Chimney Sweep (Common Sense)

Chimney Sweep (Common Sense)

The chimney came down with more dust and noise than when it went up, I imagine, but both happened one brick at a time. Its negative space, the not-chimney void, spanned three stories.

Common sense would suggest that I stay back well away from the edge of the hole.

I ignored common sense as she sputtered snarky remarks about heights and falling and the high price of a replacement camera. I took another wrap of camera strap around my wrist, knelt in the brick dust, stabilized myself, hung my head with camera over the edge, and documented the chimney shaft.

(You, too, can have a glamorous career in photography.)

The resulting photograph is a tool.

That other common sense, the inner wit better-known as reason, wanted to understand how the void was constructed, where the void was placed, what may have connected to it, what abuts it now, and what uses it now. Any understanding will inform how and when we choose to fill the void, and at some future date, might let someone who wants to undo my changes, do it with accuracy.

A successful tool, this photo allowed me to notice a small pile of bricks yet to be removed, showed me that the void doubled as an electrical conduit, and settled the question of whether the house had ever featured fireplaces rather than wood stoves. (No.)

Of course, if you feel a hint of woozy vertigo and enjoy the textured layers of lath, rubble, and receding, twisting rectangles, well, I wouldn’t mind.

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