The giant spider in its black shroud sits irritated in the center of its web wishing it ever larger, demanding that others enter, become enthralled until it defines the parameters of the universe the spider imagines.
The giant spider silently seethes at the once gardener who, having tasted the forbidden fruit, has closed the screened door as he reluctantly departed the garden diminishing the web’s attraction.
The spider dreams of his new world, knows his old one, the simple web may be replaced, so he presses on spinning all his resources in the hope that others will come to accept his crafted reality as their own.
Night and the ancients retreat to a dark corner of their celestial prison from the promised arrival of the yellow dwarf from which they know we demand a presence.
We ignore the ancients now, ignore those who cast them into their prison, ignore the acts for which they were banished, care only to name them, and they know that our recognition is their only grasp on existence.
Each day their tiny cousin demands our full attention, defies us to look deeply at him, pleased that he is, for us, the center of our universe.
Deep beneath the Arctic ice the whale songs shimmer in the harsh light of a frozen sun. We strive to hear them, hear nothing, hear only our thoughts echoing through cavernous memories. With thoughts of what was, what we wish had been, we are ambient noise in a universe which cradles hope, craves silence. Dolphins dream of days when the sea was theirs, lives lived in a slow paradise a world the land- bound would never comprehend even as they laid waste to it.
The youngest child, her mind uncluttered, can answer any question unburdened by words, her answers rebound across the universe. If you stop struggling to hear her, let the silence surround you both, you cannot escape the answers
A reflection on case 84 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
The universe is populated by an as yet unknown number of black holes, points of hyper- density whose gravity is so great that anything getting too close can never escape, or so we were originally told.
Hawking suggested there is hope for escape, some energy close to the event horizon may radiate back into the universe.
In the black hole that was my family, I, luckily, proved to be that escaping energy.
On the worst day, of the worst week, or even just a day, like most that did not go the way you want, step outside at night if the sky is clear and stare upwards at the universe.
Realize that you are seeing more than a monumental collection of celestial bodies, that you are experiencing so much history, and moments older than mankind itself, and in that moment you are in the midst of eternity.
Rockets flash briefly across the chilled sky, plumes of smoke, ash carried off by impending winter.
Over the lintel of the entry to the Inter-Continental Hotel Chicago, carved deeply into the marble Es Salamu Aleikum staring implacably through ponderous brass framed doors onto the Miracle Mile. Countless guests pass below it unseeing.
My son and I sit across a small table spilling bits of tapas onto the cloth, laughing lightly at the young boy bathed in a puree of tomato, his shirt dotted in goat cheese. My son explains the inflation of the universe, gravitational waves cast off by coalescing binary neutron stars. His words pull me deeper into my seat. We speak somberly of the jet engine parked haphazardly in the Queens gas station unwilling to mention 265 lives salted across the small community.
We embrace by his door, the few measured hours run. He turns to call his girlfriend, I turn my collar up against the November night.
The Red Line train clatters slowly back into a sleeping city. In my room I brew a cup of Darjeeling.
*”We will drink tea in Kabul tomorrow morning, if God wills it.” – Basir Khan, Northern Alliance Commander, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, 13 November 2001.
First appeared in Hearsay, 2004 and in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008).