crystals, purple
this region made micas and melon-balls, slags and corkscrews, bricks and beach-balls and bumblebees. Today almost all of the marble factories are gone, and who remembers how to play conqueror, eggs in the bush, bounce eye, skelly, or cherry pit? Marbles seem to be humble things, but in fact they put the world in a poke. Burned trash, junk transformed, art so cheap kids can buy it by the bagful. Marbles take no obvious signature, their skins too smooth for writing. But those who know can tell
into the category of ‘severely depressed.’” Maybe it would be better if I died, I say to David. There would be the life insurance money. Knife, cement truck, R-O-P-E. You could have children with another woman, I say. Someone younger. “Try a pole-dancing class,” counsels the website. Don’t say that, he says. You can’t say that. From the corner of my eye I see movement (rat? beetle?) but when I turn my head there’s nothing. I watch as the wood grain in the hallway ripples and flows. I wake to
the California junket. Thanks to Anna Lena Phillips and Emily Louise Smith for their thoughtful editing of the piece for Ecotone. An important natural-history source, intertwined with biblical quotations, was The Medieval Book of Birds: Hugh of Fouilloy’s Aviarium, translated by Willene B. Clark (Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1992). For more about earthquakes, specifically the strange actions of animals right before an event, see Motoji Ikeya’s Earthquakes and