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Chapter Nineteen

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

“It’s simply exhaustion,” Marie pronounced over Zuni’s fretful body.

The wildergoers were all crowded inside her chamber in the morning, eager to learn why the city-builder had come into the wilds and whether she could be trusted to keep the secret of Jonah Colony. Each had reason to be grateful to her, for help in getting jobs or schooling, for years of kindness. But she was an architect of the Enclosure! What could possibly drive her outside? Seeing her twitch and mumble, however, with her famously neat bun of hair now a wreck of whiteness on the pillow, they saved their questions.

Watching her from the foot of the sleepcushion, Teeg felt like a bear in the fairytale, gaping at Goldilocks. What improbable visitor is this, dozing in our midst?

Tests had shown low blood-sugar, but no concentrations of toxins. Hinta prescribed rest and broth, then like the others she returned to the labor which Sol’s death had interrupted.

While Teeg nursed Zuni through the next day of shock, Phoenix kept stopping by the door to peek in. Teeg would gesture for him to stop gawking and come in, for God’s sake, but always he held back, awestruck, like a pilgrim at a shrine. You’d think he was paying a visit to Michelangelo. The worshipful look that had always come over him whenever they spoke of the architect exasperated Teeg, for whom Zuni was no legendary figure, but merely a person, crotchety and fond of teasing, a surrogate mother with a face shaped like a wedge of pie, eyes buried in creases from her habit of squinting, and a mind that made light-year leaps.

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The Uses of Muscle

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

When I was a boy growing up on the country roads of Tennessee and Ohio, the men I knew all earned a hardscrabble living with the strength of their hands and arms and backs. They raised corn and cows, felled trees, split wood, butchered hogs, mortared bricks and blocks, built and wired and plumbed houses, dug ditches, hauled gravel, overhauled cars, drove bulldozers and backhoes, welded broken parts. They hunted game for the table in season, and sometimes out of season. Some of them had once mined coal in Appalachia or trawled for fish in the Great Lakes. Many had fought in Europe or Korea. They arm-wrestled at the volunteer fire department, smacked baseballs over fences at the schoolyard, and at the county fair they swung sledgehammers or hefted barrels to see who was the mightiest of the lot.

A brawny, joking, red-haired southern charmer who often won those contests was my father. He had grown up on a farm in Mississippi, had gone to college for a year on a boxing scholarship, had lost the cartilage in his nose during a brief Golden Gloves career. After moving north to Chicago, where he met the woman who would become my mother, he worked by turns as a carpenter, a tire builder, and a foreman in a munitions plant, until he eventually graduated to wearing a white shirt and sitting all day at a desk. He never liked the fit of a desk or a starched shirt, however, so as soon as he came home from the office he would put on overalls and go to work in the shop, garden, or barn. He could fix every machine we owned, from the car to the camera, and he needed to fix them, for we rarely had enough money to buy new ones. Although he grumbled when the tractor threw a belt or the furnace quit, as soon as he grabbed his tools he began to hum. He took pleasure in using his strength and skill, and I took pleasure in watching him. Around our house, whenever anything heavy needed lifting or anything stubborn needed loosening he was the one to do it. He could tame a maverick horse, hoist an oil-slick motor out of a car, balance a sack of oats on his shoulder, plow a straight furrow in stony ground, transplant a tree with its root-ball bundled in burlap, carry my sister and me both at once in his great freckled arms.

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Chapter Eight

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

“What sort of test is it?” Phoenix asked nervously, licking the narco-flavored paint from his lips.

“It’s called an ingathering.” Teeg lay face-down, back arched so that her upper trunk was lifted off the floor. “It’s a form of collective trance. Pioneered by the Quakers centuries ago.”

They were in Teeg’s apartment, where she was demonstrating yoga positions for him, and he was doing his best to avoid staring at her. She wore a body-colored shimmersuit—“The next best thing,” as she had informed him one day, “to nakedness.” Phoenix sat muffled in several meters of gown, feeling like a cheap present extravagantly wrapped. He had come to her place straight from work, so he was still bedaubed and bewigged and befrocked in the public manner. “All right, I fall into this trance. Then what happens?”

If you achieve the trance,” she corrected him, her back arching further, vertebrae popping, “you drift toward the center.”

“Where’s the center?”

“It’s not a place. It’s an experience. Kind of a stillness, a brightness. In the ingathering we all gravitate there. If everyone’s perfectly clear, we merge together in the—well, the shining.”

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Chapter Seventeen

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

During most of that first week after the landing at Whale’s Mouth Bay it rained. The meadow squished underfoot as the colonists went about erecting domes and laying pathways of glass. The needles of spruce and hemlock, glistening with rain, looked like fine green jets squirting from branches. Grass stems bent under the weight of water. Marie had to cover her garden with polyfilm to keep it from turning into a quagmire. Coyt grumbled because unbroken clouds reduced the power from his photoelectric cells. There was methane enough from the seaweed digester, however, and enough hydrogen from the vats of blue-green algae to fuel stoves and generators, so the colony enjoyed electricity and warm food.

Rain pipped the surface of the fishpools, which were stocked with fingerlings of bluegill and rainbow trout and bullhead catfish, all carefully smuggled from Oregon City. The smuggled crayfish had died in their barrels, so Josh and Jurgen went off hunting some wild ones. Rain pattered on the greenhouse, where Phoenix helped sow vegetables. Teeg was delighted to see him poking his fingers into the sterilized dirt.

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Common Wealth

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

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