The Book of the Dead Man (The Foundry)
Live as if you were already dead. – Zen admonition 1. About the Dead Man and the Foundry The dead man hath founded the dead man's foundry. He acted in the past perfect, he funded it with clean dirt, pure water and the spotless air. Then he was melted, he was molded, he was poured and shook out. He was ground and sanded, he was machined to a sweet tolerance. The dead man took pains to stay alive, this was how. It was the undersong of the self, the subtext, the no-man's-land's calling. For the dead man was subterranean to start. He was the tuber in the sun, the worm warming, the root that stays put. The dead man became again what he was, he germinated. It was the foundry of the sun, the foundry of the earth's core, the foundry of the electric light and the dry cell. It was the retrofit energy that did it, the assemblage after dispersion, the kick in the pants we call chaos. We are the children of a hothouse, among orchids that grow in lava. 2. More About the Dead Man and the Foundry The foundry of the dead man pops and smolders with re-creation. It is recreated in the titanic and the miniature, every detail. Within the dead man, the same fire burns. The same furnace, the same raw materials that made flesh. The same red water, the same liquid sinew cooling. The dead man's foundry has made weapons and ploughshares, and those who use them. The foundry and the forge, the shapes imprisoned in the molten streams of rough matter, these are precursors of the human, too. The steam escaping from a wounded body is the foundry. The heat of exhalation, the blush of desire, the red sun under the skin—they are the foundry. And the high temperature of the ill, and the heat of the first foundry reassembling at its source. If you believe in the reformation of energy, then you believe as well in the dead man. He is heating up, and what is emotion?
Copyright © 2009 by Marvin Bell. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.