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.
The young person thinks he can do it, before he does it.
The experienced person doubts he can do it, before he does it.
The confident person does it without caring whether he can do it.
I did not keep quiet, I did not keep the peace.
I did not do as I was told, I did not keep in the dark.
I did not stay within the lines, I did not end on time.
I did not behave, I did not hew to the sound and safe.
I did not live your life. I took what was mine.
Excuse me, we asked the blind man. You are otherwise young, in the prime of health, and it appears that you once could see. How is it that you are blind?
Ah, he said, with a weary expression. Indeed I am. But in fact, I once had the eyes of god.
How is that?
I was once given the eyes of god, through fervent wish and endless prayer.
But the eyes of god are surely not blind?
No, they are not, of course. The eyes of god are all-seeing, omnipotent. That is what you think are the eyes of god, yes?
What you do not realize is that because the eyes of god are all-seeing and omnipotent, they are constantly in tears. It is why I had to gouge them out. I could not bear to see the world through the eyes of god.
When they open, sometimes they are like light, searing revelations bathing us, purifying all who seek them.
But more often the doors to truth are cloaked in rot, ugly from both near and far. In the distance, you can try to ignore them, but like a repugnant insect on a white wall, small enough to be disregarded for a time, once seen, they are impossible to forget.
Creeping on the edge of your consciousness until you address, accept, and cross through them.
The war council was awaiting his decision.
In his chambers, he had thought for a long time. In weighing all the options before him, he had come to a surprising conclusion.
Fighting would bring disaster. So would surrender. The best option was to do nothing, and wait until their enemies were consumed by their own fire.
But this conclusion had taken days, weeks of deliberation and weighing of alternatives. The king was waiting. He could not say that he had taken all this time, to merely present a result that did…nothing.
We must wage war, he announced.
The day falls at the end of May or early June, at the start of every summer, when the warm air collides with the cool.
On this day, the wind blows ferociously, tufting the clouds and bending the trees until they bow. It is a long, constant wind, with a beginning somewhere in the countries beyond, bringing leavened scents of flowers that do not exist here.
It is a festival day when you set fires in the lull of the wind, and then watch as it starts again, sweeping the fire sideways. Everything that is thrown into the fire leaves too, ash swept far, far away from here. We do not know where the wind ends.
It is a day of clairvoyance and clarity, when the sky is empty and you can see as far as the mountains in the distance, and the gleam of towns at their foothills.
It is a day to take your old memories, the ones that are useless and stifle you, and release them to the wind – so that you can finally, finally forget.