Ecstasies

 

 

1.

 

Below the concrete and the flowers,

below the snow and the tubers,

below the moist earth,

below the corpses of broken birds,

below the lava flows and Dante’s infernal lament:

the underworld unfolds,

eternal and ever-present. 

 

A different gravity brought us here:

it was not density, but destiny... or so we thought,

sinking down on flustering wings,

alchemical feathers melting in the dark sun.

 

We were but marionettes, the pair of us,

dancing, hypnotised, on broken glass,

willingly enslaved to Mother Durga

and her Amazing Cascading Circus.

She taught us tricks, kept us

in her thrall, binding us with incantations

from her big black book.

 

Here, she said, her voice quivering,

these cards have revealed your tomorrow,

but do not look if you do not want to see

for wisdom brings not just joy,

but bitterness and sorrow.

 

We were warned;

and yet we begged her to go on...

 

Then she spilled her box of wonders

on the sawdust circus floor, jewels glinting

in sudden light; and she promised us

gifts that would delight.

 

These you can have, she said,

these healer's hands, these witch's eyes,

but beware... for hands cannot heal

if they cannot feel, and eyes that wish to see

must see all, in hideous clarity.

           

Beware! she warned,

but still we begged her to go on,

laying ourselves naked

across her glittering altar.

 

She peeled the lids from our eyes,

peeled them off in bloody, ragged strips.

 

Let there be light! she exclaimed,

and our eyes were aflame.

 

Then she commanded us to open up our hands

and into each palm with her sacred athame

she stabbed cunt-like stigmata.

 

Forgive them Lord, she cried,

for they know not what they are doing!

 

We were undone, awakened to the light

and it was too terrible, too bright;

clutching each other, we wept

like newborns

pushed out of the warm darkness

of the womb, knowing

we could never know

the Tao of absorption. 

 

There, in the acid light,

we could see the door, but could not divine

a way of entering in and being contained...

 

And how we longed to be contained!

 

 


2.

 

We tasted the light, but tasted it not. 

Intangible, it was, around us,

above us, beneath us, beyond us,

but not within us.

 

We should have listened to the weatherman:

he told us dark clouds would roll in -

the forecast was for a fall. 

 

 


3.

 

There are simple truths and simpler lies;

and you are anchored by more than you realise

to the treadmill of  the familiar. 

Transcendence requires sacrifice: 

not just the burning away of dead wood,

but the slaying of all that is known. 

The enlightened acknowledge allegiance

to nothing but nothingness itself. 

They are uncontained. 

 

We were but apprentices

to the burning ladder,

clenching charred rungs,

blowing on scorched hands.

Still, we stretched ever upwards,

nutmeg mystics reaching

for a hallucinated heaven,

clambering up into friendless sky,

high above the safe vaults

of the marshmallow city -

abandoning the shallow geometry

we'd known as home, the safety zone

that lent us definition.

 

Beyond definition, there is no meaning: 

letting go is not letting go,

crashing to Earth is not crashing to Earth 

and simple gravity is a simple lie.  

 

Out with the dim-witted banality of here and now,

we are transcendent non-beings:

the perception of our descent...

a mere illusion.

 

 


4.

 

Even within the illusion of darkness,

after the illusion of falling and becoming broken,

we still conspired to breathe together,

to grow together -

our petals glowing with crazy hope,

stamens sending out dizzying opiates

into the putrid air, stems twisting together

in a mocking dance.  

 

Don’t forget, we’ve seen through

the crack between the worlds,

we’d say, each to each other. 

 

But our vanity was in vain

for the few fragments we'd retained

could not be pieced together.

These bits were just bits,

a scattering of matter,

bereft of meaning;

            they could not be imbued with magic

however manically we waved our wands.

 

 

 


5.

 

Oh, we clung, like frantic lovers,

each to each other:

desperately trying to blot out

the knowledge of our separation,

each from each other.

 

In the jigsaw madness of pre-dawn hours

post-coital flowers, heavy and withered,

drift downstream and drift apart:

 

Slipping into darkness,

utterly alone,

            I hear your voice,

distantly echoing mine...

 

A dried out cry

of quiet desperation.

 

 

 

 

                                   

 

 

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