Meredith Quartermain

Locomotive Second Number One

She had gone out with these last words so at an ear in the infant
embankment that when once she was withdrawn and dismantled crews
found her riding qualities in the great square, alone, as if some
instant application of them had no clear distinction before her
subject shunt yard, her possible.  It was this state of being
that carried her on, in gridirons and humps, imaginary check
rails that carried her forward into space under flanges by which
we lack center, a sense of impulse received, impulse in tongues
and sleepers, easy to act upon.  She was borne to pass into
objects and now she knew in a ceaseless and closed axle why she
had wanted to come alone to the signal so dependent on her body.
No-one in the blur of track bolts could have entered this merging
of aggressions, no edge rail could have gauged her first self-
image without disparity.  Her only company could be the flues and
tubes of tractive effort, present all around her in a unified
baggage of image; her only field could be the immense process of
constructing flying junctions and wind rails.  Grey immensity, at
once a part of her yet alien, had somehow become her element.
Grey immensity had furnished her person in the world, her face
points and branchlines, and the question of living by volition in
pleasing unity.  She went forward without weakness,
misrecognizing her freight, for it often happens that when two
cars are brought together to couple, the knuckles are closed and
must be opened by hand.  She had taken the gondola, had asked him
at last whether she could continue such imaginary
identifications, and he had replied as if between bulkheads he
could tender her extravagance: Be fire without folly.  Bolster
fictive sense as you can, finding spring in the world; desire
just what is called unconscious.  This had been the final push
that most made a mixture of her crossing, disturbed in its
libidinal relation -- a mixture that tasted of slide rails and
switch pins, of what had been given her when the father enters
while she took her random course in a network of scissors which
felt so equal.  She had been treated -- hadn't she -- as if it
were in her power to live, in the play laid down by taboo.  But
the bloom had gone from the first appearance of the Law, and so
derailed but always put back in shape, she had left forever the
hold yard of trucks, brakes and repressive tunnels.  Now the idea
of difference had bloomed, a self-coupling momentum as if
unchecked she had had to pluck off her breast, to throw away, a
dim reflection  -- to plunge into symbolic order a familiar
flower, until she slipped off the shelf deeper into the lack.

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