Saturday, October 13, 2007


Down in the village on one of the corners across from our little train station is a small iron workshop, where I've noticed over the years that they fashion I-beams, T-beams and other made-to-order structural components, such as the one-off protective metal structure we had built to put around our woodstove where it fits into the wide space between the cedar logs that frame the pointy front to the house.

The workshop has stacks of steel plate in the workyard, men inside are often welding and abrading, emitting showers of sparks, stacking metal beams outside. Hard, practical work. But I didn't know they did more than that, that they had a more delicate, even spiritual side to their business.

Until last night, that is, when I was zoning home from the station in the dark on my motorcycle and turned that corner, where I saw that the door to the workshop-cum-garage was open, with the car parked in the drive; the interior high work light was on, as a sort of backlight, and there was no one around, in the shop or on the street. I looked in as I passed and had to stop to look some more.

The car was parked outside in the drive because there was no room in the garage. There was no room in the garage because all the available floor space was taken up by a fierce looking, three-meter tall guardian deity (kongo-rishiki: gate guardian) in unfinished bronze, one muscular arm raised to a fist in readiness for the battle with evil, the other arm down at an angle, stretched out taut in anticipation of a dirty move, the jaw shouting the silence that evil knows well; fangs were bared in a godly grimace, eyes glaring, brow knotted, legs rippling for action: there was a god in the garage, towering above the doorway, casting a long shadow over the car and into the street, the glaring eyes checking me out since I was the only one around. It was a spiritual experience to suddenly behold a life-sized deity in the neighborhood.

They hadn't cast the statue there, that's a big, fiery and hazardous operation likely done somewhere else, but the work had been brought here for removal of casting flashes and finishing work, the big god later to serve as a guardian deity for a wealthy new temple somewhere else, but for now he was fiercely guarding the garage and the village around. After a careful examination he let me pass, since I'm on his side. If only we could get one of these guys into politics.

I'll bet everyone in the village slept better last night, whether they knew why or not.


Tabor said...

How do you know so much about the process of metal sculpting?

Bob Brady said...

Learned on campus in the big school of travel...