A Final Incantation

Magic has no power in the city. At night, spells become distracted, as they lose the ability to navigate by stars hidden beneath a dragnet of streetlights. And in the day, while people go about their business, commuting in invisible boxes, incantations crumble upon deaf ears. Some may consider this a modest loss. Perhaps such childish delusions are best left in captivity, stored away somewhere, beneath the collarbone or at the base of the neck. Maybe all ancient consolations should remain tucked behind the cloak of science, technology and war. But I believe in such calligraphy, a forgotten language fossilized in deep time.

Sometimes I dream of a network of caves itched along some far off river place. It is a world of endless branches that tessellate a sky colored plum, coral, cerise. There are no human sounds here, no distortions that swaddle the mind. Even my footsteps remain muted, drowned out by a droning breeze. Perhaps there are no footsteps. Perhaps I am floating, beckoned by the river’s mantra. I am upon the water now. Behind me, I recognize the splash of a creature slipping into a stream.

In the corner of my eye, I spot a figure wandering along the river. Her appearance is subtle, a leaf’s ripple on the surface of a pond. She removes her robe, her naked flesh crimson in the waning light. She steps into the river and begins to bathe, shifting spheres of water in the slipstream of her touch. I feel abashed by my intrusion, my interference with something delicate and obscene—something sacred, I should think. A secret gravity pulls me closer. I have crossed into a private space.

Blood trickles down her thigh, dispersing, ink-like in the crystalline water. This is not a vision. It’s a feeling, an embedded knowledge that something is leaving her body. Her blood coalesces in the river, turning its contents black. The sky darkens. Night falls. The oily infection flowing downriver is contagious, influencing the appearance of the moon. A colony of something fluorescent and living slither inches beneath the water. Silver eyes flicker in shafts of tall grass. I know her name now, though I cannot recall learning it. I can feel it like the fluid exiting her body, though this understanding is acute, untraceable as I mouth her name.

I cannot recall entering this cave, I know only that I am here. Smooth, subterranean, the corridors spread like a system of veins. Canals of sandstone cartilage meander, petroglyphs slashed upon their walls. I try to reconstruct the woman bleeding in the water, the wash of river, the robe I may have never seen. As my reconstruction fades, she appears before me, one hand raised, the topography of her palm smoldering like a volcano’s web. She needn’t move her lips to convey her wisdom, as it’s already buried deep inside me, haunting my clavicle, my cervical curve. Her notions are the tributaries that channel through this life, the quiet waves that spill into the estuary of dreams.

There is a vastness within the subconscious that does not require paths, passageways or transitions. The chronology of the imagination is organized by emotions, by what must be felt. A pursuit along a river’s edge or the ascension of a cliff side maintains little necessity unless the most distant corners of the mind makes it so. Moments are not required to exist for one to understand they occurred. This is the prototypical nature of dreams.


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