My last bout with mild hallucinogenics had been largely ineffective. That wasn’t because of either their lab source or the destination. It had been a chimerical sort of venture to begin with. It had been one step Minotaur, one step Peter Pan. I hadn’t been able to keep pace between monstrosity and fantasy. And the dull end of the uxorious rainbow of experience had once again been caught up with my promiscuous appurtenances. Licorice beans and flax seed concoctions mixed with almond butter syrup had been to me like the Promised Land. And a day behind Adobe Illustrator had also worked as the burden’s ideal distractor. Mention of Velázquez, Goya, and the Prado always a plus. A lift in spirit like a hem line just above the knee. An eyebrow raised. A half-fortuitous glance from afar, coming from across the street anointed. A purposeful roving down the track tracks of the northeastern corridor, the risen daily sun already losing its splendor and its golden color overhead. The pastel shading of memory could not have been more delightful at times than drinking by frozen hand in my palm the cold spring water in the Ozark Mountains where legend had it a lone bandit was time ago shot and had died six or seven generations before, some years before even the invention of the internal combustion engine and the early oil derricks began covering the world’s deserts and plains alike.
There had been men, cleaning men, janitors who had been clearing off a table that had had trash on it in the park. They were talking about and grumbling about taxes and money and the government. I sat down at the bench they were clearing off, and began talking to them about how this country had never been attacked, and how aside from 9/11, we in this country had always been safe. I had been thinking about other countries in Europe that were always more or less under or prone to being under attack. And I told the men, “There are three safe places in the world: here, the Arctic, and Antarctica.” At another table somewhat nearby, the Chairperson of the local university had overheard me talking, or lecturing to these men, these economic beliefs of mine as history to them. She called out to me. By then I had been flying in a loop over the park, an elliptically shaped, tilted loop over the park and trees and the benches. I was a little bit worried that if the soft pack that I had held between my ankles should slip out from there, that I would fall and die, but not overly so that it should happen. I was full of joy going around, flying like this, all around and over the park and benches and the Chairperson’s table with all the finely dressed professors and my table full of the janitors cleaning up the park. As I was coming ‘round in flight, traveling counter-clockwise, I saw standing on the ground my late friend, deceased thirty years ago. I was gladly surprised. Looking down I saw him glance up. His eyes were completely black, filled in with blackness. Maybe his mouth had been open and filled with the same complete blackness too. He, facing my direction, as I was flying above him, fell backwards to the ground buckling at the knees and died, and I woke up screaming at this horror.
I had waded in a standstill stream. Below the water’s surface my hand had reached for smooth, curved rocks. Each of these had resembled planet Earth afar, from outer space. And each one I placed inside my apron’s front pocket. I wandered on some time, never thinking to look again at all the stone planets collected in my dress. Some time ago, I stood ashore; the oar I held was pointed downstream, pointing towards where my little boat was next to float again. I had to paddle past the boulders and their violence. If not, the boat was sure to break. If not, what then? Time ago, I woke upon my back in the middle of the night. On waking on my back full of nothing, I watched the moon above my eyes. It had been blurred by clouds. I thought of nothing of where I had wandered. I thought of nothing of where I had once waded. I thought of all the stock-still chances I had forsaken and forgotten by the water where by myself I had been walking long ago.
The things he had loved were the things he had seen. And the things he had seen were so often the ordinary. He had once seen a shooting star shoot far across the sky in the Yucatán, so long he could say, “Look!” and his wife could turn her neck around and watch its burning glow burn across the night. He had watched the praying mantis babies, no bigger than grains of rice, dangling from dozens of threads, emerging downward from their cocoon in the middle of his backyard swamp as a wandering boy alone. He had seen herds of reindeer standing like a fields of stones in Lapland when he was a man. He had seen a single, small maple tree in the middle of the grass whose leaves had turned all red saying, “Fall!” He had seen the cobblestones of France, the cornfields of Wisconsin, and the beach sands of Monastir. He had seen the ferns’ patch moving across his yard for twenty years, the birch trees fall; and, up the hill, the multitude of sunspots glowing deep orange on the glowing brown-leafed ground. And he had even seen the wood thrush, that most reclusive of forest birds, sitting still just feet beyond his home, without song. He had been inside a cave in Pennsylvania once so deep within the earth that the beauty of lightless blackness he had seen that with his own eyes too. That cave might have been the most peerless vision of all, of all things in his life so far he had already seen.