Grant White

Foundering

The voyager in the foundry amidst the hot pots of metal, cooling in shafts of internal light, slowly darker, was finding the origins unclear and less than helpful.

The foundryman, overalled and bucket fisted stares amused. A cigarette’s glowing coal drooping from his mouth. He points to the ladle, a crucible laden with the viscous flood of creation. „Here is the world“ he shouts above his own laughter and the smash and whine of machines, flicking spills aside with a broken handled shovel.

The voyager staggers by the hearth seeking depth, bottoming. So much electrical current near him that his hair frizzled and the semi secret pops of ozone in the air are transmitted painfully through his core. The foundryman grimaces at a miscast world and flips it back into the maw of the furnace. Sparks spewing, to cast again.

Somewhere deep must be the stone upon which it was all based; down through strata and subsequent pourings, liquid hot, never apparently solid so it could not be mapped and known. Not from any angle of inspection. Take a bead, make no finding.

The foundryman has blackened stumps for teeth in his cackling face. While puzzling over a mold his tongue takes quick leaps out of the side of his mouth, licking a stubbly spot. Here and there the foundryman adjusts the form that will contain new life with a steel trowel, burnished silver by his deft recalculations of success. Every move a cataclysm. The shape in the mold is inverted and unrecognisable to the voyager who stares unknowing into the gap. Finally satisfied, the foundryman clamps a mate into the mold and calls for more liquid to blast into the form and seal it.

Some fundamental law now operates and controls the grace of creation within the foundry walls. Liquid overruns and is gathered still hot and resubmitted to the arc furnace, the better to pour next. Induction transfigures the concrete turning it to structural jelly. „We cast our life like this!“ the foundryman shouts and watches the plumes of igniting gas hiss from the mold.

The voyagers fund of knowledge is expanding with each subsequent cast into the refactory heart. The heat within contained and cooled, contracting slightly until the light glimmers shut and forms the core of the voyager’s discovery. „You must allow for the shrinkage. Make allowances for everything. You can never wholly know what will happen here.“ The foundryman, probing deep through crust and belly to locate the fundal height of his progeny with a thin strip of metal looks up to say. He frowns, triple folds of grime streaking his face, huge shoulders delicately lace with muscle and relax as the heat in his divining rod indicates the absence of incomplete development.

Some unheard music makes the core tick and jump. Rhythmic internal hummings sluice and vibrate before ebbing back into itself. After a time of this, the mold is cracked apart and the foundling opened to the light. The Foundryman, too eager, leaps upon it to look first hand.

The voyager is now more at ease amidst the varying levels of hard and soft that cascade about him. Bits of broken form hover like dust in the furnace light. Each mote a universe of its own, briefly lit before foundering helplessly in the world. The foundryman crouches and dusts still hot flecks away from his small beginning.

The doors to the foundry swing wide and show the broad days light beyond, pouring inside to the lip of the hearth. The foundryman withdraws the sections of his cast and holds them out to the voyager. Looking at this he knows that the fundament is still young, each small part handled delicately by the foundryman’s soft hands.

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