I woke up late at night. The air was cool and slightly damp, and I realized that I wasn’t in my home city or anywhere near there. Looking up from my bed at the stars through the window, stone buildings rose nearby, and their pointed roofs told me that I had woken up forgetting again. I was travelling and far from home.
I threw on some clothing, grabbed the thin blanket from my rented bed, crawled out the window, and leapt to a neighbouring roof where I curled into a crouch. The memory of where I was came back to me slowly in small pictures. Travelling alone and keeping to myself had left me with few words, even for myself. A shadow shifted to my right, setting pebbles skidding down the slope, and it muttered “sorry to startle you”. I turned to look at a young man who was also watching the spread of the city. “You speak English,” I said. And then there were two of them, the second a young woman, small, huddled underneath a blanket they shared.
I felt like I knew them, that they were a regular part of my daily wanderings through the city, but I could not call up any real memories of them before that moment. As the sun rose over the rooftops and our conversation continued, I shrugged off any uncertainty I had felt and decided to accept what I seemed to know. I had been alone for several months, and I was not going to turn down the first feelings of camaraderie I had had since leaving home.
With the sunlight in full force, I shuffled off my blanket and wondered what new friends my walks would bring, but I hadn’t even risen before a young woman crawled through a window to my left and scuttled over, bum-hand-bum-hand, to sit next to me. Her name was Nicky, and everything about her face reminded me of bright buttons. The window she came through actually led to a building neighbouring mine, and she invited me over to see where she was bunking while travelling. English-speaking foreigners were suddenly everywhere. When we passed through the window, we had to push off and leap across a space four stories above the ground onto a huge mattress. We were on the top mattress of many that were suspended one above the other from the floor up. It was like we were stashed away on a giant, soft shelving unit for young travellers. The suspended mattresses swayed slightly this way and that, rocking us like children.
Despite the fact that the mattresses had no sheets or blankets, the light falling through the large, factory-like, multi-paned windows made me feel warm and secure. Nicky suddenly slid over and wrapped her arms around me, nuzzling into my neck. “Do you mind?” she asked. “No,” I half-lied. Her closeness felt amazing, but something kept nagging at me that I shouldn’t be there with her.
Just as she began to kiss me with soft, button-small kisses, her eyes snapped open and she giggled. The mattress began to tilt downward at our feet and upward at our heads. All the mattresses were tilting. We slid to the middle of the mattress. “What do we do?!” I shouted in alarm. “Follow me!” she yelled back over the din of the large mechanism that controlled the bed shelves, and first she and then I leapt forward onto wide metal slats and scaled down them just before the several stories of mattresses were mechanically piled up together, tilted vertical, and then stored up against the metal frame we had just climbed down. “They do that every morning so that they can clear the beds and set them up for the next lodgers,” she said. “That way they avoid people squatting there for too long.”
I woke up from that this morning missing her kisses and her button eyes sparkling at me, eyes that were so dark in colour that it was impossible to tell what shade they were. It was then that I realized what had held me back from fully giving in to my desire for her in the dream: the Fiery One is back in nine days! He will be home! In nine days! Nine days is nothing after the thirty-two days that he has already been gone. Thirty-two days of pent up sexual needs will surely be unleashed at long last. It would have been nice to spend some of that energy on the fictional Nicky, but my heart is obviously biding its time for the Fiery One’s return.
An Eastern Ballad
– Allen Ginsberg, 1945 - 1949
I speak of love that comes to mind:
The moon is faithful, although blind;
She moves in thought she cannot speak.
Perfect care has made her bleak.
I never dreamed the sea so deep,
The earth so dark; so long my sleep,
I have become another child.
I wake to see the world go wild.
– Allen Ginsberg, New York, mid-1949
This is the one and only
it is the absolute world.
There is no other world.
The circle is complete.
I am living in Eternity.
The ways of this world
are the ways of Heaven.
Russia’s lower house of parliament has ratified the Kyoto Protocol.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez has done a last-minute re-write of the last chapter of his latest book, outwitting bootleggers.