Footnoted. Constructed from the inside out. Scaffolding still up like omnidirectional icicling in a climate unused to it. When you were a child you saw water burst through a drainpipe and run off into the thirsty earth, but the water didn't run because it was frozen solid and the earth wasn't thirsty because it was frozen solid.
The most interesting and beautiful woman they'd ever met, no matter how brightly she glowed, wasn't warm enough to thaw them. There was no marked trail to the pinnacle, no winding road, no map, no gate, no illuminated shortcut; only the ironclad law of the ascent. To reach the top, a fall must be risked and the prouder the mountain animal, the stronger gravity and the deadlier the claws.
Blows gales of ice and metal. A metallic aftertaste. A coppery blood-rich finishing move that may as well be artificial, as artificial as the circumstances of the tasting, as artificial as the place we've all agreed to leave it, as artificial as artificial good cheer. Still it tastes like metal, which, while often manmade, is far from artificial. It is absurd to call human-made materials anything other than natural, anymore than birdnests or nuclear warheads are unnatural. The taste of copper; no, tungsten; no, silver, no, aphrodisiac made irrelevent by the presence of itself, squid ink on the wedding invitations and fights among the bride's friends.
The view from the top is heartstopping, in the sense that it stops hearts, in the sense that it kills you immediately, or by degrees, but big ones. The world is laid out around your feet like a broken mirror, like a mosaic, like mother of pearl inlay, like lacquer. Do you know the secret of lacquer? It is very carefully guarded. It is thin layers that add up to something deep and amazing, but each layer must be pure and therefore each heart must be pure and therefore each heart must be honest and purged and not clogged with old blackness.