Under Construction

Anya Vostrova

Something happened to time. They told us that our clocks were wrong, that it was later than we thought, that everything and everyone needed to adjust to serve the purpose of saving the daylight. Some of us were confused. Who gave them the power to control the movements of the sun? And what faith do we place in these them? A few of us thought we were going rogue as our bodies refused to give in to the new rhythm, as alarm clocks were cursed and ignored. Within days we acquiesced, indeed the revolt proved to be too inconvenient. For, at its core, measured time is a convenience, it is a necessary tool, a way to harness that slipping sliding thing that we can never hold on to, that subject of constant worry and a constant lack. Measured time is a formula, a way to put everything in a straight line so that we do not get lost, so that we may make plans and agree to meet at six at the restaurant, not as the sun’s rays slip down the fencepost on the hill. It is necessary, necessary as is currency, language and prayers: formulas that make sense of this world and the next. Get things done these formulas say, follow the equation—you will get your result. We must harness the forces around us to make our way, to feel security and comfort, define the frameworks and rules that we see in the world so we may function within it, rise higher, build stronger. Foundations are laid so that great structures may be balanced upon them. We learn as children who play with blocks that there are rules to gravity, that there are structural principles which we must follow as we stack one upon the other. The stronger the base, the taller and more unshakable is the tower. If we jump up from one block to the next without giving the lower levels enough thought of fortification then the tower will crumble. But wait, don’t you remember? You, the child, you who built it all for that inevitable fall, the great crash when everything came tumbling down, the thrill of scattering pieces thunderously back into disordered chaos. Shrieks of glee. And then, do you remember how the lesson went? That moment you stepped back from the work, looked upon it and realized its singular beauty? Your pride at having created its delicate balances, its unthinkable proportions. You wanted to keep it forever this tour de force of ingenuity and physics. And then it fell. In its place was a sadness and regret, resentment at the world that shook the tower, a fierce glare at the careless playmate who threw just one more block on top, who made it all come crashing down. I still see us. We hold broken fragments in our hands and we cry. Never again will we see that particular beauty. In the cradle of that loss a new purpose is born. We piece the tower back together, this time build it stronger, protect it from the world or glue the damn thing down to hold it fast. We learn the rules of foundations and gravity. Nothing is accidental. The new structure no longer stands for the fanciful foray of its inspired and swaying ancestor but it will stand. It will resist the tests of time. The fall is no longer the coveted thrill, and we ourselves have fallen from our innocence; we have begun our ascent to being the masters of construction. When the pure experience of the present is broken, when the fleeting greatness of being a moving point in time is lost, the past and the future are unveiled. The blocks are no longer playthings, they are the materials with which we build. The tower is no longer an organism of what it means to put one block atop another, it is a project inspired by the past driven forward by a better plan. We need to consider angles and measurements, take notice of the clock ticking in the corner. What time is it? It is 7:45 and the 5th block up is ten degrees off of the central axis. The sun slips down the fencepost and childhood fades into the sunset as its little owner adjusts his blocks with plans of skyscrapers reaching beyond the stars.

Author Portrait

Anya Vostrova is a writer, fitness trainer, and mother. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, she made her way to Atlanta, Georgia, by way of New York. Her work seeks to put into language the process of thought as it arises through physical experience, association and memory. She graduated from Bard College with a BA in Russian and French literature. She is the lyric essays editor for Muse/A Journal.