||[May. 1st, 2016|11:56 pm]
How they tremble. Leaves trail the surface as the wind blows, and the ripples are as irregular as the wind, but they come, they come and a snake unwinds, dips its head below. We're awake at once. Between me and the others are hundreds of years, thousands. Even if we could communicate (their breath heavier than mine, compact with earth and echoing now through halls not their own but those of moles maybe, or badgers, or snakes), it would be the work of centuries, millennia receding like the tide and exposing the work's and speech's mechanics, the weeds tangled, the crabs and fish flopping and scuttling into pools, dark blue and dark-growing, receding and then recoiling and then breaking again. We're awake at once. |
All is forest. As though the underground were hollow, even the shadows of leaves whisper now in the trees, under the moon. The shadows, they move as though they didn't know they were leaves. And the leaves, pale, hold -- whist -- in the breeze, blowing chill through the forest. From where we sit, I and the others, we can see the ash in white fluorescence, the silhouette dark, though which is ash and which shadow we don't know, each trembling. The bitter smell of insect life and damp, the roots of a tree below all trees, stretching from west to east tangling, crossing, webbing the underground with tunnels we'd never see for a thousand years: these were in front of me, a succession of images and creatures lit up by a light stony and intestine, as though out of the guts or the bellies of ants and grubs and worms and iron reflecting iron reflecting all the isinglass of the earth that seemed drawn to the hollows where roots had been or animals lived or I, you, we together by gross design, as though out of the pooled heart of the earth, where we were, came light. As at the bottom of subaqueous walls where the blind fish roam and all jeweled movement is a consequence of light.
The light at noon. In these stones are reservoirs, cave systems of light enkindled: at sunrise the stones glow like embers, like those cruciform mounds you find on islands that no longer wander, adrift, islands where the dead draw the winds after them into the hollow earth and trees grow where moths rise out of the soil, trees ribbed and flecked like the backs of moths. Our ancestors loved more than we do: they feel us intensely, more intensely even than we feel ourselves, will or can ever feel or know them, where they are. In the forests the trees talk one to another, like an echochamber, like the anteroom to hell: here is hell's talk, the horizontal of speech, like the shared journal of two lovers whose eyes in each other's were ash and coal.
And I remember (a wave gathers weight, falls, crashes in the act of retrieval), I remember the ascent after the tree died and the earth was ours again, mine and the others'. Before turning round and speaking to her, speaking as though to be reassured or to reaffirm her presence. Too quickly (fading), too much like life to live, in memory. But what was gouging, tunneling my chest like a mole, pooling and upwelling into that cold I call my heart -- it was some sight of day in the sudden turn and upslant of where the root wasn't any more. (Because the day is the third thing, that which joins one to another. To look in another's eyes is to make mine the day, and I have embers but they're not to see by. They glow, they ignite: but they're too close for love, for keeping. And your eyes would be a torch: no light reflected off them, no mirror of the sun, the dark's underground becoming blue, gray, brown, black, but a fuel, finite, against mine, and mine yours.) The soundless vision and the return home to no home out of no sleep and no underground, with no signs or looks but those I've hidden and now see again in your eyes, as though you were the dreamer and I the fear.
I remembered that and her (she who dreamed me more than I her), and these songs. But then we saw that the day was day. And there were some among us, some spread out in crowds like the way the earth is chilled and flickers like snow just before the sun rises on the gray, the soundless hills. And briefly they look and then sleep and wake again, as though into another body and another life. The lines of sleep curve, alight, and arc into rest and sleep. Sleep-waking back through waking-sleep back into waking again. We formed a semicircle like an audience of pines, the edge of a stage. We dreamed that this day was the day. Breezes rising up from the earth, cool, pine-dark and chilled through branches not from last winter but a hundred winters ago, a thousand. And you showed. You were there.
And you were with me below, you came before me. And your silence flexed between us like a viol string (one, two, three, a dozen other strings link up later). Even the cave-drafts, sunken antiphons, trickled, seeped through the now empty tunnels where systems were, roots, cities even, even these fingered sound and worked the instrument (instrument forged in and by silence and speech suspended) into warm (bitterest warm) motion. It plucked, took nothing but a breath of my own and yours inheld, falling like frost and then the wind when you were the wind and I was through you (as though through a stone wall in a meadow, the ash tree that we saw only when it had disappeared, image of sky and where we were going) down through the mountains.
And down there we dreamed of fire and red bellowing lava in the night, the smoke, the red earth afire drawing itself like an empty cloak, a bodiless robe over the stars, sweeping. And then to the northwest, another, and to the southeast, a third. In dream we woke together before the ash began to lean down over us. The ash, invisible, illuminated in garish contrast, chiaroscuro of fire, by those watchtowers, those blazing cones on the mountaintops as they sank. And we went down, like prophets that escape. Before darkness intervened and then erupted again in rippling circles of shadowy light, a dark like what we were and were still becoming, shadows over the deep.
I know reddishness by night, you by day, she said. We're awake at once.