The Lacrimae Rerum: the Tears in Things

By Abby Walsh

I wonder if Architects ever think about what their building designs will look like in the rain, hugged tight by haze, or the season’s first snow.

Walking to the train, down Lexington Avenue after a late job, I noticed a building I’ve never noticed before. Wrapped in fog, light from its top 6 floors reached out and caressed the low slung cloud forms. Were all of those lit shapes offices? Was that wall of light a modern day beacon of some sort, drawing Suits to the Capitalist flame, declaring our cultural values? In the semi darkness it looked like an animal, like it was shifting in its skin, prowling in place, as the fog rolled and fumed, covered parts and revealed others. Is it a creature of the future or the past? A beast of steel whose veins run underneath the city streets, is it a shadow of Titans who walked the Earth before Man, chained to the earth so we could rule? Maybe the shifting weather is the only chance it has to breath, to contemplate taking a step, of freedom, of sighing and swaying in the wind and snow.

Of course it looks alive, after two days of me consuming nothing but coffee in the depths of the Armory, with its giant steel ribs. I always think of Jonah, trapped in the belly of the Whale. The Armory follows me home, I woke up later, throat so dry I couldn’t breath – the moisture stolen from my bound-water-being by the dry floor boards, by the thirsty mold growing in the rigging. My sacrum talks to me of the weight of my brain, my skull, thoughts and frustrations dripping down my spine for days with no reprieve. The heaviness pools in my pelvis, I can feel the pressure at the place where hip becomes thigh, a sneaking strain at the joint that feels like the femur may just fall loose from the socket in exhaustion. I wonder if that is why buildings groan. Maybe I rest my body’s weight in the center so I can stay light on my feet, so I am never caught rooted in place, never unpacking my bags. I’m a ship, not a tree. A fish pretending to be a fox.

Peeling off my clothes, I notice the familiar subtle rash I always get from places like the Armory, especially in the winter. The Piers are the same way – once, in Pier 59, after days of crawling around on my back underneath platforms that barely cleared my chest to bolt the floors together, someone told me it was one of the places the rubble from 9/11 was stored to pick through for body parts. Was it the pain and fear of so many people’s final moments that seeped into my pores, my skin broken out in anger, my nose leaking with black mucus? When I finally had time to shower, the grey of my body melted and pooled around my feet, in retrospect, I wonder whose skin it was that I had shed? Is dust from buildings not intimately related to the dust of our own skin cells? Will some of these buildings sink so deeply into my flesh that their elements become tools for my bone cells to construct their crystalline homes, my scaffolding, my stronger-than-reinforced-concrete structure?

If those resourceful creatures use what they are given I must have bones made of coffee, of lack-of-sleep, of lost time.

Will I eventually/potentially pass on some deep genetic memory of those buildings I have labored in, the minerals, chemicals, psychic energies finding their way into the blood lining of my womb, into the breast milk that may one day nurture my own hybrid creature, born fractured – part Selfness, part Steel?
Abby build things, primarily with steel or metaphor.  Find more of her here:

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