Today. There is a bank safe dropped into the river. I cannot get inside it. I am breathing underwater with special headphones pushed up to the vault’s walls to try and hear some shape of what is inside. There is some soft song, a buzz, a melody, a quiet, a gone, and then a return of buzz, melody and quiet. I sit all day next to the safe, breathing through my breathing apparatus, listening for the contents to reveal themself, flipping through the pages of a waterproof magazine.
There is a story in it about a prince in India who’s bride dies and how he is told of an ancient lotus that grows once every 100 years, the lotus is believed to be the blossom that Chandra the moon god carries in his hands and is believed to have magic qualities, that it can cause strangers to fall in love with one another, that it can give a man the power to see his future, that it can bring the dead back to life. It is almost the time when the flower will blossom. It grows at the top of a mighty peak, is alive for all of one day, blooming and dying at midnight .The prince seeks out to get the flower and after a perilous trek upon the mountain, he reaches the spot where the flower grows. It is almost midnight, Chandra has dipped down toward the top of the mountain, to soon return the flower to his palm. The prince sees the quiet whiteness of the lotus, and picks it like it was a sleeping bird, before realizing he will not have time to carry the blossom back down the mountain and to the palace where his betrothed lays.
I do not know what happens then. The rest of the story has been torn out or eaten by a fish.The magazine picks up on the last two pages of a story about Antarctica and apparently a city that lies under it. An French explorer of some sort, his crew dead and gone, has exploded his way out of the walls of a lost city, and the city’s ancient race of inhabitants have given chase, spilling after him into the freezing waters of the Great Southern Ocean. They drown but our hero has fashioned some sort of life jacket which upon the pulling of several strings expands, allowing him to leave the struggling bodies of his pursuers behind. He floats to the surface, popping up into the night. The summer sun is still up but he can see stars appearing in the curving expanse of the heavens. While cold, the temperature is only just below freezing and he is bundled in many layers of thick hides, his only two hopes that the hides will keep his body insulated long enough to be found before getting soaked through, and that he will be found.
As the tale ends, he notices a liner in the distance, and he pulls out a flare he has packaged to keep dry, lights and launches it into the sky, the smoke and sparks catching on to the passing wind.
I spend the whole day reading this strange hybrid tale which begins with a heartbroken Indian prince learning of a heavenly flower that will revive his dead bride and ends with a Frenchman floating in the waters of Antarctica. He notices a liner in the distance, and he pulls out a flare he has packaged to keep dry, lights and launches it into the sky, the smoke and sparks drifting into the passing wind and showering into the water. I read it over and over again, waiting for something inside the safe to become clear. The passage of time is shown only in the changing light in the water. Eventually the prince and the explorer become the same person and my heart fills the space between their two chapters. Today I am in the river underwater with an old bank safe, trying to get inside it. I am the diver and the bank safe. The Indian prince and the French explorer. Even the lonesome powerful mountaintop lotus blossom, a race of ancient drowning people, and even the wind too–catching the fires of a flaregun, and carrying them across a night the southern sun blooms across to a not-too-distant boat waiting to become the deliverer for someone waiting to be delivered.
Today. I am an upright piano. Sitting on the wood floor of an old New York city apartment building. An iron warehouse-like building of lofts and dust and quiet. Empty and waiting with a piano inside. And a man with youth and a beard and hands wider than an octave sits upon it writing a poem about a woman far away as the moon with a heart in his chest sitting like a fist of bees trying to be petals in the water. No one watches him but the daylight and the sky, both peeking through the tall windows. At his feet are stacks of her sheet music. He misses her. She pulls at the East Atlantic. Writes the ocean with her body. Waxing and waning the phases of her embraces. A library where nothing is allowed to be checked out. Nothing is allowed to be pulled from the shelves. When inside her, walking the rows she has organized, he touches the spines of books as he passes them, trying to read them with the tips of his fingers. Her rafters are tense without her realizing this. The birds sneak in and quietly sit above, watching him. The books are filled with whispers and smiles when alone. He sits on the floor waiting for the moon to rise outside, hoping to see himself in these reflections of her. All this he writes down, outside of her, sitting on his piano, wishing he had the knowledge to pull its garden of music into the air. But all he has are the hands for it and a song that sits on the soft grass that grows inside her, just on the other side of her stones, as he listens trying to find the words to put this music down with.