On the Eiffel Tower by Christopher Buckley


On The Eiffel Tower
by Christopher Buckley

The wrought iron
was strung up purely
in the substanceless
abstraction of thought,
set somehow against all
the trips and balances
of nothing, the engineering
of the air. Above
the pylons he arched
the shrinking heavens
with girders resembling
an aviary or pergola,
then figured out
the twelve thousand pre-
fabricated parts, the 2½
million (more or less)
rivets in a bare
and steely sequence,
and so turned aerodynamics
around on a curve
of quadrilateral legs,
cross-braced so precisely
that the bending
and shearing predilections
of wind were steadily
transformed to forces
of compression
so even in the hypothetical
troughs of a hurricane
there would be less
than nine inches sway.

Knowing how
an effect diminishes
uniformly from a point
this master of bridges
out-wondered the changing,
free-fall rivers of the sky.
Against gravity, and with
the foregone and unbending
resistance of the cognoscenti,
he elevated the function of iron
in the world, and clearly saw
how it would accommodate this
impending and audacious grace.
Even a modest office emerged—
a nest on the final terrace
for the uncluttered atmosphere
of work, complete with a wireless,
telegraph, and a glass lantern on top
to clock the advances in weather;
and also with chairs, a table,
fine glasses and Veuve Clicquot
chilling for the two times Edison
would share this rare altitude,
this bright fabric of the mind—
this, the first sound place where
you could stand back somewhat and
gain a degree of perspective, a place
from which you could almost objectively
praise the handiwork of the earth.

PHOTO: Eiffel Tower, Paris, France. Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

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