The streets of time are mapped and filed under glass, in a house of glass, made from the sand it grows from. Entry is through an hourglass, of course, a glass with killing arms, whirling blades and a bad bearing. The wires hum with seed syllables.
Outside are bones, lots of bones, finely ground with oyster shells, feeding the world its daily dose of calcium. Water surrounds. Water is the sound of small boys throwing stones and chunks of iron and old bones into the ocean. It is the sound of bones dissolving. Water is a black sound. Is there a blacker sound?
“Who goes there?” asks the moon. The moon had been sleeping in the sun, just the crescent of its eye is open.
“We do,” say the neck bones.
“We do,” say the vertebra along the upper spine.
“We do,” say the plates and blades and sticks of bones, the ligaments, the balls and sockets of the shoulders.
“Hold us up,” they say to the moon.
“I can’t,” the moon replies. “The threads are broken.”
The swish and swirling chuckle of the ocean as it sucks the marrow from the bones and grinds them down and pulverizes them into smaller and smaller pieces?
A sound like distant church bells ringing from the sandy cones of anthills. A pure sound, with tiny undertones of gravity, spilling sand, and rain approaching.
Rain through fig trees, rain through broad leaves, rain through palm trees, rain through sand, washing nutrients from tired bones.
“What of our addition? Our subtraction?
Our multiplication? Our division?”
“Your calculus is sand, your sand is glass, your glass is time, your time is mine,” the wind hisses through teeth closed against the rain.”I am coming for you now. Are you ready? Get ready then.”
The old guys hoot and cackle as the wind removes their arms and legs, their livers and at last, their heads. Without heads they can’t remember anything.
“Begin again,” the moon suggests. “Start with a rocking motion.”
“One starfish from the ocean, two starfishes on the sand, three turtles and a house of glass, an hourglass, a box of time. A zero moving in a stream. A little thing. A rose. A rose is missing.”
“Where is my little rose?” I asked the moon. I was with the other kids tossing things into the ocean. I had found a piece of bone which reminded me of something. Raised threads ran across a surface etched with fine lines. Minute breaks and cracks and indentations seemed to represent star patterns. One end was sheared off. Inside were hidden chambers, hollow rooms, supporting columns. None of us thought much about these things, but I felt something. I knew the wind laughed. I knew the moon winked at the wind. I chucked the thing into the ocean but I had heard the sound a grain of sand makes when it separates and falls, featherless and mostly round, through the hourglass when the glass is opening.
“Where is my Rose?” I ask again.
The moon says nothing, it seems saddened. The wind puts bow to string and turns. His audience is the universe that I am standing in. I cover my ears but I cannot help but hear the sound. Sad notes run down the string and I am crying.
“Why am I crying?” I ask the moon.
“Your Rose,” the moon prompts kindly.
“Hush,” says the wind. The wind is always hushing someone.
Now the scene has changed. The boys are gone. Gone the ocean, gone the beaches, gone the sand. Water is a black sound where creation was. Water is an opening in the wind. Water is a mindless thing, a circus flea under glass, performing. The wind is endless repetition. Water is oblivion, my hearts longing.
“Chide me, then.” I say to the wind. “Say something.” Willows weep around me but they are water trees, like cypress. They were meant to weep and go on weeping.
I can’t ask the moon for answers. The moon won’t answer direct questions. Focus on the crashing breakers and the star above their sound.
“I want to know who you are.” I say to the star.
It danced with coquelicot and amber through horizons layered without end, and mists that were the final breaths released by friends, by enemies and lovers and companions. Endless generations of pleading, bleeding, joy and supplication. So many alters built, so much sacrifice, so much destruction and still that single point that burned its fine opening through every one. Just for a second I see the connected dots and lines and then the mist rolls in and flatly conceals them. I reach and see my hand dissolve.
“Dissolve the rest of me,” I demand, but the wind refuses to hold coherent sound. The mist and all that it contains rolls away again. I have my two hands, my thoughts, my emotions. I have my sense of dread and my well honed sense of longing. I have air that lets me live but will not carry words.
“You carry screams,” I charge. You carry snorts and sneezes and hiccups and chuckles. You carry laughter, you carry giggles. When you want to, you carry prayers.”
I was upset. I know it carries prayers. It is so hard, using prayers when I want to tear words out of paper and paste them on the sky. But I understand. What are words? The seed syllables are full of power but no arrangement matches the power of the original vibrations. And every new horizon brings a concerto of popping strings.
Each time I return I see my star and I say, “Come here, come home to me.”
“I am home,” the star sings. “I light a world, and I can’t leave.”
“You are a coward”, I whispered into my tin can. “You are not brave. You should not do this to me.”
She did not answer. She did not leave, she drew no closer, nor did the pattern of stars around her change.
“Leave them!” I cried.
No answer. I turned to the moon.
I explained my situation. I said, “No power here, I have no power.”
“Neither you, nor any other,” said moon to flower.
“And I don’t feel like much of a flower.”
“You are,” said moon. “You are.”
Tell me, how can I believe I am a flower when the life I breathed for is such a dim star, so far away, over so much water?