Excerpt: 'Legend of the Necessary Dreamer' by Maria Fusco



From Legend of Girth:

I resume.

My perception of space is not two-dimensional. I cannot read this.

It makes no sense.

The architect has spread his plan flush against a tiny area of my total surface. I feel the heel of his hand evenly pressing down on brittle tracing paper, applying firm light pressure to smooth it in all directions. The tips of his four fingers and two  thumbs support his bodily weight behind, holding the tracing paper square, steady at such an unnatural angle.

The plan hugs me flatly, trying to communicate, its ink schematic seeping somewhat. The architect’s plan is describing intimate detail: touch; cross projections; lines interconnecting at more or less right angles, their depth paced to depict the relative thickness of the palácio’s interior walls; human stride rationalised in millimetres; doorways where they ought not to be; windows looking black; Pombaline sills; a useful legend; and there, just there look, the evidence of a quivering nib.

I can’t keep up. This architect’s plan is describing me.

Surely the enterprise is a sin of pride, demonstrating entrenched planes and suffocating corners, which expand and contract in search of their term, animus.

I peer at folly. I imagine, but I have no means of  being sure:

Thick lines are thick walls are old walls, many hands slowly, seventeenth century. Fortification. Heat. Cold. I regulate such factors in the palácio with the aid of girth.

Thin lines are thin walls are new walls, many hands swiftly, nineteenth century. Subdividing. By erecting further me, extra chambers were crafted, flimsy by comparison perhaps, smaller certainly, but doubling the space here all the same.

This more of me is counter-intuitive, this more of me adds space, not reduces  it: where do all the materials used to create this space, to make this more of me, go?

By redoubling the material and repeating the composition of my form, the palácio grows, building function. Yet the importance of the architect’s plan is marginal, it means little as an actual document, for what does it in fact show? Nothing of significance, I will tell you a story:

There is an element that dwells within me. He is left behind. He hums when he is happy, he cries when he is sad. I have never heard him hum. He arrived on the final dearth day of the 1912 strike. He wore no shoes so at first I didn’t hear him entering. He slept deeply. The year ended. He awakened keen. Sharp with hunger. He cried.  He cried. He slept deeply. He awakened weak. Blown and pale. He cried. He cried. He slept deeply. He awakened cold. Chewed mortar. Supped sand. His teeth ground  a slurred song. His eyes leaked saturating my surface. He is not in memory.

If the architect now drew by hand a small, human-scaled figure tracking their progress as they move through the ground floor, first floor, second floor of the palácio, walking through the corridors and entering the rooms which I form, I would not know where I was on the plan, I would be the one who is lost.

Excerpted from Legend of the Necessary Dreamer by Maria Fusco, published by Vanguard Editions, on Jan 1, 2017. Republished here with permission of the publisher.