World’s Largest Thermometer, Baker, CA

World’s Largest Thermometer, Baker, CA

by Rachel Bunting


Once there lived a man who loved humongous things:
king-sized loaves of bread, extra-large foam fingers
from the baseball stadium, fat Belgian men holding

giant Flemish rabbits. He collected gigantism, catalogued it
for himself, for the world: largest ball of twine, Kansas;
Yao Ming, current tallest basketball player; Big Top Cupcake,

25 times bigger than a regular cupcake. Even spectacular
failures: the Hindenburg Disaster; the sinking of the Titanic,
the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse. Every night he fell

asleep not counting sheep but thinking of the girl at the bus
stop, the lovely giant. He dreamed her face, his quiet head
restful in the enormous hollow of her neck until finally

it was real. Together they made giant cupcakes, saw Monster
Truck Jams late on Saturday nights. He bought a Shire horse
for her birthday. One night he dreamed she was sick, her sad

face growing sallow in the high-ceilinged bedroom he built
for them. He woke to find sweat breaking out along her fragile
hairline. Undiagnosable, the doctors said, shaking their heads,

her lips dwarfing their small thermometers. The tiny strips
of glass perched against her teeth, disappearing into her sick-
chapped lips. She said each felt like a splinter there, a vague

itch against her tongue, couldn’t they find something more
substantial? The man who loved gigantic things wanted to.
He began building: stethoscope, auriscope, scalpel, hemostats,

each larger than the last. He was overwhelmed by the failure
of everything he knew existed but couldn’t touch: science,
hope, the truth of healing while the mercury rises inside

a thermometer he could not stop himself from building.

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