Consider the Asp
It rained so hard a peregrine worm took refuge in the keyhole while others, less fortunate, clung to the door and spasmed slowly upward, fleeing the saturated water table, criss- crossing the rough fir, ascending pilgrims of blindness, thankfully mute. She looked at me the way the other saints must have looked at Patrick when he drove the snakes from Ireland.
“I never thought of that.”
You had the best of it, sequestered deep in stone reclusion; the silence, surety, and still,— the moonless and starless, the sunless and sea-deep. Descent, at first, does not comfort, as the world’s light sets behind the eclipsing stone. It’s quiet—wholesome—this feeling, to be so obscured by the sovereign desert, unravaged by dog or desecration. It is as when sunlight’s strength seems to have diminished, when one opens their eyes anew to take in an assumed and blazing azure only to find things lessened, as if no longer in first person singular vision, no longer autobiographical but once removed, hinting that it never blazed the deeper blue at all or that the world is replete with things that are not quite: souvenirs—wonderful things, like a children’s Christmas Pageant, precisely because so many lines were bungled, but souvenirs at best. To the children though—it is failure to them. It was supposed to be so much more. Still, knowing this, you can, now and then, summon the strength to continue, grimacing from the stage, uncertain whether or not Jonah will remember his lines, and peer into the view that is both brightness and dark, neither flame nor shadow.
Like the day when they cried so hard and you took them back because things were no longer about soundness of judgement but about love and love is never sound and then later it was they who judged and were sound in it and it was you who cried and it was a terrible, terrible noise to you but by then, to them, it was just a sound, as distant to them as the first clay of sound to ever knock the ear, something the wind would carry if we gave it will, but we no longer do. It marks itself in motion, shows itself among the trees, and there we linger as if those two together were how we remember speech, though it is not exactly and what can we do before fetches: we are spellbound by their summons, as on a path in evening, weather gathering.
So movement or thought without them becomes difficult or impossible as when, for example, in passing between a sleeper and natural or ambient light, the sleeper awakens and one is compelled to say “Sorry. Sorry. It’s just me. Go back to sleep”, and again, intending so much more, but that failing lyric of comfort is bungled and counter-bungled in flagrante, requiring decryption and rekeying, the opposite of what is in the heart truly desired—go back to sleep, go back to sleep —to bear the dissonance heartward, for you can’t go around saying “I love you” all the time, it would seem strategic and they would catch on, the trance broken.
Never in film, is light this flat, yet this is where my wife will leave me (and she must leave). It is reality’s subtle tone that dogs our dreams and it is this real quality that gives the flatness substance, the monosyllabic edicts, depth. She will close the door in leaving; the coats fall otherwise. The contours are forced on us by the sheer exigency of our real, the landscape wrought by some other god of the bent sky that numbers bequeath, like the great scissors of Matisse– creating us in reducing us—to what we must now be, to what could no longer be otherwise: Resurrection Men. And so there remains a voice, a Master Lighter of sorts who contends that it is the normal, the real, that is the more difficult illusion to achieve, this superabundance of regular, this place where there seems no symbolic measures, this requires a certain genius—or so our Master Lighter would insist: Neither flame nor shadow shall dwell upon thee.
They walked you in, supine and regal on a bier of gold in cotton robes, there to meet the universe you created in a grace not afforded the living. It was long you rested, and deep, your eye turned only to time, the great cat at your side purring lightly as you slept. It was balm to you as it curses us, stumbling in this tired dust to seek you out. Resurrection Men. In a bore of sunlight we punch alert the infinite, bearing mendicant curses like cats might bring their masters birds. The rocks slide and shift, the low whispering awed and flat, grate like pain wracks a body in morning, lights a mind, and forces the door of thought.
We came to wake you, the cardinal theft, and now consign your body to history as we are consigned to time and her maledictions. Your obsidian reign is done, blown from the sand to vitrine, and a ravenous attendance plagues you, staring back in time as at flame, or farther—starlight and its secrets. Our high resolution sun is a shadow throne and one thinks how good the grave, its figs and wine and oils and gold and amid all this fire, it's soothing cold.
He is shapeless, unlike his progeny—our Master Lighter—oblivious to slogan, and it is his film in which we are now shining, whose theatre is enjoying an unprecedented, extended run. It is the precise illuminations of this interior Master Lighter that we have, and will continue to focus upon, even as she leaves (and she must leave). It was a stone torso, a secret chord sounding, but it is unsafe to assume its shape. it is the requisite sleight of revelation, that seems to lack a grammar we can manipulate or impose upon its bearer, that in seeking monument looses its hold upon those who receive its memory, that is to say its main force, the direction of which seems meandering, the present condition of which seems stillborn. If it was a baby, it would be a baby born eyeless, an unimaginable image, yet it would hold sway over all it encountered by virtue of its blindness, and those who encountered it would not forget its touch lain down.
We are getting old, and surrounded by kickshaws that blurt their slogan and snap. We vanish, and though this hive of light will spectre up both those that swear, and those that fear an oath—In sleep, I trespass into prophecy, awake, I pester my even peace and barter away solitude for barking and a dry mouth.
Neither flame nor shadow shall dwell upon thee.