The Geologist’s Gift

By Nick Norton

In the merest speck of dirt, the geologist perceives a supple ingress of time. An archaeologist becomes a geologist of the artefact as they stretch their fingers into the accidents of duration. The artefactist follows the pair and picks up sloughed-off things, and the artefactist becomes disorientated. Their vital vents are clogged. 

It is called object lamentation, the gathering and the laying down of objects, but most blockages are just an accumulation of dirt. 

The artefactist goes out amongst the sad ceremony, seeking something (seeking not to be lost). They are struggling with vents as if thought itself was a grubby, rolled-up bung. They need geology in order to feel that the streets have a solid foundation. And yet, this anchor is evasive. An archaeologist may see streets below their feet—that is to say, streets below the streets—but the artefactist can only see the streets. It is as if the streets do not end. On and on: interminable streets, roads, avenues, and down the lane; a ceremony without end. Promenade of the given, perpetuated indefinitely, a gift of repetition.

Streets are as things. The bewildered artefactist scratches their vents. A thing must be made, they reason. What is made is made to end. We have not been making streets forever. If we are unable to get to the end of the street… it just means we are lost. What is lost will be found in the end.

A path is not a street. If we take a pathway that does not matter, it is usually one which weaves in-between things. A breath of fresh air, declares the artefactist: my vital vents flap freely in this breeze

The geologist is waiting at the junction. The artefactist pauses, empties their pockets, glances around suspiciously.

‘What’s this?’ 

‘A pathway meets a street; it happens so often that it actually has a name.’    

‘Go on then.’

‘This is called a junction.’

‘A place where one has to make a decision.’ The artefactist re-checks all of their pockets. ‘I am empty. No more choice left in me.’

‘Oh, you are too modest. Here, I have a gift for you.’

‘That is, kind…only I have just left my artefactist ways. Ways and means, I have left them. All of that is behind me now.’

‘It’s a little thing and will not take up too much space. Please.’ 

The geologist holds out a package. It is a prettily wrapped thing and, one cannot help but notice how an artefactist’s habits are not so easily dismissed. Tempted, they reach out. The gift is dropped onto their open palm.

‘Ooof…heavy.’ Already, they are down on their knees, two handed, straining to control the weight. ‘What is it?


A product of planets, a curvature of this planetary activity. It becomes less measurably the further away one goes from planets. Neither geologist nor archaeologist is interested in the space between planets. That said, gravity must be prior to planet because a planet could not form without gravitational influence.

‘Gravity is a gas,’ pleads the artefactist. ‘This is not meant to be mine.’

‘Gas is a form derived from the interaction of elements,’ suggests the geologist. ‘Most certainly an artefact. I saw it and thought of you, as the saying goes.’ 

‘How can elements interact,’ the archaeologist muses, ‘if there is no base attraction between them?’ It is not really a question. They expect no answer.

The artefactist is now pinned down; fixed to the junction as if an object on display.

‘Gravity is prior to gas,’ the archaeologist continues. ‘Beyond my expertise perhaps, yet it strikes me that gravity is an element.’

‘Not,’ begs the artefactist, ‘made. Surely, not made.’

‘Can gravity be prior to the elements?’ the geologist wonders.

‘Gravity has a more measurable action in those regions where there is more to measure. A force among forces, prior to the forces' movement,’ the archaeologist adds. ‘It is a gift.’

‘On what force does gravity originally exert itself when in an immeasurable distance?’

‘All distance is immeasurable without the awareness of the measurement.’

‘Did gravity become conscious of itself and therefore become able to be the measure of its own action?’ 

The geologist and the archaeologist are singing together and waltzing around the junction: 

‘Gravity is delight,

Gravity equals light.

Golden Sugar Horn.

All our remaining,

Our rump is surplus. 

Gravity is delight,

Gravity equals light.

Golden Sugar Horn.

All our rumps are magnetic, 

Lodestones butties

Gravity of gravity 

Begins in the body.

Like gas.

The beginning in the body is a wind.’

The artefactist is weeping. Their hands are shattered, broken by the impossible effort of letting go of this gift. With a kiss, the archaeologist and the geologist part. They stake out the artefactist’s body on the crossroads. We are elements in the seeking order, they explain. Force is interaction, mass is inertia. These fundamentals sit within us. The bodily fundament. They open up the artefactist’s flesh, just enough to attract vultures. These elements partake of the grand circulation of all. 

‘A ceremony, one might say.’

‘An endless ceremony.’

About the author

Nick Norton's recent prose can be found in Entropy, The Babel Tower, 3:AM, Fatal Flaw, Idle Ink, Selkie, Punt Volat, Shooter, Fictive Dream, Epoque Press, The Happy Hypocrite, and elsewhere.

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