Saturday, August 16, 2008

#181 The Discovery of Fire (2)

In the evening, before the sun set, she would write down those things that had caught her interest during the day. At one time or another she had noticed that she could tell how long she’d been away from home, how long before she had to head back, by the length of the shadows & the direction in which they pointed; how when seen through the smoke from bushfires the sun had a form to it. She noted the way animals tracked & trapped, or how they hid from one another, beneath surfaces or assuming the colour of them. She worked out the cycles of plants, & was no longer surprised by the way fish would reappear from beneath the surface of dry lagoons when they started filling with rain.

Today, as the heavy rain clouds moved down from the north — direction was a concept she was still formulating, but she knew where the sun rose & where it set, & she also knew that, at different times, if she stood facing the sunrise, the hot wetness would come from that side of her face, & the even hotter dryness would approach from the other — she saw a bolt of lightning strike a tree, setting the oil inside it alight. She recalled a smaller spark she had once seen, when a flint axe brandished in anger had struck a cliff of a particular rock rather than the head at which it was aimed. She extrapolated; & realised that if she could find something combustible to trap the spark in she would no longer have to wait to find fire in the wild, would be spared the task of nurturing it, keeping it alive, something that took her away from the composite act of gathering food, information, insight. By forcing two objects into contact with one another she could produce something greater than them both, usually invisible, but there in the air, waiting to be called forth.

In this way Promethea discovered, first, poetry, & then fire.

1 comment:

Ernesto said...

I so love this one. I keep coming back to it.