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The Bridges of Ramesh

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

The architect Tir wrote the following footnotes on his submitted designs for the bridges of Ramesh.

1. I appreciate the cost of curtaining the windows of the upper eastern side of the third bridge with woven saffron, but it is essential: this bridge is in honour of those with exquisite tastes. It would be equally diminished if the walkways of cushions were removed. Likewise, the three domed roofs in the centre of the bridge must be constructed (respectively) with silk, gold and the scales of the rarest goldfish.

2. It is critical that the materials used to construct the sixth bridge are not of poor quality. Though the simplicity of the bridge’s design and the crowded dwellings along its length are in honour of (and for use by) the city’s less wealthy people, I do not wish to symbolise a future for them that is bereft of high quality architecture. As Your Highness has indicated, the crushing of our enemy means that the royal and city coffers can be dedicated to the people of the city.

3. The trade bridge will be difficult to build, but it is one of the most important: the flowers and spices, silks and cottons, pottery and jewellery and all the other wares attached to the bamboo lattice of the bridge will remind the people of the city and people from far away what Ramesh offers to the world from its position at the centre of trade.

4. It may be useful to include in the city-wide notices that -- except for the carved sandstone memorial walls -- the second bridge is exactly like the old bridges. Any people who find the new bridges too extraordinary may use the second bridge until they become more accustomed to the new city.

5. Some people will no doubt protest at the construction of the first bridge from the bones of people and animals fallen in the war, but they should be reminded of the price we pay to live on this land, under this sky.


This is utterly transporting. Wonderful stuff wonderfully written.

Posted by: Jonathan Wood | March 23, 2009 8:37 PM

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