Adapted from an image © VikaValter
The two huge rocks, slightly crumbling, glow almost translucent. One rock is behind the other, mimicking it. It catches your eye, and as you stare at it, you feel you can start to see through the one to the other behind it. The rocky landscape is brilliant in fall colors, orange and crimson speckled over with black. The sun is beginning to set, making it even more vivid.
Someone you don’t remember from your other visits to this park stands in front of the pointed, tall rocks. Sometimes the person seems male and dark-haired. Sometimes female, redheaded. Hard to make out such an arbitrary thing. The old ways of looking at things seem so outdated. You feel sorry for those who are still trapped with them. Whatever those ways were.
The rocks look as if in another life they are pyramids, though in this particular reality, the one you are most familiar with, they lean to one side. How many worlds intersect here? How many worlds are dreaming of other worlds? What are those trees with red berries in the other overlapping worlds?
How do YOU appear in those worlds? As a shadow of a cloud? As a sound of unusually melodic wind? Are you perhaps one of those selves you’ve dreamed of, taking people on a journey through the wilds of Australia, deeper into forgetting and out into the stones and roots around them? Are you, in yet another overlapping world, a sculptor, looking at this bemused redheaded woman standing here in front of the pointed, yellow rocks? She is not moving, her head turned back to look at you in a fetching way. Her chin is small and delicate, and her nose has a slight bump as if it has been broken some time in her past. You feel your hands become more comfortable as earth, as covered with clay.
But are the rocks there in that life with the model, or are they instead a bed of daffodils, a flock of finches rising to the trees with yellow flowers? When the finches land, does, in that artistic life, a yellow butterfly land on the elbow of the model? Does someone’s awareness, in the group of bush adventurers, learn to merge with the forsythias through the aboriginal meditation they are dutifully practicing while you sneak off to have your secret beers? In another world, do the pyramids send out a higher sound to the Cambodian initiates? In which intersecting life do you make crude jokes about pyramid initiations?
When the model tells you, the sculptor, that she has dreamed of you before, each night, for seven nights, the night explodes into great crackling lightning from the pyramid’s capstone. The initiate inside the sarcophagus has visions that create his past and future lives intertwined with some child he wishes at the time were his own. Those of the well-paid expedition through the bush find most of them have foreseen this day, and its plot explains the mysterious premonitions they have been discussing around the campfires.
You want to hold the model, your hands covering her with clay. Whenever or wherever she is. To touch the curve of her lips, to touch her indefinable accent. To run your fingers softly over her eyelids. You call her, across the veils. In the world in which you are a sculptor, you become impulsive.
She looks up. Her eyes grow darker. Her heart seems to open like a flower. You go quickly to her and stare at her eyes. “I love you many lifetimes, now.” Her startled look confuses you. She pulls on her yellow sarong. It is time to stop for the day. She has to go. She is frowning, accentuating the furrows between her brows that you had been kindly ignoring. But she has dreamed about you as you are in this life, in which you are not a sculptor and do not know her, though she never understands. You are a poem she reads repeatedly, in sleep, each time a little different, referring to the last version or the next one within the poem, symbols from the version intertwined like vines. The finches leave their nests. The journeyers you take through the outback adventures all write one long poem together and throw it on the fire.
Who is that person standing in front of the yellow rocks, in this very life? You go closer. He seems lit up better now, in the deepening sunset, almost as if flames were highlighting his features. He turns to you and nothing in your life makes sense.
A love so overpowering is filling up your chest. Your peripheral vision blurs. You resist the impulse to speak to him, because of the memory of the superimposed model’s reaction. But this IS the model. This is also your father who performed with you in circus acts in Austria. How could you have forgotten him? This is your nephew in the Cambodian pyramid order, who smirked about the rites and made fun of the priests, making you laugh at them as well. This is the Australian journeyer who had a twitch and paid you in installations. What would this stranger say if you approached? How can all the colors be so brilliant? How can they all make such similar designs through all the intersecting worlds? Yes, this is an incredible meeting place of parallel timelines. It is hard to contain your breathing, and your spine is tingling deliciously, a rush of light running upwards along it.
Perhaps each moment is a meeting place as powerful as this. Each spot of space. Perhaps this is each moment, each spot. Time, perhaps, to lie down.
The sky, the scene before you, all seems shot through with holes. Wormholes. Scintillating. The stranger looks at you, waiting. He doesn’t seem to notice the popping sounds you hear in the sky.
He has longish, dark hair that curls around his face and neck. He is slender, agile. Quite handsome, really. His shoes are muddy. He has a small backpack. You don’t want him to leave until you find some way to start a conversation that will make sense.
A kind of fear, adrenalin, runs through your body. Your heart is noticeably beating. Your breathing is erratic. It’s time to say something, or never have the chance again, unless your paths happen to meet again. Trying to pretend life is as mundane as people normally believe seems beyond you at the moment. You can think of nothing normal to say. He walks on.
Your heart sinks. The colors dim. It is hard to stand up straight. You start wondering if you are possible, because you have worked up to this moment, breathing and chanting as the books told you to do. Eating nothing but sprouted rice for days. Some of it a little too soured. Maybe you held your breath too long, too many times. Maybe you fooled yourself into believing in yourself as you have become. Once, in a more comfortable time, you believed in a past leading inexorably to the future in simple strides, looking straight ahead. But that was in the past.
You close your eyes. Maybe your meditations on the quantum foam the scientists say makes up our universe, tiny black holes and white holes, has boiled your mind. You see them now, the little buggers, and they sound like popping. At the opening of each circle of each hole you seem to sense The Fool. He reminds you of the circus performer. He is wearing a deep red velvet cape, pulling back red velvet curtains over the each bubble. He is the Master of Ceremonies. His number in the Tarot Deck is 0. He is insouciant, preparing you to remember not to take seriously any of the cast of characters that come after him—1, 2, 3. And also before him. He is both at the beginning and the ending of the deck. He closes the show with grand, smirking, sweeping gestures. He seems like he would fit in well in Berlin cabarets. He is at the beginning and ending of each tiny wormhole, the 0 holes. All in between is fun. A kind of play. Your character is one of the cards. Or many of them, in your case at the moment. He is the jester, laughing at it all: don’t take any of it too seriously. Enjoy the colors and the drama. Especially the deep red velvet. Enjoy the way the characters pretend to be who they are, pretend life is just a normal, simple thing. Pretend it can be all separated out nicely. All the aspects of one thing. All sleeping in one deck together. Lying in wait for meaning. Meaning that comes and goes.
You open your eyes again to the deepening reds of the sun going down. It doesn’t help.
Copyright © 2008 by Tantra Bensko
"Quantum Fool" was previously published in The Angler.