anima

Undine

Granny turned a golden astrolabe slowly in front of her face, her eyes calm and curious. I wasn't sure what she was looking for, but her eyes seemed fixated on a point deep beneath the metal. I was reminded of a fortune teller, and the astrolabe became a small crystal sphere, full of light and tiny, tiny stars, which could be used to examine the heavens and predict the weather. Aunty G came into the room with her arms full, and sat down in front of Granny, letting everything spill out on the floor between them. The light from the curtains was brighter now. It was the middle of the afternoon, a time when their house was always full of the deepest peace - a peace which came from years of order and quiet, with no unexpected noise, no dust in the crevices. They were looking at a map of the heavens that was criscrossed with lunar and stellar transits and arcane astrological symbols. Aunty G and grandmother started to place small blue buttons on the map, looking closely at them first, and chatting softly. Occasionally they would turn to me and say something about the past or the future, which I was having increasing difficulty in following. I wondered where my girlfriend was. The light in the room seemed to be growing, reflected and contained in the deep glass of the astrolabe. It grew brighter and brighter until there was nothing to be seen anywhere but light, almost making a sound, like planets drowning.

>-<

The prince is screaming. He looks like Jude Law, that high-cheekboned, blonde-haired, perfect-skinned arrogance that seem otherwordly, unquestionable. Maybe this is why royal families were sometimes thought to derive their authority and their bloodline directly from God - he seems so perfectly evil and destructive, but immune to ordinary criticism, as if the normal accountability of human beings to their fellows just does not apply to him. He's the prince. He's screaming at his wife, his mother, a witch with flaming orange hair and gaudy, heavy makeup, dressed all in black and dark veils. Their relationship is rich and ambiguous, the result of dozens of lifetimes spent in various configurations - mother-son, father-daughter, lovers, friends, enemies, killers of each other through time and space. The woman with the orange hair is grinning like a pantomime witch, her eyebrows nothing but charcoal smudges on her forehead. Her spirit has been killed and her brain is full of demons. I think of Tom Ripley, how he slammed the edge of the oar into his friend's head. How the wound was a thin line at first, like a slice in a steak, and then filled with blood, while the realization hits him - there's no going back now - and nothing left to do but let the demons rage until it's over. The body drifting slowly into the clear darkness hundreds of metres from the mediterranean coast. The usurping prince left alone, lost in his labyrinth, running from the minotaur of his own shadow.

>-<

Lying on my stomach on the diving board, I can see to the bottom of the deep blue chamber. I've been swimming through the catacombs of a drowned city for hours, maybe even days, but I'm not sure why. I think I'm just trying to get out. The water is iron-cold and dark because we are at the bottom of the ocean, and the city is lit by vast underwater floodlights which fade away slowly into the endless black. At the bottom of the chamber is a drowned woman's naked body. I am filled with horror and shock, and I feel myself fall towards her, through the cold water.



She's dancing, suspended in the ocean depths like a light on a wire, glowing, on fire under her pale skin. She is moving like a fighter in a video game, precise and unwavering, but slow, pirouetting at half-speed, her foot reaching out to touch the lintel of an invisible doorway. She knows how to open doors in the dark. There's no way back to the surface, no way to the bottom of the sea, and there's nothing all around her but the unknown cold, but she can open doors. Her skin shines like a beacon. She's opening a door. She doesn't even know how she knows how. Without her, there would be no other worlds than this one. I saw her once years ago, when I was asleep in a strange country. I was walking along the shore of a gentle blue sea, where there were many strange and exotic colours in the sand that made the frilly waves warp like rainbows. She was asleep under the water, floating just below the surface. She was asleep but awake - aware of me, but not fully conscious, a being of function and symbol, a determiner of meaning. Not like me. A different form of life, unaccountable, like the prince screaming, the girl who opens doors. She stands up in the shallows, water pouring from her white robes. Her eyes are black. She holds up an unrecognizable symbol written in charcoal on a piece of paper, and says "I don't think you quite realize who I am." Behind her a door opens in the sky and empty space begins to pour through in great waves. I feel a growing lucidity, a weird awareness of what is happening. I realize that she is a part of me, always present in my psyche. I don't know what it means that we've met, but I know it's important. I wake up.
 

Transient

sky on my skin in the morning, cold air,
the blades of a diamond, wings of glass
drenched in alien wines, hallucinogenic indigo

swimming awake into deep blue sheets
from a dream of a luminous girl dancing
in a dark sky, or a black, silent mile of ocean

now her breath warms my eyelids -
she glows, all the light in the bedroom
rises from her skin, she's been set alight

I can feel her like the empty body of the air,
on fire invisibly, ionized and irradiated,
torn by storms from the sun itself

she's alive in the mind's sea, a siren, irridescent,
opening unknown doorways - she's something
that isn't awake or asleep - dark, but radiant -

sky on her skin in the evening, tangled hair,
the waves in her mind wash over us -
breathing hard in my arms, she's going under again

My Own Ghost

you are my own ghost
crippled by rainlight

fresh with unborn skin
hearer of children at night

violent and young
frightened without fear

this silence is a jungle
you are meant to be here

Medium

she wakes
to radiant dark
the sound of her name

whispering faceless
bodies without flesh
she's their lost grace

If my spirit wandered
I'd find her bedside
I'd whisper a prayer:

carry me
out of today's city
out of never sleeping

into your moonbeam
your gates of charity
your tearful dream

Honour

ice and cloud in the evening, walking home
to a feather bed and a glass of milk
only a memory of her skin in candle-light

the samurai a dancer in my mind
flaying the air in ecstasy
lord of the bracken and the ditches

leaving the flickering screens empty
hiding to listen to voices from the road
as the brown dusk brings mist

i kneel in her shadows
i lie down before her to see her smile
to me she is the flame of a cool fire

i swear we are not like this
this couldn’t be me, who kisses good night
hears his lover’s door close

stands on the bridge over the oily canal
unable to cry, no pleas left
scared she cannot love him as he needs to be loved

Samurai
cherry blossom on white robes
white like the eye is white

draws blade to strike the sun itself
dances before the sun itself
unafraid

only the ghost me is unafraid
only the ghost me needs no one
i’ll beg for the touch of her hand

i’ll never accept the ghost of the girl
the drowning dancer who smiles
and asks me not to ask her how she is

Watercolour Homework

all my reasons are at rest in her arms
and though the daylight shines through the curtains
we close our eyes and be who we are

she is warmer and closer than the sun
her face is like the soft shadows of leaves
she cries for me, then smiles and is calm

at night we are a dark sweet wind
our colours drowned in our bodies' blindness
being without, seeing within

she walks with me in the long garden
she kneels to kiss my shadow's feet
of all my loved-ones, she is my guardian

One-day

She mornings me out of my bedroom window
to feel to the stars in silver pieces, sleepy
two years waiting for her to brighten to me
fell asleep on my bed like children

just that feeling, shivered into regions of space
ringed with nebulas of dreamed faces
waking under a picnic blanket
time for apple juice and toast, kisses

The beloved of my heart is my true heart itself.
She wakes all my mornings, She dances crazy
while I giggle because I can't understand Her -
I love not understanding Her –

dawn, and she rolls to me, flows to me,
she gives the gift of her eyes to me, she lays herself
at my feet. She is the gift of Her, she needs me
always to face my true beloved, my true Beloved.

Late Evening

Late evening, Sunday, stars and oranges raining through the open windows of my bedroom. I made it upstairs, so stoned I can hardly move, staggering through a roaring silence like under the ocean. Posters on my walls of roses and aliens looking like they move when I close my eyes. Girl across the road taking her top off, candlelight lilac, slowly closing the curtains. That was yesterday I think. She was nice. Cats screaming in the gardens at night. Saw a shooting star just now. Music and voices downstairs, spiralling in my head making me roll on the floor and pray for sleep. Sleep sleep, sleep.

The ocean is just the ocean.

The bedroom window brought in the morning, a teenage rain kissing my eyelids. A kind of desire rises, to make love to the sky. I open my eyes and the sunlight is so beautiful, even through clouds. I can’t move much, I feel so heavy, a ghost who fell into a corpse. The feeling of being me is falling in a vast and gentle well of dark light. The sky is like a girl who forgot to go home. She’s laughing at me because I think I’m home. The silence brings music into my mind from a great distance, years of being me singing forever in my heart. The girl in the sky is making me laugh now. I know she doesn’t exist, but she doesn’t know. We both think we have a secret.

My lungs feel like bags of cement. Somehow I make it into bed, some clothes off, pull the covers up to my neck, breathe out slowly, it feels like fifteen years ago, mother tucking me into bed, telling me I’m the best baby boy in the whole wide world. Years, lifetimes of sitting in the shade of a white porch in the summer in India, chanting from the arati going through my mind while I rest my feet and watch the river move, slowly, from heaven. This country is so cold. I’m sure there was a time when I knew what I was supposed to be doing here. Things seemed so simple when I was young.

I woke up when my girlfriend found me, she laughed and told me I was in the wrong bedroom, no wonder it all seemed so strange. “I smoked my tits off last night you know,” she just laughs more and puts her hand on my forehead. I still don’t feel like moving, but I like the brightness and the safety of the afternoon and her hands. “I love you babe.” She takes her clothes off and gets under the covers with me. If this was someone else’s life, would I know?

All the days, raging, tears and iron, monsters from the houses. The rain becomes old and haggard, giant trees, horrific amphibians gripping the mud and the ferns, sharks as big as ships rippling through a boiling ocean. Sand of the sea-bottom shifting with crabs and flatfish, millions of colours of coral, seaweeds dancing in the warm currents. A volcanic sky stained with ash like the forehead of a priest. The sky has to remember. Winds and burning rain for a thousand years, the sky has to remember.

I was born thirteen thousand years ago in a room full of sun and heat. I was painting a picture of three spirals on a sheet of blue silk when I died. The ground writhed like a stricken man and the fire and the ice came. Thousands of years of living buried and burned. The sky has to remember.

“Babe, you talked in your sleep.”
“What was I saying?”
“I didn’t understand it. I don’t think I heard properly.”
“Mmm.”
“It was weird, I thought someone else was in the bed. You didn’t sound like you.”
“Really?”
“It scared me a bit.”
“Don’t be scared.”

Still stoned, hugging her is like hugging the sky. I am a shapeless thought. Her body is like a feeling in a dream, moving in its own rhythm. I went so far this time, so far out into the nothingness, the falling-feeling. I never went so far before. I hope it’s okay. I hope this will be okay.

I woke again when the sky was still fading into dark blue, after sunset. It felt so strange. The last time I remembered sleeping through a whole day was when I was very ill with glandular fever. The whole night was taken up by terrible struggles with dreamed creatures, travels through landscapes of delerium, and I slept with the curtains closed as the day passed, bathed in sweat.

I swam down to the sea bed and felt the edges of the coral with my fingertips. Tiny angel fish darted through the crevices. The water was cloudy.

We climbed down into the caves, holding on to rusted railings, dodging starlings and bats that fluttered in a panic out of their roosts. The clay was red and moist, and stained everyone’s clothes. The air began to feel stiller and stiller, until the passageway opened out into caverns full of totally still, clear water. We shone our torches in to the pools, and sometimes you could see the rock at the bottom, forty or fifty feet down, and it looked as clear and bright as five feet deep. In other places the torch beam disappeared into unfathomable blackness. We took our shoes and tops off and swam through the caves, stopping to hang on to stalagmites, ducking our heads through narrow openings of sharp rock, tapping stalactites to see if they would sing. In one of the main caverns, one of the walls looked like a gigantic church organ, the limestone shaped into tubes that plunged from the ceiling into the deep water. We clung to the tubes with our hands while we waited to gaze into the deepest underwater caves. When we got out of the water we turned all the torches off, and stayed quiet for a few seconds in absolute darkness. There was no light for the eyes to adjust to, just nothingness hanging in space. In the silence it was like having no bodies. Our ears rang with emptiness.

I was sitting out on the wharf in a half-lotus when it started to rain. First the sky darkened and the sun was hidden, and then, as a boat appeared in the distance from its trip around the island, the first cool raindrops fell. I was sitting on a towel dressed only in shorts. As the boat came closer I could see the people sitting in it, my friends, young devotees of Avatar Adi Da Samraj, their faces indescribable. How do you describe the expression of someone who is visiting the home of the Incarnation of God? The rain grew heavier. The sea lost its green tinge and became grey, and the surface started rippling in tiny circles. The boat ground itself against the sand and they started getting out, heading up the beach towards the retreat centre, while the rain increased, until the sea was starting to hiss. I was still sitting down on the wharf, my hair dripping, my towel already soaked. The Fijian men waved and the boat pulled away again. Two girls from the boat stayed to swim in the sea. The rain kept deepening, hardening, pounding the palm leaves and the shore, creating a fine mist just above the surface of the water. I stood up and stretched, and lowered myself into the sea. The water was warmer than the rain. The vision, as from a thousand years ago, of the two girls with their faces turned up to the sky, rain pouring down their cheeks, hands holding back their hair; and then sinking back below the surface like mermaids. I took a deep breath and floated, with my arms stretched out behind me, and for the first time ever, I totally relaxed in the water. I gave my body up to the waves in a bliss of surrender. The rain pattered on my face and the hissing all around me became soothing. I closed my eyes and the darkness extended around and through me in all directions, so that I no longer had a clear feeling of where I was in relation to th shore, or what direction I was moving. Maybe I had drifted out into the deep ocean. Maybe there was no island. I truly didn’t care what happened to me in those few moments. The only disturbance was the unstoppable observer, the consciousness that noted all the phenomena of my senses; I still felt like ‘me’. That was all that was wrong, but it was enough.
    When I opened my eyes, I saw that one of the girls had left the sea and was running back to the dorms through the rain, carrying her towel over her arm. Just then, the sun appeared through a break in the clouds near the horizon. The rain continued, ferociously, but the trees and the sand took on this electrifying reality, as if the sun had traced their edges and filled in their colours with the luminous yellow all-colour of its own light.

ama amma

am am am

As we watched a rainbow formed on the beach, touching down perfectly on the dark sand, colouring the palms, bringing with it a silence so unearthly that it drowned the rain and sank my heart into the True Water. No moment like this has ever existed.

“My life is over now.”

The rain ends, the shell remains. The work is done.
 

Anima

The girl's two feet are shellfish
pink as lasers from seaburn
she is standing in the shallows
she is whatever I believe her to be

her skin is a pale Krishna-blue
shading to white at the cheekbones
her dress is a crash of rainbows
I am a question that she asks

sunfire behind flowers of cloud
waves running through her
green and pearling colours
crying onto a tilted shore

she stands, the girl is a revenant
she is a condensation of meaning
the sand is the skin of a bass drum
she walks among the beach-snakes

"Who am I?" skylight up above
trapdoor spilling void into the ocean
the blue becomes full of doors
the girl is finding out about sleep

she has found a place
face-to-face with everyone in shortwave
beneath the sea-surface of the universe
a veil that shifts with her breath

absorbed back into her own curves
moon-empty, stiffening with coral
I am a pillar of seeing
with a sea-girl inside my mind

Mama Kali From Before

My Holy Guardian Angel
Is the Jesus of the Spheres
The am beheld and cradled
Imperceptible appears

In skin She wraps the Radiant
Of Gold the ether sings
Her arrows arch the firmament
In glory of its wings

I worship at Her Fountainhead
Undrinking I inhale
Her passionate and bountifed
Impressionless impaled

The murderer between us She
Possesses undefiled
Deliverance unslivers me
Unshudder with Her Smile

Repent and only sinnerless
I infinitely True
My outcry for Her Tenderness
Destroyer I Love You