(Author’s Note: Dear Everyone, here is the complete version of my novella RETURNING TO THE WAVES)
–for Eli, Kim, and Sarah
After the fall of civilization, we were some of the few people left to retain the “classic” human form. Although this wasn’t out of any real laziness on our part, I can see how someone could believe this, comparing us to the huge array of new crazy physiologies that people took up during that great explosion of creativity, or the fact that we decided to stay rather than head off to some other dimension or become some new planet, which many people did. Even small children and babies. I don’t know what made us different. Although we could fly out of our bodies and travel with our consciousnesses to certain other dimensions and perform simple acts of similar natures, we couldn’t, or should I say didn’t, actually learn to fly while in our bodies or change ourselves physically to any great degree. I’m not sure why. We may have been somewhat challenged or possibly even a little uncreative. Imagination is pretty important. But what I do know, which I think says a lot, is that our life on the beach was pretty simple, and really suited us more than anything else, and except for Anacropolis Copius and his best friend BT Abernathy, who were persisting in being entrepreneurs even after civilization fell apart and bringing back ‘The Good Ole Days,’ our days, and nights, were filled with nothing but beautiful events.
We were in our little pavilion in an inter-dunal area by the sea, where the oaks edged out into the soft sand. There, we would cook and confer among the light summer breezes.
“Well, the thing is,” said Mrs. Herb, with a big gallon jar of pesto and a wooden spoon, “what I feel,” wiping oil off her chin, “it’s like we barely know what’s out there, or, in there. So I think we just have to pay attention and feel it out. I know we look pretty normal and everything. But, I mean, at least right now I really like eating, and since I been leaving my body a lot, just chewing seems like such an exciting thing, kinda bizarre, but I don’t know, just so real,” lifting another spoonful and making some grunting noises.
“I agree,” said Mr. Herb.
“Well,” stated Louis Solidago, adjusting his glasses, “the way I perceive it…” but then he looked at his kids who were shaking hands by standing face to face and levitating up and down. “How do you guys do that?”
“You can’t think,” said Lupus.
“Yeah. You can’t think,” agreed Henrietta.
“Well,” he continued, “I really appreciate all the people who left to explore other things. It’s like the air is thinner and thicker at the same time. There’s more possibilities, or, I can sense the possibilities that were already latent, as tangible pathways leading off my every movement. But to leave to somewhere else? Some other part of the cosmos? Permanently? I don’t know. This beach is like my body, my grounding.”
“Yeah. It’s like a space station,” said Mary Solidago, his wife.
“Yes. You’re right. It is very much like a space station, even though this sand and sea is not what we were taught to think of as space,” he replied.
“I know,” said Crème Fraiche, “I feel like if we needed to do more we would’ve already done it just naturally even though I feel like a loser sometimes when I compare myself to the rest of humanity…or should I say former humanity. But I think we have a part to play in all of this just by being ourselves.”
“Even though it may look boring,” I piped in, leaning against her.
Mr. Herb: “I guess it’s just relative. We can’t compare ourselves to other worlds and planets and all the cool things people turned themselves into, even though they were the same as us at some point.”
“Maybe we’re just Homebodies,” said Mary Solidago.
“You said it,” said Mrs. Herb, passing her big jar of pesto around.
The Solidago kids rose higher and higher to continue their handshake, rather than going up and down: “Hey, here comes Anacropolis,” said Lupus, looking over Henrietta’s shoulder.
We all turned. And there was Anacropolis Copius, emerging over a dune, like a human tank in the glaring sun. Even from that distance we could tell he was drenched in sweat. He wore his usual impeccable, albeit wet, silver suit over his amazing mass.
“He looks pretty determined,” said Crème Fraiche.
“Why do you think he comes out here?” I asked, lifting a scoop of pesto to my mouth.
Mary Solidago: “I don’t know, Giovanni. It’s like I start missing him and then he always comes.”
Mrs. Herb: “Why do you think we miss him?”
“I don’t know,” said Mary. “He’s like the opposite of everything I love.”
Mr. Herb: “And we’re like the opposite of everything he believes in.”
“Him and BT probably get bored planning to re-instate civilization without anybody to re-instate it onto,” said Crème Fraiche.
“Except us,” I said.
Louis Solidago: “Yes. Well, I must say that even if Anacropolis is the most ‘non-present’ person among us, he has the most present ‘non-presentness’ I’ve ever known.”
We all agreed. And then the rather overbearing entity, who constituted one of our only human neighbors, arrived.
“Hey, Anacropolis,” we all said, hopefully.
Anacropolis tried to speak but he couldn’t breathe. His face was glazed, and his hatless, bald head looked like an unpleasant, large watermelon without the skin. A few of us got up to help him sit down, or to offer him a towel, but he pushed us all away. We replaced ourselves and waited. Anacropolis closed his eyes and composed his breath. When he opened them, he was looking directly at Lupus and Henrietta who were still floating above us. To their own surprise, they slowly descended.
“Hey, I think we’re thinking,” said Henrietta.
“Good morning,” stated Anacropolis, sternly, as if speaking to unruly students.
“Good morning, Anacropolis,” we replied.
“We meet again,” he stated, evenly, eyeing us all authoritatively.
“This appears to be true,” ventured Louis Solidago.
Anacropolis: “Yes, it is very true indeed. And I suppose you know, also, why I made this rather arduous journey, which my role, or my station, I might say, laden with the weight of cultural responsibility though it may be, and demanded of me by the rest of proud humanity, called me to do?” asked Anacropolis, imperiously.
“I’d say the lack of ‘proud humanity’,” stated Mrs. Herb.
“Maybe it’s just the lack of pride, which I think is a good thing,” said Mr. Herb.
“Yes, lack of pride,” Anacropolis breathed in a satisfied manner, pointedly looking at our beautiful little copula, and various hanging herbs and plants and sculptures that we all endlessly made and remade. “And as a result of this lack of pride, and patriotism, I might add, look what happened to civilization. Yes. People died all over the place.”
“There was a lot at once,” said Louis Solidago, leaning back and thinking.
“Anacropolis, people didn’t die, they left or they changed themselves into new things,” said Crème Fraiche.
“Well, I guess you could say they died,” said Mr. Herb.
“I guess everybody should’ve left in waves. It would’ve smelled better,” said Mary.
“People got excited. What can you say?” Mrs. Herb said, kinda indignantly.
All I can say is the “Fall of Civilization” came about way different than anyone expected. And a lot of people expected it. It had been happening without anyone knowing it, like a flower coming into its glory during the night when everyone was asleep. No one really noticed at first that they didn’t need their cellphones to talk to each other over great distances, or that they could change their bodies, or that they could just appear somewhere rather than buy a plane ticket. Maybe they just thought for a few days there they were dreaming. But once they realized it, it was like an exodus. Somehow, our own technologies lead to abilities that were already there. Cell phones, the internet, mass surveillances, everything that you’d think would lead people into laziness and slavery were actually simulating and secretly getting people in touch with innate abilities they already possessed. People flew. People disappeared. People turned themselves into aquatic life-forms never before seen. People left their bodies and disappeared into the cosmos. Of course, once people shot off into all kinds of dimensions, and became such a huge array of other life-forms—just going-off creatively—there were a lot of abandoned bodies around. No one, it seemed, cared any more about being human. Except us. And a few others around the world who were also so absolutely satisfied they never left where they were either or else we probably would’ve had a party.
“Anacropolis, you should come hang out with us. We’re going to have a dance out on the point tonight,” Mary Solidago said, hopefully.
“Yeah!” shouted the Solidago kids. “We’re gonna dance in the moonlight!”
“Yeah, Anacropolis, it’ll be fun. You never know what’s gonna happen out there,” said Crème Fraiche.
“Yeah, especially when you dance!” shouted the Solidago kids.
For a second, Anacropolis looked down.
“Yeah, and you don’t have to ‘dance’—that’s why it’s called a dance cause once you call it a dance then whatever you do is dancing, you could just stand there and you’d be dancing,” said Mary.
“And the music,” said Henrietta.
“Yeah, the music,” said Lupus.
Henrietta: “It just starts showing up like people.”
Lupus: “Yeah, like people.”
“It appears to arise out of the form of anything, but I believe especially out of the plants, like latent equations,” stated Louis Solidago.
Mary Solidago: “He just likes the plant music, but it comes out of everything, Anacropolis, out of the stones and shadows—“
“And colors,” said Mrs. Herb.
“Yes, it’s all so hard to delineate one from the other,” said Louis.
“Right. There’s music of the forms, and then the music of the colors within the forms, and there’s what? What could you call it?” asked Crème.
“Their love for each other,” I said.
“But then there’s something even beyond all that,” said Mr. Herb, mysteriously. “Ooooowa!” he shouted as Mrs. Herb pinched him in the ass.
“You’re gonna confuse Anacropolis. Don’t listen to him, Anacropolis. It’s just fun.”
“Yeah!” shouted the Solidago kids. Then looking around: “Hey, where’s BT?”
Anacropolis, as if waking up and realizing where he was, raised his eyebrows in a strange manner: “BT? Do I know some person named BT?”
Henrietta and Lupus: “BT. He’s your friend.”
Anacropolis: “Oh, you must mean Mr. Abernathy, my business associate, fellow entrepreneur, and also Vice President of the Business Association. Yes, I know him. Which, in a laborious manner, leads me back to why I’m here—and don’t pretend you didn’t know—but I’ve come so see if your license to be on this beach has expired.”
Mary Solidago: “Anacropolis, people don’t need licenses for anything.”
Anacropolis: “Well, surprise. You may not have heard, but Deputy Abernathy and I feel it’s our sworn duty to re-instate all laws that were in affect before the fall of our great civilization. Which means you’re in violation of the No Camping On The Beach Ordinance, which was put into affect because people like you, of course, camped on the beach. In fact, as far as I know, it’s never been rescinded, so don’t try to make me believe you didn’t know you were in violation of this code, and many others, I might add.”
We all looked at each other and then at Anacropolis, who was the only one standing, except for Henrietta and Lupus who were trying to figure out how to float again.
Anacropolis: “I mean, what if people just have fun all the time?”
“Like cooking?” asked Mrs. Herb.
“Exactly!” shouted Anacropolis, proudly, then: “I take that back. Cooking is good. Cooking is proper. I’m talking about other kinds of fun.”
“Anacropolis, do you want any pesto?” asked Mrs. Herb, taking up her big jar.
“Pesto? Has it been refrigerated?” Anacropolis looked rather slyly dubious.
“We don’t have a refrigerator,” stated Mr. Herb, trying to look down Mrs. Herb’s shirt. They were still in love.
“Does it have any preservatives, and if it does, which ones specifically? And in what quantity?”
“We don’t have any preservatives,” replied Mary Solidago.
“Well, it depends. It depends on what exactly are the ingredients of this pesto, if you can call something that’s not in a sealed and labeled pesto jar pesto. Maybe we should just call it a pesto-like substitute. And since it is a pesto-like substitute, really, I’d need to know the exact proportions in order to compare it to pesto.” Strangely, Anacropolis kept raising his voice. Not only that, but he kept making peculiar head and eyebrow movements which seemed to be directed toward the bushes to the left.
“Well, actually,” stated Mrs. Herb, “there’s black walnuts for one thing, and basswood flowers, and violet leaves and wild garlic and—” but right then Lopeda, who had been softly snoring behind Mary and Louis, awoke.
Lopeda: “I just flew in a dream along the coast to the north. There’s people that are like Cedar Waxwings up there. Or they speak like them. They’re super into passing food from mouth to mouth and this seems to be part of some type of musical drama they’d put on. They’re all very beautiful.”
Louis: “Yes, I’ve heard them, I think. When they party it’s like their songs pass above us but catch in my head, too, like they stop and grip my thoughts like branches, and even pick them like berries to feed each other.”
“See, Anacropolis, we’re pretty boring compared to most people,” said Crème Fraiche.
Mary introduced her sister: “Anacropolis, have you ever met my sister Lopeda? She lives on the coast down south.”
But suddenly, Anacropolis and Lopeda just stared at each other. It was amazing feeling the silence around them, for Anacropolis always seemed to carry a clutter of noise with him and rattled the keys and change in his pockets constantly even running his thumb along the edges of his wad of thousand dollar bills obtrusively until he would realize he was outnumbered and clench them in his fists (as if anyone cared)—it was like he wanted to extend his body and schemes into the space around him. Yet now, it appeared as though Anacropolis had slipped and was carried by a great, silent stream. But even more amazing, Lopeda was transfixed by Anacropolis, too. We all looked from Lopeda to Anacropolis and were about to try (I admit) to tap into that stream of emotions between them (it was irresistible) telepathically, when the Solidago kids floated up above all our gazes and unearthed BT Abernathy, who was hiding in the bushes with a notebook.
“Hey, look. It’s BT.” The Solidago kids lifted him out by the shoulders.
Anacropolis cleared his throat. Lopeda dropped back down, humming and swinging her foot dreamily, then sat up attentively again.
BT (His long and expressive nose hairs looked rather annoyed): “Ah, yes, how did I get here? I must’ve taken a wrong turn when I left the chateau.”
“Yes,” agreed Anacropolis, readily. “Due to our great weight of responsibility, it’s often that even I am known to ‘take a wrong turn’ at times.”
“What are you writing?” asked Henrietta, hanging on BT’s arm.
“Excuse me, young lady.” BT dislodged his arm away from her. “This is not writing. As I was lost in thought—“
Anacropolis: “Yes. Yes. Lost in thought.”
BT: “Yes. I was doodling.”
Lupus: “It looks like poetry.”
Anacropolis: “Poetry?! BT, how many times—oh, wait. Poetry, yes, yes, Mr. Abernathy often pens patriotic odes. Isn’t that right, BT? I remember well your: ‘Ode to Our Forefathers Who Are So Big In Us’ or something to that affect.”
BT: (adjusting his glasses) “I wrote that in the white heat of the moment.”
Anacropolis: “Yes. Yes. It was a very logical and well-structured oration that—”
But Henrietta and Lupus grabbed BT’s notebook and floated over to us. Mrs. Herb grabbed it.
“Well, as far as I can tell, it’s only a title and a couple words. It looks like ‘Recipe For A Pesto-like Substitute’ with the ‘Recipe’ crossed out and ‘Ode’ written in.
“Kinda hastily, I’d say,” Mr. Herb stated, leaning over and looking.
“BT. It’s not basswood wood, it’s basswood flowers. You can’t put wood in pesto.”
“Very well,” stated Anacropolis imperiously, waving his arm. “This brings me to the other reason why I made this arduous journey to your little hovel, yes, hovel. As you may have heard through the grapevine, Chef Abernathy and I, Chef Copius, are opening a restaurant.”
“A restaurant?!” we all shouted. “That’s great!”
“We’re like a restaurant, too!” said Mrs. Herb.
“Yeah!” yelled the kids.
“That makes two restaurants,” said Mary Solidago.
“Yeah. That’s probably like more restaurants per capita than anywhere,” said Mr. Herb, rather proudly.
Anacropolis pressed his temples with his palms and looked at the sky: “You Are Not A Restaurant!!!”
Then Lopeda spoke softly: “What’s it called?”
Anacropolis slowly lowered his palms and shyly looked at her: “It’s called… Che Coppa Copius.”
“I think that says a lot,” said Lopeda, furling her face and really thinking about it. “I think a name like that’s important.”
Suddenly, the atmosphere was so absolutely vibratory nobody could move, or, the music that seemed to suddenly appear, moved through us in a way that took the place of anything any of us could do. Except for Henrietta and Lupus. They had BT’s arms and were levitating up and down, attempting to lift him off the ground, so that it appeared that BT was flapping his wings like a graceful heron as he gazed from Anacropolis to Lopeda and back in a worried trance.
“When does the restaurant thing open?” asked Henrietta.
“Yeah. When can we come eat at your place, Anacropolis?” chimed in Lupus. You could see they were trying to speak with one part of their minds and not with the other so they could still rise off the ground.
Anacropolis spoke as if he didn’t even know the word: “F-r-i-d-a-y,” he pronounced slowly, uncertainly, as if Friday was some kind of object he had come upon in the sand.
“When is Friday?” asked Mrs. Herb. We were all overcome by the opiatic atmosphere.
“Well, Friday is the last day of the week,” said Mr. Herb, half-awake.
“No, I think Sunday is the last day of the week,” entered in Louis Solidago.
“No. I think Saturday Night is the last day of the week and Sunday doesn’t really exist,” said Crème Fraiche, leaning into me.
“Yeah. Sunday is this whole other world,” said Mary Solidago, smiling to see her sister so happy.
“Yeah. I can see certain days that I lived that were probably Sunday,” I said, smelling Crème Fraiche’s body surround me.
Anacropolis’s eyes began moving from face to face, and he slowly seemed to be returning. Then, his jowls began to quiver and he started swinging his head from side to side. Lopeda dropped back down and closed her eyes. Then from where-ever he had been, Anacropolis returned: “Friday! Friday! Friday is Friday! Friday is two days from now! And that is Final!” he shouted.
“Although we don’t open till around 4:30,” added BT.
“Oh!” we all shouted, “Ok! Ok! Yes! Yes! Two days from now!” We gave each other proud looks. “It’s so simple. It is.”
Anacropolis grabbed BT’s notebook that was still in Mrs. Herb’s hand. “And there is a dress code.”
BT shook himself free of Henrietta and Lupus and they marched away back toward the empty city.
“Hmm. A dress code,” murmured Mrs. Herb.
“Well. It is a rather nebulous statement to proclaim a dress code and not state it’s parameters,” stated Louis Solidago, thoughtfully.
“It’s a secret! A secret dress code!” whispered Henrietta and Lupus, excitedly.
Then, we all had to agree that no matter what the dress code, and no matter what Anacropolis and BT could ever serve, as they only really ever ate outdated cans of food (even though they did, amazingly enough, appear to have attempted to glean some type of recipe from us) that just their dedication in opening a restaurant with really no one to patronize it, except our own little community, was really great. We agreed that the main thing we had to do was somehow keep track of the days and know when Friday actually came, which Louis Solidago immediately agreed to do by taking a levitation class from Lupus on one day and Henrietta the next and that would be the day that, in the later afternoon, we would head for Che Coppa Copius.
That evening, we made our way to the point. We never knew what would happen out there. Nothing was ever planned. We just did our thing, tapped into our own personal and collective movements, and somehow some simple dance event would form. We were silent as we made the journey, expending what seemed just the barest energy and motions, as if there was a possibility that the dance would enact every probability of movement and we wanted to save ourselves for that like some kind of gift. And likewise, the point itself was always different. I always thought of it somehow, that strip of beach, re-shaped by storms, and even the non-presence of human physiology, to be like Crème Fraiche’s ears, so beautiful and delicate, their contours and tenderness, that I listened to sometimes pressed so close to her, side by side, in the soft wind, our bodies like musical instruments, their swirls made not only to absorb the sea’s whispers but to shelter them, enshrine them, give them back to others.
When we got there, the strip of beach was smooth, extending back to an expanse of gleaming beach grass that then made its way in further into the trees. There were Cinquefoil and glossy mats of Arctostaphyllus like mistletoe, tight communities of Prickly Pear sending up yellow blooms through the drifted sand, Horsemints holding tight to their fragrance with the roughness of their leaves. And among this, among the contours and rocks and logs washed up, there was a clearing shaped like a teardrop where we spread out and found our places. It was like aligning with upwellings of energy that felt so right and fascinating to be in, like, ah, that feels good, you know, it feels so good to be here by this rock or where ever it was you found your place. That’s how it usually started. And these dances were performances, too—there was a sense of that in the air—even though anyone who was there was a performer, even the bats swinging through us and crunching on insects like popcorn were part of it, even the wind or the wind’s silence. Then the moon began to rise. I looked at Crème Fraiche in the tingling air. And then I gazed at everyone else. The colors of every object seemed to be just beyond their designated forms, stepping further and further out as night began to fall. The kids stood on an enormous rock above us. I don’t know if they had ever seen a conductor of an orchestra, but that’s what they looked like, hands raised, ready to begin. The air was rich and dense, full of flowers and heat and coolness all at the same time. And then, as the sun completely disappeared, all those colors who had spent the day being the costumes of rocks and trees, dance partners of the hinged leaves, fully stepped out, and became music. It was amazing. And it felt like becoming a fountain of tones, a fountain of colors within a greater fountain, or ocean, whose currents, whose substance, was a body of sonic beauty so pervasive, so rich. I don’t know about anyone else, but it was like my body was being moved from a deep source. I’m sure from the outside it may have appeared like nothing at all, or that some of us may have barely moved. But it was if a lock of hair blowing and just falling back into place held all the drama in the world.
Suddenly, Crème Fraiche was in front of me. I don’t know if I had moved or it was her. I looked into her eyes and the music became so excruciatingly beautiful, as if nudging us together.
“I feel like we’re calling to something! Singing to something!” shouted Mrs. Herb, doing a slow, hawk-like spin.
We leaned our foreheads towards each other, and it was like lyrical breath sang out from each dome through the other as if this motion touched a musical instrument, then swirled out and initiated, or became, part of the inhalation of the night. And a road sang out from us, a road that somehow was about to speak back, and we waited without waiting, dancing, letting go into movements unknown, unconceived, becoming the night breeze full of the breath of cherry blossoms, of dogwood. Everything was covered in moon. For a second, I saw Lupus and Henrietta on their rock with sticks as batons, as if reaching to the notes of a nightmusic, touching it like a bell. And that road that sang out from us, there was something on it, something that we called. It was as if with our movements and the music that it formed, we had tapped into a nocturnal chorus, like cicadas, like crickets, all a vast congregation of radiant instruments, which drew whatever was coming down this blue road. It was getting closer, like a bell struck, harder and harder, or that the sea itself had tautened into a drum. I swung toward the incandescent tail of the moon on the water and it appeared to have split.
“Look, there’s something coming!” shouted Mary Solidago. “It’s coming from the moon!”
“It’s coming over the water,” sang Crème Fraiche, making a dance movement as if pulling something from the earth. But as she heaved upward, Mrs. Herb, whose Jewfro was in perfect line with the snaking tail of the moon’s reflection, spun, and seemed to haul whatever it was upon it closer and closer. It was impossible to stop. To stop would be for the music to end, would be to depopulate the earth of all its life. That’s how it seemed. And in this way, moving to this music that came from within and without, that informed our bodies just as much as our bodies constituted this tonal form, The Toad came. It was dripping with silver. It was as big as a house. “It’s a Toad!” we shouted, but still we kept dancing to the chorus that rose higher and higher. It was like the music and our movements surged out in an effervescent spray, accented by the struck chord of the Toad’s every leap. It used the snaking silver highway of the moon’s reflection and the ethereal road singing from all our dancing hearts and landed on the shore. Then, as it reached us, Henrietta and Lupus leapt onto its back. And it was like we had to follow. We all scrambled aboard. I crawled into Crème Fraiche’s arms. Lupus and Henrietta and Lopeda were up by the Toad’s head. All the knobs and wrinkles and beauties of its skin were like a high desert landscape drenched by the moon, this being we danced and rolled upon, its ingestions and humming lungs, the insect bodies (or whatever it ate) still radiant with song and iridescent carapaces within their subterranean journeys. You could still hear them. And we barely needed to hang on (our dancing was like an adhesive) as the Toad leapt deeper inland through swamps and fields, our feet cementing to its vast back with an amalgamation of moonlight and our own sweat and the night’s blue, humid hands, kneading us, inspiring us into some fresh expansion.
“I love you!” Crème Fraiche and I sang aloud, gazing so deep into each other’s moonlit faces. Like an echo from Mrs. and Mr. Herb, from Mary and Louis, from Lopeda and the kids, I heard the same thing, simultaneous, resonant.
Henrietta and Lupus and Lopeda were on the Toad’s head, laughing and rubbing their feet on the center of its forehead. As we rode it into the unknown, even hitting spaces where I couldn’t see any landscape at all, the Toad began to sing, to sing the road, sing it as it came into being, a song that Lopeda and the children joined like a chorus, in-framing the stars with their outstretched batons and hands that then they seemed to touch and pull down, as if with magic wands, and pass into the Toad’s autumnal eyes, sparkling calm and deep. There were moons everywhere. And we were shafts of their blue sonority, cave-mouths full of stalactites breaking free into luminous, moaning pools, spraying the walls curved with muscular herds who laughed with love, with history. Everyone just danced, deeper and deeper, harder and harder, gripping the rough back of the Toad with our sweaty feet, moving to its heartbeat, to the wind. And, for a moment, I flew high above the scene, and from an aerial point of view kissed the Toad’s vast beauty, its ribs, the channels of its hips, and from the mist and mountains as if from hidden temples, chimes arose, but it was like fragrances, too, like stepping among flowers that held me in their thickness, these bells struck and swung, temple within temple, as the sweat poured off us onto the Toad’s back, silver with moon.
“Look, there’s eyes in the sweat!” shouted Mrs. Herb.
“Maybe it’s moons, like the moon’s repeating itself in the sweat!” commented Louis Solidago, pirouetting and doing a crazy leap over me and Crème Fraiche.
“No, they are eyes! They’re so curious and fascinated!” exclaimed Mary Solidago, swirling and reaching in every direction.
“And compassionate. Like they really care how we do it,” said Mr. Herb.
“Look at my belly button,” said Crème Fraiche, jutting her belly out and smiling, “They’re staring out of the pool of sweat. I wonder what they want?”
“It’s like our liquid is a window to the love of other worlds,” I whispered, almost crying and carefully picking a pubic hair out of one of the eyes with honor before doing a crazy backflip.
And then we really started to pound. We were surrounded by bells, we were surrounded by music, as the eyes watched with fascination and bright concern. The night was pouring upon us from its cobalt pitchers the cool fires of molten moon. We were moon-strewn, dancing with abandon, on this reptile of sound. And the eyes watched us, and encouraged us, with their compassion, like jewels. And that’s what it took to be royalty, to dance upon throne after throne, just these simple acts of owning your own movements, owning your own love.
The Toad leapt further and further, but I could feel it was making some type of circle. As it hit, the word “autumnal” sang from its firm lips. And as this word rang out, like a leaf reaching toward the sunset, and falling upon the tautened sea, Lupus and Henrietta and Lopeda sang long lines like tails of the moon. They sang about the gates of love, vast as the midnight shore, hinged only to the seasons, they sang about mycelium as if it was our true bodies hinged to nothing at all, as if all gardens, truly, are grown from beneath, from beneath Crème Fraiche’s (and everyone’s) beauty, which I could barely define from the moon-drenched night that sang the song of all our beginnings. Then, suddenly, we were at the beach. Henrietta and Lupus and Lopeda leapt, or, by their own song, they were lifted, released, as we all were, as the Toad itself leapt back on to the tail of the moon and returned to the horizon.
We laid on the shore in a pile. I was barely conscious.
“What do you think about those eyes?” murmured Mary Solidago.
“They seemed to care so much about us,” sighed Crème Fraiche, her eyes closed.
“Yeah, it was like they were trying so hard to understand us, and just that trying to understand us was somehow some way of teaching, teaching us some kind of possibility,” I said, as if listening to another part of myself speaking from a dream.
“Well, I’m not sure I want ‘beings’ or whatever looking out from my sweat,” grunted Mrs. Herb, “cause sweat, you know, isn’t always where things are visible. I like my privacy.”
“I guess the point is, can you really see anything from that perspective?” stated Louis Solidago, the moonlight filling his glasses.
We laid there in a sighing mass. The moonlight itself was like silver luffa sponges gently rasping us free of dirt and sand, dead skin and the distant past.
“I guess it depends what you feel is important,” said Mary Solidago.
“I suppose any part of the body is a microcosm for everything else,” I murmured, not even wanting to ever move.
“Or a…a macrocosm,” whispered Lopeda, barely audible. “Really big.”
“You said it,” sighed Mr. Herb, spooning his glistening wife.
“Well, I guess I don’t care if some crazy eyes are checking out my stuff,” moaned Mrs. Herb, half-asleep, “as long as I can have some snacks…snacks…” starting to snore.
“That reminds me,” said Crème Fraiche, “somewhere in there I saw a piece of Lasagna with squash petals instead of layers of pasta, actually all kinds of petals, orange and purple, like slices of the sun going down.”
“Is someone reading from the Bible?” mumbled Mrs. Herb, half-waking up.
“You’re my oracle, Crème,” I said, curling up in the moonlit cave of her arms. “You make me feel so populated.”
Henrietta and Lupus were sleeping in the sand amongst their parents. Everyone seemed to have become only breath. There was a soft wind that didn’t touch us, but swung the leaf-hearts above us as if calling us through. “I love you,” all of us who were still awake whispered together, and then the wind picked up and suddenly we were gone.
Late the next morning Lopeda set off for home, skipping and talking to the water. Crème Fraiche and I sat in the shade.
Giovanni: “You know, Lopeda’s gained some weight.”
Fraiche: “Yeah, and Anacropolis looked like he’s lost some. At least he didn’t seem so large when him and BT stomped away yesterday.”
Gio: “Maybe there actually is something going on between him and Lopeda, but that’s so crazy. They’re like exact opposites.”
Fraiche: “Well, maybe not. Maybe deep down they’re a lot alike.”
Gio: “I hope he doesn’t crush her or something, but maybe they can spend a lot of time together out-of-body.”
Fraiche: “Well, that’s a problem cause Anacropolis doesn’t even believe you can leave your body.”
Gio: “Maybe he’s trying to leave his body by getting bigger.”
Fraiche: “I don’t know. If he gets any bigger, pretty soon he’s not gonna be able to come out here and harass us.”
Gio: “I know. That’d be a bummer, actually. I think it’s just all the horrible canned and processed food they eat that’s left over in the city.”
Fraiche: “Hey, that reminds me, I gotta get going. My out-of-body cooking class is about to start.”
Gio: “How do you know?”
Fraiche: “It’s hard to explain. There’s some type of alignment between me, or my readiness, and the class, or the information. It’s like we’re all speaking to each other deep down.”
Gio: “Do a lot of people go?””
Fraiche: “Oh, yeah. You could call them people. I guess the only person you could really call human is Mary Solidago.”
Gio: “Does she go?”
Fraiche: “Oh, yeah. We’re lab partners.”
Gio: “Well, see you when you get back.”
We kissed, and it was as if Crème Fraiche fell into a deep sleep. I wish I could’ve tucked her in but it was already pretty warm out there on the beach, so I went to go find Mr. Herb. I could feel he was in the city and followed the shore north.
Mr. Herb, unlike most of us, was fascinated by the library. The library was only a block or two from the shore, and yet from the beach where we lived it was at least three miles along the shore to the north. To get there, I strolled through streets filled with huge, burgundy Sumacs sprouting through the crumbling asphalt, as if civilization had long ago thrown upon the earth a flow of black lava through which a new flora was being born, thriving and creative, stretching their bodies along with other plants through the human silence so that oaks reached their muscular branches through the upper stories of houses and hung furniture (that were probably made from oak, too) on their limbs, presenting them like fruit from open windows back into the air—maple limbs, which had somehow unpeeled a raw expanse of maple-leaf motifed wall paper from a dining room, held it for exhibition among it’s own green foliage as a foretaste of autumn—the air itself still full of human thoughts and machinations, hopes, daydreams held short of their full splendor, but composting into an almost tangible nutritive density. It fed this new life like alluvial dust. And yet, it was as if the whole city was under a new spell, the spell of itself. Truly, it was a powerful and beautiful place.
“Hey, Mr. Herb,” I said when I got to him. “Why aren’t you inside talking to the books?”
Mr. Herb stood on a piece of sidewalk that was cracked into a mosaic like garden stones: “Because, something happened, Giovanni—they appear to have shut their doors,” he said, pointing at the front of the building. The library, built in that pseudo-Greek style, grey granite and crenelated columns, like so many official buildings in city centers, for some reason no longer had any doors or openings at all. In their place, smooth expanses of granite rose to the roof. There weren’t even any windows you could imagine climbing through.
“I’m not sure, Giovanni, but I think there’s some kind of change going on, something important. I feel like the library wants to do something, and I think the only way that the library can do what it wants to do is if no human eyes can see the books. No human interference. That’s the feeling I get.”
“That’s strange cause didn’t humans make the library?”
“Well, on the outside I suppose they did. Humans thought they were making a place to house, to coalesce, all their knowledge and stories, information, images, what-have-you.”
“But isn’t that what they did?”
“Well, from one point of view, yes,” said Mr. Herb, thinking. “But from another point of view, the knowledge and the stories, all that what you think a library contains, decided to come together in one place, and they more or less had their humans construct buildings like this for them. And then they became one thing, one entity with many personalities of art and information constituting it, which is what we call a Library. That’s one point of view, but I’m sure there’s others.”
“Hmm. I guess that makes a lot of sense. But maybe they’re just remodeling.”
“I think, Gio, it may be a little more than that. But there’s no way I can get in it and find out.”
“At least not while physical.”
Mr. Herb looked at me closely: “What do you mean?”
“Well,” I said, “maybe it’s just that you can’t go in there in the body, but you could always try to go in there out-of-body. It’s like we always forget we can do that kind of stuff. But, I guess you gotta just figure out if it’s right to go in there at all or just leave it alone.”
“I guess you’re right. I guess I gotta figure out if it’s curiosity, or somehow like me trying to control things or keep tabs on things, or if it’s just natural for me to be in there, if I could help things out by being there. But I think you’re right. It’s either out-of-body or not at all. It’s strange, somehow, I think the books may be out-of-body, too, or turning out-of-body, and it’s the only way I can follow them, or maybe that’s what they’ve always been in a way, out of body. I always felt that the paper and the covers, the words, were just the outer aspects of something more ethereal, something deeper. Hm. All in all, I got a feeling they want something. I’m not sure what it is. But dematerializing their doors is definitely a provocative move.”
I laughed. “I guess you’re still a librarian.”
“Well, certainly I am. That’s funny, and maybe the books have more of an idea of what makes a librarian than I do. But that’s funny, cause right when you came up, I was thinking about that. How much of a librarian am I? I mean, I worked in library at the Circulation Desk, and I love being in a library, but really, I think, there’s another level. More than anything, I think I just love being there. Just being surrounded by all the knowledge. And the girls.”
“Well, not at the moment, but there used to be a lot of hotties checking out books. It was great.”
“Well, just don’t do anything right now.”
“Cause we gotta go to Che Coppa Copius tomorrow. And if you try to go in there who knows what’s gonna happen.”
“I guess I wouldn’t miss that. And I guess I gotta feel this one out a little bit more. Maybe even decide if I really wanna keep being a librarian. Like if I should just move on, or take it to another level.”
The next day everyone was getting ready to go. It was so exciting to go to a restaurant opening. Even before the fall of civilization, I don’t think I had been to one. We were making as much food as we could to honor the event. Mary and Crème Fraiche (back from their class) had constructed a salad of everything imaginable, which they called the “Walking Salad” because they both set off in opposite directions and returned with what constituted its contents. It was an enormous bowl exploding with exquisite greens, constellations of flowers and flower petals, sprinkled with onions.
“Well, there’s Toothwort,” said Crème Fraiche, “and Waterleaf, Dandelion and Chrysanthemum flowers—“
“And baby Dandelion leaf and Basswood leaves, violet petals and leaves, and even tubers—“ said Mary.
“—and Spring Beauties, chopped wild onions, Black Walnuts—“
“But there’s a surprise. Here, everybody, gather around.”
We leaned over in a circle, and Mary covered the ring with a blanket. Suddenly, we were in near-darkness. Everybody looked and cheered. Crème Fraiche and Mary had gathered foxfire, a bio-luminescent that grew on rotted Ash roots, and formed the words “Viva Che Coppa Copius” around the bowl’s edge. It was magical.
“We just gotta get them to turn out the lights.”
“It’s like a birthday party,” said Lupus and Henrietta, smiling and holding each other.
Louis Solidago had spent the time after his floating classes with Henrietta and Lupus devising a beautiful fish platter. The fish, all whole, angled bright silver to a descending string of luminous berries, Hawthorns and rosehips, which seemed to become the fishes’ spots as they passed through their bodies, exiting out their gleaming tails as if passing through the channels of transforming nutrition, becoming then waves of crimson Monarda Didyma tubes still gleaming with nectar. Bees and wasps hovered and undulated over the dish, casting shadows so that the fish appeared to coarse within a moving, rippling stream.
“I sincerely hope our proprietors don’t mind the bees and wasps,” stated Louis Solidago, bees dancing on the frame of his glasses.
“I can feel their minds,” said Crème Fraiche.
“There must be a sunlit spot in Che Coppa Copius that we can place it in so they can see the special effects,” said Mary Solidago.
Mrs. Herb, or course, had prepared a mountain of luminous pesto, which she had in one of her beautiful glazed, blue urns she had fired herself from clay she’d collected inland. It was glowing and verdant, like a small mountain.
“What’s in it?” we all excitedly asked.
“Well, you know, I can’t tell you everything cause it’ll ruin the taste,” stated Mrs. Herb, squatting down and giving a final shape to the mountain with a carved piece of wood, “but for starters there’s algae and duckweed and three nut oils and wild garlic—“
Henrietta and Lupus were leaning close to the peak.
Lupus: “Hey, you can hear something!”
Mrs. Herb stepped back with a little smile. We all huddled close to the urn and waited.
“I think you gotta get a little closer,” stated Mrs. Herb, so we all did, and from our breath and faces, from our shared heat and concentration, a slight fermentation occurred, which sent up a tiny air bubble that released itself from the depths of the little mountain forest causing a chiming like distant bells. In fact, the longer we listened and leaned our hot faces and breath close to the little mountain, the more the pesto fermented, causing not only the sound of more bells but some type of chanting.
H&L, for their part, brought a pitcher of florescent blue liquid.
Lupus: “We got an elixir.”
Henrietta: “Yeah. It’s a love potion.”
Crème Fraiche: “Cool. What’s in it?”
Lupus gave Henrietta a quick look: “Essences, I guess.”
Henrietta: “Yeah. Absolutely.”
Mary Solidago: (Eyeing them with her head cocked) “Essences of what?”
Henrietta: “Of flowers.”
Louis Solidago: “I think, if I’m not mistaken, your mother is asking where those flowers actually grew?”
Mary Solidago only raised her eyebrows in agreement, her scrutiny still fixed on H&L.
H&L: (Scratching their heads as if trying to remember. They looked at each other and said slowly, as if they weren’t exactly sure) “The Tuning Towers?”
There was a moment of silence. Then Mary exploded: “The Tuning Towers?!”
Lupus: “It just sort happened.”
Henrietta: “I think it was a wind thing.”
Mary Solidago: (Calming herself) “Ok. Whatever. Now are you listening to me?”
H&L: “Yes, mom.”
Mary Solidago: “Alright. Now, that’s too far out for you guys. You understand? I don’t care if you can fly. That’s almost all the way to Lopeda’s place. Besides, I don’t think the Tuning Towers are something you should be messing with.”
Henrietta: “But you leave your body all the time and go to different dimensions.”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah. Ok. But that’s different. That’s safer. Your body is less prone to get hurt when you’re not in it.”
Louis Solidago: “The Tuning Towers. I wonder where they came from. They weren’t there before the fall of civilization.”
Mrs. Herb: “Somebody must’ve made them.”
Mr. Herb: “Or somebody turned into them.”
Crème Fraiche: “Maybe it’s two people. Like lovers.”
Giovanni: “Lovers who decided to turn into towers of musical stone.”
Mrs. Herb: “They do look pretty happy.”
Crème Fraiche: “And when they start humming, that’s when things start appearing out in the sea. Like cities.”
Mrs. Herb: “But they don’t stay long.”
Giovanni: “I wonder where they go?”
Crème Fraiche: “Maybe it’s just like a workshop or art studio and all those creations get brought somewhere else.”
Mary Solidago: (Still fixed on H&L) “You guys didn’t actually fly though them, did you?”
H&L hovered back and forth: “A little bit.”
Mary Solidago: “Oh, my god!”
Mr. Herb: “What was it like?”
Lupus: “Well, Henrietta was the one who sorta went a little through, but I pulled her back.”
Crème Fraiche: “What was it like, Henrietta?”
Henrietta: “It was like a desert on the other side, but like desert on another planet with blue sand. And in the distance there was a city of spires.”
Crème Fraiche: “Were there people?”
Henrietta: “I think there was. There was music. And the music moved the sand. The music may have been the people. But I kinda think there were other people, too.”
Mary Solidago: “Well, it sounds nice, but I still don’t want you going up there alone. At least not till next year. Alright?”
Henrietta and Lupus’s elixir was a great addition to our array of food, and, I think, deep down, Mary Solidago was pleased with it. It wasn’t often we got to drink the blue glowing nectar. The flowers, which were the size of large vases and grew high up on the Tuning Towers (which were a pair of huge two-hundred foot high shafts of stone) held eco-systems within their thick, flesh-like spathes, and from these, symbols danced out in a mist when the Tuning Towers vibrated and created their cities and sculptures out on the sea. But that was more Lopeda’s world than ours. There was only a jar of it, maybe a half-gallon, but we were all eyeing it cause it felt so good to drink. Once it was inside you and settled down, it was a lot like the Tuning Towers themselves, a music arose, or vibration, that was polyphonic, and you would swear it was building structures, like churches or cathedrals, within your ribs, although the downside was you may not get a bowel movement for maybe a week. But pretty much everyone agreed it was worth it.
For my contribution, I made something more like a seasoning that could be sprinkled on the food, especially hot dishes. It was made of lichen and algae of all different colors, which I had dried, and ground. I swirled the variously toned ingredients into bowls so they looked like cups of starry nebula. I made three of these that we could spread around the table, and people could dip into. Some of these algae had even come from the city, from stonewalls, or buildings. But most came from the beach and the forests that approached it. Now, after the fall of humanity, there were whole swathes of lichen in certain areas that should’ve taken hundreds of years to form, and within them glorious pools and plants, whole worlds of their own. A lot of the lichen I put in my concoction came from the edge of one of these expanses, and gave the bowls of seasoning a glittering metallic effect, like stars. And I loved going there, too, because within it, huge pastel flowers of many forms grew but never opened. They just bulged like balloons and globes, quivering happily among the sparkling ocean of furling lichen. I never felt like I should step on the lichen to find out what was in those flowers, but I knew there must be something.
Mr. Herb: “Thanks for bringing that, Giovanni. It always makes me feel grounded and sort cosmic at the same time.”
Louis Solidago: “Which we may need.”
Giovanni: “What d’you got, Mr. Herb?”
Mr. Herb: “Well, here it is.”
He reached into a crate, lifting out a multi-leveled sculpture. Its roof was red in the center, radiating into a burnt orange, then ending in a yellow awning. There were five levels, and from each awning down to the next, a thick, golden, luminous liquid dripped continuously around the whole cylindrical structure.
Louis Solidago: “It appears to be a Reishi Shelf Fungus.”
Mr. Herb: “I think it is.”
Mary Solidago: “Where did you get it?”
Mr. Herb: “Well, it was maybe a month ago. I was in the forest about a mile to the south, just past the pink slough, and I came on this honey comb that was exposed from a fallen Hawthorne—but a huge Hawthorne with needles like this—“ (holding his index fingers about a foot apart) I didn’t have a way to carry it so I set it on one of these Reishis, which was growing on a huge old maple. It was like a perfect shelf, maybe six feet up. And when I came back a week or something later, it had changed. It wasn’t as far along as this, but it had grown more levels. And there were others. But the honey comb was gone.”
Crème Fraiche: “It’s beautiful.”
Mr. Herb: “Yeah. I think it was a type of wasp honey, cause the comb was full of larvas and young ones that didn’t look like honey bees.”
Henrietta: “It’s like a fountain.”
Mr. Herb: “Yeah. It’s true. I think that honey keeps getting re-cycled up through the levels to the top and then drips back down.”
Lupus: “Behind the drips, there’s insects.”
Henrietta: “It’s like their city.”
Mrs. Herb: “They’re so busy.”
Crème Fraiche: “Or just dancing.”
Louis Solidago: “But there’s more shelves forming on the tree?”
Mr. Herb: “I think what they eventually started doing was using the sap from the trees, and the sweetness from the air, and distilling it. I think I just gave them a taste for it. The trick is just to hold a spoon and catch the edge. Here.” (He held a spoon below the golden awning of one of the levels, and many of the insects who were busy within it lined up and watched)
Mary Solidago: “Do you think they’re mad?”
Mr. Herb: “No. I really think they’re just fascinated at such a different approach.”
Giovanni: “Do you think you killed it by taking it off the tree?”
Mr. Herb: “No. I think if it’s back in a reasonable amount of time, it’s ok, cause I found one that got knocked off from a storm and when I put it back against the bark, it just fused right back in. It actually pulled my hand like a magnet. But I been waiting for a special event like this. I think it’s going to go great with everything, like if anyone wants to put a little sweetness on anything.”
Crème Fraiche: “But what does it do to you?”
H&L hovered closer and closer to the spoon of gold fluid Mr. Herb still held. Everyone watched as they thoughtfully sipped it. Then, gradually, they radiated a golden aura, like a heartbeat, and smiled.
Mr. Herb: “Well, it makes you pulse.”
Mrs. Herb: “Or it takes your pulse!”
We were ready to go.
“Wait a minute,” said Mary Solidago, grabbing her ponytails and pointing them south. “I’m getting a message from Lopeda. She says to not walk too fast. She’ll meet us on the way. It took her longer than she thought to make what she’s bringing.”
H&L: “Maybe she made it special for Anacropolis.” (looking rather transparent and stepping through each other)
Crème Fraiche: “Hey, when you guys are totally lined up you look kinda toadish.
H&L: “Where do you think the Toad lives?”
Louis Solidago: “It appears to be a rather nomadic type.
H&L: “Maybe it’ll be back someday.”
Mrs. Herb: “It feels like it because the autumn.”
Giovanni: “I know, after that dance, the air changed a little.”
Crème Fraiche: “Just enough for a reminder.”
Giovanni: “Ah, winter.”
Crème Fraiche: “Will you be my boyfriend this winter?”
H&L: “Are you guys going to go out on a date?”
Crème Fraiche: “I’m thinking about it.”
We were loaded down with such an assortment of amazingly creative food that it didn’t take long for Lopeda to catch up with us. She was so talkative and excited we all had to take a second look.
“I haven’t slept all night!” she yelled, doing a little spin with her big box.
“Oh, my god, Lopeda, that’s all you usually do is sleep and walk the beach, talking to all the wind and colors. What’s got into you?” said Mary Solidago, hugging her.
We all gathered around and touched her dark but silvery skin. It was different, even more vibrant than usual. H&L actually went extra translucent and aligned into Lopeda’s body, matching their hearts to hers by hovering a little.
Henrietta: “Look, there’s a cave in Lopeda’s heart. With a fire and every animal painted on its walls. They’re peeling off like leaves and flying off to create the sunset. It’s like a story.”
Lupus: “No, I think that’s our hearts.”
Lupus: “I just see the sunset and someone walking out of it toward the beach.”
Henrietta: “I see it. But there’s two people.”
Lupus: “Or a mermaid and a whale.”
Henrietta: “One has a chef’s hat.”
Lopeda: “Hey, guys, I’m sorry, but I think you guys gotta get outta me cause it tickles too much. At least right now. And…geez, I think I’m kinda nervous.”
Mr. Herb: “Hey, Lopeda, what’s in the box?”
Lopeda: “Well, after the dance, I was walking the beach. I was just going home, thinking. But I felt so different, like I had grown. And I looked down and thought: Geez, where did that come from?” (She lifted up her shirt and we all looked at Lopeda’s beautiful stomach)
Mary Solidago: “Wow, Lopeda. You got a little chub goin. Where did that come from?”
Lopeda: (Blushing) “I don’t know. I don’t know where it came from. But I kinda like it. And winter’s coming and everything, too. But then I heard this music. I was close to the Tuning Towers, but I could see they weren’t vibrating. It was just music in the morning sun. But it was like two musics meeting. And I felt like maybe they were using me like a big convention center cause there was so much in each music, so many people, and voices. And I took a few steps and looked back and found this. (She lifted an iridescent spiraling shell from the box. It was about two feet across) It was right where I walked and I didn’t even see it.”
Louis Solidago reached out and took it in his hands.
Lopeda: “Here, keep it so the big, open end it up. It’s pretty full.”
Louis Solidago: “It appears to be a musical instrument.” (Turning it around and putting the small end of the spiraling shell to his lips, which did look like a mouthpiece)
Lopeda smiled, nodding: “But don’t blow.”
Lopeda seemed to be waiting, just to see what he’d do with it. The way the shell began at a small open point, like a mouthpiece, and then swirled out, growing bigger and bigger, made it so the big, outer end, if held right, rested right against Louis’s right ear. “But don’t blow,” he repeated, thinking. All of a sudden his eyes opened wide, then the lids lowered, dreamily. He swallowed. “Fascinating. It’s music, yet music made by sucking in rather than blowing out, or, I would say, by swallowing.”
Lopeda: “I know. It helps to keep your lips on the mouthpiece when you swallow.” (Proudly)
We passed it around, carefully.
Lopeda: “But I think we should save it for Ana—I mean, for the big opening.” (A little embarrassed)
Giovanni: “But what’s in it?” (Looking at a frothing, golden liquid rimming the mouthpiece. It had turned the inside and corners of Louis Solidago’s mouth golden, too)
Lopeda: “It’s pollen. And spores, too. A lot of it is cattail pollen. I still had a big bag of it I collected in the early summer. That’s a lot of it. But on the way home I put some spores in from different mushrooms. But, it’s like when I was all done I was just carrying it on my walk and just holding it, and I fell asleep. And when I woke up, my eyes were barely open. I was underneath a tree that was all silver from the moon. And the wind was hitting it from a bunch of different directions, moving the moisture from the night around from leaf to leaf, like condensing it, like getting it all into one place, and a little silver stream came down right into the shell.”
Louis Solidago: “Fascinating. But when I swallowed it, it felt extremely satisfying, the taste, but also the music that seemed to come from the movement and shifting—there must be sections or chambers in it—so much so that I had an overwhelming urge to blow into it.”
Crème Friache: “Maybe you were tasting the music in your own ear.”
Louis Solidago: “Hmmm. It’s possible.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah, so, what if you do blow?”
Mr. Herb: “Looks like we may find out before the night is through.”
When we finally arrived at Che Coppa Copius with its economical yet tasteful hand painted sign that stretched across the veranda with its Horsemint emblem, which I don’t think anyone could consider a culinary herb, although its powerful presence on the beach, its rough water-retaining beauty and pungent scent, was a strange delight (intuited somehow by BT and Anacropolis) to see over the veranda, we were all a little nervous. Che Coppa Copius occupied the old apartment house next to the regular Anacropolis and BT abode, which itself was an old-fashioned brick apartment house with a columned porch that was now speckled with an incongruent array of pots in clashing colors, and yet they were pots that were definitely the homes for a variety of plants, some which could not in the usual sense be termed “utilitarian.” I personally never thought I’d see something like that outside BT and Anacropolis’s house. But, I think, ultimately, you can always expect change, however minor and unconscious it may be. It made me wonder exactly what was in store for us in the awaiting bowels of the only restaurant in the city. But the house itself I knew very well.
“It’s funny,” said Crème Fraiche, as we all stood with our crates and bags, looking at the two buildings, “it’s funny they don’t live in one of the more mansionish type places. These old apartments were probably just rented by regular people with low paying jobs.”
“Actually, I lived in that one, the one BT and Anacropolis live in, right up on the second floor in the corner,” I said.
H&L: “No way! Giovanni, you lived in a house?”
Mary Solidago: “We all did at one time. You guys were even born in a house.”
H&L: “No way!”
Giovanni: “Oh yeah. It seems so long ago but it was only a couple years.”
Crème Fraiche: “I know, it seems like forever. (Looking at the building) What was it like living there?”
Giovanni: “Well, that was just one point in my life. (Trying to remember) In a way, I was lonely at that time just working and studying, and yet, in a way, it was like being in the thickness of people’s dreams. I grew tomatoes, and at night people would steal them not knowing I grew them for them, for people just walking by, so it was kinda funny and exciting for both of us. It was fun. There were a lot of things like that. Truly, it was a lot more dreamy than our lives now.”
Mary Solidago: “Do you miss it?”
Giovanni: “Oh, yeah. But look at us. We’re like an artist’s collective. I’ve always wanted that.”
Louis Solidago: “Fascinating. Fascinating, Giovanni.”
Mrs. Herb: “I never thought of us as an artist’s collective.”
Crème Fraiche: “That’s so absolutely fabulous that you and Anacropolis lived in the same place. It makes you like twins or something.”
Lopeda was trying to follow the conversation but looked pretty nervous. “I think we should go up to the door.”
We approached the door, standing straight as possible with bright, optimistic smiles.
“I feel like an ambassador,” said Mr. Herb.
“I do, too,” said Crème Fraiche.
“But an ambassador of what?” asked Mary Solidago.
Giovanni: “The beach?”
Louis Solidago: “The Culinary Post-Civilizationist Movement?”
Mary: “Don’t listen to him.”
H&L: “We know. We’re ambassadors of ourselves!”
Louis Solidago: “Absolutely.”
Mr. Herb: “I agree.”
Then, like an eclipse, Anacropolis filled the door.
“Ah,” he stated, rather imperiously, “Welcome to the greatest Fine Dining in the city.”
Through a chink in Anacropolis’s chub, I glimpsed BT racing back and forth in a chef hat.
Mr. Herb: “Thanks, Anacropolis.”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah. Thanks.”
Mr. Herb: “And to show our appreciation, and honor the event, we each brought a dish to share.”
H&L: “Yeah! We’re gonna have a party!”
Crème Fraiche: “Yeah. It’s like a potluck.”
Anacropolis’ face reddened and he seemed to stagger a little. Then, he wiped his face, straightening to his full height, and expanded so that the frame of Che Coppa Copius’s door gave a frightened moan.
Anacropolis: “This is not a potluck. This is a restaurant, which means no outside food is allowed into these hallowed premises, which would defile, yes, defile, the luxuriance, the nuances, the, the, good eats, you are, if you can ascend to the level of our dress-code and pay, yes, pay, on, of course, our busiest night, about to partake of. I’ll have to check if there’s any seating available.”
Mr. Herb: “I don’t mind paying. It’s like donating to a community center or something.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah. Sure. We just got to go find some. It’s usually laying around somebody’s house. But I am getting fuckin hungry. Maybe we should just go have a picnic on the grass.”
Mary and Louis Solidago looked at Lopeda who was at the back of the group with her head down and the box behind her back.
Mary: “What do you think, Lopeda?”
We all stepped to the side so there was a clear corridor between Anacropolis and Lopeda.
Crème Fraiche whispered to me: “Lopeda looks so sad.”
Giovanni: “I know. I think she put a lot work into her dish.”
Obviously, Anacropolis couldn’t see that behind her back Lopeda held the box that contained her beautiful creation: “Oh,” he pronounced with a little glow, “At least someone here has…taste.”
Lopeda made the slightest flinch.
Suddenly, just as Lopeda was raising her head to speak, Mrs. Herb walked right up to Anacropolis and jabbed his voluminous tuxedoed stomach. “You gotta a lot of nerve, Anacropolis Copius. Here we are your only goddamn friends who are still in somewhat human form and we brought all this mother-fuckin—“
“No, it’s alright,” Lopeda broke in, “It’s alright. I know it is.”
Somehow, there was gravity, Lopeda’s gravity, maybe because she was so light and sleepy, musing over that meeting of sky and sea, and living alone and free to the south, that froze Mrs. Herb, froze all of us, for as her words ended, I realized I had stepped angrily forward toward that mass, too, that mass of Anacropolis, which held in it weights beyond a single man, no matter how deluged with unchecked mono-unsaturated fat and dygliceride consumption. I think that was the thing, some thread that ran across the universe, was that somehow you just couldn’t give up on the beauty of humanity, no matter how big it was.
“I know it is, also,” said Louis Solidago, evenly, and we piled all the food outside of Che Coppa Copius’s door. During the bustle, Lopeda squatted down and carefully placed her crate that she had been balancing behind her on the sidewalk so that it rested there like a little intriguing monolith leading up to the entryway. It was definitely hard for us to walk away from our gifts, but truly, we were walking into Anacropolis’s world.
H&L, slightly off the ground and holding hands, both took deep breaths, shut their eyes, and flew through him, which somehow seemed to change Anacropolis, brighten his luster, firm him.
Henrietta: (From the other side) “That was crazy.”
Lupus: “Yeah, but I’m glad we did it.”
Henrietta: “It was like sky diving.”
Lupus: “But in a way it like took so long.”
Henrietta: “Yeah, like when we were in that canoe going through the swamp.”
Lupus: “And the oil fires.”
Henrietta: “Lighting up the Cypresses.”
Lupus: “And the horsetails like high as elm trees.”
Henrietta: “And the night like big pools of tar with dinosaur bones in it.”
Lupus: “I loved our guide.”
Henrietta: “His name was—“
H&L: “Bengeevi!!! We love you, Bengeevi! Thank you, Bengeevi!”
Henrietta: “He had only one eye.”
Lupus: “There wasn’t room for two.”
Henrietta: “Anacropolis is actually really cool…when you pass through his body.”
Anacropolis turned slightly in their direction, but was focused on Lopeda, uplifting a hand in a strange, gracious manner, and even pressing his other hand to his heart for a moment to the spot Henrietta and Lupus had their prehistoric Cajun expedition. Lopeda stepped forward.
“This is crazy,” grumbled Mrs. Herb.
“It’s ok,” said Crème Fraiche.
“Maybe we can all go dance on the beach later and have it all for breakfast,” I said.
Mary and Louis Solidago were wiggling their significant eyebrows in a serious zone of telepathy. They stepped up behind Lopeda who was the first one of us to enter Che Coppa Copius without passing her holographic molecules through Anacropolis’s heart, of course.
Like all restaurants, it was the odor of the food which almost created your posture, drew your body up or down, brought your animal (or even ethereal) persona forward, or caused it to slip back to its crystal cave, abandoning its shell, which is probably the part of you that knows how to use silverware in the proper order, anyway. But since we were all there like a single being bridging toward Anacropolis and BT, and supporting Lopeda, we consciously held to our bodies and endured.
“This is the worst smell I ever ever experienced in my life,” whispered Mary Solidago, pressing her face extremely close to Louis’ armpit for solace.
Louis Solidago: “Yes. But it’s probably that you just don’t remember what it was like sometimes before. Hm. It is fascinating to think of eating a cow that died possibly more than ten years ago.”
Anacropolis pulled two tables together and seated us after giving us all ties. Even Louis Solidago who already sported a rather academic one, clipped the one Anacropolis shoved his way over his own. Mrs. Herb, who wasn’t quite shirtless, pinned hers to her necklace of butterfly wings that had somehow turned into shells, or the other way around. They were very changeable, depending on her moods. No one knew where she got them. Of course, we were all barefoot, which I’m pretty sure Anacropolis noticed but decided to discretely ignore.
“You know what they say,” said Crème Fraiche, “’Suspense is the spice of life’.”
Mrs. Herb: “I don’t feel suspended at all. Or maybe I do.”
“Look!” shouted H&L, “It’s like you can climb on the air, it’s so thick,” crawling as if a bridge arched over our table.
And it was thick, thick with all the mucilaginous indigestibility of food that would only return to the earth with difficulty. Suddenly, BT appeared.
“Are you ready for your drinks?” he crooned, rather nervously.
“I’d like some Elderberry juice,” stated Mrs. Herb.
“Ginger tea,” threw in Mr. Herb.
“I think an extra strong Monarda tea is the only substance that will be anti-bacterial and anti-fungal enough to get me through this,” pronounced Louis Solidago, definitively. “Or else anything from the Mint family.”
“Yeah. Mint tea. Super strong,” said Crème Fraiche.
“If you have a chunk of bee propulous, I’ll just chew on that. With some hot water,” replied Mr. Herb.
“How about some Rhubarb wine?” asked Mary Solidago.
“Yeah. Or strawberry wine,” I said.
I don’t think BT really planned to do it, but as he smiled away at us, and scribbled at his little order pad, he glanced up at H&L who had just merged themselves into one person.
H&L: “Basswood flower cold tea!” they said. “And it’s ok if it’s fermented!”
BT gave Lopeda an inquiring, searching look: “Anything special for you this evening, Mademoiselle?”
“Sumac tea,” Lopeda replied softly, giving him back the same inquiring and curious stare.
BT seemed to nod to himself and Lopeda at the same time: “Well, I want to personally welcome you to Che Coppa Copius on behalf of myself and the rest of the staff. I do hope you enjoy your meal. And if there is anything else I can get you, just give a little nod, but please understand that this is also our busiest night, so we ask a little patience from our loyal and much appreciated customers, ah, which is you, I guess.” BT swept away.
We glanced around the empty dining room.
Mary Solidago: “There may be people in other dimensions.”
Louis Solidago: “That’s is always probable. Can you see anybody else here, my children?” (Looking up at H&L, who could see other dimensions a little more easily without leaving their bodies)
H&L: “There’s a lot. Tons. They’re not all ‘people’ though. I don’t think they know it’s a restaurant.”
Crème Fraiche: “Can they see us?”
H&L: “Some can. One’s looking over here and commenting on the sculptures.”
Mr. Herb: “That’s cool.”
Crème Fraiche: “I wonder if we look like we’re in motion?”
Giovanni: “Let’s all wave.”
Crème Fraiche: “So what did they do?”
H&L: “They’re looking a little closer. They’re talking about colors creating movement or something.”
Mary Solidago: “That’s so funny.”
Lopeda, nestled between Mary and Louis, had slowly taken on a strange mixture of facial features, something like a subdued determination, with flares of illumination lighting up her features, as if a torch-lit procession beneath a carved wall of wet rock that was in the process of thinking. She was beautiful. As Crème and I spoke about it later, we didn’t believe Lopeda had really thought about anything that deeply before, but now it was as if she put a toe in a pool of water that danced her reflection, or was like a baby trying to eat a basketball (for better or worse), and just that determination, that contemplation, those molecules creating the future, and making her olive skin just a touch tighter, made her glow.
“How you doin?” asked Mary Solidago, putting her arm around her.
“I’m swimming toward an island,” she said, evenly.
“What’s it look like?” asked Mr. Herb.
“Well—” But suddenly BT swept in with a tray of canned sodas, and placed them before us. Amazingly, the colors correlated to all the things we had ordered.
Everyone warily lifted their assigned cans.
“It has been a long time,” said Louis Solidago, examining his.
“It says there’s a joke inside, but you gotta drink it all to see it,” said Mrs. Herb, suspiciously.
H&L had floated up to a chandelier and aligned their bodies with it to make it look as if their little anatomies contained stars.
H&L: “Look, there’s someone with real stars in their body coming close to us. But they don’t feel like we do. Ooow, this is exciting.”
Then everyone poured their cans into the glasses at their places, lifting them to their lips and thoughtfully sipped, except for Lopeda who was focused on the kitchen. Things then seemed to take place rather quickly, although later I would always receive a slight shudder as if I had took part in a chemically induced debauchery. Who knows if it was the aluminum of the cans, or the high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar, along with the artificial dyes on an empty stomach, with synthesized caffeine, and artificial preservatives and colors and bull testosterone, or the other ingredients I never got around to thinking about in any critical way back during the height of humanity, all with fluorinated and chlorinated city water, or that atmosphere we were so unused to, not only being in the city but under artificial lights run by a droning generator in the rear of the building and, of course, the odors which provided a certain wary thickness and apprehension to our communal etiquette—Lopeda’s emotional lightness and subsequent present gravity also added to the mix—but, yes, as that liquid entered our systems, we all seemed to take a step into the past. Not that I can say I ever consciously experienced any of this before the fall of humanity, yet there was something familiar in it, and I’m sure this is what people experienced probably every day, yet were so used to that it was something they never could consciously acknowledge, that by pouring these chemicals into themselves the reality around them, even the dimensions around them and the life-forms inhabiting these dimensions, whether visible or not, and even what type of energies and consciousnesses that were allowed to enter our own bodies, could change.
Anacropolis pushed out of the kitchen in a splattered chef outfit. There was a crash behind him. He “strode” up to our table, his physique like a huge amorphous white cake rising toward us. Lopeda’s gaze climbed the mass steadily. Their eyes met. Then we knew it wasn’t over. Crème Fraiche nudged me, but her skin felt cold and clammy. H&L, who were up by the chandelier, gasped.
Henrietta: “Everything’s changing.”
Lupus: “Yeah, a lot of the beings are different.”
Henrietta: “Yeah, it’s like their colors are muddier.”
Lupus: “They don’t seem as happy.”
Henrietta: “Hey, and the vegetation is more like metal, twisted.”
Lupus: “It’s like machines growing. Sorta. And they aren’t happy machines.”
Anacropolis: “Yes, I can see you’re enjoying your aperitifs, (pronouncing this slowly, yet obviously attempting to reclaim himself from the trance he shared with Lopeda. It was as if he was pulling himself from a canyon of flowers) Yes, yes, and I must add, not that you don’t know this in your true hearts, and souls, yes, souls—and I mean this in a Biblical sense—(raising a hand and glancing up at H&L but then making a proud effort not to register them) this is what built our civilization, people dropping money in a machine and receiving a nice cold drink to keep them going so they can work again, keeping our great culture alive. Yes, there’s nothing like it. Heart upon heart, soul upon soul, life upon life. Armies have strove, died, triumphed, to only hold one of these unique drinks in their hands—babies born, firefighters searching through rubble, people giving up frivolous mystical traditions, lawyers passing the bar and buying house after house, tormented whether they should give it all up and go into Real Estate, lab technicians giving countless animals unknown chemicals day after day in their search for truth so that you can now hold at the beginning of a new era, which is taking place right here—yes, and you are a part of it—these refreshments—yes, fresh, re-fresh, fresh once again, oh, great humanity, in your hands. I’m glad you like them. (Another crash from the kitchen) Which brings me to this evening’s cuisine.”
Yes, things had changed. H&L now hovered near the chandelier not for fun, as they usually did anything, but to stay out of the way of the new beings, or the new darker aspects of the beings, and dimensions, which already filled the space. I don’t think I ever felt anything like this since before the fall of civilization, the fall of civilization where people left their bodies for other horizons, and even created whole new planets with their joy: it’s like just those individual departures so full of life as their bodies fell, or sometimes but rarely lifted off or grew wings or gills, like revelations of latent abilities, exhaled new DNAs into the atmosphere like a pollen perfume. But the ingestion the all those artificial ingredients had changed everything around us, opened strange dimensions which had been closed for so long. And they wanted to enter our bodies. It wasn’t a very friendly feeling.
“I feel weird,” whispered Crème Fraiche.
I nodded, grinding my teeth in a bizarre musical rhythm.
Mary Solidago: “I feel like we’re a new soil. And that different things can grow out of it. But I’m not sure I like them.”
Crème Fraiche: “Or, we’re the same soil and somebody dumped some strange fertilizer on us.”
Mrs. Herb: “Or that it melted our inner forms so only certain shaped life can reach through us to the light.”
Giovanni: “The room feels so crowded.”
Mr. Herb: “I feel kinda crowded, too.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah. Fuck yeah. I guess Anacropolis is right. It is busy as hell.”
It seemed my thoughts were clouded over by the impulses of the beings that entered me, or, more accurately, these were their thoughts, and intentions, toward their own systems of freedom and fulfillment that, as they surfaced and flourished through my own matrix, I could, if I didn’t know the difference, identify with as my own. Truly, although they did make me want to almost vacate my skin, I couldn’t call them evil or malevolent, or even detrimental to nature. They just wanted to seek expression, but, truly, they may have been completely content where-ever they dwelled until the energies the sodas created when interacting with our systems prodded, or lured, them into us.
H&L were discussing something about the light.
Anacropolis: (trying hard not to meet Lopeda’s eyes) Tonight, we have for you as our special, which we do highly recommend, and is a mandatory initiatory gift de cuisine which you must pay for, of course, but to introduce you, who, as we will not mention among the other customers, are akin to little tribal children scrounging in the dirt, buffeted, alas, by the seasons, praying to the sun and cringing naked and huddled before lightning storms, illiterate, as if presented with a rather extensive political tome, which, I must say, possibly could save you from squalor if you could read—”
Except for the soft electrical lights, the whole dining room had been dimly lit. Anacropolis and BT had drawn the curtains so that the beautiful evening glow which was turning the buildings, the parking lots, the small gardens and trees among them, into a coral city, couldn’t be seen. But I felt it. And I think everyone else did, too. It called to you, as if this sunset could be the last one. And you knew right then how good it was, that life itself was science fiction, that this was just as wild as any planet in the universe, just as strange and unpredictable, just as full of colors and shapes and life-forms we only pretended we knew. It had always been like this. That’s why we never left our little community, I think, and even BT and Anacropolis (who were no different than all those people who shot out of their bodies or changed their forms) loved this beautiful planet just as much as us. The fallen city of coral evening. I think that’s why I had lived so close to the sea before the Fall. And the cat-world I would watch from my window at night. And how one night I got down in the water and drank the reflection of the moon from the sea. For a second, I wondered, even though it’d been a few years since the big change, if I had really aged. But just then, as Anacropolis laid out his campaign of canned food and chipped beef, H&L flew to the windows, opening all the curtains. The room was flooded. It was like one unbearable deluge replaced another. An audible choral exultation ignited and flew from the room. Amazingly enough, Anacropolis only appeared slightly annoyed as he continued to speak, yet BT stood transfixed, his face appearing in the circular glass of the kitchen’s swinging doors, like an enchanted saint. But it wasn’t just the light. Not as we usually understood , or misunderstood, it. It was that the music was light and the light was music. As the sun sank, it filled the trees outside Che Coppa Copius with light, the ornamental Crab Apples, the Japanese Maples. It wasn’t as if the sun was alive and what communed and thrived among the foliage was only a radiance, a by-product of its joy—it was that these “pieces of light” were more than that, were themselves living entities, whether born from the sun or not didn’t seem to matter, for they danced and had consciousness, a knowing, a discerning, an intention beyond intention, of their own. And I would even say a form that existed even without the sun.
Mr. Herb jumped up: “Look, they’re revelation! We’re revelation! This hand! Look! Everything! It’s all revelation!”
Just that word, revelation, the buoyancy of it, lifted us off our seats.
Louis Solidago: (his glasses full of the light, too) “Revelation recognizing itself.”
Mrs. Herb: “It’s like when you get the pesto just right! It makes you do a little spin!”
The ever-congregating and dispersing diamonds and shapes on the floor were alive, too, exuding a beautiful music. You’d think there was a linear progression from sun to foliage to these golden mosaics, yet it wasn’t true: they can form themselves, from the moment—there is no descension, or even ascension, no ladder. Everything, every event and object, comes more from within. We all saw it.
Anacropolis covered his eyes and continued his recitation: “Yes, for an appetizer we have canned frog-legs nestled in a vibrant freshly opened can of peas…”
And then the music came. It must’ve already been there. Those golden prismatic beings in the trees and the dancers of light on the floor had highways between them that tautened and sang as the city replaced itself with a new edifice of ochre and rose. H&L flew to the door and threw it open.
“This is unbelievable!” shouted Mary Solidago, embracing Lopeda who was smiling and crying, her tautened features finally released.
I swear we were all off the ground. We darted between each other’s legs like fish, then drew into a school, weaving and flashing as one consciousness through the strings and winds. All those beings who were drawn to us a second ago, rose and played and held untranslatable conversations with the diamonds of light. I don’t know if it was the sheer force of a history that was basically lost that caused Anacropolis to roar. I do know that through that divine convergence that took place within the walls of Che Coppa Copius, it was one of the greatest dances of my life. The roaring blew us into the street. Of course, we all took our food, except for Lopeda, who left her crate where she had placed it in the middle of the sidewalk like a seed.
The next morning, after dancing all night and eating all the food we’d made for the potluck, we woke up out on the point. Lopeda was gone. We could see her tracks like musical notes disappearing into the distance.
“I think we failed,” said Crème Fraiche.
“Why do you say that?” asked Mrs. Herb, looking over Mr. Herb’s chest.
“Well, Anacropolis invited us into his world and when you’re guests, you know, you’re supposed to just…well, it’s just like we brought our world to him.”
“Yeah, well, maybe it’s just The World,” laying her face sideways on Mr. Herb and thinking.
Mr. Herb: “I don’t want to disturb my little girl here (trying not to make his chest go up and down while he spoke), but I think Anacropolis played a part in it. I mean, he did give us the sodas.”
Mrs. Herb: “Which definitely had an affect on our social demeanors. Can you believe people drank that stuff all the time? No wonder life was so absolutely strange.”
Mary and Louis Solidago were curved around H&L who were wrapped in a little contented bundle, their foreheads together. A rose-tinted silver mist hovered over their bodies. It was funny to see them so firmly on the ground. Louis lifted his countenance from the arch of Mary’s right foot: “The sodas definitely opened doors unexpected.”
Mary: “But familiar, too.”
Louis: “It’s curious. The only way I can describe it is that I had stepped into the space of an old form, or physique, which didn’t like it at all that I had returned to it. Annoyance isn’t quite strong enough a word for it. It may have equaled a father who abandoned his son coming back and telling him how to live.”
Crème Fraiche: “While both hiding in a school gym locker.”
Louis Solidago: “Hmm. That’s interesting.”
Henrietta: (sleepily) “But then there was Bengeevi.”
Lupus: (rubbing his eyes) “Yeah. Bengeevi was in Anacropolis’s heart.”
Mary Solidago: “What did you say he looked like?”
Lupus: “He was beautiful.”
Henrietta: “He might not have been a he.”
Lupus: “Yeah. He had one eye.”
Mrs. Herb: “I wonder if Lopeda really loves Anacropolis?”
Crème Fraiche: “Or if it’s just like they’re extreme opposites?”
Mary Solidago: “You know, I never really talked to her about it. It all happened so fast. I’ll have to go visit her.”
Mr. Herb: “It’s so different down there. Everything’s constantly shifting.”
Mary Solidago: “It’s true. You can’t hang onto anything from moment to moment. But you get used to it. I don’t think Lopeda even notices.”
Louis Solidago: “It’s true. Even though I’ve known Lopeda forever, it’s like she is a person that, in a way, evolved from that place, which, I must add, is probably why she speaks so little.”
Mary: “Yeah, down there words are almost like elements.”
Giovanni: “But what about Anacropolis? Do you think Anacropolis really loves Lopeda?”
Mary Solidago: “It seems possible. But I’m not sure he really knows it consciously. Or if it’s really possible for him to ever admit it. It’s more like he just goes into this trance or something.”
“I don’t know. But, you know, Anacropolis Copius really makes me realize how deep our lives really are,” said Mr. Herb.
“Yeah,” said Crème Fraiche, “I guess that’s true on the surface, but I think there’s an even deeper thing beneath that. I was thinking, it’s like just that sorta fear, or whatever he represents, affects the atmosphere so much that I think we could let it go.”
“You think we got something to do with Anacropolis being so into survival?” I asked.
“Yeah. I think we’re hanging onto something there. I think we’re hanging onto our past somehow.”
“Maybe that’s why he’s so big,” said Mary. “He’s like an anchor for us.”
“Wow. I never thought of that, that we’re creating him, too,” stated Louis, amazed.
“Yeah. Like we needed him to understand how far we’ve come. To define ourselves. But what if we don’t need that anymore?” asked Crème Fraiche.
“You know, I just caught a glimpse of it. Like there’s a strand of my energy going out, like wanting him to open a can of peaches,” I said, feeling this like cord of intention flowing out toward Anacropolis.
“With syrup,” said Mrs. Herb.
“Wow. I can see him do it,” said Mary, excitedly, “Like it was my own hands.”
“That can opener’s looking rather unhygienic,” stated Louis Solidago, stoically.
“You know, I never really realized how much Anacropolis and BT really love each other,” whispered Mr. Herb.
“But they’re lonely, too,” I said.
“Wait a minute. I think I can talk for BT.” Crème Fraiche’s nose hairs sprouted out and somehow she looked rather severely studious:
BT: “Hey, Anacropolis. Thanks for opening that can of peaches.”
Suddenly, Mrs. Herb’s countenance swelled and agitated:
Anacropolis: “No problem, BT. I enjoy sharing real food with you. Do you realize this is the food our forefathers ate? It is indeed. It’s nothing like that veritable bile those people on the beach eat. This stuff gets you through the day.” (Mrs. Herb belched and everybody could smell canned peaches)
BT: “Yeah, but they do look like they have fun sometimes. I dream about that Mr. Herb a lot. Maybe it’s because I was once a librarian. He’s a librarian, too.”
Anacropolis: “Oh, my god, BT, you mean you dream? You must be mentally stressed by our opening night. Here. Eat some more peaches.”
BT: “Yeah. I dreamed that Mr. Herb and I lived on this ship that was floating above this vast coral reef, and we would spend our days exploring that underwater world, all the amazing formations. And almost like each crevice was filled with music. And everyday the reef would be vastly different with new colors and new events, because the coral itself was like events, too. And the forms didn’t just signify coral but many things, other things that related to these shapes, even buildings, or shimmering bones. And at night we’d meet back in the ship and tell each other what we’d seen with a beautiful candle lit between us. And it was almost like different people would come into our faces and tell different things. And we realized that many times we’d been looking at the same thing and witnessed something completely different.”
Anacropolis: “BT, I think you have a fever. Here, let me open you a can of chicken broth. Do you want low sodium or regular?”
BT: “I’ll take the low sodium.”
Anacropolis: “Ok. In the first place, I’m shocked, no, let me find another word: I’m scandalized, yes, BT, scandalized. I’m sorry to say it since you are my business associate, but I’m scandalized, BT, that you would not only dream, but remember your dreams, and not only remember your dreams, but spend any energy at all thinking about them, not to mention telling them to me. For, as we know, which can be observed obviously in the rapid deterioration of our great civilization, the unconscious is full of savage impulses and pretty soon you won’t even live in a house. Think about it. Here, I’ll put some Spaghettios in there. You’re looking a little peeked. No offense meant, of course.”
BT: “Thanks, Anacropolis. Thanks for taking care of me.”
Anacropolis: “Well, we gotta stick together. Somebody has to carry on tradition.”
BT: “But don’t you dream, Anacropolis?”
Anacropolis: “No, I never dream.”
BT: “But don’t you see visions or anything before you fall asleep?”
BT: “Never? Not even like beautiful patterns or anything?”
Anacropolis: “Well, I suppose last night I saw a face.”
BT: “A face? What did it look like?”
Anacropolis: “Never mind. It was just a face. I don’t even know if I saw it.”
BT: “Was it a woman or man?”
Anacropolis: “I guess it was a sorta woman. Listen, BT—hey, I think your low-sodium chicken broth Spaghettios soup is done. Hmmm. Smell that.”
BT: “Well, what color hair did she have?”
BT: “Did she have light or dark skin?”
Anacropolis: “BT, lay down. I think you’re sick. Not only are you obsessed with some dream about a coral reef, but now you’re fixated on some kind of vague face that popped into my mind before I fell asleep. Alright? Here’s a pillow. Do you want the electric blanket? We’d just have to start the generator.”
BT: “It doesn’t sound vague to me. Did she have light or dark skin?”
Anacropolis: “I guess it was kinda olivey, like Lope—“
“LOPEDA!!!” we all shouted.
“Oh, my god! I knew it. I knew Anacropolis was really in love with Lopeda!” shouted Mrs. Herb.
Mary Solidago: (perking her head and lifting her ponytails toward the south)
“Hey, Lopeda. No, we weren’t calling you. Well, we said you’re name, but I’ll have to tell you about it later. Hey, are you doin ok? Are you sure? Ok, but don’t be a stranger, you know what I’m saying? Ok. I love you. Bye.”
“They’re gonna be kissin!” shouted the Solidago kids.
Anacropolis: “We are not going to be kissin!”
“He’s banging the soup pot on the counter,” stated Mrs. Herb.
Anacropolis: “And I am not in love. AND, you don’t have to shout ‘LOPEDA’. I said ‘like Lopeda’, I didn’t say it was Lopeda. Obviously, she’s one of those Solidagos. They’re all like animals, anyway.”
“It’s true,” stated Mary Solidago, matter-of-factly.
“You said it, my sweet, tender, carnivorous legume,” said Louis Solidago, almost getting on top of her.
“Stop it. Not in front of the kids.”
BT: “I didn’t shout ‘LOPEDA’. I didn’t say anything. But I do think you guys would make a good couple. I’ve thought about it.”
“Anacropolis heard us,” I whispered.
“Ooops,” said the Solidago kids, looking excited.
Mrs. Herb suddenly looked like she was going to be sick: “Wow. Anacropolis just drank the entire contents of the pot!”
Louis Solidago: “Hmmm. You know, I was just thinking: if we’re helping to create Anacropolis, then it’s only logical that he’s helping to create us, too.”
Before The Fall, people had yearned so many worlds into being without actually living them, just working their jobs day after day, just trying to survive—because of this, worlds, dimensions, compounded themselves like garden upon garden radiating in every season (our beliefs, our dreams, our self-esteems, were like climates and wind) and we could chose the state of our garden, instant by instant, by choosing a music of the self, although no one knew that they actually could choose—they only thought their position, their station within the social hierarchy was more or less calling the shots. But it became obvious to us after The Fall that we could choose the garden, the garden that we really wanted, create it, and plant ourselves and tend, and be tended by, everything around us. And the conglomerations of metal and plastic, like a mask over so much of our entire reality? it too was alive: yes, it was hard at first to get over the realization that a sprawling, polluted metropolis was a garden in itself, but it was no less vibrant than a coral reef. And not only that, but we could feel our thoughts shimmer, not just in this world but in many worlds across dimensions, shreds and seeds of our energy returned to us from the seeds of our thoughts, from the thoughts that were metamorphosing songs, glorying in their own transformations, laughing at their wings, and feeding us through just being, just loving, like sizzling stars from these branches looking down at the night-sky ground, star-matter seeds, feelings’ luminous weeds and limousines, the compost-rain of our fallen physiques, like pollen, oh, and this great trunk of what was left of humanity whose tuning fork in daily matters we lift through the firmament re-sung. Yes. I was about to explode. I was going to become something through a rapidly approaching anatomical eminence, as if this body (which I thought could be named) was just a shell of molecules, just a thought sustained, like a choral effervescence formed for a brief glimmer by an ornate cathedral dome before it was free to be other things. I couldn’t bear to be locked and pounding into Crème Fraiche’s profusely sweating babeness any longer. And yet there was nothing else.
“Do you feel them?” asked Crème, panting, as if her voice came from everywhere, “they’re all around us, billions of beings—it’s like we’ve become an ocean. I never really thought I could multi-task, but now it seems so easy, almost like nothing at all.”
“I know! Jesus Christ! I feel like I could hold down more than one job at a time!”
“Do you think so?”
And it was true. As I yearned ever deeper into Crème Fraiche’s vast, shimmering love, as if something deep within me surged and succumbed with one simultaneous thrust, one simultaneous receptive consummation and hammering, our bodies full of stars and bendings of moon in our vast artesian flowings of sweat and cream (reflections of faces who came to drink), an ocean did fill us to the rims of our lips and eyes, and beings of all different sizes and forms, beings who were music, who were wind and fallen leaves, beings who were half-fish, half-human, who were barely anything but gossipings of colors and would disappear under the scrutiny of any of the normal senses (but were also gods), dove, played in us, made love, gave birth and lectures, and even argued and barbecued among the amorphous pounding. I was so deep into her that I walked the beach alone, that I sat listening to stories by a fire that blazed like her vulva, that I swam with whale-like beings guided by cycloptic children in golden robes, that I sat in the sand, holding Cremely, braiding her hair, as two huge moons shed gravity over the earth while our bodies on another level were still drenched and grinding in love. And like all gestures of compassion, we were on a journey. It was like every kiss, every inhale of her scent, every consummation of rawness, was a preparation, like packing an overnight bag with only the essentials for what was to come. I finished her last braid.
“Come on,” said Crème Fraiche, talking my hand, her eyes always hazel, suddenly strangely verdant, as if looking at something green and ethereal as the twilit ocean, this green a bed of mint in her youth, or gleaming moss buttocking a dark stream oozing from a rock escarpment deep in some ancient forest, or looking at a volcano from above.
I realized how little we know about the vastness of our endeavors. Cremely held my hand and guided me, although she, too, seemed to be discovering her way, step by step. We were following the shore to the point, and yet, where we edged along a forest so dense we had to wade hip-deep in water along a root-tangled bank, it had before always been simply an open expanse, grass and sand, Monarda Punctata and Cinquefoil. Beneath it, though, we could feel the landscape we knew, as if it had put on a verdant mask, or, as if the mask that we knew had donned another. We silently made our way to the point. More than anything, I was following Crème Fraiche’s scent. It was as if her hands and limbs formed from the fragrant rivers, which poured from her, of something deeper. I wish I could tell you how beautiful she was.
We came out onto the point, and approached what I can only describe as a gateway, a passage, a portal, that drew the twilit sea toward it in scooped, diamond rivulets, pooling turquoise with silver in them, ebony edged, like a magnificent skin. And yet, this gateway was a woman, or, through some translation of molecules, of understanding, a being (long tendril-like hair and luminous green eyes). She appeared in what I can only describe as fixated positions, holding a fabulous bouquet of roses in both hands before her. Then, she appeared again, bent toward us, in another fixed pose, presenting the bouquet, which constituted endless species of roses, her fixated skin and eyes, everything about her, unmoving. She was of another world, or of this world and yet from a depth that could not be expressed in movement. There were worlds in each flower that somehow we experienced simultaneously in waves of pollen, in crenulations, like the mycological folds of our brains, our nostril-caves on the edge of which many beings crowded on thresholds of blue, donning gold bodies flying into the folds.
“Life is so beautiful!” wept Crème Fraiche, as we buried our faces into the bouquet. It was as if a mask had fallen, and yet it was our own mask, rigid and defined, or fixed into some image of knowledge, like a mirror that shaped the world to the creases of our own brows, that rocked down into decomposition like a leaf. And suddenly, we were in the world we had been painstakingly carving in a new way, like archeologists in the pit of creation with their grids and notebooks, magnifying glasses and brushes vanished, and their hands glazed with light that spoke of history in a way that everyone longed to do again and again. Yes, we existed in all the flowers, and yet all the flowers were our bodies, fragrant and unfolding, as if love was a light that was always universes beyond itself.
There seemed to be one small vein in the endless petals, which drew us, which we followed, and suddenly, we were back, pounding away on the beach. I couldn’t see, not because of the inexplicable vast mystery of reality itself, but because Crème Fraiche’s dripping, hairy armpit was covering my eyes. Were they the same?
“Giovanni, you’re not in me anymore!”
“Where am I?!”
“I don’t know, but I think I’m in you!”
And it was true. With every heave and plunge and spray of froth, The Crème seemed to love and pound herself. And, simultaneously, with the same generosity, I was being driven by the weight of her body into the earth. It was so good. Molecules were dying and being born everywhere. The air was full of colors I’d never seen. I lifted Crème Fraiche’s armpit away from my face, making sure I didn’t hurt her feelings at such an extreme moment.
And then I saw it: “Cremely, do you see it? There’s a temple way up there. I think I can reach it.”
“We’re fucking on a temple!!!” she screamed.
I thought I heard some shouting in the valley below. And there I was, climbing, leaving myself and Crème to plow away behind me, ascending toward a throne, steadily, almost like a meditation, reaching for another foothold. I could see the two gleaming bodies of Crème and myself far beneath me. They were showered by rose petals in an endless rain. Yet, above me, the temple shivered. Calling. There was only a soft wind that murmured as if the whole mountain prepared for sleep.
As the sun began to set and breath new colors into the sky, I realized there were two mountains instead of one. A deep river of stars glowed, soaring across the sky and disappearing between the mountain silhouettes into a distant stream’s chimes. It shed flakes of itself down onto the moaning couple below. But I had left them, that’s all I knew, that by never going back I was seeing things I had never witnessed before. That I would never witness with Crème Fraiche. I finally realized she was like a chain, and I smiled up into the night with a new sense of freedom. The moon rose and came down in a smooth arc, entering a blue-lit cave. I made it to the mouth and walked in. Within the cave, the moon hovered, and beneath it there was a great meeting of hearts: there were hearts everywhere who had come to melt Time. Yes, to melt Time itself. They arranged themselves into various configurations with great joy and excitement, then they grew very still, almost invisible, until the moon lowered itself and became like an ocean, flattening itself before them. They set up fires along its shore. By jumping into the flames, they re-appeared, laughing, among another fire. I went from fire to fire. But suddenly, I thought I saw Crème Fraiche, and my heart leapt. But it wasn’t her, and I told myself I was glad it wasn’t her—this was something I was doing on my own. It was a night-rite, it was my rite, the night-rite of all women and men, and as the moon became the sea, Time did seem to melt in this great lapping silver the sky drank with its dark blue face to feed the stars, for the ceiling of the cave had become the sky. The hearts sang about the mountains. Around and into the fires, they sang about the mountains sending animals to mate on each other’s slopes to make love, they sang the music that made them instruments of the wind, and created a bed that was like the inside of a drum against the sky, side by side, they sang that once upon a time the mountains laid everyone who lived on them to sleep like children so they could become one living rock, steaming beneath the stars, so they could groan with tectonic pressures from beneath without anyone knowing, and people awoke and said to their lovers: “I had dream your body was hard, like so amazingly hard and endless, and I found caves that were full of fabulous oceans and moons that sent silver carpets to my feet, and people who gathered and drank the moonlight in cups and sang to the moon,” and after they told it, all the hearts laughed and got up and drank from the ocean.
I don’t know why, but I decided to sail away. An extremely large leaf was beached on the edge of the florescent sea. And I pushed off. It was just me and the moon. The mountains, the mountains I had been climbing before I entered the cave, rose from the far shore. There was a hole in the leaf, which I put my head against and listened to the music, the music of the moon, the ocean. It was beautiful. As the leaf sailed on, I watched the mountains getting closer and reached down into the hole. Through it, I could feel the decomposition, the web of mycelium’s song as if we were on deep, black soil even though I was floating on a sea. There were so many themes compounded into this dark, heavy world beneath me. But as I gripped them and lifted them, one by one, they shook themselves and flew off toward the mountains. I hardly got a glimpse of each one. Then, I caught one I couldn’t let go. It was like raising a fish into the light and it turning into a bird of prey. Beautiful. Fierce. Ugly. It had the do with love, this theme. It glared with a flashing face that was impossible to describe. Wings that had every single sound known in its feathers, but you could never choose which one. It could never be described or even understood. Frustrating. Beautiful. Carnivorous. Endless. Somehow, I couldn’t let it get into the hands, or on the bodies, of those groaning people I had left making love. I couldn’t let it go. It lifted me off the leaf. And like the other themes, it headed toward the mountain. And I could see them, those groaning bodies, my old self and Crème Fraiche, far below, like a glistening piece of coral, as the rose petals rained down on their moaning bodies from the depths of the sky. But the theme carried me past them, onto the sheer cliffs, into another type of rain. As it transported me back to the mountain’s heights, a front of black clouds edged over the peak and began dumping a frigid shower on the rock. It was too late to let go. Somehow, the theme was the mountain. It became the rock and lichen, the Primrose, the old Ptarmigan nests, with such ease, like ink disappearing into the sea, and I crawled up it in the cold drenching violence and wind. How close I was to the top I didn’t know. I couldn’t tell. I only wanted to get out of the storm. I crawled beneath a ledge. Far below, I could still see them. They were beyond the rain. It was like a veil between us, a veil where I shivered, bleeding, on my desolate crag and they happily pumped in the light breeze and sun. And then she appeared. It was as if the theme had stepped behind a curtain, and sent back a portion of itself. She stood within the deluge. A woman. Yet, she was some other type of being. Motionless and hard. Almost like the rock itself. Like a cliff sneering its impossibility. If I wanted to touch her, I had to step back into the storm. Like I can’t even understand it, yet there were people within me reaching for that body, that hard anatomy, glistening, so beautiful and impossible. It was like some ancient wall within my heart was crumbling as I tried to draw some kind of sign of love from her face, tried to get her to come to me. But she wouldn’t move. Then, I stood up and rejoined the deluge. I reached out. The nipple I lightly brushed, then held so firm, then buried my face in, whimpering, was the final rock. I was at the peak. I had made it to the top of the mountain. I had always been right there. I was back in our oozing bodies.
“Cremely! We gotta rebuild civilization so we can have a Louvre again! Cremely! I want to put your pussy in the Louvre!” I shouted.
She grunted, making a variety of bizarre faces as she thought about it: “But then we’d have to go back, we’d have to drag the past into the future. Holy Canoli, Giovanni! I think I’m gonna come!”
“Oh, my god, Crème, you’re right! I want to thank you in some type of official manner for having such a beneficial grounding effect on my intellectual journey and, subsequently, the history of Western Civilization—and I think I’m GONNA COME, TOO!!!”
And then it happened. From the outside, we probably appeared like two lovers languidly (although obviously in deep communal absorption) making love (or maybe just examining each other closely) among the light wind and gently turning leaves, among the expansive matts of Arctostaphyllus on the edge of the beach—and someone wandering would see us (with a shade of yearning and slight embarrassment) (hurrying their poodle on from trying to sniff our gentle mass), and quickly continue, hoping not to disturb such a beneficial, and often polyrhythmic, consummation (which is the heart of all life)—and yet, from within, from the unbearable merging and morphology of ignited tears and fears like kerosene among the sweat and cream (like the first tentative sprays of a public fountain among speeches by thousands cheered), there was more going on there, it was a little more complex than the average picnic of two friends “with benefits”. And it was true. Somehow, as we both came, our bodies swelled and we exchanged a breath that seemed to be behind the mask of breath itself for what seemed like centuries. And yet, there was a concrete aspect to this experience: Crème Fraiche roared and exploded. Shafts of choral light blew from her orifices like liquid trees as she beat me with her dripping, braided hair. There was a string, a cable being cranked, drawing our foreheads together like two Aspen leafs lit like church panes of some unfolding cathedral by the wind called to touch. And it was impossible to stop. As Crème and I filled each other, unbearable with juice, we were lifted to the sky, higher and higher, as I unloaded almost losing my mind, and, as our foreheads conceded, we were drank from by the gods.
“Did you come?” I asked, cradling her and smelling her temples.
“A little bit. How about you?”
“Yeah. I came a little, too. It’s nice to take a little time out of the day to just relax.”
“I know. Sometimes we get so busy.”
We lay beneath the brightening stars. She was so much a part of the night it seemed you could never separate the two, like the moon and her face were innate things equally natural to see as the sun went down, and the flowering Sand Cherries (which had shed a bunch of petals on us) made the air seem as if you could climb upon it. And then the smell of Crème Fraiche herself opening and calling down the stars.
“You know, there’s a lot more to cooking than I thought,” said Crème, suddenly.
“Yeah. There’s some unbelievably deep things going on there that nobody’s ever thought about, although we act them out.”
“Yeah. But I can’t really describe it.”
I thought about it: “Little Crème, are you just not telling me or do you think I just won’t understand?”
“No. It’s neither. It’s like I can’t describe what happens. It’s like it’s different than what you’d think. It’s not even something you could put in words, really, although you could make words from it, or, around it, like on the surface, make a sorta gleam on the shell of it or something. The only way I can tell you is to show it…or do it. That’s what me and Mary are working on.”
“Well, I’m excited.”
“Good. I hope you like it…even though it might taste familiar,” she said, holding me tighter. “Ah, I guess it’ll never end. It’s like a ladder.”
“Yeah. A ladder into ladders.”
“Yeah. With love in every step.”
“Giovanni. I’m falling asleep.”
“Me, too,” I whispered, wrapping around her little bud of a body.
There was a soft wind that didn’t touch us, but swung the leaf-hearts above us as if calling us through. “I love you,” we whispered together, and then the wind picked up and suddenly we were gone.
Time doesn’t exist in the heart of a city the same as it does on its outskirts. It was almost as if in the city’s heart, the seasons, which meant so much to us on the beach, were more like an overlay than the breath of life itself. There was something so unlinear, unhorizontal, about those urban depths, like beautiful debris floating up from an eye’s abyss and just pretending that it had all been constructed and ordained by humanity’s progression. I didn’t know if something had happened while making love to Crème Fraiche, which always seemed like such a simple, light-hearted thing, but I saw, I realized, as I walked past buildings I had known for most of my life, that everything was constructed of light, that a whole new communal expression was taking place, light knowing itself as light and concocting new ways to go about it. Maybe it was just me. But I saw a rain gutter grasping a violin and a Weeping Willow that had traveled from its original location always across the street, gently laying its hair across the strings. I saw a giant tree of broccoli growing from the center of a building, which had created an open courtyard around it. Creativity flourished everywhere, and nothing seemed to jar you, for the air was dense with probabilities in every step, and every form had barely become an object, barely hardened, out of that beautiful amorphous, luminous critical mass. That’s why when I got to the park where the library stood, it took me a second to realize it was gone, and in its place was the prone body of Mr. Herb.
Even though these “shifts,” these artistic movements, gestures, took place all the time, especially here in the city, as I gazed at Mr. Herb laying there, smiling and unconscious, I had a strange feeling. He looked pretty content, really, with one hand behind his head and the other held up as if he was just perusing a book in the dappled sun. The whole area where the library had stood was covered in moss and lichen, Bottle Gentians and Platycodons like unopened balloons vibrated like new immigrants. But there was something else. I didn’t know what to call it. Maybe resentment. It was a feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I lifted out of my body to see if there was any trail, like a slug would leave, to another dimension. I even tried to offer my thoughts like an open hand, hoping something would take it. Nothing happened. The library, with Mr. Herb’s consciousness in it, had disappeared, purposely no doubt, and leaving no trace. I laid down next to him and thought about it all. The library was like the city’s heart. And like any heart, it probably could be hurt. It’s funny how just when you think you had opened yourself to the true, complex, egalitarian living beauty of the world, that suddenly a simple thing like a book (and I’m sure Mr. Herb knew this a long time ago) had life, life at least at the level of your own. I think the “at least” part is important, for more and more I considered these forms we walked in and through as signposts for something vaster, something with personality and beyond. So it seemed, day by day, we would realize another prejudice, and expand our boundaries because of it. But now the question was, how do I find Mr. Herb?
I opened my eyes and was staring at a convex image of myself with an eye that really cared beneath. I could even feel its breath. Canned peaches. And some other strange substance. It smiled so beautifully at me that I think I was going to kiss it, and raised my head, almost breaking BT’s glasses.
“Ouwa! Hey, BT,” I said, rubbing my forehead. “What’re you doing here?”
He sat down on the moss and lichen and rubbed his forehead, too.
BT: “I…I saw it happen, or, well, don’t tell Anacropolis please, but I may have helped it happen. I thought it may have happened to you, too. That’s why I was examining you. I was at one time a librarian, you know. And I guess librarians know things.”
Giovanni: “I know.”
BT: “You know what?”
Giovanni: “I know you were a librarian.”
BT: “You do?”
Giovannit: “Yeah. I guess you could say we could just see it, in a way.”
BT: “Well, you see, once a librarian, always a librarian. You know things. You do things that only make sense in a library.”
Giovanni: “But why don’t you want Anacropolis to know? Not like I’d have a chance to tell him, anyway.”
BT closed his eyes. When he opened them, he reached out and plucked a leaf off the top of a Platycodon, just beneath the swelling lavender flower. Then he chewed it, thinking. I reached out and plucked one, too. It was delicious. Like all of us, there was more to BT when he wasn’t trying so hard to be BT.
BT: “You have to understand, Giovanni, that Anacropolis and I have been friends for a long time. We’re a lot closer than you may think. But maybe he was just a part of me I was always lacking. Just his bigness, you know. And the way he could influence people. He’d have an idea, an ideal, and could make the people around him carry it out. It doesn’t seem to mean much anymore. I mean, in a way, it took an extra-ordinary amount of energy to bring that about before, before everything changed, but now it’s practically impossible. Yes, it may not be practical at all given this new world. (BT gazed in the direction of Che Coppa Copius) Oh, Anacropolis. Are we parting ways? (squeezing the bridge of his nose, his nose hairs quivering) I’m remembering so much here, on this ground. These lichen. They’re so beautiful. Yes, this was my library. My passion. It was like living on an island. Like being an accepted foreigner on a lush island with natives whose knowledge and compassion to share and give was greater than I could ever know. Yet, I wanted to know like they knew, be like they were, and even though they may have talked about the past within their pages, truly, they lived in the present moment. People always talk about wanting to be children again, but there’s something beyond even that, something you can only reach by being who you are. And there I was at my little desk, at first tolerated by the books, then accepted, then something else. I was close to something else, something I could never explain, but I stood on some type of boundary, some type of abyss I think we all dream of and fear, at my little Reference Desk. I had a computer, an orchid, and a little bottle of Windex. And I saw great highways, like highways of energy ride out from my thoughts, and it was like patrons could fly down them to the information they needed, or the books would come to me on these glowing paths and tell me who they were, and where they could be found, and I’d thank them and shake hands with them, as if we were all part of some musical endeavor, some dance of literature where I played an important part. And I’d sit there, and people would come to me and ask me about an author, or a subject of inquiry, and I’d give them maple candy.”
Giovanni: “Maple candy?”
BT: “Yes. The Maple candy helped align us somehow, like the patron and I would gaze at each other, sucking on maple candy, like we were playing a duet. And then they’d walk the road. But I could feel the books change, like subtly, in a way I could never explain, the book would become a new work in accordance with the personality, or the tone, of the patron. And then those books would enter the world. Ah, it was like an expansion, both inward and outward, or a thickening of something that lies behind space itself, so that multitudinous variations existed simultaneously, almost like the molecules, which formed a stage, a backdrop for each other’s existence. And none of those people, I think, even knew my name. I was just that guy in the center of the library at my little desk, and yet it was like being in the center of a flower, and they were like bees coming to drink, only the nectar was like a passageway through the stem into the vastness beneath us. That’s what I called our reference librarian desk: The Great Flower, and people would come to us like bees, and we were like the stamens, the pistols, we all were, even the books—we all were like stamens and bees and pistols, for the people’s desires, then, of course, became our desire. And the books had desires, also—everyone wanting to fertilize and change and learn. I don’t know if anybody else could see it, but I saw how the books and the people came together through a mutual yearning and, through this meeting, went back different books, that not only were the people enhanced, re-structured, by this relationship, but the books themselves were altered by meeting with that particular personality.”
BT: “And I don’t know what happened first, but I got obsessed with becoming a writer, even though it was like being an alien. Then one thing lead to another, and my life became so barren. I no longer sat within the Great Flower.”
Giovanni: “What did you do?”
BT: “Well…well, all I did was drink coffee and eat beef. And I’d read all those great books instead of becoming them with the people, or just being part of the great highways. It was like I was trying to take something from them, to colonize them to then somehow rearrange into my own, something to put my name on, something to own and control, which was crazy, like I don’t know how it all got started. I do remember having a diet coke and a hamburger during one of my lunchbreaks…do you think that could’ve caused my whole drive to deny my true talent, or was it the other way around?”
Giovanni: “Well, diet cokes are pretty nasty, but they probably fed into each other.”
BT: “Then I met Anacropolis. It’s funny, but now I wonder if he was really in the same position I was. Like maybe he was lost, too, and just never showed it. So it’s like somehow I became part of him, yet outside of him, so, in a manner, he could project all his insecurities into me while still having someone to help him, or, I think, in a way, he could highlight himself, juxtapose his stature. I may not be making any sense to you, but, in a way, we became a body, a form, perfectly suited to go down a certain path. No, I must say, many paths were available, yet then, in my position—a man who had stepped away from his true vocation—Anacropolis was like a ship lounging through a moonless night, and on it I could see the rich and famous, with cocktails on the railings, musing over their bright futures, dancing under chandeliers, while I barely kept afloat, held between that grand meeting of night sea and sky by a single, rather large, buoyant book. Now, that path Anacropolis and I walked down like newly weds, no longer exists.”
Giovanni: “I think you’re right. Things are a little different. But why did you say you helped Mr. Herb’s consciousness disappear—or whatever happened to him?”
BT: (looking at Mr. Herb, then at me, then in the direction of Che Coppa Copius again) “I think the library took him.”
Giovanni: “Yeah. I can feel that.”
BT: “This was my library. This was my life, Giovanni. I think my reference desk was right in this spot, except above us. In a way, I can still feel it. And when I left for the final time, I took a book with me. This was before the Fall of Civilization. You see, I knew Mr. Herb, your friend, was involved and fascinated with the library. I would watch him enter and leave it many times. But then I had the thought to return the book. But I knew Mr. Herb would be here, maybe not consciously in the full sense of the word, but I could sense it. And we talked. Yes. I went right up to him, and even spoke the first words. It was like meeting someone with the same language. Relief doesn’t come close to describing the feeling I had. It was like just being together with your friend, I suddenly wasn’t alone, I had support, like being a tree in a forest supported by the limbs of your friends you couldn’t even tell if they were your own. Yes. It was a great moment. But then he saw the book. He said he had been trying to get into the library by leaving his body. It hadn’t been working. When he saw the book, he became excited. He said if he read it in the right way, it would work and he could get into the library. And that’s what he did.”
Giovanni: “Wow. And the library disappeared?”
BT: “Yes. There was a shift.”
Giovanni: “A shift.”
BT: “Yes. A reordering. A skip. A pirouette onto another line of history.”
Giovanni: “But what was the book?”
BT: “Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking vol. 1”
Giovanni: “Oh, my god.”
BT: “The very one. It was also signed.”
Then me and BT started devising a plan.
Giovanni: “Well, it’s not like we have to get Mr. Herb back, and he may be just fine where he is. But there’s that sorta resentment in the air, or whatever you could call it.”
BT: “I know. I’m not certain what the library’s motivation is, but I feel it, too.”
Giovanni: “But it was something you said about those highways where people would meet the books, and the books would be changed by the people, and the people by the books. I mean, did the books like being changed?”
BT: “Oh, yes. That was one of the great points of it all. They loved it. And I would say nothing, none of the books, or the library itself, could live without it.”
Giovanni: “That’s interesting.”
BT: “It was only the patrons with photographic memories they found difficult. And many books refused to come to them. I think it was the fact that there was so little collaboration in a way, like a composer teaching a student who then writes the same composition as they do. There’s no energy there. Ah. (covering his face and taking a deep breath, and then another one) I want to thank you for being here with me, for helping me remember all of this.”
Giovanni: “Oh, you’re welcome, BT. And we never got to thank you for all you did for us at Che Coppa Copius.”
BT: “It didn’t go too well, did it?”
Giovanni: “Oh, things like that are funny. Taken as a whole, that was one of the best nights of my life.”
BT: “Taken as a whole.”
Giovanni: “Yeah. Maybe that’s the trick.”
BT: “Yes. It’s getting easier.”
Giovanni: “I do remember you, you know.”
BT: “From the library?”
Giovanni: “Yeah. I used to go in there all the time. Then you disappeared.”
BT: “Did you use the Reference Desk?”
Giovanni: “Oh, yeah. A lot.”
BT: “And did we suck maple candy together?”
Giovanni: “A few times. Which is what I was thinking, like what if we simulate it?”
BT: “You mean the Reference Desk?”
Giovanni: “Yeah. The Reference Desk.”
BT’s nose hairs bristled and his glasses glowed: “That may be it, Giovanni. That may be the only way we’ll find the library and save Mr. Herb.”
We carried Mr. Herb back to the beach. Mrs. Herb tried to revive him in ways I don’t think I’m skilled enough to describe, yet were fascinatingly embarrassing to witness all the same. The rest of us left our bodies just in case there were any traces of the library, any clues, searching the dimensions around us. No one could find anything. It was a somber night. BT stayed with us for a while, although a part of all our energies were off searching for Mr. Herb. Eventually, BT stood up and said his goodbyes, thanking us one by one, looking us each in the eye as he did. It’s funny, but right then I remembered a teacher I once had who said you could do anything, climb mountains, invent computer games, win honors and awards, destroy whole civilizations, but if you can look the cashier at the grocery store in the eye and really thank them, then you’re getting somewhere. H&L hovered above him for a little ways, massaging his shoulders with their little feet. He stopped on a dune and waved to us: “Until tomorrow.”
The next morning H&L flew up higher than ever, followed by a swirl of magenta birds. These were shorebirds that, wherever they landed, little cities of temples would grow around them and spread. I remember an incense filled temple crowding our little kitchen one morning, enshrining one of Mrs. Herb’s fresh gallon jars of pesto, until the birds lowered the one leg they always raised when they slept, lifting into the mist, disappearing into the purple dawn. When the magenta birds lifted, the temples would always disappear.
H&L: “He’s coming! BT’s leaving their chateau!” (shouting down to us and gazing into the city)
Mrs. Herb: “You think this is gonna work?” (sitting on Mr. Herb’s chest and eating pesto. She had put a ton of garlic into this batch and was periodically breathing into his face, attempting to revive him)
Crème Fraiche: “I don’t know. But it’s worth a try.”
Giovanni: “And at least we got BT coming out as a friend and not to spy on us.”
Mary Solidago: “Or help Anacropolis give us tickets for being naked or something.”
Louis Solidago: “I think it brings up the controversy about war and endeavors of a like nature being a form of social interaction for extremely shy people.”
Mrs. Herb: “I’m shy. I’m totally socially awkward.”
Crème Fraiche: “So do you think Anacropolis really likes us? I guess it’s possible.”
Louis Solidago: “I believe he is a social being and we’re the only other humans, or at least people in human forms, around—thus, he has a desire to interact, to collaborate, to communicate.”
Crème Fraiche: “I think, really, war is for artists afraid of their own expressions, like look at the dramatic changes that war does to the human form, or any form, architecture—“
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah. And the colors.”
Crème Fraiche: “Yes. The colors. The extremes of bodies separated, in configurations not normally possible—“
Mrs. Herb: “At least not ten years ago.”
Crème Fraiche: “Right. And it’s so funny, but at one time you could paint some beautiful painting of bodies in totally different configurations or bodies merging with plants, and a lot of people would laugh at you, and say you’re wasting your time, say you’re crazy. And if you’re strong, you say: No, this is my vision.”
Giovanni: “And if you’re not strong?”
Mary Solidago: “If you’re not strong enough to own the creativity?”
Crème Fraiche: “Then maybe you create a war. Or join one.”
Louis Solidago: “In an attempt to simulate, acceptably, the creativity you’re afraid to express.”
Mrs. Herb: “Or give somebody a ticket for being nude.”
After musing about this for about an hour and a few other things, H&L shouted down to us: “He’s almost here!”
BT rolled down a sandy hill with an enormous pack and, before we could get to him to help, had emerged through the red oaks. H&L flew down and we all crowded around.
Giovanni: “Does Anacropolis know you’re here?”
BT: “Oh, geez—Anacropolis. I’m worried about him. Alls he does is keep wandering into the kitchen and staring at that strange shell that was left outside Che Coppa Copius. He put it in the fridge but keeps opening the box and looking at it constantly. I’ve never seen him waste so much electricity. You know, in the middle of the night, I watched him go out and get it off the sidewalk. Somehow, he knew it was Lopeda’s. And he’s been obsessed about it ever since.” (Unloading his pack) “But we should hurry. Morning and evening are the best times to get a book to come to you. It’s when they like to collaborate the most. Those are highly creative times.” (He said this thoughtfully) “And deep night, although many times the creativity of deep night can only be aligned with in the deep night, so books who actually created themselves, gave themselves bodies, in the deep night, are best called to then, although it’s hard to check them out as most libraries aren’t open after 9pm.”
H&L: “Until now!” (using BT’s shoulders like a trampoline)
Crème Fraiche: “That’s right.”
By the time we unpacked BT and built a little kiosk with a table horse-shoeing around him, it was already noon. Above it, we constructed a roof supported by lashed Popples and covered with bound bundles of Marshgrass. In the center, we placed two stumps to sit on. BT had brought two old computer monitors and keyboards, setting them up on the curving table. He had also brought various papers, pencils, a dictionary, and an antique copy of Larouse’s Gastronomique. Somehow, among all our other structures, it fit in perfectly.
Mrs. Herb: “That thing looks as if it had always been there.”
Crème Fraiche: “It’s crazy. I feel like we always been using it.”
With the sun high, the beach was heating up. We sat in a circle in our thatched shelter and had lunch. BT watched carefully as each of us ate from the food, then tentatively put each item to his lips and chewed, at first with his eyes shut tight, then thoughtfully, then actually lifting Mrs. Herb’s pesto jar out of her lap, grasping the beautiful, substantial spoon she carved out of apple wood herself. The oozing, oily mound of chlorophyll disappeared into BT’s lanky form. For a second, his glasses filled with smoke.
BT: “It’s all so fresh. Everything. The Hibiscus tea. The Daylily flowers filled with Hazel paste is unbelievable!”
Crème Fraiche: “Really? Thanks, BT.” (Blushing a little)
BT: “And these tubers. What are they?”
Mary Solidago: “They’re Dahlias.”
BT: “Dahlias. You mean the flowers?”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah, BT. The flowers.”
BT: “What are they sprinkled with?”
Mary Solidago: “Aquilegia flowers.”
Mary Solidago: “Yes. Columbine.”
BT: “Exquisite. Exquisite.”
Mary Solidago blushed a little bit, too.
BT: “Ah, I wish Anacropolis could taste this. I think it would change him. This pesto is unbelievable. Everything you get from cans seems to taste the same. But all this, it’s like glowing. It’s like you’re bringing my past into me, all the things that I had forgotten. I used to have a garden, too, mostly pots, but just before I quit being a librarian I started planting things, too. But, now, you know, it’s funny but Anacropolis is putting things in pots, too. I don’t know if you noticed them outside our house. And the sign for Che Coppa Copius. I really never would’ve expected it of him, but sometimes I think even though he doesn’t know it he’s changing.” (BT shoveled another huge cud of pesto into his mouth) “Hmmmm. It’s so good.”
Mrs. Herb: “Glad you like it.” (Taking back her jar and spoon before BT consumed it all)
BT: “It reminds me of those stories: ‘Don’t eat the food of the underworld or you’ll never come back.’ But you guys came and ate our food, or sorta did, I mean, you drank the soda—that was a big thing, I realize now—and now I’ve eaten your food. So we’re both in each other’s underworld.”
Mrs. Herb: “Under what?” (Mrs. Herb had had the pesto jar nearly engulfing her face)
Louis Solidago: “Under world. It’s like the ocean.”
Henrietta: “It’s getting hot. Let’s go swimming. You wanna go, BT?”
Mary Solidago: “That’s a great idea. Take BT out to the water to cool off, but take care of him. He might not be used to swimming nowadays. It’s a little different. Do you swim, Mr. Abernathy?”
BT: “I think so. It’s hard to remember.”
Crème Fraiche: “You’ll be alright. The sea loves us. And new abilities just sorta pop up when you need them. Just like plants.”
BT’s glasses were still a bit steamed.
“Here,” said Louis Solidago, “These may suit you,” handing him his glasses. They exchanged glasses and put them on.
Henrietta: “You’re the only two people left with glasses.”
Instantly, they took on a slight overlay of each other’s features.
Mary Solidago: “Ok. That’s enough. Things are getting a little too weird.”
They exchanged them back and things went back to normal.
Louis Solidago: “Hmm. I seem to have gained a rather expansive knowledge of the Dewy Decimal System, and how to check out computers to people.”
BT and the kids walked, hand in hand, toward the shimmering sea. Actually, Henrietta and Lupus flanked him while floating, and they made their way over the sand, laughing and stopping to look at things, like three old friends. Some of us ate a little more, and then we cleaned up.
Mary Solidago: “It’s kinda beautiful. I was hoping the kids could find a friend like that.”
Giovanni: “Yeah. We gotta start visiting him and Anacropolis, no matter what it takes. I don’t mind being talked down to. In a way, it’s kinda like a game.”
Crème Fraiche: “Let’s make a point of it.”
We all agreed.
Mary Solidago: “Look, they’re carrying BT over the water, and dropping him in. I hope he’s alright.”
Louis Solidago: “I would say he’s falling about 30ft.”
Mrs. Herb: “Is that a lot?”
Mary Solidago: “I’m going to call them. (Pointing her ponytails in their direction) Hey, you’re not hurting BT, are you? What did you say? He’s screaming but he’s screaming because it’s fun? Ok. I just don’t want to hear a different story later. You know what I’m sayin?”
Louis Solidago: “I definitely sense a type of joy coming from that direction.”
Crème Fraiche: “Look, they’re doing it again.”
Giovanni: “What’s happening to the water beneath them?”
Crème Fraiche: “It’s glowing.”
Mary Solidago: (through her ponytails) “Hey, you guys. Maybe you shouldn’t drop him. What? It’s too late? (Looking out) I guess it is.”
Louis Solidago: “BT Abernathy is descending, I believe, more accurately, from somewhere akin to 70ft. now.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yep.”
Mary Solidago: “Ooooow. That water does look a little strange.”
Louis Solidago: “It actually does appear to be glowing.”
Mrs. Herb: “And swelling up.”
Giovanni: “Whatever it is, it’s surfacing.”
Crème Fraiche: “Wow. It’s beautiful.”
Mary Solidago: “Looks like a cross between a mushroom and a whale.”
Louis Solidago: “Amanita Muscaria and Balaenoptera Musculus as far as I can tell from this distance.”
Mrs. Herb: “Always thought they were related.”
Giovanni: “Look, it’s sending up a fountain of golden spores.”
Crème Fraiche: “Oh, my god. BT’s falling straight into the blow hole.”
Mary Solidago: “Kids. Can’t live with em, can’t live without em.”
Louis Solidago: “Yes. They are young. Youth is not known to pay attention to probabilities and consequences.”
Mrs. Herb: “There he goes.”
Crème Fraiche: “He’s gone.”
Giovanni: “No, he’s back.”
Crème Fraiche: “He’s juggling the spores.”
Giovanni: “There’s too many. It’s impossible.”
Mrs. Herb: “He keeps adding em!”
Mary Solidago: (through her ponytails) “Ok. That’s enough. Henrietta. Lupus. I want you to bring BT back. No, now. He has to go to work in a little while.”
Mrs. Herb: “Look out! Here comes one!”
Crème Fraiche: “I think BT actually tossed it this way!”
Louis Solidago: “It would appear so. All the others are landing in the water relatively close to it.”
Crème Fraiche: “I didn’t know BT could juggle like that.”
The golden sphere hit, leaving a large hole in our kitchen roof. I could tell Mrs. Herb was wondering if you could eat it. It turned slowly and looked at us with such compassion and tenderness you wouldn’t normally expect from a spore. And then it worked its way into the sand and disappeared. The force of the spores had sent BT back up to Henrietta and Lupus, who flew him back to the water’s edge as the whale-like being, so vibrant and red, slowly descended. They played on the beach for most of the day. When they returned, BT’s skin was golden rather than his usual pastiness, although he did smell a little whaley. There was also a new resonance to his voice. He took a deep breath: “I think I’m ready.”
It seemed so sudden, but it was time. BT settled into his little Reference Kiosk. We propped Mr. Herb up next to him, and positioned his body so he appeared to be studying intently some lineage of information on one of the monitors, right hand on chin, left poising a pen above a sheet of paper. BT nodded, and took on an air of indifference. His nose-hairs bristled. He even took out a cross-word puzzle. Yet, to the true library patron, Louis Solidago, Crème Fraiche, I think to a certain degree Mary Solidago and Mrs. Herb, and for certain myself, it was the demeanor of many true Reference Librarians, for beneath the challenge and intentional indifferent shellac, there was a great compassion, and even optimistic belief that humanity could present them with a question that was interesting, even though they did all have Masters Degrees. This is the air BT exuded over the beach. I was the first one to approach.
“Ah, excuse me. But is this a Reference Desk?” I asked, tentatively.
BT raised an eyebrow without lifting his eyes from his crossword puzzle.
“Cause…you know…cause…this is a library…and…of course” (the eyebrows vibrated. Then his nosehairs lifted in an accusatory manner) “…I was like wondering if you…you got a copy of…of…” (wracking my brain for some kind of plausible title) “THE HISTORY OF TELEPATHY AMONG PURPLE MULLUSCS??!!!” I shouted. I didn’t know why I was shouting.
BT’s eye elevated to fit into the heightened position of his brow: “Ah, you don’t need to shout, young man. I have a Masters in Library Science. Obviously.”
“Ok. I’m sorry.”
“Let us see.” He turned to his monitor.
“I heard one of them wrote a type of diary.”
“Hmm. You’d think.” He pretended to scroll down, as if determining what to choose from a long list. His nose-hairs danced softly like happy tentacles. “Hmm. Which avenue? Which avenue? Hmm. Yes. Have you ever tried Maple Candy?” suddenly locking me with his gaze. BT had brilliant green eyes I never noticed.
“Maybe a long time ago.”
He took from his shirt pocket a little beige maple leaf of pressed Maple sugar and broke it in half, handing me one, while putting the other in his mouth. Our tongues ruminated over these little depths of forest, this sweetness that came from a meeting of sky and earth. It was like a part of BT, you couldn’t tell which, an ethereal self or his physical manifestation, went deep into his computer, and the other gazed into my eyes. The petals of a flower, as we nodded (an affirmation beyond our conscious thoughts), encradled us like dreaming bees, into our own personal nights. I was on a road. It was like pollen, star-pollen. Knowledge undifferentiated. I looked at my body. More pollen. And yet, I was present so fully that I was the road itself. The space between stars. The silence. And words, physical actions, even the saving of millions of lives (if that was ever possible), that was something else. And the book came. It changed form. Closer and closer. It was a manifesto written in anger against pollution. And yet, it was a love letter to the sand, as if every grain belonged to some polyamorous knighthood in which the Purple Mulluscs contracted and expanded like mucilaginous kings. It was so many things, this tome that road down the highway to my shimmering self. There was a voice in my head that said: “Don’t reach for it, just let it come closer on its own. You just have to want it, want to take it in and share the knowledge.” “Ok,” I assented. The book on the telepathy of Purple Mulluscs hesitated. It was still changing. I could see that I had been actually within feet of this buried being who had penned this tender memoir, had actually affected the density of its subsurface home with the grip and splay of my toes some time in my past, unconsciously, and yet, all those molecules spoke to each other, called and sang, a chorus beyond music. Was the book actually true? Or was the “diary” actually fiction in a diaristic form? It came a little closer.
“Maybe it’s because the book doesn’t really exist,” I thought.
“Well, it does now,” came BT’s thoughts, just to the rear of mine. “You have to do something, but I can’t tell you what it is. I’m not sure I even know.”
“Yes,” I said.
Stars. Pollen. Maybe even eyes. They were all the same. How could you say they were any different? One inside the other. To be as true as possible to the book, yet to be as true as possible to myself. That was the promise. I could feel my name form on the dedication page: “To Giovanni, for stepping on me just enough to make me realize I had to share this with the world. PM.” I still couldn’t reach it. I know without actually touching the book, we’d never be able to follow it back to Mr. Herb. But the book wanted something. And like all books, it seemed to have all the time in the world.
“Wait,” said BT, “I think I have to get fully into your consciousness. I think I’m a little more experienced with this.”
BT was so different than I ever imagined. There was a simplicity to him, in a way, like a dancer who performed the same moves, the same artistic form, acted out the same story, over and over. Yet, that action was like a hand offered to everyone, everything. It was like those repeated, primary moves set him free for a truer communication that was hidden beneath the gesture’s surface. BT loved books. That’s all he needed to do. He was owning it. For a moment, we were like a womb from which we reached out together. And the book came. We held it. And then it separated. A type of mitosis. Both books, I believe, were transformed, yet in such a different way. It was as if one met with something in myself, conferred, and became something else. Yet remained itself. And the other, the book that BT held onto, or that grasped him, like towing a child, returned. He tore through my consciousness like a wind. From that book that took off with BT, I sensed a triumph, a satisfaction. BT was gone. The sweetness of the Maple Candy disappeared. When I opened my eyes, everyone was shouting.
Mr. Herb looked up from his computer screen severely: “Excuse me, but this is a library—there are patrons besides yourselves who are here trying to expand their knowledge. Now, if you can politely take it outside.”
H&L: “Mr. Herb! We are outside!”
Mr. Herb shook his head and smiled. We all climbed over the counter of the kiosk and hugged him.
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah,” (looking around at us all and hesitating, then putting his hand up her shirt) “It was only a day, but we had no idea where you were, or if we’d ever get you back.”
H&L: “We couldn’t find you, Mr. Herb.”
Mr. Herb: (Ceasing to pump Mrs. Herb’s right breast for a second): “One day?! That’s craaaaaazy! From where I was, it was more like at least three weeks.”
Giovanni: “Really?” I said, holding a little, purple impossibly mucilaginous tome.
Mr. Herb: “Yeah. Holy cow, the library was so busy that I barely had time to think about it. There was so much to do in a way, so many beings coming and going. Some you’d see more than once. But sometimes they looked different, too, but something in you would acknowledge something in their form. That’s if they had one. I guess, in a way, there was always form, but sometimes it was so absolutely divergent, you know. And BT was like a madman. He was blazing. He was so present. So happy. And the library loved having us there. Every move we made was part of a plan, or, if it wasn’t part of it, it became it. But the library loved BT more than anything.”
Giovanni: “That’s wild. From this time-frame, BT just left.”
Mr. Herb: “Hmm. Interesting. Time is different in different places. But, I think especially in that library.”
H&L: “What did it look like?”
Mr. Herb: “It had the same form in a way. It still had those tall windows, but now they look out on different worlds, each one, like it could be a world of pink crystal in one with blue veins for rivers, and in the next there would be just stars in every direction like we were just floating in space. And then there’d be ones like earth with different plants, different beings, different landscapes. I think it was only once or twice I saw a place like this. And then they would change. You would look away and another world would be in that same window, or another form of energy. I think it had to do with who was there, who was in the library. Or it may be possible that the library was looking in those directions, gathering information and new knowledge. It was wild. Super wild! Super super wild!” (Mr. Herb buried his face in Mrs. Herb’s Jewfro) “You smell like cilantro.”
Mrs. Herb: “Ooooooowa! I love it when you say that!”
Mr. Herb: (exhaling with satisfaction) “But really, there were so many libraries all within that place. It’s hard to describe, really, but they were all there, libraries for everyone. And you knew things looked different for each patron—the library was a different library depending on who you were, and you got this idea that not only was everything in a state of transformation, but translation. Me and BT talked about it, and we agreed that the true vocation of a librarian is to help a patron put it’s finger on essences, like essences are everything, what essence in them is calling to what essence in the library, or the universe in general. We talked a lot about it, too, whether the library from the city left to join these other libraries or if it just became this one all-encompassing library on its own. But it’s funny, cause our thoughts would get tangled, and we’d laugh that we were having those kind of discussions, and just let it go. It’s all the same.”
Crème Fraiche: “But what kind of beings were there? Were there like humans?”
Mr. Herb: “Some. And some that were humanish. But more that were all kinds of things, everything from octopus-type birds, and people akin to insects, to glowing balls of light, to beings that were like crystals, or shapes like what we would consider the empty space between things. But these were just the beings you could see, cause there was so much more than that. On a whole other level of understanding, if you just shifted, it was all music, even the architecture. But BT could understand this more than I could. Really, I think it’s cause of you guys, cause I planned to come back here, like I wanted to keep a foot in this world, that I didn’t let myself go all the way into it. But even just on a simple human level, you could run your hand along the spines of a shelve of books and create music like notes would come out, chords, but that was pretty basic because there was music creating and inhabiting everything. It could get pretty loud.”
Crème Fraiche: “Wow.”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah. That’s beautiful.”
Louis Solidago: (Running a hand over his bald head) “Hm. That’s interesting. Fascinating. I can sense it, that it’s so close to us, that it’s almost right here in this space.”
Mary Solidago: “Look out! Louis is sensing things!”
Crème Fraiche: “He’s right. He’s right. I can feel that architecture all around us.”
Henrietta: (Standing on Mr. Herb’s head) “I can feel BT. He’s right here.” (Pointing to her own heart)
Lupus: (Standing on Henrietta’s shoulders) “And if Anacropolis ever visits him, he’ll be right here.” (Pointing toward his stomach)
H&L: “We miss BT! We miss BT!”
Louis Solidago: “Hm. And yet, with all that—I’m trying to visualize it—how do these patrons partake of the knowledge? Is it all in the books?”
Mr. Herb: “A lot of it is. But even with actual books, many times, according to the level, or vibration, I would say, of the patron, the entity, the book may just appear before them. Some you could see were watching holograms, but some holograms were invisible, like I couldn’t see them, but BT could see just about everything. He was a little different. The library would actually work on him to raise his level. Some beings, because of their form, or nature, or whatever, absorbed things through swimming, some through flying, some seemed to submerge themselves and breath it through their skin which would change colors. BT would tell me what was actually happening cause, in a way, it was so dense and crazy. It was the hardest, gloriousest job you could ever imagine. But it was the music that held it all together, music and light. That was truly everything.”
Lupus: “When’s BT coming back?”
Mr. Herb: (Closing his eyes, leaning deeper into Mrs. Herb) “I don’t think he is.”
Crème Fraiche: “I guess I can believe it.”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah. He sounds pretty happy, like he’s found his calling.”
Giovanni: “He told me being a Reference Librarian was like being in the center of a flower, and I got to experience it a little bit, too. It’s pretty amazing, but this sounds even better.”
Louis Solidago: “With cosmic proportions.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah. Sure. But what’s Anacropolis gonna do?”
H&L: “Oh, poor Anacropolis.”
Mary Solidago: “Just when Henrietta and Lupus had a new friend. Or, at least, a human one.”
Louis Solidago: “Did he actually state he wasn’t returning?”
Mr. Herb: “Well, I guess what it comes down to, like even beyond having a dream job like that, is, I think, BT has found love.”
H&L: “Wow! Like someone to kiss?”
Mr. Herb: “Yeah. I think those things start happening when you truly go for it, like truly love your life.”
We all nodded and looked at each other, then at the first stars and the last flags of fire, and brushstrokes of pure violet beauty on the horizon, as night came on. The air was cool. You could tell winter was dancing toward us from far far away, holding its own special moon. Suddenly, a word came to all of our lips, the word the great Toad sang, but no one wanted to speak it cause it’d been such a glorious summer, the summer we made friends with BT, but sometimes you gotta let things go to make room for something else.
“Who is she—or he?” asked Crème Fraiche.
Mr. Herb: “Well, I’m not really sure it’s a ‘he’ or a ‘she’, like that may not be really definable in this case.”
Crème Fraiche: “I can see that for sure, with all the different life-forms there. What’s it’s name?”
Mr. Herb: “I’m not sure this ‘person’ really has a name, really, either. When they met…well, you see, our Reference Desk was more like in the air than anything, and streams of images and geometric designs, symbols and things, visual things that were translations of knowledge—which is really music and light fluctuating—would pour through the library from every direction. It was like directing traffic. And yet, dancing with it. BT would rise up and totally collaborate with all these symbols, these beautiful geometries like living snowflakes that would pass into people’s minds. BT was so in the zone. It was like his body was creating beautiful configurations to help all the symbols get to where they wanted to go. And then, everything stopped. It was crazy. It was like a traffic jam, but not like it used to be with everybody honking their horns and swearing, and just suffering, you know. It was a traffic jam of love, cause someone, something, stopped right in front of BT. And the whole library held its breath. There was still music everywhere, but it was like music that created an edge, a precipice, an abyss, that was just as beautiful, just as life-affirming as anything that could ever lead to it. I heard BT say: ‘But why me?’ and the symbol just pulsed.”
“What did it look like?” asked Crème Fraiche.
“Well, I guess like you remember those crop circles before the big change? Like those ones with the amazing radiating, spiraling circles, all green and lush? It was like that, yet pulsating. It was floating right before him just pouring out light and this amazing textured tone.”
Crème Fraiche: “Wow.”
Mrs. Herb: “How could BT be in love with a crop circle?”
Crème Fraiche: “I guess crop circles are probably people, too.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah, but how do they do it?”
Louis Solidago: “You don’t have to do it, I think, to have a relationship.”
Mary Solidago: “I’m not sure you really have enough experience ‘not doing it’ to make that statement. But I agree.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah, you don’t gotta do it, but it’s funner.” (putting Mr. Herb’s hand somewhere else)
Mr. Herb: “Well, I would say that although it may not look like it to us, they definitely ‘do it.’ I mean, BT is a lot different than he was here, for one thing.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah, ok, whatever. I just don’t want you getting any ideas.” (To Mr. Herb). I’m not a crop circle. I’m a woman.”
Mr. Herb: “You said it, babe. And you smell like the heavy-dutiest Anise Hyssop growing out of the deepest, darkest, wettest compost pile ever.”
Mrs. Herb: “You bet I do.”
Mary Solidago: “So, I guess he’s not coming back.”
H&L: “That’s crazy! We love BT! We’ll find a way to go see him!”
Mr. Herb: “Well, I think that’s right. I think that may be the only way. Unless he takes a vacation. But it’s not really a job you’d want to take a vacation from. For BT, it’s just LIFE, with capitals and super underlined.”
Crème Fraiche: “Italics.”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah.”
Louis Solidago: “Hm. Well, I guess that explains everything.”
The little book on the telepathy of purple Mulluscs was dissolving. In fact, the more I tried to even open it, the more my hands were encased in an impossible mucilaginous mass like rubber cement. In the end, I walked out to where the water met the sand and buried it. It’s funny cause when I did I saw a beautiful lavender column of cloud rise in the distance.
We decided to have a big celebration the next night. At first, after we got Mr. Herb back, it was a little sad, too, because BT had left our lives. But this, like everything, was more of a physical thing. H&L spent the next day conferring. At a certain point they flew so high up that even the magenta birds couldn’t follow. But there was something else up there, a type of winged creature which must’ve been huge cause you could discern it making circular, swirling designs around their tiny dots. When H&L came down, they made an announcement.
H&L: (Half-merged) “BT’s fine. The highway is now open.”
“Yay!” we all shouted.
Mary Solidago: “Did you meet his little friend?”
Henrietta: “It’s a babe.”
Lupus: “Yeah, it’s a super babe.”
Henrietta: “There’s like no crop things in the library at all.”
Lupus: “And it’s not a circle. It laughed when we asked if it was a crop circle.”
Henrietta: “Yeah. It said: ‘Have you ever seen a crop circle?’”
Lupus: “And we said we hadn’t even seen any crops, we just heard about them.”
H&L: “And then they gave us lunch.”
Mary Solidago: “Well, isn’t that nice. It sounds like the perfect match for BT. What did you guys eat?”
Lupus: “They were like snowflakes except different colors.”
Henrietta: “And changing.”
Lupus: “Yeah. Yeah. And we tried to put them in our mouths, and they laughed and said we could eat them that way but you lose a lot of the vitamins, and they showed us like you could draw them into your forehead.”
Henrietta: “Yeah. Yeah. I’m super full.”
Lupus: “I am, too.”
Mary Solidago: “But who was that being up there with you?”
Lupus: “Don’t know.”
Henrietta: “Yeah. But the way it flew helped us find the library. Oh, yeah. And BT said to tell everybody that the library is now officially open ‘All of Time.’”
Louis Solidago: “All of Time.”
So it was all easier than we thought. Mary Solidago and Crème Fraiche headed out to the point to set up their special dinner. They both had mischievous, knowing looks on their faces, and skipped over the sand with their bags of mysterious supplies.
Mrs. Herb: “What are those guys up to?”
Giovanni: “I don’t know, but Crème Fraiche has been going to some other dimension to a culinary institute or something. But she says she can’t describe it. But she’s been telling me that her and Mary been planning some kind of surprise.”
Mr. Herb: “But what about Lopeda?”
Louis Solidago: “No one knows. My wife has called her repeatedly, but she won’t answer herself.”
H&L: “We saw somebody when we were way up, but they were walking in the other direction.”
Mr. Herb: “We could leave our bodies and go find her.”
Giovanni: “Naw. We should leave her alone. Things will work themselves out.”
Mrs. Herb: “Well, I’m getting hungry. That’s all I can say.”
We waited a while longer to let Mary Solidago and Crème Fraiche get set up, and then we set off. There was that same sense of expectation as the soft waves reached up and touched us, ran their cool complexions over our feet, as we traveled that edge of shore. We were all on the edge of something: the sun descending into the sea, the cool blue hands of night gathering, our bodies erect where the edge of the sea sang and bubbled silver, all with just being who we were—these edges, these boundaries, could take care of themselves, move through us: boundaries, meetings, revelations, reverberations, some type of communication just beyond our understanding is maybe all we really are.
Clear bowls positioned in a subtle arrangement on a crimson blanket came into view as we filed into the little area where we usually danced. They were filled almost to the brims with what appeared to be clear liquid. But Crème Fraiche and Mary Solidago were nowhere to be seen.
“Look, there’s a note,” said Mrs. Herb, hopping over: “’Don’t wait for us. We’re with you in spirit. CF & MS.’ What does that mean?”
Giovanni: “I don’t know, but I do feel they’re here.”
Louis Solidago: “They may be hiding somewhere. Possibly behind the rocks or the in the trees.”
Henrietta: (From up above the bowls) “Nope. I don’t see them.”
Lupus: “Yeah. They ain’t around. Unless they’re under the sand or something.”
Mrs. Herb: “Hm. It don’t look like food, but my body, I think, really wants it. I can feel it.” (Bending down by the bowls of liquid)
H&L: (Looking down at the bowls from above) “We can’t see ourselves. We can’t see our reflections.”
Louis Solidago: “Fascinating. There’s something about that arrangement. The heights and sizes and how they’re placed that means something.”
Giovanni: “There’s something substantial.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah.” (Leaning over the bowls) “I can’t see myself, either.”
Mr. Herb: “It’s interesting cause they’re all reflecting different things.” (Stepping around them) “And actually not reflecting what they should.” (Looking up at the sky) “Everything that’s in them is there, like the moon or the rocks, but they’re not really where they should find themselves reflected.”
Giovanni: “And if I’m not really mistaken, I think, yeah, I think the seasons are different.”
Louis Solidago: “True. True. This reflection shows trees that don’t have any leaves at all.”
Mr. Herb: “Look, this is where the sun sinks into the horizon in spring.”
Giovanni: “But it’s all still beautiful.”
Louis Solidago: “And the twilight itself is accurate.”
Mrs. Herb: “And my body is saying it’s good eats.” (Extending an unreflected finger over the surface of one of the bowls) “I’m gonna taste it.” (Dipping her finger in)
Mr. Herb: (Squatting down) Look. You can’t even see her finger through the glass.”
H&L: “It’s so mysteriiiiiiiiiiiious!”
Louis Solidago: “To put it mildly.”
Mrs. Herb lifted her finger out and tasted it: “Wow! I need more.” She grabbed one of the bowls and plopped down on the blanket.
Mr. Herb: “What’s it taste like?”
Mrs. Herb: “Doesn’t matter.” (Lifting the bowl to her face and drinking)
Giovanni: “I guess not. Well, here it goes.”
Mr. Herb: “Ok, well, I guess we gotta stick together.”
H&L scooped one up and drank it together.
Louis Solidago: “Strange. I’m very drawn to this big one. (Cradling it and gazing down at an almost full moon)
We all took big slurps, which began tentatively, but then there was something in us, some hunger that rushed forth out of nowhere, that opened our gullets wide enough to pour the contents of our respective bowls in, into some depths we didn’t even know we had, without breathing. I almost gagged on a moon, and later Mr. Herb complained that he was still picking gooey pastel clouds out of his teeth. Yet, all in all, it was pretty good.
Mrs. Herb: “Jesus! Hmm. Wait. I feel something.”
Mr. Herb: “That was amazing! I feel something, too.”
Henrietta: (To Lupus) “Do you feel it?”
Lupus: “I think I hear it more than feel it.”
Henrietta: “Let’s fly higher. Maybe we can figure it out.”
Giovanni: “Wow!” (Rolling back) “There’s something happening.”
Louis Solidago: “‘Good Eats’ as Anacropolis would say, yet ‘Good Eats’ can also have its consequences.”
Giovanni: “That’s for sure.” (But I could barely keep my eyes open. Somehow, I could only listen)
Mrs. Herb: “I’m goin down.”
Henrietta: “I can’t stay afloat.”
Lupus: “I think I’m gonna crash land.”
H&L’s little bodies thudded in the sand.
Actually, we were all still lucid. It was just a different type of lucidity that depended on different senses. I think the main difference was that none of us could move, which was a good thing, as you’ll see.
Mrs. Herb: “My insides are vibrating.”
Mr. Herb: “I think it’s actually a cello.”
Louis Solidago: “A cello, yes, but there is also a type of harp thing going on here. Someone’s playing the harp on my ribcage.”
H&L: (Holding each other and laughing) “There’s people playing us! It tickles!”
It wasn’t anything that could be deemed horrible, it was more like getting tickled by classical music to the point of vomiting. But the fact that we were immobilized somehow created the key.
Giovanni: “I think we gotta go in.”
Mr. Herb: “Go in? Go in to ourselves?”
That immobilization was a door, and I think everyone, out of necessity, got a handle on it. I stepped inside, and immediately spotted an impish version of Crème Fraiche experimenting with an enormous horse-hair bow, drawing it over my spine, which also was an enormous tree—there was a whole landscape in there, with cities, with temples and spires misted in the distance. I tried to grab her, and she leapt away, demonstratively executing a marimba passage on my ribs. I heard some shouting from Mrs. Herb. I don’t know what orifice it was exactly, as they all felt a little different after it was all over—for all I know it could’ve been my navel, which later seemed a little red—but I herded Crème Fraiche toward an opening of descending night, the stars just getting visible, and pushed her through. All of us, even Crème Fraiche and Mary Solidago, were lying in a contented pile.
Giovanni: “What happened?”
Mary Solidago: “You ate us.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah, but I feel so full and light, too.” (Wiping her face)
Mr. Herb: “I feel like my arms are forever.”
H&L, who had fallen asleep after the meal, had floated up, yet they both had a little arm reaching down to touch us, twining their fingers in our hair.
Louis Solidago: “Food that helps you get in touch with your inner landscape.”
Mary Solidago: (Holding him tighter) “That’s right.”
Louis Solidago: “Ah. The way you played my pelvis was unbearably angelic.”
Mary Solidago: “Thanks.”
Crème Fraiche: “It also helps you if you ever get sick. Just to go in and play music.”
Mrs. Herb: “We never get sick.”
Crème Fraiche: “Yeah. But it doesn’t mean you can’t explore yourself tonally.”
Louis Solidago: “I always knew you were a big burning bush in my inner landscape.”
Mary Solidago: “Shhh. Don’t tell anybody about that part.”
Giovanni: “And a highly trained cellist.”
Mr. Herb: “We all are. We’re all burning bushes and highly trained cellists.”
Mrs. Herb: “I didn’t see any burning bushes. I did see a huge borage plant. It was like a fountain in the center of a village.”
Giovanni: “It’s funny. I feel so nourished and in touch. Like all these feelers extending out that I can’t even see.”
Crème Fraiche: “That’s true. In my class, we’re learning that eating is just knowing that everything is part of you, everything is you. Which is so simple, but you forget.”
Mary Solidago: “Yeah. It’s like being an ocean, and that part of you you think is you, that you think is an individual, is just a shimmer, so beautiful and important, on the bulge of it all.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yep. I’m just glad eating’s still good for us. It just gets better” (belching) “over time. Maybe it’s fermenting.”
Then a new voice entered in: “Yeah. Since the big change, everything’s getting fizzy in a good way. It’s like getting older and younger at the same time. Everything’s fermenting into itself.”
“Lopeda!” we all shouted, waking H&L up. They hugged her head while we all stood and lifted her up.
Mary Solidago: “I thought you were going on a trip?”
Lopeda: “I did.”
Mr. Herb: “You’re just in time to dance, but you missed the dinner.”
Crème Fraiche: “There’ll be others.”
Mary Solidago: “So what happened?”
Lopeda: “Well. I walked and walked and—“
H&L: “You always walk!”
Mary Solidago: “Let her talk.”
Lopeda: “Yeah. I do. But I was walking to walk this time, you know. And I kept thinking that line: ‘For those who found themselves with love lost.’ I don’t know who said it.”
Louis Solidago: “Hm. That’s an interesting line.”
Lopeda: “Well, I think I feel different. I think it’s all ok. Like…like…like I like feeling this way, too, even though I never felt this before. I think I like myself as I feel it. That’s why I came to dance.”
We all stood thinking about this for a second. Then Mr. Herb stepped up: “Well, you came to the right place, cause I feel that way, too.”
“Me, too!” everyone shouted.
And then the dance began. I don’t think I ever felt so held, held by everything, the night, as if we danced a coral reef lit by the moon, above and beneath us, so much life exuding, as if all the past and future radiated from this embrace, so deeply blue, so jeweled, all the air and shifts of sand, the evening fragrances like schools of fish, only flexing music to move our limbs, collaborate, arise and descend, even a leaf rocking down into our mist a musical truth. H&L flew up from the center of us like a spire and swirled. Music radiated and migrated everywhere. Even the soft lap of the night waves left the beach to join it.
Mr. Herb: “Do you feel it? It’s like my spine is singing!”
Giovanni: “And my ribs! Ah! Ah! I feel like I’m dancing myself!”
And it was true. That dinner of Mary Solidago and Crème Fraiche performing in our bodies added a new element, a new collaboration. We spun and swirled, building from the inside. H&L held hands and spun with their bodies completely extended above us. The rest of us were on the ground, spinning individually. We created a pulsing, rotating circle that progressed in the other direction from the kids. It all felt so good, although it may have looked like the least creative dance of our lives. Effortless. Like a swirling nebula come to earth. Yet, within that configuration, but also within ourselves, was a beautiful spring, a pool like an oasis, softly swelling and spilling forth, perpetual, feeding the land. It was edged with sleeping bodies.
Crème Fraiche: (From the other side of the spiral) “It’s a well. Can you see it? It’s made of crystal.”
Mr. Herb: “I see a fountain. There’s a gorgeous hermaphroditical being or angel-monster with water jetting out of its palms and forehead. And there’s people sleeping around it.”
Mary Solidago: “I see them, too. It’s a big old bathtub full of herbs and flowers.”
Mrs. Herb: “Yeah. I see em. But it’s just a big amazing swimming pool with so many levels. The water’s like super blue. And there’s horses among the sleeping people. Some are sleeping back to back, and the people are sleeping in the spaces between them.”
Louis Solidago: “It appears to be in the center of the circle when my eyes are closed, but when I open them it’s in myself.”
H&L: (Up above the spiral’s center, laughing) “The music’s crazy!”
Lopeda: “It’s like an artesian well. I’m going in!” (Spinning into the center)
We were all dancing our own dance, seeing within ourselves our own communal spring, or even bathtubs, it didn’t matter, for it was all bathed in music. The night stepped closer and held us even deeper. When Lopeda spun into the center, one of the sleeping beings opened its eyes and lifted. Then, laughing, shot up into the sky above the pool. I opened my eyes and saw that same expression and laughter flash through her as she spun through the wheel’s center. One by one, as the circle gyrated, as we individually, dancer by dancer, hit the center throughout the night, a being from the spring would awake, shoot up, and flash through our bodies up into the atmosphere who knows where, leaving some kind of new resonance that joined the music that was everywhere. Each time one of them passed through, laughter rang into the atmosphere. Even the beings with the compassionate eyes, whoever they were—in somewhat haphazard human forms they seemed to have pieced together at the last minute—crawled unobtrusively from the pool and took their places among the sleeping people. I saw one flash through Crème Fraiche, and she looked at me with a burning beauty, one big eye covering the upper half of her face. Then, by the force of our moving mandala, it was pulled up into the night. Just by its fascination, you could tell it wasn’t ready to go. She didn’t look all that different than when we made love.
As the beings flew up they passed through H&L’s arms. The Solidago kids would try to catch them by pulling together, but this just shot the beings even faster into the sky. They would laugh each time like proud parents. So many people flew through me throughout the night, but I think it was the Eyes I liked the most. When they entered you, suddenly there was just a shimmering silence, and just seeing, somehow, was an act of love, an act of caring, and an act of creating a whole lot more of it. And all the trees, rocks, everything, pulsed with light, sang with all the illumination they had stored. It was so good. It’s funny, because everything was good, everything was sharing, whether you could see it or not. But to dance—what was it about dancing, about working it, about being worked? You just knew it without your mind, or, your mind didn’t have boundaries at all, or, these bodies were just a game, like a poker game whenever somebody ran out of chips everybody would give them some of their own so the fun could just go on and on.
“That was the last one!” sang out Mary Solidago, as the top of her face went back to normal as one of the eye-people shot up through H&L’s arms.
The spring was suddenly beingless.
“There’s no more beings around the fountain.”
“Yeah. The well doesn’t got any one around it.”
“There’s no one left by the pool. Even the horses are gone.”
“It’s just a big empty bathtub, but no people.”
“And the water’s still so clean.”
H&L: “We can still feel the suction!”
Yes, as long as we danced, H&L spinning extended and holding hands one way, and our radiating, flowing wheel turning in the other, each of us also spinning individually, it was like a breath, an inhale, pulling at the spring.
Mr. Herb: “There’s something coming!”
Mrs. Herb: “I can feeeeeeel it!”
The smooth, clear water of the spring bulged. And as it bulged we were drawn to the center of the dance. The force of the energy pulled us. We were sucked to the base of a flowing energy column like nutrients to the trunk of a ravenous tree. We were covered in sweat in the last throes of summer’s humidity, like diamonds giving up to the moon their unconscious metal, limbs and stars, all becoming each other’s contours. And in the fleeting but ever-filling pools within our concavities, the Eyes shone their compassion, their brightness, their curiosity, making them full like clusters among the luminous human ripeness.
“I think it’s the Toad!” shouted Crème Fraiche.
“No, it’s too smooth to be a Toad!” shouted Louis Solidago.
“I think it has wings!” I shouted.
“Maybe it’s an angel!” shouted Mr. Herb.
“A big one!” shouted Mrs. Herb.
“Hey, kids, can you see anything from up there?!” shouted Mary Solidago.
“We see a lot of stars! Where-ever we look! There’s stars everywhere!” shouted H&L.
It was like a bubble or egg with a thousand universes swirling in its surface. It was a planet where colors were born through migration, where migration was born through a new color falling. But it was hard to see for there were eyes in my eyes and moons in every concavity and hosing of sweat, as we danced like a glistening mass, like a being born among the luminous pines and inter-dunal flora of night.
“It’s gonna pop!” shouted Crème Fraiche.
“Whatever it is, I don’t want that thing coming through me!” shouted Mrs. Herb.
And suddenly, something rose among us like a shimmering walrus, a walrus that had wisdom and a deep compassion born of adversity in its beautiful eyes.
“Anacropolis! You’ve come!!!”
Anacropolis: “I can’t believe I’m here! I mean, I don’t know how I got here!” His whole body was covered with golden powder and ooze, especially the right side of his head. And we covered him with kisses and hugs.
Lopeda: “Anacropolis. I felt a huge wave through the universe and knew you’d jumped in.”
Anacropolis: “Lopeda. There’s a music. I can hear it. I can taste it. It’s the music of your skin. Of your eyes. Your footsteps. Of the wind sleeping in your breath. Of the flowers that fall when you speak. And—and—I love you! I love you more than anything! I can’t even tell where you begin and end.”
Lopeda vaulted up and stood on top of him with her grippy feet and made a speech: “For what seemed like forever, I’ve walked the beach, this meeting of all the skies, the lapping waves, the waves of land, which has in itself its own mirror, all the beings ascending and descending—and I’d watch a falling leaf and how it was ascending, too, just heading toward the heights and heats of decomposition. And I’d watch the bioluminescence creating itself in playful designs at night, and just listen to everyone’s song. And I guess I never thought I’d have someone whose body and soul was so big like that until I met the man I’m standing on right now.”
We were all crying. H&L came down and nested among the sighs and sand. All the luminescence of tears and sweat migrated off on their own journeys, leaving us to snuggle into the radiant warmth.
“Hey, Anacropolis?” murmuringly asked Mrs. Herb.
Anacropolis extracted his face out of Lopeda’s hair. “Yes…my…my friend?”
“When can we come back to Che Coppa Copius?”
“Well…well, I do believe we may be re-working the menu slightly, and possibly, yes, even the décor. And even put in a skylight and mauve aqueducts—nothing too ornate, of course, yet calling to the good ole days to come, as they say, so I would say: ‘very soon.’”
Anyone picking up on this transmission may ask why we stayed in what (at least at the time) could be considered the “classic human form,” why, with the ability to hybrid our physiology with anything, bird, human, rock, orchid, or even things like viruses, or even forms unknown with no historical reference, why we would hang out on a beach passing a big ole jar of pesto, and looking pretty much the same as ever? You may also wonder who the Eyes were. But we decided they were just Beings, eyes that looked in on us, or looked out from us with compassion and concern, curiosity, and that’s really all they were. It made us feel interesting. Somehow, that was still important in a way, or a plus. Crème Fraiche once said: “Maybe it’s just us being interested in simple things that makes us interesting.” Of course, by the time anyone receives this transmission, which can also be accessed from The Library thanks to BT, the earth may be totally unrecognizable even to us, for as you can see, even within these “events,” with the joining up of Anacropolis and Lopeda, and the great times we continued to have at Che Coppa Copius, and all the visits to BT Abernathy and his lover at the Library, and Henrietta and Lupus who actually made a bunch of new friends from beyond the Tuning Towers, life truly is a miracle, and thus you really can’t expect anything else.