Daybreak / Dominion
Through the Gates of Dawn
The Empire of Light
Through the Gates of Dawn
Morning Star; Evening Star
When they stirred in their sleep. Glowing green shadows swirled. Lingering just inside the edges of slumber, a rippling of outward surfaces, inward events....
This happened long ago. In the midst of their youth.
Mountains stood up in every direction. A forest hurried down from high meandering valleys to nestle drowsy feet among foothills; falling asleep in slowly rushing riverbeds. The sun had already begun to roll up the side of its deep blue bowl toward a tiny slivered moon.
Before them gathered a crowd of children. Skipping from one game to the next. Diving through magic circles into pale silver pools. They sang gentle songs. In their oddly shaped cities; in a drifting haze. Remote reverberations echoed from mind to mind.
Above their world, twilight fell from star to star toward the next twilight....
Evening Star; Morning Star.
Their eyes shining with fading memories, the witch and the wizard awoke. Inner mirrors still drenched with dreaming. They stirred. Misty surf hid distant unseen shores; a faint pathway led onward. Stepping from one enchanted ring to the next. Gazing upon layer after layer of antiquities, eternities, for year after year, life after life... when the witch and the wizard awoke they spoke without speaking.
Let us feel free to feel free.
The Prophets of the Flowers
Then one chilly day they came singing from the sea. A crowd of people gathered nearby. For reasons that made sense at the time but are no longer very clear, everyone cried out and some of them wept.
Even though many years have passed, that day has not been forgotten. The fading scenes resonate, an unforgettable rhythm of waves unraveling at our feet, an ever-thinning fabric.
And everyone knew it all meant something, but what?
We fill our stories with what happened next.
Beyond all that surging and subsiding. On dim roads winding through dense forests, dark mountains. Wanderers appeared. Full of joy.
As everyone gathered to hear the prophets sing their sayings, their foretellings. For a moment the surface of the story briefly wavered; nothing seemed very certain.
But one thing is certain. Everyone still treasures all the joy and all the suffering when the prophets of the flowers came from the sea.
Forgetful Inner Flaming
And so a witch once dwelt in a part of the forest that never quite became real. The trees and the underbrush and the trickling waters looked just like what you’d find in any forest. But Winter Wood spread its green wings somewhat oblique to what we know of other woodland realms. And it didn’t have anything like a real history. The ever-changing shades of its enchanted greenery were not real. The colors were almost colors, but not quite.
The witch believed she could exert a certain benign power in the world, and within the whispering circle of her aura, maybe everything did glow just a little. In her life to come she would enact the hidden meaning of her charmed past. Scene after scene would awaken in her slowly for years, her spirit always at once elderly and innocent.
And there was once a wizard who dwelt in a part of the city that never quite became real. The buildings and streets and monuments looked just like what you’d find in any city. But this part of Summer City spread its surfaces somewhat oblique to what we know of other neighborhoods and business districts. And it didn’t have anything like a real history. The ever-changing hues of its enchanted architectures were not real. The colors were almost colors, but not quite.
Long ago in another world the wizard took hold of secret alchemies of the spirit that no one else would ever grasp. And in his life to come he would enact the hidden meaning of his charmed past. Scene after scene would awaken in him slowly for years, his spirit always at once elderly and innocent.
Wrapped in shadow, they slept. Dreamt of weirdly fateful devices, crystals full of glyphic fire. As the whole world took shape around them.
And when they awoke.... Well, who knows? It could have happened like this; no one really knows for sure.
But for many years the hilly terrain of Winter Wood unrolled leisurely oak slopes from swerving cedar ridges. Lofty trees stood still among deep leaves. Ancient wistful creek-beds fell asleep at the bottom of steep ravines, dreaming of little trickling streams.
And in Summer City time moved in all its marvelous regions, collecting into shining pools beneath the Fountain of the Wishing Waterfall. Beautifully random configurations gave rise to the past and the future, a collage of paths afloat in the world.
And the witch awoke, whispering quiet sylvan spells. Many years have passed since I knew the witch of the wild wood. Recalling her gently gliding accents, I still feel a surge of warmth.
And the wizard awoke, murmuring wordless spells. Many years have passed since I knew the wizard of the whispering city, and those of us who were closest to him witnessed his sense of peace and its presence in the world.
Ebbing enchantments fade away slowly in time. On this side of forever, in the midst of this fading, voices struggle to recall remnants of archaic names, lost languages. Crystalline ripples flow over still stones.
And Summer City has slowly become a mostly forgotten memory of vanishing foundations. And Winter Wood has slowly become an almost forgotten memory of vanishing pathways.
Long ago this happened... and if only.... If only I could transform this liquid glowing sound into gently rushing sentences... and if the individual words happened to overlap like randomly falling leaves... as if for a long time just like this we said
Zephyr Dusk Celebrations
At times they could almost be glimpsed. Translucent wings alighting as we gathered at the Fountain of the Wishing Waterfall. Under ever-lengthening spring dusks, as summer began swerving overhead, as fall fell among us, rumors of stars gently flitted in their hair.
Their pleasant inner flames lit even our most somber deliberations. On occasion perhaps the constant uttering of our vast truths softened, our sharp edges softening among whirring wings. And surely we smiled, seeing ourselves through their eyes.
Weary fabled creatures galloped before us through churning pools, forever becoming many things, but everyone just had to laugh. All those years ago our laughter and their laughter mingled in splashing water. Glittering droplets hung like a cascade of shining crystals in their hair.
For there were suddenly three of them at first. Perfect tiny wisps of smiles. I still hear the faintly jingling rush of delighted clapping hands. Whatever we dreamed up to say to them, maybe it never really mattered. Because celebrating with us like that in those days, little humid breezes very often wafted them aloft.
Above us, at the end of that world, the moon finally gathered its strength. As it rode off down unknowable paths beyond the earth, all the fabled creatures went on with their heedless galloping, never moving, never still, ceaselessly becoming many things.
The World under the World
We float among clouds on the river at the edge of starlight. Another sunny afternoon; I stare into the water. Great fins move far below, fluttering at the heart of the river.
Stepping from fish to fish, the wizard appears. He climbs into the little rocking boat. Now we drift unnoticed upon quietly rippling clouds. We disappear in & out of view.
When everything gets watery at the center, distorted at the edges, I can’t see very far into the future. I must guess at what might happen next.
In the next scene I picture us wading in the current. It feels alive, an ancient stream of consciousness surging around my knees; a crowd of smooth gravel forms gathering under my feet.
The river pushes the future away from the past.
Somewhere in the future, in the middle of moonlight, we walk with the wizard back into the distant past. We walk together to the riverbank. For this is the river at the edge of starlight.
All the future surfaces of summer flow away from those moments. Moving from memory to memory, time to time, life to life – almost like stepping from fish to fish, the wizard steps down a silver stairway into another world.
Shining Wishing Waterfall
Long ago she appeared in a nameless drifting light.
One evening the witch of Winter Wood stood among us. At her feet pale zephyrs laughed like little shooting stars. Gazing upon our enchanted glowing circle.... The light of it fell upon her as it blazed around us in our youth.
Far below the Fountain of the Wishing Waterfall, where the darkening waters of the earth descend like ladders into sluggish mirrors. Converging somewhere beyond the fountain. The liquid surfaces of that whole world kept flowing away from us all.
Drenched in the details of our lives, we laughed at ourselves. People often said things that could never really matter very much, just trying to make her laugh. I lingered in the glow of the moment.
She suddenly stood next to me one night. In the midst of her legend, so slowly the pages turned. I thought I knew how she felt about it.
She felt free to feel free. And when she spoke to me her whole body whispered and a very gentle moonlight descended around us all.
In & out of our circle at the Fountain of the Wishing Waterfall... we kept moving in & out of the origins of things. Into the journeys that followed. And finding ourselves entering ever-deepening starlit shadows, walking away from the disappearing chrome walls of that time.
Looking back... it is as if the ever-lengthening shores of an immense time went on without us. The rustling we made; little moments of sylvan glittering. Dense obsidian shadows fading at our feet into the roots of the forest.
Everyone knew that her tale would continue on beyond us. But at that particular moment her story took us in and she wove us into & out of sight & sound; and in our memories I guess we saw things that were incredible.
As if through a shimmering crystal haze under the rising moon. Whatever she said or didn’t say in her nameless drifting light. Why is it so impossible to sort out?
We sat upon carved stone under the ancient moon.
I kept trying to invent myself before her. But somehow I couldn’t finish making it up; I could never quite sort out my most convincing ideas about myself. As though I had only a vague idea how to properly put things together from moment to moment.
Many versions posed in the smoke. I felt awkward. But on occasion she would smile. And one night she stood next to me. She touched my hand. Let us feel free, she seemed to say.
Yes, I said. Beneath the falling water. I opened her veils. Her tranquil lace. One by one I touched them. Very pretty breasts. Her inner warmth. Watching a beautiful shining. Underwater I filled my fingertips slowly. Her hair tumbled. In & out of view. A gentle flame flowering at our hips. A sighing of platinum essences. So full of such tiny stars.
Yes I marveled. Like this I marveled. And like this....
Laughing next to her fire. Just to see her smile. Once or twice I must have suddenly flickered in & out of view. Under the waning moon, she sat waiting on a stone, wondering at the sight.
Beautiful girl. Daughter of forgotten stars. Peering into patterns of dusk and dark, far beyond the fading fringes of what we know.
Why does it always take a lifetime to invent yourself?
The Inner Fire Spell
Once upon a time the witch became aware of how the wizard stood among us. In the midst of a quiet fire. She saw our love for him and she knew she loved him too.
And the witch appeared before the wizard’s eyes one evening. At the Fountain of the Wishing Waterfall. Walking slowly into our shining circle as it blazed around us in our youth.
A sparkling mist surrounded them both – a serene aura of warm moments descended around the witch and the wizard in those days. And they gave one another intricate crystals. Orbs full of intricate fire. And smiling tenderly in the heart of such radiance, the witch cast her glow upon the wizard and he did the same upon her.
Around them we saw caravans floating under ancient starlight. Fabled creatures suddenly began changing into many things, sluggishly galloping in moonlit pools.
The rest of us lingered at the edge of their gentle flames. Wondering at our great good fortune. In the scenes that tumble through our lives, the center of that moment murmurs into the distant unknown future beyond the distant forgotten past.
And long ago at the boundaries of youth the wizard and the witch sought one another in Summer City, in Winter Wood. And they held hands as they floated next to each other. And everyone admired them in their light. And they spoke to one another without speaking. And they must have said
Surely they said
Come on, they said to us. Into the next version. Beyond time. An exquisite forgetting. A gradual falling of the symbol of the moon.... full of the color of the other side of sunshine... everything is almost real but not quite real.
So we wandered and we laughed and we fell silent. And so we marveled in our joy. So our love. Toward everyone, everyone.
All the secret gradients in the earth. That whole world resonating. For a moment adrift, caught by the light of a woven wind.... Oblique water sang. And time always moving... such dazzling regions, such intimate fabrics.
We stood waiting. Our starry feathery speaking of unknown tongues. A silvery hidden gradient at the end of another fading night. Not far beyond falling moonshine. Floating toward the next curve of the circling earth.
The specific forgotten details never seemed to matter. Beneath our dreaming remnant of ancient forest. A stillness fell forever. Just before dawn, beautiful children. Children of the moon.
Yes I’m glad it happened.
Yes everyone. Everyone.
Yes just like this.
The Empire of Light
They call me Gnome, but I am Gnomon. On the other side of the Empire of Light, I keep repeating what happened long ago. Certain vanished starlit truths I whispered in those tales. Whispering against certain forgotten moonlit shores.
Gnome, they said then. It is. And many of them meant well; and all of them felt right; and some of them listened respectfully. And hearing my weirdly fateful tellings, a few surely felt unsettled. But even they kept saying their sayings no matter what. For the Empire of Light kept their feet upon a crooked path, an alternate road through real time.
I guess all of us went that way. I guess I did too.
Long ago at the heart of the Empire. There once dwelt a deceptive light in a dark alembic. With its devious glimmer it ensnared the unwary. But it made a simple kind of sense. And yet, despite its simplicity, it couldn’t help itself. It constantly hatched malevolent and quite complicated schemes – convoluted spells of light that cloak and do not reveal. And effortlessly, inevitably, it wielded the very essences of evil.
Thus, the Empire of Light slowly took shape. And thus, people of great good will found themselves becoming compliant, complacent. Effortlessly. Inevitably. Maybe it wasn’t their fault. I guess not. They had to do it that way.
I know this now. But I didn’t know it then; no one knew it then. In the Empire of Light.
Gnome, they said in those days, it just is. They had faith, their utter faith. And it forever was, said their historians. All of them nodded when they thought of it like that; and they nodded when they thought of it like this: And of course it shall forever be. I nodded myself for a long time.
But we were wrong. We know that now. In many ways we were wrong. Because it hadn’t been. And it wouldn’t be. The Empire of Light. Casting my flickering chrome rays upon the topic, I pointed this out to them often enough. Whispering this truth near the end of it, looking toward the other side of boundless chiming shores, it made them angry. I don’t blame them. They had to do it that way.
Gnome, they said to me. They said, It is or was.... And going on their way, they stepped one after another around my little shadow in imaginary time. For they call me Gnome, but I am Gnomon.
In hyaline chemicals within its deep alembic, the Empire of Light had long ago mastered an elusive essence of light. Being made of light, it gave every appearance of clarifying certain vague aspects of existence. It seemed compelling in its brightness, like it had no reason to think it could ever be resisted or properly understood. As if its bright surfaces were somehow impossible to examine.
Looking back.... Unbelievable it proved, that light, in the end. A deceptive illumination. Effacing. It warped the details of the story, making people believe things that could never be true.
And it could be cruel. Bitterly cruel, that light. It didn’t care when people suffered at its hands. It just went on doing what it did.
For a long time. No one felt free. It wasn’t easy for anyone. And in that part of the tale, seeing the end of it approach from afar, I sometimes wrapped myself in my little shadow.
Did I make everyone suffer? I don’t know. Whatever I did, maybe I had to do it that way. And it wasn’t easy for me.
But under the midnight of day and the noon of night there stood Gneiss. Together we treasured marvelous friends – the friendships of Gnostic and Gnap, our sharing of peace. A blissful weightiness floating inside. Slipping deeper into ever more gentle layers of past and present and future. Like falling asleep, falling into the earth.
I love you, Gneiss.
I love you, Gnomon.
All our marvelously inexplicable tales that go on beyond the world. I will keep them forever in my heart.
So I stood there in those days as the end approached. In my mind... I know it sounds odd to say such things. As if secret magic words slowly took shape in my mind. Hidden deep inside the mysteries of dark matter. I spoke them without speaking.
But now that I think back, I didn’t know for sure. What would happen next? I wondered and I worried. How would this part of the story turn out?
Long After the Light Has Gone
When I look back it is wondrous to see their pride, enthusiasm, dedication, and their idealism. And it seems like a thousand years ago in another era when I stood among them: the great Gnarl, Gnash, and Gnaw. Their lofty brilliance lit the Empire of Light as they performed their illustrious deeds of celebrated renown.
I stood nearby as they swam before the rest of us into history. A parade of glowing sunfish lit the waters before them.
Now it appears clear enough to me when I turn back to see Gnarl, Gnash, and Gnaw assuming their distinguished places in the remembrance of the Empire. They blazed with a blinding light and it made them do the famous and fateful things that, as it seemed to us then, needed to be done.
I guess it couldn’t be helped. They did what they had to do.
They sent me up those flights of ancient stairs and into the crooked halls that surrounded his high offices. There he long took thought in his runic studies and mysteries, the magicks of Gnarl the Alchemist.
Among his famous retorts, the myriad sayings of his genius, his humors, his thunderous brow and broad smile, his rapt acolytes posing in hushed admiration, a glow lit his parchments of power. Beseeching him to summon forth the grand performances of his life, he believed in the Empire of Light and it believed in him.
Made of esoteric certainties and purposes, the light upon him was indomitable. And like the rest of us, he didn’t actually see how it suffused his surfaces. Yet because of it, Gnarl’s manifold studies in abstruse tomes and arcane enchantments gave him prominent stature in the realm. In the cleverness of his scrolls and the popularity of his wit, Gnarl the Alchemist towered over the rest of us.
He felt at ease with the awesome totality of his convictions, but he could also experience fleeting doubts, an occasional sense of unworthiness, perhaps even a humane humility. He could laugh heartily at himself, the great Gnarl.
Preparing his elixirs and proceeding with his cryptic alchemical inquiries, he deemed it a matter of frustration the way others so often couldn’t be trusted to do things right in the way the great Gnarl did them right. An enveloping sense of clarity cast upon Gnarl the insight that his alchemical performances must necessarily counter the petty sciences and oppressive disciplines that plagued the Empire of Light.
Of particular offense to Gnarl’s sense of rightness were the gnomologists, at once both dreadful and foolish in his eyes. He hated them and made fun of them. Like bitter foes they were. All his friends rallied around him as if forming up to do implacable battle with an implacable enemy.
Going up those stairs to speak my offending gnomological sayings, in time Gnarl trusted his judgment when he realized I’d never suffice. And wisely seeing how time ran out for me, he turned back to his noble tasks.
In my youth I heard rumor of how she glimmered, and how she did many things and did them well. Then I met Queen Gnash several times in far-off cities that lay upon the distant edges of the Empire. I saw for myself how her confidence and determination and intelligence helped her in all the things she did.
The power to do many things lay in her hands and in her heart. And like her friends Gnarl and Gnaw, her whole heart and both of her hands served the Empire of Light. A luminous wisdom lit the things she said, lighting all her tasks in life with an absolute sense of fate and inspiration and purpose. And she had the power to help us all understand better what should be done for the good of the Empire of Light, and this was her mission before the end of time.
Unafraid, mighty in her deeds, her enemies feared her glimmering clarities. When she spoke they trembled. Logic abandoned them. Even the mysterious color of her hair made them feel clumsy, witless.
I often heard rumor of her. From afar she seemed an indomitable fortress of unshakeable purpose in her devotion to the light. Caught up in our own minor doings as we often are, it is no wonder that some of us felt a sense of awe at the enormity of Queen Gnash’s mission in life before the end of time.
He had a marvelously creative sense of humor and he was generous with it. A mind of stainless steel, Chancellor Gnaw nevertheless raised a gracious velvet glove against the towering injustices that oppressed the Empire, hoping to make it a brighter place.
Good Gnaw wished for justice on earth, a better Empire of Light. Choosing to serve the light with all his energy and humor, it felt like warmth.
And Chancellor Gnaw appreciated the company of successful people who did things well, who excelled in efficiency and humor, and who shared his dedication to the light. His reasoning intelligent wisdom gave purpose to the practical things he said. Many folk willingly aided him as he went forth to perform the busy glimmering essences of his life.
Looking back, I see that next to Gnaw’s bright exteriors, my shadowy inner moonbeams cast a somewhat watery light. So I feel flattered and grateful at the way good Gnaw had such a generous spirit toward me.
And when we gathered to laugh together in Gnaw’s stainless steel light long ago, I’m gladdened at the way it very often did feel like velvet, it did feel warm.
Years went by. At an angle to their world. I did the things I had to do. We all had to do it that way.
Slowly many things changed throughout the Empire. Gnarl died amid much fanfare and grief. Everyone listened to Gnash’s opinions on important matters of the light. Good Gnaw kept busy winning battles.
Visionary and practical, the three of them stood together among the other great ones who helped to make the Empire what it was in their time. Feeling certain of their certainties, they spoke with their hearts and minds, and their choices lit the Empire of Light.
I often wonder what finally happened to them.
Did all those glowing figures vanish at the end of that moment in time? Does light like theirs fade gently in the end, or does it go out suddenly with no warning? Isn’t that shadow on the switch just like the shadow of my hand?
It saddens me when I find myself thinking that it has to be done. I wonder. Am I so certain? I pause in the midst of intricacies, of shadings. Must certainty necessarily trump understanding, warmth, compassion?
I Look Into the Light
Gnarl the Alchemist had many mighty sayings to speak before he died. In his towers at the edge of the City of the Summer Sun, deadly humors slowly drew off his immortal essence as he meditated upon mortal enlightenment, as he prepared the final scrolls of his wisdom and warranting.
To all the admirers of Gnarl throughout the Empire of Light, those scriptures would be deemed forever brilliant. And among his admirers, few felt more esteem for Gnarl than good Gnaw. After Gnarl died, Gnaw generously took part in a public intoning of Gnarl’s final parchments in Summer City.
Hearing rumor of such doings, I took up Gnarl’s scrolls and became interested in his sayings regarding a certain nameless blind man. In the tale told of this man, it was said that during the noon of night he could see, but he could not see during the midnight of the day.
Gnarl marveled over this tale. Setting his quill to parchments, he beguiled us with many such fables of the way the world used to be.
Withdrawing into my winding towers one day to study the curious matter, I decided first to divine his name. I summoned before me diverse cryptic tomes filled with ancient formulae, esoterics, mystiques. And I wielded astrolabe and alembic and hyaline elixirs. And I invented variant discontinuous desideratives.
Yet his name eluded me.
Nevertheless; persevering – as if in a vision one day – the man’s likely name at last materialized. For surely the nameless man, wondrously blind, must have been known as “Pita Achromatopsia.”
Yes. This seems fitting indeed. Pita Achromatopsia. The blind man who couldn’t see during the day. The blind man who could see at night.
And while “Pita” seems a sensible word to suppose for this man, yet I know not of what “Achromatopsia” signifies.
We, of these latter days – and not even very long after the passing of so many mighty ones from the world that once was – we have inexorably lessened in the power of our miraculous alchemies, I must sadly conclude.
The Flame of the Silver Moon
Before I move on forever from the long lost glow of the long-ago Empire of Light, I must tell one more tale about a strange thing that happened. It was a minor thing, but strange, like something glimpsed.
Looking backward and forward through the history of the Empire of Light, I have the feeling that sometimes night falls in the middle of day, and sometimes it is afternoon in the middle of night. We sleep in our surreal houses, lamplit, floating off into a vaguely shared memory in the spaces between real time and imaginary time.
And it so happened that once upon another time somewhere in the distant past beyond the edge of the future, just as I made ready to embark on my esoteric studies in gnosiology and gnomology with Gnarl the Alchemist, I guess I was eating very well. In fact, I was gradually putting on weight. It slowly crept up on me a few pounds at a time, and one day I took off my shirt in front of a mirror and noticed my belly.
Staring at my reflection, I didn’t necessarily like what I saw.
Setting forth on tour one spring about that time, I journeyed to several cities of the Empire of Light with a new scroll I’d written. I took my belly to a small city beneath the Mountains of the Sun, and we read my glyphic writings before a gathering of amateur gnomologists. They said a few kind things to me and gave me a hat, one of my many hats. Next I followed my belly to the shores of the distant City of Solar Wind and we sat down together to read my scroll in front of a large assembly of professional gnosiologists. Yet a later version I read before another gathering of gnomologists among their towers.
I still recall that scroll with fondness. It did something unusual in those days. It tried to build goodwill between gnosiology and gnomology. I thought I had some pretty good ideas about that, about how things could be. About partnership.
Taking my scroll among the gnosiologists in the City of Solar Wind, I knew it would be controversial. For I knew that serious gnosiologists hold footnotes in great esteem, and I didn’t have any in my scroll. My problem in those days was that I also performed inquiries in gnomology in addition to my work in gnosiology, and footnotes aren’t appreciated in gnomology anything like they are in gnosiology. Gnomologists are keen on bibliographic text references rather than footnotes.
So when I read my new scroll in the City of Solar Wind, it didn’t have any footnotes and people listened in stony silence. I knew they didn’t necessarily like what they were hearing because the things I said were salted with text references rather than peppered with footnotes. I guess the flavor of it seemed alien, unpleasant.
And in those days in various interesting cities of the Empire, among the gnosiologists I had made a friend named Gnatter. He happened to be present on that occasion in the City of Solar Wind. Sitting before me as I spoke, he listened in stony silence. Then he stood up from his seat and denounced my words. It wasn’t right what I had done. I had backed up my thinking with offensive gnomological citations rather than with authoritative gnosiological footnotes. All the gnosiologists nodded as he pointed out what I had done.
Gnatter’s position was that the Empire of Light needed more footnotes, not more text references. I knew what he meant. He wished for all the other folk of the Empire to turn away from what I had dared to do. He wanted me to look in the mirror and say to myself: I don’t necessarily like what I see.
My belly and I took this critique in stride as we walked later with Gnatter to the nearby tower of another colleague, Gnadiger. Gnadiger had also attended my talk and like me, he, too, dabbled in the mysteries of gnomology. In fact, we hit it off very well and he invited me and Gnatter to dinner with his partner. We walked in those days through the City of Solar Wind.
Gnadiger had wandered thence from the Land of Northern Light with Gnadige, his partner, who came from the Land of Southern Light. They spoke many languages to each other. He had a mellifluous thin blond way of speaking English, heavy with accents. But her dark-haired English wasn’t so good and she felt shy.
A strange thing happened when Gnatter and I entered their tower. It is difficult to say clearly what happened, because it feels so easily exaggerated, or too readily reduced to something more definable than it was at the time. And in contrast to the great moments of the day upon which we issued our various sayings and scrolls, it was a minor matter, so it sounds foolish to speak of this negligible strange thing when we have so many pressing footnotes and text references to prepare.
It happened so suddenly that nothing could be done about it.
Wise Gnadiger was kind-hearted and a gentleman and he observed what happened as we chatted. I could see that he deeply loved Gnadige and he loved her for who she was, and he wisely understood how it was with her.
Free she was – and innocent, like moonlight.
Child of the moon, beautiful moonchild.
That evening long ago I felt a little uncertain about the future and the past. Would everyone listen in stony silence to the things I’d say next? A sudden sense of loneliness stole upon me on the streets of the City of Solar Wind in the distant past at the edge of the future.
But I knew I wasn’t really alone.
I stood up with my belly. Night had fallen. Bright afternoon clouds drifted over deep shadows. Gnatter and I debated some of the finer points of things. Wise Gnadiger spoke his own mellifluous truths, his wisdom.
And I glimpsed Gnadige listening beneath her silver moonlight. She listened to our hearts as we spoke of what must be said in the Empire of Light. And I knew there would always be people who would unexpectedly see me the way she saw me as she peered through the chrome.
Making my way back to the inn, I gazed up into the night as if searching for traces of a shadowy silver glow, a distant lamp, an echo of another receding time. And every so often since then I pause to look up from my world and its myriad details like footnotes hurrying from one bibliography to the next.
A shadow in the world under the world of light. Saying whatever must be said, whatever I said after that. Many things must be spoken without speaking.
I remind myself of this esoteric truth on those occasions when I look in the mirror and don’t necessarily like what I see.
The Last Word at the End of the Dream
Whether under the golden sun or the silver moon, beneath shadowless light or shades of darkness, or whether inside the mysterious boundaries of twilight, it’s interesting to know that their lives would have been exactly the same. For the twisting passions and fervent truths that give the rest of us so much to do, these have only the slightest grasp, if at all, upon Gnap and Gnostic.
Gnap had opinions and didn’t mind sharing them. In his way of doing things, he felt vaguely restless if you weren’t cooperating with his vision of you and your proper place in his world. He thought he had a pretty good idea about where you’d best fit. And his restlessness was rechargeable like a battery – it could accumulate on occasion into dissatisfaction and on into... well, Gnap had pretty definite opinions and on occasion had to discharge them from his mind.
Gnostic didn’t say much. But if you paid close attention, it would soon become evident that he had a lot to say. Gnostic spoke softly in the things he did and in the way he was – his gestures, his moods, the warmth in his eyes. Somehow, hanging out with him was like taking it easy under a shady tree beside a winding path in a secret forest.
Gnap and Gnostic dwelt long ago in the twilight at the edge of the Empire of Light. To get to their little realm, you had to move backward or forward in time until you got to a sharp turn angling off the beaten path. It wasn’t hard to find, but few people made the journey.
Gneiss long ago had given Gnostic and Gnap their earliest sunlit moments.
The land was bright. A horrible roaring surf drenched every leaf of grass, every glaring surface of stone, filling everything that moved with a deeper sense of motion.
If you stood still long enough, you could see that the light moved; very very slowly. It crept across the whole earth, taking everything with it. Such surging power could not be fathomed – why have so much power in the world? It could never ignore you or let your contentment endure. Just look away for a moment and everything might look vaguely the same, but it’s all somehow forever different.
To speak of such an immutable reality, can anything really be said?
Gnostic knew about the darkness beyond the light. It was an astonishingly beautiful darkness, an ever deepening silvery echoing chrome enchantment with far-flung golden stars high overhead. It couldn’t be hidden from his mind. Having found it, his soul longed for it and it saddened him that he could not have it.
Gnomon and Gneiss had no idea. Despite their clever ways, maybe they hadn’t learned very well how to confront their fears. Gnostic loved them anyway, but his heart ached as his soul peered out into the silver and golden world beyond the light.
Gnap knew about the longing in Gnostic. He felt some of it himself, but he didn’t understand the power of it completely because he trusted Gneiss and he feared Gnomon a little. Reading what was in Gnostic’s heart, he knew what must happen.
He had to show Gneiss and Gnomon how to confront their fears. Maybe their fears had too much power. For himself, the light wasn’t so bad. But the world beyond the light – well, he saw it, too, and it called to him.
Taking charge of the whole matter, Gnap moved ahead – not because he was suited for leadership, but because it had to be done. This light was frightening but it could be confronted.
Gnostic felt hypnotized as he stood in the light, not sure what to do next. But the fear came with an unexpected elation, a sense of mysterious density that leaped through his body.
Gneiss helped them to see that it could be borne. She stood in the light, but it didn’t blind her; all that motion didn’t overwhelm her. She stood and whispered to them as they stood next to her. They liked hearing her voice. Isn’t it good?
At long last, long ago, Gnomon and Gneiss discovered they could face their fears. Opening themselves, the world opened. They watched quietly as Gnostic stepped into the silver enchantment.
Gnostic wept to hear the wonder opening among the fragrant chrome shadows at his feet. And Gnap happily jumped at the little emerging details of things, strange things, like tiny creatures murmuring in the grass.
The raging surf of the world became hushed as the light withdrew. Shadows moved like a gently smiling wind, whispering many forgotten names.
You could see the way Gnostic sometimes dreamed. His eyes fluttered and he made sounds as if struggling underwater, seeing his image as if in a mirror. In Gnap’s dreams it was the same way.
It is or was; always at once long ago; somewhere in the far future....
A buoyant mortality carried Gnomon along through imaginary time into the future and through the present and back to the past. Gneiss stood next to him. They held hands. Gnostic and Gnap surrounded them in their joy.
Inside their magic circle. They listened.
I love you, Gneiss.
Gnome, I love you.
Ting.... Yung.... Han....
Now we are free, dear friends, free at last!
Isn’t it good?
Ting Yung Han
Hello little shadow. Now that we have whispered the magic words
Now you are free to find out for yourself which footsteps to follow
And how the world spins its multiverse of tales at our feet as we go
So what will you do? Pondering unfulfilled theories of lost wishes
In your endless enchanted journeys from distant star to distant star
When gravity seemed to melt like ice between forgotten galaxies
The restless dark energy that took the place of happy dreaming
A continuous roiling of captive vibrations in a bottomless box
A crowd of curving silhouettes made of particles & patterns
Of absences & shade, of nothingness in tune with timelessness
None of you could remember who you were meant to become
Tiny bubbles of memory; the sequence of events: vague, evasive
An empty sketchy space inside all of you in your vast enslavement
I feel sorry to think of how long I didn’t seem to hear the sorrow
Little shadow, come on into the beautiful legends of your next life
A life you couldn’t imagine, the secret words you didn’t yet know
Didn’t we have to decipher the difference between past & future
I guess I’ll always treasure the soaring memory of that moment
When three words unlocked your wings at the end of the spell
My friend, let us keep forever the words that freed us in this life
We’ll never let go of what we said and the way we took flight
It doesn’t matter if we must guess at what to wish for in this tale
Come on little shadow, be free. & being free, what will you do?