The Giant Clempen Vell had to watch where he walked. When he walked into the sun, so that his shadow did not precede him, he announced himself in advance, and as a general rule put us on alert to his movements. He knew himself well and was as considerate as a rain cloud passing out umbrellas.
Despite his consideration, he found it difficult not to step on the buds and sprouts of our civilization. He could not get very close without risking catastrophe. No, he wanted to get close. He was not afraid. But it was like trying to touch a bubble. His tentative reaching out was always answered by our tiny plink, and a puny spray of wetness. We kept the volume of our televisions low and our windows open, because our membrane could not withstand his touch.
Buildings crunched like packing peanuts under his feet. He was sad, but not guilt-ridden. It was not his fault we were so small. It was not his fault we had not learned to better manage our space. We were only beginning to think in three dimensions. We had not yet learned to live in them. The Giant Clempen Vell looked down and saw truck containers lined up according to colors, like pastel chalks. He saw the sad redundancy of subdivisions, fanned out flat like cards in the grass during a picnic game of solitaire.
Sometimes he stayed still and let us come to him. It was a long journey. His face loomed as large as the moon, but his body seemed always to remain over the next highway, across the next lot. Our ears could not contain the wavelengths of his voice, and his ears could not detect our pips. We wrote in letters as large as our bodies, and he wrote in letters as small as automobiles. For him, this rare contact was not enough. We did not stay still. Why should he?
What about the oceans? The Giant Clempen Vell was no fish. His skin, as our skin, suffered from the salt. And long baths were lonely.
He spent time among mountains, among mountains that used to be mountains. He plucked chords on ski lifts and flossed his teeth with cablecar wire. He held fresh water in his cheeks and filled dry wells in China. Snuffing the flames of bombs and volcanoes, he was less a righteous humanitarian than a curious contrarian. He poked his nose into all atmospheric levels and inhaled their ethereal proportions, for variety. He licked the polar ice caps. He scratched himself with an old naval vessel. He was careful to duck the moon, and to pinch errant satellites from his hair and return them to orbit.
The Giant Clempen Vell walked less and less often. When there was an oil spill or the level of toxic contaminants rose too high, he scooped penguins and seabirds in the peninsulas of his palms and transferred them somewhere new and unspoiled. In the mornings he soaked in inlet bays and let his fingers play with manatees and dugongs. In the afternoons he sunned in the Badlands or the Serengeti. He put an ear to continents and listened for beats of the earth. Skywriting with an airplane, he asked us for a joke, but we offered nothing, as we could think of nothing he might have liked.
He must have had dreams. The rumblings of his organs resounded deeply within the oceanography of his vitals. His sighs registered on Richter scales.
One day, the Giant Clempen Vell stood with one
foot on the Northern Territories and one on Siberia. He leapt into space.
He was reaching for another home. He had not grabbed even a handful of
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