The actor stands on an unpopulated beach, indifferent to the bright sunlight sliding through the nearly cloudless sky. A short distance away, a white beach umbrella shades a white cast-iron table & chair. A tall, sweat-beaded glass occupies the actor's left hand as he stares listlessly toward the glimmering surface of the sea. The music begins. the orchestration is opulent, the music extravagantly melancholy. The actor is uncertain what emotion to express. After careful thought, he decides that profound sadness, perhaps depression, is appropriate. He begins to cry. A portion of the sky above the sea recedes into the far reaches of space, its color growing darker, more rarefied. As tears begin to roll down his face, the actor realizes that he has made a mistake, that he should be crying tears of boredom rather than tears of sadness. (Meanwhile, atop a faraway windwracked cliff lives an old man, a sorcerer with a hoary, wrinkled face. Amidst an incessant turbulence of cold mists, his subtle corruption lies hidden in his high house.)
" . . . bodhisattva. I also knew someone who hung himself on a cross once. Really something! I don't think I could ever do something like that." This hitchhiker has been rambling on for some time now. It's a dark night, heavily overcast. Only 3 or 4 stars are visible as we drive along a country road at about 50 mph.
My mother, who is driving, comments: "It always worries me when someone does that. It's dangerous, someone could get hurt. I remember I was worried the whole tome Steve was up with those Christmas decorations." I nod in agreement.
Tiring of the monotonous approach & recession of telephone poles, I close my eyes. A memory comes to me, a clear-eyed image:
Soft music hovers around glowing streetlights. The sidewalks are empty as far as I can see. Behind a wide display window above a candy store is an elaborate arrangement of holly, mistletoe, & pfitzer boughs. At the center of this, dimly lit by a chain of flashing red Christmas lights, is a heavy, rough-hewn cross. On this, suspended from 3 thick iron nails, hangs Steve . . .
Suddenly the image is gone, & I slip into a deeper sleep.
I awaken in unfamiliar gloom. I arise & open the curtains. outside my window is a newly constructed city of coarse-woven webs. Each is occupied by a large, perhaps yard-long, spider, black or brown in color. A dispassionate fear is born in me, a cold, disembodied fear which matures into helpless screaming. A numbness overtakes my body, & I begin to change. I observe my transformation, & realize that I am becoming a daddy-long-legs.
Wrapped in darkness, I follow the gentle curve of the path. On my left, the dim sky-glow shows a large, rounded hill. After a time the path leaves the shelter of the hill, & slowly the moon emerges. A landscape opens before me, a vast plain filled with fields & pastureland & occasional houses. In the warm moonlight I see that the path slopes down to the plain. I continue along the path in still silence.
I am motionless in the void. All about me is darkness-- to light, no movement, no form. Indefinite time passes. Instantly a star forms nearby, yellow & warm. More time passes, & I find myself drifting into a shower of golden sparks, drifting, slowly turning through transitive constellations.
About the author:
Peter Roberts grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned a BS at the University of Pittsburgh. He currently works as a writer, computer consultant, and full-time father in central Ohio. Over the past thirty years or so, he has had poems and stories published in various literary magazines, including Alba ,Timber Creek Review , Illumen , Santa Clara Review, Ship of Fools, Ars Medica, The Sidewalk's End, Abyss & Apex, Homestead Review, Poesy , Chaffin Journal , Octavo , Blue Fifth Review , The Paumanok Review , Poem , Tryst , Lullaby Hearse, Lily, The Wisconsin Review, Bitter Oleander, The William and Mary Review, Small Pond , New York Quarterly , Star*Line , & Confrontation , & in Poetic Voices Without Borders (Gival Press). He has poems forthcoming in Adagio, SubtleTea, & Between Kisses. (For a more complete list of publications, and additional personal information, see his website: http://www.geocities.com/peterroberts.geo/personal.html)
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