The Healer

The Healer

 

 

 

 

 

He had told her he would be leaving in the morning, boarding a bus West, he said, making it clear he didn’t know how far West he would go, just West, explaining that, in the business of what he was trying to do, hoping to do, to make sense of his provisions in life, the further West he would go the further the story could travel, and so on. East, he explained, will cut the story short. She wasn’t sure how to handle him at first. Most of her clients were more desperate, looked the part more than he did. They came in winds, ten on one day and none on another. Like the city had a plan for them to be roused from their apathy. Most of them with serious problems. Eating disorders that took control of their life, one of them weighed over four hundred pounds and admitted to eating ten meals a day. How could she find the poor woman’s soul under so much meat! Another younger girl weighed on the cusp of eighty pounds and was chewing through her pencils, her teeth eroding and chipped. When she asked her where she might have developed her disorder, the girl told her she was trying to disappear, that she had been raped as a child and nobody believed her, and that she didn’t want to claim her body, wanting to let her spirit go. She must be dead by now, the oracle often thinks, she never came back. The protocol is simple and most of the time she doesn’t have trouble following the rules. The protocol insists on the veneer of her being superior in spiritual connectivity to her visitors. This isn’t always the case, and when its clear form the start that the visitor has a formal connection to the divine, she forces her way into their thoughts, so as first to embed a complex of doubt, and following, when they no longer feel the source of their creation as they did before, she helps them to construct one again. This gives her, so the protocol says, the ultimate power over her visitors. She gives them what they need, without ever giving them more. Over the years she started to lose control over her visitors. Sometimes, she gave up control. Not out of spite, but out of reason. Some of these people, she’ll tell you, don’t want to be helped. And the visitors who refuse help, who thrive on suffering, are cursed to remain in the dark, forbidden from the light. Of course, she took pity from time to time on her visitors as well. For instance, the terminally ill. Cancer, AIDs, Ebola. Those with disfigurations, paralyzed from a motorcycle accident or losing their legs on a mine. Those whose faces were burned, attacked by boiling water, with gas. She helped these people, it was their right. They didn’t all ask to be opened to the man upstairs, to be receiving the gifts of a pious life. They asked for comfort. They asked to be given the strength to wake up in the morning, to open their eyes knowing the difficulties, the conflicts, the suffering they were going to face. They asked for humor, for love. They all asked for love. Anyone who asked for love, she believed, deserved to have it. Those were the visitors she enjoyed helping, the patients she broke her back over, the ones she would give anything for. But the worst, the one she didn’t like to entertain, the ones she didn’t even bother to help, or if she had to, the ones who she manipulated toward their destruction, were the older men who had been lying all their lives, who had acted on their predatory instincts, finally, and couldn’t have enough, who lured children from schools, from their neighbor’s homes, from airports and shopping malls, into their dens to become subjects in an act of humiliation and degradation. the men who had children of their own and their friends had children as well, all of them meeting together for cookouts and carpooling to school, and the urge growing in the older man’s gut, until the day finally comes when the man give in to their transgressions and prey on the body of a poor little soul. A soul who has no will in the matter. She helped these men pass through the darkness. She helped them seek forgiveness for themselves, from themselves, and to seek forgiveness from their prey. But secretly she despised their presence and sought to punish them in some way, pushing them to the brink of sanity, leaving them stranded with one hand pleading to the great open door in the sky and the other gorged in the mouth of a subsurface cretin. She abused her power and treated them to a horrible kind of recovery, a horrible kind of mercy that begins with acceptance and defeat and ends with a bullet to the head. She never told these poor souls that suicide is a sin, that they would suffer damnation, cursing their already damaged souls. She accepted that she was leading them to the edge and watching them fall, if not pushing them herself, watching them drown with excitement, watching the great volcanic mire devour them into her ash. Most of her clients of such nature would eventually commit the rite. But she wasn’t sure of this one. He told her he was a writer. She knew nothing of writers or writing, but it made it easier to navigate. She always thought writers to be obsessed hobbyists who tricked the world into a profession, if they were lucky enough to succeed. Her younger sister, on the other hand, knew almost everything about writers. But she hadn’t spoken to her sister in years, even after their reunion. For some reason, as he sat in her chair that first night, he reminded her of her sister. Beneath the drunkenness, beneath the veneer of loss, he reminded her of the way her sister used to stumble on her words, moving frenetically from idea to idea, like a mystical incarnation, catching the words as they drew by, chasing the words that lead to the next. He reminded her, because he was sitting with one leg over the other, and one of his palms dug beneath the upper leg, of the way her sister used to sit, crouching forward, begging with her open eyes for some sort of benediction. And maybe it wasn’t in the words, or the way he sat or the way he held her longer than most when they said goodbye, and she could actually wait long enough to loosen in his arms, to adjust to their respective forms, and to feel his heartbeat and to breathe, together, suddenly, breathing together in one long fight. Maybe it was the sight of him passing by the window, the sight of his eyes catching hers and the sound her child made in her arms as the moment stood still for muc longer, the look in his eyes when he refused to relieve them, when he passed and tilted his head and she tilted hers and he retained that position for just a moment longer, leaning backward with his head while his legs carried him forward, caught between his two ignorant friends. Maybe it was that look, that look that said, I remember something now, or, I have met you, that reminded her of the time, the last time she ever saw her sister, sitting in her chair as she did that night, that night when he passed and she hadn’t expected he would, how she sat there exactly like that the day her sister passed before her eyes, completely unaware of her surroundings, an opposite in every sense, and they caught each other’s eyes and though she knew it first it didn’t seem like it at the time, it seemed like her sister had been seeking her, because she didn’t seem at all surprised, she didn’t seem at all to be thinking, What the fuck, to be thinking, What the fuck, she just fell back into her groove, standing a little to the side of the window, staring in, before finally raising her right palm, peacefully, quietly, pulling from her elbow upward, the fingers tightly stacked so as to gift an open palm. It was the same look, and the same gesture that they had shared the last time she stood with them in their house, the whole family together for the last time, before she left their home to leave the tribe, to study literature and painting in an urban school, standing at the doorway with her elbow perched upward, her beautiful curls flowing down her back and riding across her chest, her little palm resting against the window, the invisible window that stood between them and that moment etched in time, the palm rinsed in the air by all her invisible sensations, her wanting to encroach on that moment and stab it in the gut, relieve it from its place and burn it in the mire she reserved for those decrepit souls. And then, just like that, both times, her sister disappeared, washed from the aesthetics of her eyes. In her evolution into a modern transformer of energy, she always recognized in her own struggle to attain ultimate perfection over her craft a pressing desire to reunite. It was uncommon for families to let go of their own, to embrace the curiosity of a wayward calf. ever since that day, she felt like a limb had been loosened from her body, stolen in front of her eyes, and the attempts she made to dismember the memory like the limb itself were no use in the end. Her family performed a sacred duty, and it was written in their destinies, so she was told, to perform it as well. The women in the family were tuned in to a sacred source, an energy basin that had long entrenched in the tribe. The relationship with the source began with their great ancestors in the mountains known as Jabal el Druze, in the south of modern Syria. The inhabitants, who remain today, settled there as a haven for all mystical nations, for all Gnostics fleeing persecution in Europe and Asia Minor. The people, staunch ascetics, were smart to enlist the favor of the ruling monarch. Rulers come and go, revolutions topple regimes and instill yet another tyranny, empires that collapse bridge the era of another, and the ascetics have witnessed this for centuries, wars dismembering entire nations. While the Abrahamic schools destroyed one another, and secular armies pillaged like mad driven carnivores, the Druze protected their modest stretch of land, from the mountains of Syria and Lebanon and into Palestine, always obedient to the victor of another war. This small providence is where the sisters are from. And yet, though she has performed her duties devotedly, she had never managed to embed herself in the popular will of the people. She could not understand a world of theological texts and doctrines. But nonetheless, the world is exciting to a young student of theology. As a young girl, she would watch her mother and her sisters conduct ceremonies in secret. When she was old enough to join, she no longer had to hide to witness the miracle of transformation the women endure. None of the original myths that are known to scholars are reproduced. Most of the work is quite simple, from an exterior perspective, but the transformation occurs within. The women are drawn into a whirlwind, where they hear the testimonies of several thousand voices, speaking in relative frequencies. The women follow the lead, silently, diligently, of a voice they can trust, a voice that answers a question of theirs in return for a favor of their own. But the exuberant fantasies of contemporary horror stories is entirely absent. None of the furniture in the room is dislodged form its place. None of the women’s hands are endowed with special powers. The only real change occurs within the women’s heart, where they feel a deep and all encompassing possession of another soul, a process that embodies the heart of the bearer, her heart, and for a few moments in time she becomes the voice. And all day, thinking of the images impressed in her mind, that of her sister’s little palm, that of the writer’s open eyes, his penetrating eyes, all the while questioning, debating, prodding whether the two could in some way be aligned, whether there was in fact some meticulous investigation she had to carry out, on her part, whether this could be the one visitor whose story would become her own, whose providence was in fact her lesson, whose presence was in fact her celestial gift. What would she tell the writer? What would she tell him when, appearing finally after a long day’s wait, probably a day he spent thinking and debating and prodding himself, wondering whether he had the nerve to show, whether he had the nerve to sit in her chair and listen to her gifts, what would she honestly tell him, if he ever showed? That she couldn’t help him? That she needed to use him for her own gesticulation? Could she tell him of the hours she’s spent imagining her reunion with her sister? That, when they first met, and he touched her palm while entering the door, all she could feel in that moment, all she could think about in that insignificant moment was a moment that had consumed the totality of her imagination, a moment she imagined the two sisters reunited, and after a restless opening conversation where they feel lightyears apart, at some point, at some gifted point, one of the sisters, probably herself, would reach over the counter and hold the other’s hand, ever so slightly, the way its done when you’ve been in contact over many years, the other person in the middle of speech, and without thinking, a sweet and tender palm falls onto the hand, almost robotically albeit for the wave of breathing energy that passes through the hold, resting there long enough for both sisters to notice, and for none of them to take notice, to take notice publically, for fear, she often imagined, for fear of turning their back on the moment, for fear of letting it pass, for fear of letting go and never doing it again, of feeling that one of them had acted out of line, that one of them, as in all relationships, especially those in need of repair, that one of the two fickle souls standing before each other needs the other more than the other needs them, that one of them is indebted to the other, that one of them will always feel obliged to give more than they can take, because the other demands so much from them, the other demands so, so much. And yet, what had she ever demanded? What had she ever asked for herself but to be the quiet daughter, the obedient daughter, the daughter that is never reckless and always responsible, the daughter whose help can be sought at any given time, who is woken at four in the morning without even the slightest aura of annoyance, only to deliver her mother a glass of water, only to administer a diabetic shot to her dying aunt? What had she demanded other than to be recognized for her diligence, her sacrifice, her full fledged devotion to the family cause, devotion that would expire her heart and her age younger than most, that would witness the great slacking tide of her skin losing its softness, its tenderness, her face growing callous, her hands chipped at the nails, worn at the edges and losing every touch of health? What had she gotten for what had been given? Once, not long after her sister drifted further and further away, her mother found her reading poems in the attic of her grandmother’s home. She had stolen a few books, books she knew nothing about, from her sister before the little one got away, and pretending to be ill, citing a case of the flu, she ascended the tiny stairs and emerged into the dustbowl attic, where she pulled from her long black overcoat a book of passages by names she had never heard, poems that were only read, she thought, by those who don’t have responsibility, by those who remain outside of the family cause. How could she have time for poetry, when her mother was courting up to ten visitors a day, up to ten visitors all claiming a little portion, a tiny portion but significant enough, of her soul, each time they visit, tearing away at her heart like the teeth of a lioness chewing away at the remaining food, after its been devoured by the king, the patriarchal monster that ruled over their home. She didn’t want to think of the monster, and that afternoon she retired to the attic and read, and it was the first time in her life, reading without the presence of her mother, her aunt, her grandmother, the neighbors, the visitors, the patriarchal monster, all peering over her shoulder judging, investigating, lampooning her every move. But she didn’t understand the poems. She didn’t even know, afterward, if they had been poems at all. A series of essays, loosely constructed, which she understood to be fact, but in truth they were entirely fictional, and she didn’t quite know where the story began, if poetry ever had a story, she had only ever read a few of their theological texts, that’s all. In prayer, she could usurp the paradigm of creativity and become its humble bearer. In her sessions, with her visitors, she became the poem, she became the part. But when reading, she often felt let down by the words, like they promised, in the first few lines, something significant to be told, something extraordinary, a secret that the two, the writer and the reader, might share together, never to be told but at her grave, peering over her dead body standing alongside the writer, lamenting the absence of all her friends at the only ceremony to be held in her name. But after reading into the work, the feeling of significance would pass, the secret would expire into a petty series of accusations and dissertation, the aura of a journey shared together rapidly disappearing. She didn’t understand the poetry she read that day, but she also felt, after consulting herself in prayer and in union with the unconscious whole, meditating on her experience for several weeks before forming a conclusion, that she didn’t want to understand the poems, that the poems were only written by and for those types of men and women who coerce their families and spend their fortunes, and for families without fortune, for a family like hers, they would only use up what resources they had to investigate the aesthetics of wonder, happily pushing their family to the grave. The hours would continue to pass. Hours that felt like she were slipping deeper and deeper into her own whirling cord, her own Dervish like dance, turning inside her blood. Where was this writer? People who make promises, she thought, people who make commitments and can’t even excuse themselves. It’s a pity, she thought, it’s a pity and its sad because she liked his eyes, she remembers, she liked the innocence that sprang from his eyes.

“Do you know what Bara is,” she said, opening the curtains to the room, speaking over the silence of her students, the four of them dressed in black, and the guest of the speaker dressed in pink, the color of her master’s robe. Shahida had learned at the Institute the patterns of western architectural heritage, including meditations regarding “The Rotaro”, and the studies of which could be found in later editions, more properly explained. It was a dim October afternoon. Outside, the majestic color of autumn rainfall had descended. A storm blew heavily along the Eastern seaboard. Gusts of wind crashed angrily at her storefront window every few seconds sending a wave of shock down her spine, clattering against the backdrop of her baby’s weeping, clutching him to her chest. She was waiting for one of her visitors, one of her newly acquired. She had been expecting him all day, and he hadn’t shown. She even slipped the CLOSED sign on the front door and covered the windows with the blinds. She left him a note, one he would understand, in case she had stepped back inside to grab something to eat, or had to use the bathroom, or take a call. But she had decided to wait, to show patience in the face of anxiety, to ensure only her best side shown. The concierge, Jawwad, stepped out from beside the building, pushing open the thin steel door, fencing them off fro the outside world, pretending, carrying a black plastic bag of trash. She was sitting ten feet under him, in the small alcove reached by the stairs, leading into the small garage, and beside it, the small parking, and three tenant rooms in the basement halls. She had rented from him for the last ten years, as long as which he had known her. He could tell what she was feeling, knowing her well enough to know she was otherwise absorbed that afternoon, sitting on her chair outside, obviously waiting for one of her more interesting clients to show. He considered asking her what it was, that was so interesting, deciding instead to salute her from the canopy of the open door. The water tower had been built in the park. The building was small, with doors on all four sides, long metal chains acting as bars, pulled to the side, the opening smelling of shoes and concrete, a hollow sort of cave, pretty well sized, with an elevator that worked mostly in the morning, almost never working at night. The staff on the first floor of a rosary school had chosen to take the day off, but otherwise, there would have been a crowd of sisters in the hallway sharing notes, talking about their programs and confusion. The story goes, he was led to the room, led by his own volition, knowing it was on the second floor, and on the first floor being the rosary. He stopped at the foot of the second stair, each of the flights cut up in pairs, one stair reaching the middle, and another to touchdown. The window frame had been broken, the glass taken out. The frame was empty, so he could see through it, on to the other side, the empty courtyard, where ferns and other bush had grown, small concrete slabs coming off the concrete acting like canals, controlling irrigation, forming a little path of river life and familiar cast. A parking lot had been built just opposite, and in the corner of the lot a small little hut. There were dogs locked up on a leash, an old rusty barrel full of sand forming a little hut, from where they rung their barks. The shopkeeper, Salim, was standing outside, shoveling cigarette stubs from the evening before, scattered along the concrete.

“Do you want some water,” he asked?

“I’m fine, really.”

“Some peanuts,” she said? “Some coffee, some tea?”

“Nothing, really. Is the Madame in,” he asked?”

“The Madame is waiting for you,” he said, “please, sit down, sit down, the Madame is waiting. She is coming in a moment, sit down. Here,” he said, pulling out a seat from under him. “Here,” he said, “sit down, sit down. “What are you having, what do you like? I have coffee, peanuts, tea?”

“No, nothing, it’s fine.”

“No? Nothing?”

“Nothing, nothing, it’s fine.”

“You’re okay,” he said, his face bulging into the screen, injuring Thomas slightly, just getting on edge, creating an unnecessary tension between them. If I weren’t so secure in my sexuality I would say he was getting too close, and closer than that. He had wrapped his face around Thomas’ shoulders, so as to appear before him with only his face, his body still around the corner, lingering in pursuit. His eyes were heavily make up, doused in two shades of blue, with the added aroma of glitter on her eye shadow, to give it some more cool. His lips were marked in a hazel brown. For commitment, he wore a tie, a pink and black bandanna that emerged from his chest, almost like a frame for his heart, two black dots below the eyes, one under each of his eyelids, and another in between his ties, signifying friends he lost to the army, during military service and abroad. He wore pencil shaped diamonds as earrings.

“Do you know why I’m here,” he asked the working gentleman, helping him to his seat.

“I don’t.”

“I don’t either,” he said. “Do you know the time?”

“It’s a rough hour,” he said, “it’s four o’clock.”

“Hmm,” he said. “How about that?”

“Yeah. Well,” he said, pulling a blanket over Thomas’s knees, hoping to warm him. “Shouldn’t be too long now. By the way, where from did you say you were coming?”

“From Border Patrol.”

“You work there?”

“I was there this morning.”

“No, so, where do you work?”

“Oh, I freelance for The Daily Yards, but I’m also working on a story.”

“A story here?”

“No. A story at home.”

“Isn’t it? I wrote a story once, I submitted it to a magazine. I even heard back. They said they’d publish it but it was too raunchy for the audience. It was a children’s magazine, at my niece’s school. For the elementary. Mostly for the parents, I think, though it’s mostly pictures. No, I’m kidding. If I’m honest, I tried for the Dublin Review.”

“From the Academy?”

“Yeah.”

“Nice.”

“They didn’t want it. I sent it three times.”

“Can you send more than once?”

“They have no objections. Anyway, she’ll be out. Keep in touch, alright? Play it safe, man. Be serious.”

The door to her office opened ajar, as his words were spoken, the disappearing man remaining silent, he opened the door to the room. She sat him in her chair, as she had done so before, the last time he had come to her seeking answers. There was a boy in the room swatting flies, a steel metal handler at his pocket, he had chosen to swat them with his palms, two open palms snapping. She sat him in his chair. She showed him a deck of cards, the labels of the Alpha Cross left open, plain visible, surmised.

“Thank you for seeing me, doctor.”

“Of course. What can I do for you, young man?”

“Well, as you know, I have to be checked, in my leg. They have to see if the foot is broken, in two places. Until then, I have twelve hours to decide if I want to press charges. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Can you help? I can’t seem to figure out what I’m doing. Where I am. Who I am, or anything. I think I fell off a ledge, or I was riding on a boat. I don’t know.”

“But you know why you’re here, yes?”

“Of course. I know.”

“So let me tell you what I know. I have to help you, alright. You feel very off. Something has happened to you, something bad. You don’t know what, you don’t know. That’s fine with me, as long as it’s fine with you. I don’t need you to do much, just listen. They brought you here for hypnosis, do you know what that is?”

“I don’t.”

“It’s very simple. It works like this. I start from the beginning, with a note. We find something, like a harmony. Can you sing? Have you ever sung before? Pick three,” she said, which he did, Leaving them face open. She flipped them over on their sides, studying their contents carefully. She put them down, asking him to write his name, his birthday, and if he had it on him, the hour of his birth, to the minutest detail, up to the minute, if he could. He didn’t know it, but he guessed, four minutes after four in the morning. He had always been a heavy sleeper, staying up late at night. He thought he remembered his mother saying he had been born at around that time, at around that hour in the morning, and h felt it spoke of his always staying up late, the peak levels of his energy drawing him around full time, stretching him until the morning, meeting the hour of his birth at full strength. Halfway through the day, he was always tired. He didn’t know why. She told him it was wrong, it didn’t make sense, she said, judging by her initial reading, he wasn’t born in the morning at all, it just couldn’t add up, according to her charts, a wide plastic folding she had just picked up, gazing at it unaffording. He had pulled three highly observant cards, she said, the Palm of Hearts, the Jester and the Raging King. The King stood for an emerging madness.

“Is it becoming more difficult,” she asked, “To do as you are doing?”

He didn’t know how fast to respond, knowing she asked out of politeness, that she observed everything from the opposing charts, and nothing from what he told her, except for those elements that told of things missing, what he kept from her, in secret, what he tried to dissuade himself. He didn’t know how fast to respond. He stayed silent, reflecting, resisting the urge to lie.

“The king has all kinds of needs, but it isn’t at all parental. He offers no guidance, but the threat of speed, pushing the spirit to its boundaries, trying with sheer force to impose his will, altering the status of the cards.”

She looked at him as a mother might take to her child, wounded by a bully at school. There was pity in her voice as she spoke, going against her own rules. He was thinking about his work, that was all that came to mind, not the face he hadn’t seen or heard from in years, that still managed to plague his mind, suffering the consequence of having been forgotten, not once, but twice, once, when he was twenty three, having just moved away from his idle parents, and afterward, studying the effects of withdrawing from society at the bleak and tender age of twenty nine. He thought of his work, of his failing. At one point, not knowing how else to pursue, the beginning or the end, always somehow ending up in the middle continuing from some forgotten line, he decided to drop it all. Was it then, sitting there, that he had himself decided, or was it there and then himself, but three years before, the last time he had sat in the chair before the witch of Nabi Saleh. Deciding to drop it all, he thought of Darin, the face of his friend, who flung herself before the train, Leaving nothing but two letters to survive, taking with her a passport, a notebook, some photos, her livery, wherever she was going. Deciding to drop it all, he decided to take his life as well, to remove the fracture of his written bones, the fact of his needing money, spoiling the pursuit of writing gold. But he couldn’t decide how to do it, so he left it for later to decide. What would he do in the next year, she asked. He didn’t know how best to answer. I decided to take a trip, he said, not wanting to elaborate. She could read it in his eyes, of course, he wasn’t and would not be the suicidal first to sit in her observing chair, watching her force elaborate. He wanted to take a trip, he said. To visit all the places of his youth that he could remember, to photograph them, to bring them back to life. The bench outside his father’s work, the carpet of the office floor, where he drew patterns and swimming whales as a day’s visiting child. The seesaw outside the restaurant, where he ate from time to time, going along with his father when he visited. The swimming pool at school. The courtyard of the old neighbor’s home, where their parent’s met four nights a week to play cards and smoke. He wanted to turn them into postcards, and after his death, to have them all sent, as his dying wish, to everyone that he had known, acknowledging, or trying to make the point, that he had never really passed from place to place, conveying them all along. That was what tired him, he said, saying only the last part out loud.

“What does the palm of hearts mean,” he asked.

He removed his sweater, sitting back in the chair. His lower back was wet with sweat, it now felt cool in the air conditioned room. She offered him a cup of tea, pouring into a small mosaic glass, passing it with two hands. Her skin felt noticeably soft. They made contact for the very first time. The last time he had seen her, there had been a baby in her arms, and then, he heard the cries of a baby from another room. She flipped open the palm of hearts, positioning it to face him.

“How are you,” she asked him.

“I’m fine.”

“How was your weekend,” she asked.

“It was fine. It was good.”

“What can you tell me?”

“What?”

“Is there anything you can tell me, that was significant, somehow?”

“Significant how?”

“I don’t know. You tell me. You’re here to speak to me, aren’t you?”

“I am. I’m here to talk.”

“I can’t do the talking for you. I can, I can try. But it won’t help. It has to come from you. Otherwise it will not work. You have seen already what happens when you fail. You go back to feeling bad, like you felt before, before you came to see me, and you were in trouble. Weren’t you? In trouble, when you found me, when you came at first?”

“I was.”

“Show me your palm,” she said, holding out her hand, for his to receive it.

She held his hand, folding it into hers.

“We can start with a meditation, if you want. If you do not want to speak. Do you feel comfortable?”

“I do. Yes.”

“Show me your eyes.”

She shone the lantern on his face.

“Do you want trouble?”

“No.”

“Why do you lie? I see it in your eyes. You have tasted fire, and you want the fire to grow. You let it grow already, but now it worries you. First, you let it take control of you, but now you are worried. Am I right? Do you know about the fire?”

“I do.”

“The fire is good. I am sure you know that. You have tasted the face of the unseen, and it has brought you pleasure and wonder, isn’t that right? Are you pure?”

“I have been impure.”

“Have you memorized your lines?”

“I have.”

“Say, Mashallah.”

“Mashallah.”

“Ra, Ra, Rah Rahman.”

“Ra, Ra, Rah Rahman.”

“Rahmanallah Rallah Ro.”

“Rahmanallah Rallah Ro.”

“RA, RA, Rah Rahman.”

“Ra, RA, Rah Rahman.”

“Rahmanallah Rallah Ro.”

“Rahmanallah Rallah Ro.”

“Make it safe, for yourself. You have to be safe in the heart. Otherwise, the poison will grow. You have already been poisoned. Now is your chance to make out. Make good with yourself. Say, Rahmanah, Rahmanah, Ro.”

“Rahmanah, Rahmanah, Ro.”

“Trust your r’s. Slur them. Give it everything. Go”

“Rahmanah, Rahmanah, Ro.”

“Louder.”

“Rahmanah, Rahmanah, Ro.”

“Now, say, Rahman, Rahman.”

“Rahman. Rahman.”

“Good.

He was shocked to find the treatment worked. It was a pleasant surprise. In the course of three evenings, he had found two ladybugs, on separate occasions, in his office. One of them, at the time of his writing this, had died already, and the other was still alive, standing strong on the wall before him. The recording explicitly said it would take approximately fifteen hours for the spirit to call, and within those hours he would feel like such a terrible mess he would forget totally the intention of the experience until the spirit finally called, and when speaking would forbade him to ignore her spirit, and so the spirit forms, and when it forms it molds into an element of his experience, and so the spirit calls, coming in her passes like a servant marches gallantly in her master’s hall, marching for experience, to live well and be fed, to die in some sort of dignity. It was a pleasant surprise. Mostly, that one of them were still alive, standing strong on the wall before him.

“You are with your family, your friends. You want to be yourself, but you notice you are changing. You will never be the person you are, in the head. You want to live in the body. The body is pure. You are pure. Most of what you have done will be forgiven. But there are things you have done, that will not. You regret this. By accepting that there is forgiveness, you understand that you are unable to conceive of a world without some sort of moral order, probably supplanted by a hierarchy of ideals and forms. You believe in ideals. You believe in forms, and so you believe in sacrifice. You affirm it is a priority to exist.”

“These are the things you are. What do you want to be?”

“Tell me how it works again.”

“It works like this- First, there is the conception of a child. There is the duende. The duende comes in three kisses. The kisses come in three blows. The first kiss is inspiration. She kisses on the neck. And so you are given, what we call the obstacle of grace, the obstacle that is intended for. Wanting for experience, you make proper amend of all that you have lived, in virtue and habit of gluttonous gore. You believe in obstacle. Obstacle you conceive. You believe that mastery of a moment is governed in extremes. You want to know these extremes. You want to know the penalty, and note things down. Even if you sleep in tomorrow morning,” she said, “I still want to be away from you. Because the source is where the heart is yawned, left to its own surroundings, to content to explore, meaning the most of my experience, and what’s mine is yours. You are a child of this theatre, and the stage is brave, hoping for love over indifference, for wanting over needing more. I want you to experience what it means to become alive, in some familiar way that is most attributable to you. A child of life lived experience. Of boredom and helpless nights. You move your body, stepping out of the car,” she said, the voice on the recorder sounding serious, the whispers in her voice were calm. The darkness of the room would have been unsettling, had he not been entirely passed out, wavering under the mass of sounds that were capturing his experience. “You take a moment and pause. Breathing is the sustenance of experience, and the experience greatly solves all of our dilemmas, however small or large. If there is something bothering you, let it be said, and it will wash away, like the stardust of this universe, wiping upon the open thread, the canvas of our experience, the making more.”

“You pause. You take a moment, and pause.”

“You have returned to yourself. This is the first transition. In the garden, the way is long.”

In the Year of Dog, and Silver Fluid, the classes of master Ro, conducted in the Hall of Grievances, I learned to count three times before arguing my rights in front of a superior. The work is tough. Knowledge is power, and it is also pain. I am hurting. Every hour, a Yacoubian is captured and killed for their beliefs. They are tied to a chair and made to recite indecent words of others, made to dispel their beliefs. Sometimes I wonder if it is all an act. A mark of trickery, on the greater source. Or on me, my perception. But I’ve seen the photographs and they tell the truth like anything else, even if they are forged, they are pictured. The archive exists. We have put together the evidence and it shows.

“Missus, I have a question. If it is alright I speak?”

“It is always alright, my dearest.”

“Can I ask you, in truth, a question about love.”

“What is it you want to know?”

“I have wondered for some time. My father used to say, before we went on trips, or when we ate outside of the house for dinner, to be thankful, for everything we have, for the life we are living, for the experience. He was not a rich man, most of his life. It made him very sad, but also, more than anything, it made him boring. I used to stay awake at night, I couldn’t sleep, because I heard him in the other room, talking about sports, only sports, all night, with some of his friends, and they used to sit and count money before and after dinner. He tried so hard to be rich, it failed him. But he was always thankful, he said, and so he never lost. Somehow, he was stuck in the middle. Does it make sense? I want to know, why do we lose control of the power, if the power is inside us?”

“I sense your question and I understand. Sit down, let me answer your question. First, there are two problems here. I want to talk about love, and about the treasure. The power is the same, it comes from both. You have to remember, the story of the jaguar is in the heart, not the head. We are told, from The Enchantments, foretelling the history of Ra, the seven great deed enchantments, being, one of them, as is commonly said, in the name of characters, and the jurist Ra, the serpent that bites in the neck is raw, and able for her tasting to please, and to become someone else. So is the figure of pleasure, sitting on the nape of your neck, calling for her spirit to bite. Do you understand? You are a force of weapons, but you do not understand. Only your force is pure, but you misuse it. You do what you want and your heart is impure. But if you take my lessons, then the spirit can heal, and only the spirit that heals forgives, and forgiving is genius, sharing the pact that will transform us all. Do you want to be better? You must ask yourself. Only you are the one to know. There is nothing waiting for you. The gates have opened and the guards have moved. The father is inside the heart. You can see him. When you visit him, be sure to be pure. Wash yourself, clean your tidings. Be honest about your will. Baba Rahman says we are to keep the treasure inside us, at all times. What is the treasure? To speak of something without knowing its name, is to disregard her nature. It is the first sign of evil, or evil to come. So we must know, where we stand, at all times, even if we are in doubt of our surroundings. Do you know where I am? I am in the room of cards, where the being of pleasure can grow, and there, I see everything, I see even a house, and small children, permitted to grow. In that sense, I am living a life, and we are all, like that, preparing. Baba Rahman agrees with her sisters, who are given license to preach. He says the pleasure comes from the heart, and for this, he is insulted. From the very first of his life, did he nod to the above or did he cower? He nodded. He does not cower in fear to that thing he adores. Why do we love? I am asking, but you do not have an answer. For the being to set her assault on pleasure. For the being to grow. Now, is this enough for you to know?”

“Yes,” she said, taking her seat, “I am very grateful.”

“The hour is just, and the time of your life is not stopping, but you must make your amends, mend your fences, building the walls of your desired home. The body is a temple, and the temple is yours. You must only do what is honest and right. Why do you think the Three Sons are sent from the abyss? To bring upon your senses that your doing is just. Now, answer my question. For what did you seek pleasure?

“For the being of must,” the audience rang out.

“For that, you sought pleasure?”

“For being alone.”

In the event that you hear of him, hold your tongue. Hold your thoughts. He will retain your dignity, after having become you. In the event that you hear of her, hold your tongue. Hold your thoughts. She will retain your pleasure, after having become you. In the morning that rises in the calm, she is inside of you. It was a pleasant surprise. In the course of three evenings, he had found two ladybugs, on separate occasions, in his office. One of them, at the time of his writing this, had died already, and the other was still alive, standing strong on the wall before him. You want to emancipate yourself. This sort of process becomes a man when he is ready to submit. Submission is pleasurable to you. You will be rescued from your need. But you will still want your need. At first, you are afraid. The size of the man’s erect penis is two times the length of your throat. You remember the boy’s face on the back cover of the magazine. He has your eyes. Desperate, telling eyes. He wants to be fucked. You cannot know who you will become. In the future. You can never go back. You are with your family, your friends. You want to be yourself, but you notice you are changing. You will never be the person you are, in the head. You want to live in the body. The body is pure. You are pure. Most of what you have done will be forgiven. But there are things you have done, that will not. You regret this. By accepting that there is forgiveness, you understand that you are unable to conceive of a world without some sort of moral order, probably supplanted by a hierarchy of ideals and forms. You believe in ideals. You believe in forms. You believe in the outrageous and the sacred. You affirm that the trickster is at the path of life, and the tiny owl figure that sleeps in your yard is the sleeping giant that cowards the gods. You believe in gods, and so you believe in sacrifice. You affirm that it is your priority to exist. These are the things you are. What do you want to be? I want to be everyone. I have to be someone. Tell me how it works again. It works like this: First, there is the conception of a child. There is the duende. The duende comes in three kisses. The kisses come in three blows. The first kiss is inspiration. She  kisses on the neck. With a silver palette. OF chariot stone. You believe in obstacles. Obstacles you can conceive. You will believe that mastery of a moment is governed in extremes. You want to know these extremes. You want to know the penalty, and note things down. “Even if you sleep in tomorrow morning,” she said, “I still want to be away from you.” You are a child of the night. You move your body, stepping out of the car. The darkness of the street unsettles you. Pause. You take a moment and pause. You are waiting for a diagnosis. For example, can you understand things? Do you relate things? If you say yes, you are sufficiently high. You have induced the radicals. You have returned to a former self. It is called the transition. The pattern of thought become singular, to the point of thought. Each thought is in devotion to its sacred next, the other. The conception of a future self is thus governed by these extremes. Therefore, the nature of the present, and the future, is harbored in either time, equally in the past. In these governing treasures we find the tools to construct a reality. Isn’t it great. Computers wee an obvious invention. Pornography is the greatest invention of mankind. You return to the beginning. This is how it is to write a story. You want to leave your room. You realize, the only thing you want to do outside your room is fuck, or be fucked. You like to fuck. You like to be fucked. You are a man and a woman. You are both at once. Has does it feel to be both? It feels excellent. I have many more characters inside of me. Some of them I want to excel. Others I want to devote myself into being, but never fully attain. It would be better that way. You sit down in your seat. The hotel lounge always impresses you in the beginning, but after the sound of stale smoke, you find your impression changed. You do not want to be there, but your father is listening to what you are saying. You look your father in the eyes. You explain to him, in full sincerity, I have always been this way, you’ve just never known. Can you imagine the moment? You sit down in your seat. The lounge always impresses you in the beginning, but after the sound of stale smoke, you find your impression changed. You realize, staring into your father’s eyes, his innocence in the mistakes in your life, his purity, his perseverance of character. You recognize your own loss of character, your identity that is a charade. You laugh at yourself. You are bullshit. You have always been afraid. You were afraid the moment you began to conceive of yourself. You conceive a self. You have now been conceived. In the matter of my thinking in this rhythm, and this integrity of moment, I have created you. You are now a full being in my entity, and I own you. When I own a character, I take over them. I can do anything to their lives. For instance. In the beginning, you were borne a He. I allowed you to become an I, but I maintained that you remain a He.  So you were at once in two halves. Now you conceive of yourself as You. You can do anything you want to him. You can take over you. This is the matrix of the plutonic sword.  In our industry, we refer to the planet Pluto in adherence with the Master Faith. The Industry is “Ever since I started transitioning, I realize, when I’m aroused, as a guy, I always felt it arousal purely in my penis. However long or small. However limp or strong. I could tell. But as a woman, I feel arousal just about everywhere. I owe it to having an orgasm as a woman. The sensation is universal. As a man, I feel nothing. Probably I feel regret, if I feel anything. I started to feel the orgasm in my toes, for instance, and that changed the way I sit. You can also refer to his part, as being, like this, You start to feel the orgasm in the toes. You are changing. The toes make you feel excellent. You realize, it changes the way you sit, because you move with the toes, in those directions, and so you are constantly swaying like a sloppy bear, drunk on fragile hind legs. You are now in universal order. You believe that there is an order to things, and an order to priorities. You believe in priorities. You believe that those who empathize with themselves will be loyal to priorities, and not discard them. You will be beneficial to yourself, and to others. You want to be beneficial. You want to be attractive. You want to be a jewel. But some of you will have secrets. You remember the words of the corporal. You remember to be feminine. To know when to return to another self is a mode of power. You want power. You want it to become you. You think power suits you. Power suits you. Power brings you gifts. You believe in gifts. You like to be bought and sold. Part of you believes in currency. Part of you in sin. You want to discover another mouthpiece. You realize, that in the very moment you are becoming, you are creating, and so you are also in essence the creation of one creation and then another, like a tunnel of mirrors, that you see with one pair of eyes, imaginatively. You see that the car doors are closed. The windows are tinted. You know someone is inside. You wait in the hallway, for the lights in the neighbor’s kitchen to come on. You watch, as the banana peels push away from the doors, and the neighbor turns into your sight. You watch him descend the stairs. You finally meet his eyes.  He knows you are staring at him. He cannot see you directly, but you knows you are there. He knows how far away you stand, from the shape of the door’s shadow. You realize, door’s shadow would have a word in German, but it doesn’t. It may be a word in French. You believe in languages. You want to learn them. Languages will help you be useful. You want to be useful! You are possessed by the duende. The color of your lips change. You paint them red, you paint them green. You are a fuck machine. You want to be beautiful. Your base elements have changed. You are becoming more feminine. You accept that you are strange. You want to be different. You are living a double life. What are the things you miss most about the past? You struggle to find an answer. You wipe your chin with your sweaty hand. If you were home, this energy would destroy you. You would masturbate, and then cry. You would masturbate again, to stop crying. You would cry again. But you want to be useful. I miss belief, conviction the most. You believe what you say. The other man is looking at you. You think to yourself, who is the other man? Have I created him? Has he come by himself? You wonder, if his jeans are colored, or if the entire scene is in black and white. If he has hair on his head. If he has trouble. Does he run with a noose around his neck. Is he terrible? You never know, until you are there. When you are there, you worry about your posture, more than anything else. You believe in good posture. You want to be there. Some of these moments pass, like acid in the wind. They paralyze your entire system. You will be paralyzed. You hate paralysis. It frightens you. These things frighten you. Some things do. You believe you are consumed by fear. You feel tragedy. You can now bow your head in public, an equal to the crowd. You are no better than anyone else. You are created. A now and former self. You register that you are indebted to several deities, and several facts. You want to be modern, so you assume “A writer needs styles, repertoire, like a jazz guy. He works out different grooves, and whenever he’s stuck, he switches to another groove. The key to good writing, is staying alive and strong long enough to write a book.” Asked to comment for Writer’s on Writer’s, he sent in a thread on a piece by James Buchanan, the elderly cabaret dancer who lived down the hall, who published two or three times weekly in his review. He said that he had never him of the man, but knew six or seven others who showed up from time to time, pretending to be him. You are now thinking in terms of the ark of a story. You believe in narrative. You are a creator. Narrative is a mission. As with any mission, under the Industry- the Industry parallels life- a mission. You walk up to the light switch, to turn off the lights. The switch will not turn off the lights. IT will refuse. You realize this is not a dream. This is a breathing time. Not a sleeping time. You miss sleeping time. IT comforts you. You believe in comfort, and things beautiful. The artist agrees to be everything he requires in order to discover the new self, every day. Do you want to be an artist as well? You were making coffee, and you’ve forgotten again. You have a sip of your coffee, it is delicious. You have a new coffee machine. SO that is not where you are going. Are you still at home? Where are you?

“I hate everything boy.”

“So do I,” his mother says.

“I love father though.”

“I know,” she says.

“You are so forgiving.”

“You are ungrateful.”

You will aspire to this sort of conversation. It will be hard. Do not imprison yourself in style. Or in a single narrative. You do not want this. You want to be yourself. You want to be constantly talking. You realize things are strange. You recognize strangeness, alterations, mood. You recognize difference. You are now in recognition of others. You are indifferent to others. You will aspire to please only yourself. You are selfish. You realize selflessness is inhibiting. You deny its rein over your kingdom. You are a kingdom, and you must empower it. You will feed on the flesh of others. You will sing Solomon’s song. You will betray. You idolize yourself. You know idols. You worship the pig. But the pig is your cousin. You are the filth that leaps in the smoker’s mess, in the bathroom nest in the bottom labyrinth of the club. You learn about the clubs, you want to go there. Only now do you realize this entire time you have been on a train, waiting to go somewhere, and yet not knowing where, have continued to ramble in the domain of thoughts, and thought process. Singular thought, a system inspired by clues. You are in the pig’s nest. You are elated. You take a step back. It is time for you to settle on your fundamentals. You must entertain full balance of all the energies. This way you will be useful. You want to be useful. You don’t want to be a pig. A pig eats everything in sight. A pig is destructive. Ignored. You hate to be ignored. You want to be noticed. You want to be beautiful. You are aroused. You have entered the labyrinth of wolves. You have watched the tunnel of eyes prey on your kingdom. You have aligned the eyes. I am having a sexual revolution. Let’s be fucking frank. Let’s be real. I do not know who I am, but I am getting there. I am getting there. I have to be useful to all my personalities, and so, I can be someone and someone else at once, but I am only performing at a specific time, and each moment is a different time, so I can participate in the world, living and dream, as any character, time after time. But I must first inherit the characters, and then take over their lives. The first character I am inducting is the machine. The machine is a root level player. The machine becomes a function of the underlying psyche, the unconscious. You finish your coffee. You wonder if it is cold already. It is not. The feeling is great. It is delightful! You remember what you are wearing. You are wearing a satin white dress, that flows like a river from your breasts to the height of your thighs. When you walk, you carry yourself like a kingdom. But you are a kingdom of odds. You will be cursed and eaten, like a frog. You believe in right and wrong. You choose the thong. Creativity is arousing. “At the peak of his powers, he was addicted to the rush.” “This is who I am,” he would say. Nothing is permanent. These are the rules. You believe in constitution. You are on the train. The narrative is pouncing on itself. In a moment of panic, you look for the joint. There was a time, you would have looked for porn. At porn. Pornography is inviting. It arouses the brain. Pornography spoils the blood. You will become the image, to forget it. You will forget the pain. You will be delighted! But you are a frog. You wake up. You were with your friends a few hours before. Your phone is ringing. It is one of your friends. She wants to go to the lake. You think it is a great idea. You get dressed. You powder and water your face. You clean up. You stare into the ashbin. The toilet is damp. The kitchen is grey. You worry that in your absence there will be a large cockroach infesting your home. There probably is not, but there may. You believe in consequences. You are obliged. You now know the power of rhythm. You are alive. The counselor calls. He tells the secretary he will be late. You overhear him. “What’s wrong with him?” “It took him a while to say, but I think he said gender problems.” “Nothing a good meditation can’t solve.” You hate to meditate. You tell yourself, the important thing is that you are writing. Even if she left you, if they leave you, if the whole order of beings leave you, and you are alone with nothing but a field of fungus and the occasional cockroach at your side, you will be writing, and things are okay. But you are not writing. All you are doing is thinking about sex, and pretending that somehow, the words can be transcribed by your thinking them intermittently between the scenes of an enlarged cock penetrating your mistress. Or your anus. You really enjoy the feeling of a cock inside your anus. But you realize, that the anus is a very provocative position for a man to take, and the many times a man takes this position, the many times a man becomes a slave to his desire. You do not want to be a weaker man than you are supposed. But part of you is not a man. You are now a woman. You want to be fucked in the ass. If you had a vagina, you would prefer to have a dick. You would ultimately prefer to have both, or none. The asshole itself will do. You are a slave to it. Your asshole, and any other’s. The pleasure of the anus is not so much that it is bold in its experience of pleasure and sacrifice in the form of penetration and waste, but that is halts, momentarily, for the extent of penetration, the feeling of loss that perpetuates life. The inevitability of the cycle, that results from our consumption of food, often in the form of other lifeforms, funneling into our throats and into our tired body claims. You slip into your mother’s dress. You are elated. It feels so good to be a woman. You recognize the difference in sexualities inside your generous mind. You are confused. You wonder about the right path, what you should do. Eventually you realize you want to live a normal life, and fuck whenever you want. Otherwise you are deeply spiritual, and believe in the importance of things. You, alive, are important. You want to be a master. To be a good master, you must know the penalty of the slave. Can you also be a slave? You want to dance. You want to posses your body. You want to learn the way of patterns. You want to be possessed. You fear judgment. You are scared. You have a memory. The sound of a rocking chair, and a children’s swing, in the garden of an early friend. You were innocent, and you miss that little child. But you prefer the life you live now. You affirm this, by shaking your head, involuntarily, the way a father might, when thinking on his own child. Are you the child? Are you the embarrassment? You are ashamed. Shame is your company. Shame rests in the shadow of the brain. You become temptation. You are owned. You are no longer only a thinking self. You become another’s. You are a sensual being. You enjoy beautiful things.     You find a studio and rent the space. You share the space with nineteen other painters and you’re the only one, the only one writing, the only person scared without a motive, who doesn’t have something on their hands, who doesn’t use their hands, who spends their time staring at the wall, at the ceiling, lost for measures and for words, lost for expression, desperate for those memories that only come shooting forth when you’re head is on the ground and you’re closing your eyes to drift away to sleep, and you see that first shining star at breakfast, the room you spent your first few tears, the stairwell in the countryside, the classroom and the afternoon naps. You find yourself there and you feel safe. You find your father’s moustache and you touch it, you hold onto the ends and he tells you stories. He tells you he’s safe, and that he misses you. You remember how much he believed in you and it hurts. You remember to close your eyes but it’s too late, your eyes are swelling and now you’re weak. Why didn’t you let me find you? You are a night keeper, a watchman, keeping guard to the other souls, canvases wrapped in felt blankets. You watch the paint thicken over night, you smell the oil dry onto the canvas. You put your fingers on the crease. You put your lips against the edge of your desk and you tear your mouth open with a jolt. You cut yourself, so many times. Nobody hears and I’m watching. You hide in your painter’s cave and I miss you. I miss going with you on the road, running with the records in our mouths, playing against the earth with our teeth. Censorship plays against the evening score. You found the soul, you tasted it. And when you tasted it once you couldn’t let loose again, dreaming away your days like the sad button souls the rest of us are. You can’t play the game, you’ll lose. It’s empty, you say. It’s empty and it’s gone. You want me to leave. To center myself elsewhere, for my work, for my words. For my poetry to touch and strike to the bone. For my music to trickle on a forest fiddler’s song. I bounce with you, I bounce and fall into a poet’s lap. Fine on the body, fine on the mind. You disappear. A few nights, gone, without the records, without the contour at the window, overlooking the city scars. The heat wave falls and passes into crumbs, eating away the nights with our relentless tossing and turning, hanging our tongues from the windowsill, beginning for sight of an oasis. I’m worried. Ten days, you’re gone. Where are you? I know you and your people, and I’m afraid. I want to seek you out, to find you, to pick you from the little sludge hole on the street and bring you home. Why are you afraid? Why do you keep running? I can feed you, we can love. I can order you breakfast in the morning, bring your coffee to the bed. You can read me from the book of wishes, the book of lies, the book of dreams. Take me to the water. Take me. My writing takes another turn. I play the empty records. I play the ones you remember well. It’s not the same, you can’t go back to what you’ve done. It’s finding fresh records off the shelf. It’s bringing the record into the day. It’s not turning back and doing it all over again, unless it’s your day off and the first signs of a winter coming to close. A space we can all crawl into and hide. My poetry grows. In longing that’s what poetry does, framing the invisible into words. Speaking on behalf of loss. When you show up at the door it’s like we’ve been to war. It’s like I’ve been waiting and I’ve been dying. You walk in, wearing boots with steel horseshoes on the soles, pins cut into the steel. I hear you on the stairs. I see you at the door. We watch you come in, somberly, walking like you’re carrying a stick, like you’re leaning on another four. Someone chooses to read the news out loud. The others are gossiping about their ingenious lives. We turn our heads, to give you the floor, to feed you our attention. You sit quietly, smile, as though we’d agreed to do it like this. As though everything had been a distraction. A means to forget your disappearance. How do I mend your absence? You take off your hat. You sit next to me. Someone asks, faintly, where you’ve been. A smile grows on your face, I’m no longer afraid, now I’m curious. You’ve been out searching, digging, praying, begging. You’ve been fucking your face into the dirt and running your lips over the country crumbs. You found that thing, and it looks brilliant in your eyes. You look handsome. I tell you. You look excited. You tell me we need to talk. I finally smile, and I remember how long its been, and how short a time can feel so long, and how long a time can feel. We go outside, to walk. We walk towards the water. You don’t say much, I listen, to the quiet, to your intention. Finally you say you met some people, and it took off from there, and you don’t know, but you had to keep going. What kind of people? The sorry kind, you say, good at living, bad at life. You smile. I take your hand. We talk about home, about traveling back if we ever could, if its still possible, if we can say the names. If things quiet down, you say, if the war drums were quieter. If the theaters weren’t shut down. If the enemy wasn’t out for revenge. If the hills weren’t overrun with mines, and the shore at loss with all our waste. Would you ever go back? Do you remember the names? You stare over the water, searching for your father’s gun. You talk about his life, his losing. You talk about your plans. You ask me if we share a home. I tell you I won’t go back. I tell you I’m here to feel the sinking. I want to see America fall. I want to stretch my arms over her grave. I want to reach for the surface with my tiny hand, begging for the light of liberty. I have a home here. Even though I’m shattered, scattered like leaves blowing in the wind. I feel my heart when I walk around. I feel the pulse of the city nerves, and the city people going softly to their deaths. I don’t discover what you found. I don’t hear from you and you won’t tell me. But I know. You found the voice you’ve been searching for your entire life, and it calms and it haunts you, and it takes you away like a ship sailing out to sea, bearing straight into the unknown. You throw away your book, the one that brought you over the waters. The one you said forced you to escape, because you needed to escape to know if it existed. You needed to escape to know if it would end. If it could end. And so you begin another journey. Saying what you can with the will of a nightingale. You meet the prophet Jules. Everything takes the power of an industry. We lose sight of time, losing account of the damages. I find a clue to what you found. I find your little clues and I know what you were hunting. Crossing the ancient seas. Digging ditches over night, riding the bus over Anatolia. I find your notebook on the couch, cleaning around, banal and trite in my common domestic life. I sit with you under the cosmic order, we reorder the stars and align them to their freshly gotten names. We sit, perched on the apex of opportunity. I find a word I don’t understand. I say it and it means nothing but it slides off the tip of my tongue with authority and lightness, gleaming in some shroud of linguistic harmony, I feel my body ache to the sound of the seven chords, I feel the room implanted with the tremors of our songs. BARA I say the word a thousand times. I walk the streets of Manhattan, dying a different color, shining in the filtered screens of the sacred. Bowing to the invisible. Longing urged for the absolute. I float over the concrete jungle, tattooing your flower to my lips, pausing at every window. I give you my scent. I give you my other life. We call something born. The custom of an auspicious love. The prophecy of a lunatic. Suddenly my poems fall, deeper into the cracks of sanctuary. I sit under the naked trees, and rest in the temple you gifted me. BARA I yell with my many mouths closed. BARA I can see…This is a minor situation inside the matrix. The matter is a matter of being inside the prism, as an expert. Do you want to become an expert? I want everything. I want to be in power of my existence. You rise in the silver room. It’s very simple. It works like this. I start from the beginning, with a note. We find something, like a harmony. Can you sing? Have you ever sung before?”

“I was in a choir once, I was.”

“And now, no longer?”

“Many years before.”

“What do you remember?”

“I remember a boat, and watching my brother learn how to row. I remember wearing winter boots and swimming naked, picking small toads out of the sand. Our parents were indifferent to us, but they tried. They showed us a good life, I think.”

“Why do you think this is important?”

“To be honest, I don’t know. I wasn’t melancholic, growing up. This picture is very melancholic.”

“What do you want to know?”

“About what?”

“About yourself. About life, in general. About your future.”

“Can you tell the future? Are you one of those? Do you see out of the box, as they say?”

“What do you want me to see?”

“I don’t know. You’re very mysterious. Even to me, and I come across them all. You should see the types I find traveling with me.”

“I know. You’re not the first, of your type.”

“I can imagine.”

“Do you live alone.”

“I might, I don’t know. I haven’t been home in such a long time.”

“How long has it been, really?”

“I couldn’t know.”

“Why did you make the trip, coming out here?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you think, you want most, in your life, right now, at this instant, no matter what I say or promise, the most important thing in your life right now, the most important question, the story of your soul.”

He didn’t answer right away.

“Take your time,” she said. “This is always the question that brings out the best in people. The question I enjoy the most. Do you want to know my answer? I can tell you. It’s one of the benefits of dealing with us, on this measure. When it comes to this, I think our protocol addresses the instincts in the very best way. You have to be very careful, when you’re dealing with people. When you know they are afraid, they can be easily lost. I know you are wasted and wanting. I know you are brave. I know what it is you want. But I don’t know why you want it, to know that, you must give. Give spirit, give tears, it doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you try. Believe, in some thing. What do you believe?”

“I guess, I want to know why I’m alive, right now.”

“Do you know why this is important?”

“I don’t.”

“I want to know if you conceive of spirit, of romance, of soul. You have to accept these things, into your heart, to move on. Do you know that you are always wanting? That when you sleep at night your body is not warm. You are lost, and in some ways, I can fix it, but only if you try. Tell me, what it is you are wanting when your body is not warm at night.”

He could hear the helpers laughing outside, the sound of their laughter traveling into the room, quieting the senses of them both, lost in their respective thoughts. He had needed as such and was as such invited to discover what it was he needed most. But in that hour of forgiveness, siting among his friend, he had forgotten the situation that had delivered him there, forgetting what it was he was to experience, what it was they claimed to pull from rocks asunder.

“The situation in your heart is not great,” she said, lifting the lid of a bowl full of water. The steam from the bowl rose to her face, shrouding her white veiled face in a shroud of smoke, the smell of citrus came rushing from the liquid, he could hear her suspenseful coughs, describing to him the liquid he was about to imbibe. “You have come to me,” she said, lifting the bowl, “and for that I am grateful,” she said, lifting a small cluster of iron and garlic that had been crushed on a hem, pouring them into the water, the smell of sulphur coming again. “Are you focusing,” she said, “on the smell of the impending fire? The smell that will fill the house. The house of water and soul. The house that is free of pleasure, where pleasure is whole.”

“What frightens you the most, Thomas?”

“How do you know my name?”

“What makes you so sure you find me, and not the other way around? I’ve been waiting for you,” she said. “I knew your father, actually. Him and I were very close.”

She set her tea down. The sun had risen over the garden, coming in over the roof. A colored mirror in an old fresco gave way to his blindness, sitting at her knees, swallowing in the fumes and the coming chords, whatever ounce of wisdom she supplanted to show, implanting.

“You worked hard,” she said, “I know.”

She had picked up a small string, tying it around a piece of wood. She had a blade in one hand, and held between her fingers, the hair from her child, that she was collecting, on and off, a mandatory practice of the trade. Not many hairs but more than some, more than could be gotten without much noise.

“Are you still living with them,” she asked. “Your parents?”

She had the ingredients up at her mouth, the string cutting through her front teeth, biting into it, showing all of her mouth. He could see into the back of her throat. It was pink and slightly dry, the hairs on her pigment was rising, waving like a bed of coral.

“It’s too late now. You can leave here in the morning.”

“So, wow.”

“What do you think?”

“It’s amazing.”

“I hope it works. I think it did. I felt your body resonate. You were calling to me. You want more. I know it. I can speak to the softest of them, but you’re loud. Your body is very, very loud. Can you forgive me, for stepping on your toes? Let me know the moment you want more! I’m happy to come over, if you want. We can do this all the time. Did you hear the animal? Did it call?”

“It was great, yeah. I’m really impressed. How long does it last, do you think? I feel really good.”

“You’ll feel weak in a few hours, then you’ll feel strong and tall.”

“Thanks.”

“What time is the game?”

“It’s at four o’clock. What time is it now?”

“It’s twelve.”

“I’m happy I did this.”

“So am I, babe, so am I. Look, remember, the body is the vessel of the heart, and the vessel dies when the heart is cold. Keep your heart warm, keep swimming still, be still in the water. Your heart is good, you will survive. The worst that is coming is coming, the more that comes the more we will endure. There is nothing we can do about it, remember. There is nothing that can be done. Everything you have in your heart is pure, and your purity is the most important part. The rest will die with eternity. This is life. The meaning of being alive. You are an athlete, a magician. You do things with your legs, I mean, wow. So you know what it means to be afraid of magic, to know the importance of why, putting in that effort to become something unimaginable before. You have it in your heart. I can see it in you. I feel you are lucky, on this level, to do so well. Because sometimes, people in your experience, in your field, if they are too sensitive, they lose control, everybody takes advantage, even the women and the men in their life, their family, their relationship, people will eat them apart. I am happy for you, I am.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Good luck,” she answered.