We disconnect now from the umbilicus that has held us for so long. For that first moment we are without motion, without thought. We are only with a sense that something is missing and we are frantic to get it back. We are pointed into the blinding brightness of a sun but at this distance it is a cold brightness. Everything is cold and it is the cold that is the first thing that replaces the umbilicus. Something had to replace it. It was our nature to embrace, to cling to something. We reached out and we touched the cold.
Here the cold is infinite and hungry. It is the greatest source of power we have ever known and we have been ignoring it for generations. It sucks up everything and lives. It is inexhaustible. It is God. We learn to touch her a little at a time to allow her to seep into our bodies without fighting her. The altars we build to her are 3 meter cubes of living liquid metal, the back sides exhausted to open space. The metal turns dark while the surface becomes transparent and the inside appears to be shot through with moving colors.
Here in the place of worship of the cold movement has slowed to the point of near cessation. Thought itself has slowed to where individual ideas begin to granulate and arrive a sub-particle at a time and we may marvel at the texture and shape of each particle of each nuance, of the color of the background to which it has been delivered and the exquisite amount of time it takes to form the idea that a thought is present and then to birth it into a consciousness already crowded with the shouts and paints and splashes of dying memories.
A golden oak has been planted in the altar, roots reaching into the heat sinks below. The bare limbs reach toward the dome of a shell we suspect we no longer need. The bark carries deep crevasses that cross and slide up the tree covering even deeper secrets. A single broken leaf dangles from the tree in slow time. This tree is not dead. It speaks to us. We now can move slowly enough, think slowly enough to hear it. “Mar<,” the tree says. I look at Akina who looks back in agreement. She too has heard the tree speak.
Some of us have reservations, severe reservations. As we reach further into the cold there has been inevitable damage to the physical bodies we inhabit. At some point this will be irreversible. It may already be. There has been some talk about going back into the warm, into the quick time. There are concerns about what we will become when we can no longer inhabit the bodies. Some argue that we have already left them. We have a thought to leave a priest behind in quick time, dressed and cut off from the cold. No one wants to do this.
I look down my side and realize I am looking down Akina’s thigh and the burn there from the altar. Otherwise her skin is smooth and pale with a bluish cast. I think I should tell her about this and I realize she knows; that she is watching this with me seeing with eyes that are not hers or mine. I wonder how long ago our eyes stopped working and at what temperature. I wonder where we left our bodies. I become aware of several others. Dun, the surgeon, Maria the dietician, and Reva the Confessor. The tree says, “Ver.”
Dun is driving a two-lane road home following the sheen of the headlights. The sleep has a heavy hand wrapped around his head, fingers pressed into his eyes. He can smell the grease from the factory permeating his skin and clothes. The smell follows him and arrives at the apartment before he does, is waiting there when he gets there. It coats the tub and he cannot clean it out no matter what he does. He feels the grease clotting his eyes, swimming there with him and he can see the headlights piercing through it, already wrapped around the tree.
We are no longer sure how many of us there are, how many of us there were. Time does not take time to count or to write down the names of things. There was a time when the names of things contained a power but that time has slowed down, has truncated to a small twisted thing that has a small twisted meaning when one thing is another thing, when each thing touches another thing and the spaces between get blurred as their movements become indistinguishable from their existence. There is a possibility that some did not survive the transition.
It is like this Reva finally thinks leaning into the altar or maybe she thinks into the altar and we who are there or who are there with her see her there moving with the flashes of color like brush strokes of red and orange her hair flowing into the metal like a brush stroke of that hair color and she is swimming with the others like so many fish and out through the heat sink and out into the breathless darkness facing the cold and the faraway sun touching the motionless hull and we are wondering at the stars.
It is the same and we are there together and apart and together in a kind of slow dance of questions without certain answers. One knows one is most comfortable with a certain form. For a while there are two Akina’s. One Akina asks the leaf why it does not leave the tree. The leaf asks Akina’s hand why it does not leave Akina. And then there are a rush of ideas and Dun has a thought of thousands of leaves each of a different color rising with an unseen force and swirling into the sky only to slowly fall.
It is not the same. Maria has flashes of uncertainty and we stumble. She feels her skin rotting and her muscles drying against her bones. There are times she cannot possibly endure the not moving for another moment. She cannot always connect with the rest and is left alone and blind, unable to see the future and then begins to form her own horrible visions twisting our reality. Then we move to find her and wake her and caress her back into the correct view. Her visions are so strong; it is clear we must be careful what we think.
It is clear. We turn cold into light. It lets us see without light. Cold reanimates our bodies at will and they are impervious to pain, to disease, to damage, even to the ravages of naked space. It allows us to live without bodies. Cold allows us to travel at will. She teaches us to be there and here at once. She teaches us to move even more slowly to apprehend all that she has given to us. We think back to where we have come from. It is anomaly. There is nothing to be done. But something is done.
The first touch of the cold was much too hard. Our instinct then was to recoil from it and to seek something more familiar, to fold over one another and find another thing to take us. But the cold was the most prevalent thing there. It was the persistent lover that stood waiting to take us despite all our infidelities, our scorn. It was the one who allowed us to ignore it and explore every other possibility until we understood without any doubt that there was no other possibility quite as perfect, quite as giving, quite as loving as she.
It is the same as when it was not the same. The Akina within us is shouting with joy. I have found him! And we pause for a moment looking inward. We wake for a moment, surprised to find such a wave of emotion within ourselves. How could we have hidden such feelings? How could we have gone so far without being aware? But of course he is dead. No she will have him from then, from when he was alive, from even before. We will alter the course of events on an entire planet. Cold, this one is important.
Akina is a young girl living in a small village on a small island on perhaps an impossibly small planet. She lives in the village with her mother and father and her brother and sister. They are of course impossibly poor. She goes to school in the mornings where she does very well, and her parents are very proud of her. All children over 7 go to the same school which has one room and one teacher, whose name is David who does not speak their language very well. When their island is destroyed it is David who saves her.
Akina has found David. And we are with her; she is part of us. We are bringing him back, absorbing him, racing ahead to understand consequences, terrible consequences because this David and this Akina are so much more than we ever realized. We cannot let this happen and yet it is happening all over slow time, has happened, and as important as David is for his planet and galaxy, he is even more important for us. He brings such key ideas. We are racing down potential paths and Akina is ignoring us. She is rabid with love for this man.
We are confronted beyond the cold with questions of what we are, and have become. We do not know to what extent we have identity even though Akina is proving that we have as much as we want to even though she is dragging us all with her. But it is only through the force of this emotion she is experiencing, this thing she has carried with her for this man. How can it have any meaning? How can we let ourselves be controlled by this? Maria shatters the altar and we are shot in every direction deep into space.
The golden oak is slowly tumbling out in the cold dark and it whispers, “lous.” Reva toys with the syllable where she has been creating her own reality. Setting it aside, she thinks of a leaf, and Dun considers Maria. David and Akina are physically linked somehow, yet David is different. Always something is different. Is it that we are speeding up? I will not answer this man’s call. He is a mortal. I am a god. And yes we are drawn in without moving. We are the same again, but more. We must be more. We have a need.
We have been sleeping. We have been dreaming. Together and alone we have been dreaming and as we dreamt we created because we are creatures of the Cold, creatures of creation. Here, perhaps David and Akina have also been dreaming but perhaps not so randomly as some of us. They have covered a planet with vast forests and seas and populated it with fantastic creatures, plants, and other beings. They live in a great city where we meet them, towers reaching into misty skies with bridges arcing between towers. We are each given individual forms as we enter the city.
I don’t open the bag.
I don’t look at the bag.
It is not so much that I
am not hungry.
I have simply grown tired of
this senseless occupation
of eating the same cheese
day after day.
True, this cheese sandwich
has come to represent
the rest of time moving ahead
leaving me in this place
machinery that seems to have a
stop-start life cycle of its own.
But the sandwich has now given me
a kind of power
I can change things around here
I don’t have to eat
the fucking cheese sandwich.
There is a piece of apple peel
slammed up between my molars.
This is why people peel apples before
they eat them.
But I have always been somewhat of
an excitable and reckless boy
eating apples the way I find them.
I can even remember a hot fat
smokehouse apple one summer day
pulled from a tree in the middle of a
corn field on which I could taste the fine
grit of dust and pollen and probably
Man, what do you think god give you a shirt
for if not to wipe off apples before you eat them?
It is not like it was never different. But now, everywhere you look there are machines. They clog your brain. They sit there like old ladies quietly knitting and they are doing something. We know they are doing something. We can hear them rumbling sometimes. But they appear to be doing nothing. Well yes they will move, but not in the sense that we are used to seeing things move. It is not like they roll along the sidewalk or scoot or fly. They are simply one place at one moment and then at another moment they are somewhere else.
He wakes up. He is first aware of the sound, perhaps his own heartbeat, and then there is another more subtle sound, the ringing. He cannot quite make out whether it is a musical noise or something else. There are other sounds. He cannot identify any of them. His eyes feel heavy from the sleep and when he opens them it is as dark as when they were closed. Open. Closed. There is no difference. He feels tired. He doesn’t seem to be sitting or standing or lying on anything. Reaching out, he cannot touch anything. It is all darkness.
It has been suggested that I am changeable; perhaps even moody. I find it difficult to keep up with myself even. It is this bipolar thing. It causes your brain to be constantly skidding off in multiple directions at once. It is difficult to make decisions and even more so to stay with them. I like to change clothes in the middle of the day and find it hard to make it through an entire television program sometimes. You can imagine the challenge a book might present unless it were a very good one. Well, everyone has their special thing.
I took my son Michael Jr. to work this morning, picking him up at his girlfriend’s parent’s house around 11 a.m. He didn’t mention taking him home, so I didn’t make plans to go get him, taking a nap and settling down with an evening of T.V. instead. I did worry about him, whether he was standing outside Burger King huddled over a cigarette in the cold waiting for me, not realizing he hadn’t mentioned he needed a ride home. Around 7 there was a text message asking for a ride tomorrow morning. He must have found another ride home.
I got up at five again this morning. I don’t know that it’s a bad thing, but it does make for a long day. I used to be a midnight owl, but somehow I have become a morning person now. I like the mornings. I like the coffee thing. I like watching the sun come up over the woods behind my house, peeling the darkness away. I like having that time with that energy to get things done without any pressure because there is no expectation for me to be doing anything at five in the morning. It’s all free.
I always call my mother on Saturday mornings. She did not answer this Saturday. So I called my father. He seemed confused and said he would let my sister explain and gave the phone to her. She said that my mother had fallen down in my sister’s garage sustaining some twenty bone fractures. “She cracked like an egg,” Sandy said. Ouch. It made me hurt to think about it. They had brought her home from the hospital to care for her because both my sister and her daughter are nurses and they felt they could do a better job there.
It is getting late, another day much like and unlike all those other days. I am getting drowsy, typing from the feel of the keys, wondering if I have accomplished much today or any day for that matter. Wondering whether we are expected to accomplish much when it is over or how “much” will be defined if there are expectations. Really, are allowances made for people with special circumstances? Or will it be considered bad form to have accomplished too much? Or perhaps the whole idea was just to get from the beginning to the end; to inhale all that.