I saw faith in the morning – she stood in the middle of a bakery with gravity around her, and I wondered, ‘do I deserve this morning’ because no reason could account for the fact that I was still alive. The loaves of bread were arranged in rows on trays, unoriginal, pregnant and mundane, and I was filled with the love that comes from gratitude, when she smiled because I knew we were forgiven.
He picked up his guitar and said, “I want to strum these chords so that they sound like the yawning wings of angels, a pristine sound of strings ushering in the dawn.” When they told him not to use such language, because there was no god, and by extension, neither were there angels, he said in disenchantment, “but there must at least be something, so I will sing with aching harmony ahead against the devil who by his hate has made us slay our fathers, in annihilation of our faith.” They told him again that there had been no devil to begin with, that it all began and ended with him – a self-referential, lonely image as he might see in the haunting feedback of his microphone.
“Then if they are naught, I will send my itinerant voice to both the lowest throbs of the profane and to the highest screech above our heads, until my mutilated voice becomes a lie that fills the hearts of heathens with the grating thrall of demons and the stirring amplitude of saints.”
There was nothing maternal about the sea as I approached it with my premises, hoping that its churning movement was the image of a great collective mind. I waited while it brushed and writhed, asking for nothing outside of itself, unconcerned whether or not it was seen – and to my question, there was only the thunder of a mute conclusion.
Maybe the relentless lash and curl of movement had been the argument, and its throttled roar – had been consensus, because now the sea was salty fresh and quiet. If something had been decided, I couldn’t grasp it, as the clouds settled over the deadline of the horizon, looking like cathedrals of an ancient civilization – unfamiliar but vaguely sacrosanct.
‘The colonial tongue fell like brimstone
rebukes on the inflected shingles of our roofs,
and freedom was the secret language for
we who refused to genuflect.
At the plangent dusk, with the horizon
soaked in blood, we pronounced their
steely consonants as they smiled in the
aftermath of conquest, but with a cup
that held the fire of the unexpressed,
I sealed my lips in scarlet.’
If water were forbidden,
and the parched earth glistened
with false images of liquid
as it dreamed, and you were
a sweet transgression, the hidden
nectar of ever burgeoning desire,
then I have already sinned.
The glitter girls let the smell of swollen
berries from their hair, dangerous fruits,
growing anxiously and cool, to be picked
out of the air. When we ate them
our hearts became precipitous and full,
and the diesel boulevards ran warmly
with the river of our souls, as we let out
eucalyptus sighs into the dark, receptive
night, and could not imagine being old.
I woke up in the middle of the night,
and in the way that only the night can
fill you with total and utter conviction,
I saw a city with all its infernal lights
scattered like stars across the black,
heavy sky. They dipped and heaved,
as if following the contours of a valley,
and the sky itself felt like a fabric
draped over a thick and breathing thing.
There were more stars than I could count,
spawning endlessly in patterns
of more confidence than could be
mixed by any artist, and I felt a sudden
loneliness. Sleeping beside me under
this desert sky were my closest friends,
beloved company, and their eyes were
closed, with not even a glimpse of a glow
escaping from underneath their lids.
The air was cold and brittle and the stars
winked out, like individual secrets.
It is the case that I, too,
under the light of this reflective
eye, need a prolegomena.
The night is no longer to be
feared, because its blindness
is the aridity that evokes
and fosters dreams.
I am the citizen of a virtual
city, buffeted by a million
languages competing to be
genuine. It is a city of
cameras that destroys those
who are too scared or
self-conscious to begin,
but before I speak outward
to those hardened skeptics,
it is I who must be convinced.
This is not an ordinary hunt where you choose your weapons and sight your prey, stalking it in a war of cleverness and will.
This is a hunt in the darkness, where you have no weapons.
This is a hunt where you cannot see your prey, and when you hear it, scurries maddeningly away.
This is a hunt where the prey changes form as you traverse the terrain, where the ground itself mutates as you pace. Where the prey leaves a bewitching scent in its wake, making you wonder why you sought to hunt it in the first place.
This is a hunt where there are no bugles to signal the start or end, a hunt where your mind can hurt you more than help, and where the first thing you must do is forge your own weapons and define the prey amongst the multitude of targets.
Defining it is just the start, for every day you will wonder if you should play, should I even play. The more you hunt, the further away your prey, and you realize this is how it always was, and always will be, a life day after day.
And when he returned, those he thought were friends turned out to be strangers. They say we move through the darkness alone, that we are not the people we once were, that we do not step in the same river twice.
This is what he discovered. The rains that were once forbidding, the streets and buildings that once intimidated him. The drink-soaked nights, the warm hearths, loving hearts and sounds of laughter that made his heart palpitate with excitement. They turned out to be the avenues of this city, one filled with strangers.