I’ve heard of glass floors. Looking down from the top of a tower, you look through the floor to see the ground from where you’ve come. Some say it’s vertigonous. If my memory were better, I would have told you that I’ve walked on one. I’ve heard that some, like a museum display (on the nose: like language, like culture), allow you to see artifacts from the past. You stand and float above. Cross your arms. The floor will hold.
I’ve seen hikers stumble on an invisible bridge strapped to a mountainside. They crawl on hands and knees as if the bottom gave way, like toddlers before speech. Their bodies go limp, shaking and unrseponsive to the will, as if tumbling thousands of feet to the rocks below. But no. They do not tumble. They are firm on the transparent ledge and their friends laugh. They do not know the bit, but their friends do. They only see beyond the glass.
Now the ground. Take off your shoes. Walk on this ground--it is sand--until it becomes damp, sloping to the ocean. Clenched fist, run into the water, forget your feet, legs iced and numb. This time you swim, floating, tumbling under the whitewash smashed. Weightless like falling, pummeled rough on the ocean, wind-knocked-out sommersaulting, reaching for the surface until you feel your hand breach the wrong way. Hand scooping sea-floor stones, the surface swept away.
I’ve heard the glass floor shatter. You fall. You fall. No one has spoken of it. Fall the thousand feet, out of the museum, down the mountain. Let the sun set red in the east and the stars streak backwards, until you, gazing lockjaw with your head tilted back, meet the spinning world un-built and finally stand. No one has spoken of it. If you could die without dying, maybe you could stand and begin to build one more glass floor.
At bottom there is the ground once walked upon. At bottom the sea shores you up onto rocks, bruised. After the struggle you wake, twisted: knee to shoulder, open mouth to hollow sky, choking in one breath. Hallelujah in this baptism. Hallelujah in this rebirth. There is glory pummeling in the sea, resounding in that muffled silence. Forget the sea and stand, fallen from Babel with a bruise in your rib, make an image of glory from its ruin.
The dead built scaffolding for the living with no way down. There is no salvation but in falling underwater, a broken glass floor unbuilt with no memory of its ruin.