Numens

Words were everything; once. The blood of his blood. When the storms rolled in they spilled from the gutters and carved tiny rivulets in the snow. He was mesmerized. The things one could do with an alphabet. With crude tools he built little engines that would sputter and spark. He learned about the magnetism of words like a child who plays with slot cars and trains. Each end had a charge that could reverse. You took one and paired it with another and the engine might idle for a second or two longer but it would run forvever if you built a chain. Whole worlds burst into being. Lightning in a bottle. When he popped the cork it found in him the perfect channel to the ground. He could play a sentence like a piano. He conjured up dreams from the dust. These weren’t stories they were symphonies. They were not made of letters but of sound. He caught echoes in a butterfly net and kept them in those Mason jars with the blue-tinged glass. And that’s where they rest. At night he can hear them flutter, the rattle of their paper wings against the glass, against the tin sealing rings. It used to be his everything, this conjuring, this collection, the calling and the listening, the transcription from the ether of all the voices that ever were, the living and the dead, swirling like the dust particles trapped in Saturn’s gravitational limbo, that fine disk, grooved like a record with a billion howls and whispers, waiting for the needle drop, the tone-arm click that marked his entrance into the timeless fog of memories that were not his own, but would become recombinant with those things he did remember from the days, from the hours, the perception loops that spun and skipped, spun and skipped, like voices on the radio that still drift in the dead cold darkness between the stars.

o o o

Sometimes the tide will rise to fill these mud holes and in such times they are the living worlds of beings we will never know or see. Birthplaces and graveyards. A language of convenience for a species so bent on order and control. Label it and it is ours. The false power of names lies in the illusion of their containers. A tidy package plucked from an alphabet, a beginning and an end. As if between a pair of letters a thing can be experienced and known. A mud hole. A man. A tidal marsh. A witness. Reality in this world of perception requires but two. Or, one plus a medium of perception. A photograph perhaps. If I can see it then it must be real. If I can name it, I can know it. The mud hole fills. The mud hole empties. There is a name for every incarnation of a thing, for every phase and state. Mankind cannot abide a mystery. Is there any one thing seen that remains unfettered so? I yearn for the unnamed mystery. I spurn answers. Release the butterflies. Do not hold fast, hold not at all. I stand at the rim of the mud hole and demand to be stupefied. Each precious word is one link in a chain that binds me to a reason that I now find unreasonable. A new beginning would mean a new language; or none at all. Maybe I don’t write anymore because I’ve lost my faith in these tiny ant-like gods. This is our magic, you see. These our spells. Our mouths are wands. Words are daggers or balms, but they cannot be both so choose.

Try to see without articulation. Notice how the words swell. Seeing without naming. Just look. Stories can save us but they can also make us drown. I came to the mud hole, unbidden, as if pulled on a string. I was called upon to witness the ineffable mystery of a numen, a portal to the Great Spirit, whose memory resides beyond names and form. I leave you with this:

o O o

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