Consciousness streams

She is standing alone on the stage. The blue light streams down from a single bulb above her, bathing her in a cool radiance. She is thin, lithesome, an angelic faery waiting for the first notes to come through to her. Her eyes closed, her face placid and calm, she is a statue, carved from the perfect earth and ore. The darkness around her a frame, the wooden stage beneath her feet a pedestal.

Through the solitary window across the room comes the first note, a single chiming tone, ringing on into infinity. As the echo fades, a moment that stretches forever, her eyes slowly open, a seductive motion of which she is innocently unaware. The second note follows, hesitantly, as if frightened away by her humble beauty. A third note is carried by the breeze, a fourth, trailed by a rich minor chord, a major seventh, a suspended second. With each note, the statue comes to life more and more, slowly but without any fear, without uncertainty.

The song is a gentle etude, romantic and strong, and her body flows, a river guided by a composition. There is perfect unity between every muscle, every joint, every fiber of her being. The piano is joined by a cello, then a guitar, and finally a french horn, the unique quartet sounding every bit as natural as a full orchestra. The picture is a majestic puzzle, a moment trapped in time and frozen in motion.

He dreams of her dance, and hopes, sitting alone on the cold concrete floor before her stage, never to awaken.

The world needs more dreamers

�There was a time not so long ago�� he thinks, and then places the pen silently on the maple desk in front of him. What about that time? It wasn�t so long ago, after all; shouldn�t the memories be clearer, less foggy? The memories were dreams now, rich and vivid upon awakening, but fading as he got closer to pen and paper.

If it weren�t for her, none of this would matter. He could be spending his days lying on the ratty and worn couch, playing his brother�s video games and staying stoned in a rich haze of Californian Long Hair. Once a week he and the guys could hop into whoever�s car had gas, cruise down to the beach and catch the rays and the waves, drinking enough cheap tequila to kill a small nation before noon. But no � she had to come into the picture, her milky skin and lithe fingers that played him like a harp and crystalline blue eyes� Those eyes, so like stars that sometimes he thought he might go blind staring into them, knowing full well that she couldn�t see him watching her longingly but that she could feel his gaze, piercing her, tracing straight to and through her core. He had never seen anything as clearly � certainly not in the last ten years, since Ernie had introduced him to the soothing powers of the beer bong.

And she knew, and he knew she knew, and it was all part of a maddening circle that spiraled through his brain, winding deeper and deeper, threatening to bore through to his feet if he dwelled there too long. But part of him couldn�t help it, just couldn�t avoid wondering what it would be like to touch her arm, to trace the curves of her dancer�s body with his calloused fingers, to kiss her mouth, softly�

The sound of Henry�s car door slamming shut snapped him awake from his daydream. Henry, home again at sunrise from another long night of pounding Jagermeister and cheap beer at the roadhouse he called home, probably wearing fresh bruises or a busted lip like some badge of honor, another night wasted. Henry, who would pass out (if he was lucky) or want to start yet another fight (if he wasn�t).

His hand reached instinctively for the lamp, but paused as he realized that it was too late; even with the sun brightening the sky enough to give the birds their wake-up call, even as many copies of the world as Henry was probably seeing, he would have seen the late, would have known that he was still up, dreaming about her.

The door opened quietly, a breath in the sticky summer dawn, and shut with an angry clap that startled him firmly into the here and now. Gone are thoughts of her, of the way her feet seem to never touch the floor when she walks, replaced by the cold hard sting of Henry�s drunken fist. He could slump over on the desk, the voices say, pretend that he fell asleep after a long night of reading, but then Henry would have the element of surprise on his side, as well as size.

The refrigerator opened, and the familiar clink of the night�s last beer kept the routine going. Any minute now, Henry would walk past his room turning off the hall light, then return, three heavy footsteps echoing for hours in his head, and tell him quietly

�She asked about you tonight.�

He was dreaming. He had fallen asleep on the desk after all, and was now dreaming of a better place, a better time.

��dja hear me?� Henry�s slur is different � just as strong as normal, but calmer, subdued, almost accepting. ��liz�beth asked about you. Wanted to know how you are. When you�re coming back to see her.�

He thought the moment might last forever.

Thinking of E

“Tiny Dancer” (Elton john)

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

Piano man he makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on she sings the songs
The words she knows the tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

A dream I dreamed I dreamt

I’m in the midst of a field, lush green and yellow grasses rippling around me, a pond talking to the spring breeze. There are trees in the distance, and capping those, mountains covered in snow still falling fresh. Behind me unseen is the ocean; I don’t turn to know this – can’t, in fact – but the smell of the salt air tells the secret.

And from somewhere comes music, familiar lyrics and music drifting quietly:

“I lie awake
Watching your shoulders
Move so softly as you breathe”

Why am I looking for speakers in the tall grass? I know they’re not there — and even if they were, what would power them? — but I search anyway. And as I continue, kicking through the undergrowth with prodding feet and swimming through the field, a bizarre and tangled breast-stroke, the music continues:

“With every breath
You’re growing older
But that is fine if you’re with me”

I know the song, but I can’t name it for the life of me. And somehow I know that that is the key to all of this — the field, the mountains, the trees, the unseen ocean. So my search for the speakers continues, because that’s how I’ll remember.

I pause and look skyward, to find that the blazing and brilliant sun has been replaced by an angry black void of a cloud. I’ve never seen a cloud come in so quickly — nor one that absorbed the light, not just blocking the sun but somehow sucking up every bit of the world around it. And I think to myself, or maybe even say aloud, that I should be afraid, scared to death — but I’m not. And there’s a detached curiosity with that realization, like maybe I’ve become a robot, replaced with metal and plastic and circuit boards when the sun was being buried.

“The ray of dawn
Plays on your eyelids
A sleeping beauty dressed in sun”

Which is a funny line, since the sun is hiding. But it’s not so funny, because I’ve come upon a clearing in the field. This is the center of the world, something inside says. The absolute middle of my life. The ground is charred black, as though a bomb had detonated away the grasses in a perfect circle. And what’s not so funny about the music is that there’s a bed in the middle of all of this, bathed in a single beam of sunlight, the covers writhing in motion as the girl underneath rolls over to face me, staring holes in my heart through her closed eyes.

“I believe this heart of mine when it tells my eyes
That this is beauty
I believe this heart of mine when it tells my mind
That this is reason”

As the music crescendos, building to a heartbreaking climax, I roll over, no longer or never in a field or even outside, but now in my own bed, surrounded by cats of a million owners. And I close my eyes, content to return to sleep, having had my glimpse of her for the day. I shift my legs, adjusting to the right sleeping position, and I feel an arm, whisper-light, the featherless wing of an angel, and the arm falls sweetly across my chest, embracing me with all the power of night.

“I believe this heart of mine when it cries at time
That this is forever
I believe this heart of mine when it tells the skies
That this is the face of God”

And I feel her head nestle softly against my back, her hair bushing my shoulder blade, tickling, and I see through the window that the ocean is closer than I realized, and I wonder why the men trimming the fields are still at work. It’s Sunday, and life is too wonderful to be working.

Amends should be made…

To balance out the brilliantly good:

It has been my thought for some time that there is balance lacking my world. This has been the case for far too long, perhaps too long to ever be righted in my head. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try.

How do you repay amazing friendship after too many years of neglect and self-important, egocentric behavior?

Having been on the opposite side of this situation, my initial devil’s advocate reaction is that you don’t, because for all the thought and sometimes bitter joking, it’s unimportant in the end. But that’s also my often-uncommon thinking, not at all based on popular study.

Something that must be considered more carefully in the coming days.

Falling is like this

Serenity, a calm that echoes quietly in my head.
Optimism, hope, faith that this is perfect timing. Knowledge that everything is what it is, and that all roads lead home in time.
A giddy smile with every text message, phone call, email.

It’s the small things that make life good. It’s balance: for every bit of uncertainty or fear, there is an arm across my chest as I drift in and out of sleep, an early morning hug that lasts forever and not long enough, a soft hand on mine that doesn’t want to let me leave.

It’s the small things. It’s the devil in the details — not the puzzle, but the pieces that make it whole. The touches, the kisses, the half-awake glimpse of silken skin, the warmth of the breath. “Breathe out / so I can breathe you in.” I love that line. I live that line.

It’s the forest, sometimes, not the trees. It’s the passion displayed, no matter what it’s about. It’s the light in the eyes, the supernova blinding brilliance behind the most beautiful face I’ve seen. It’s determination, stubbornness, honesty, innocence.

Falling is believing in the improbable, making plans that shouldn’t work but will, putting stock in the unknown with confidence.

Falling is a picture that makes the worst place suddenly bearable.

Some people have a fear of falling. Acrophobia. Some people have recurring dreams of falling. Some people do everything they can to avoid falling.

Some of us enjoy the ride.


Morning comes too early and nighttime falls too late
And sometimes all I want to do is wait
The shadow I’ve been hiding in has fled from me today

I know it’s easier to walk away than look it in the eye
But I will raise a shelter to the sky
and here beneath this
star tonight I’ll lie
She will slowly yield the light
As I awaken from the longest night

Dreams are shaking
Set sirens waking up tired eyes
With the light the memories all rush into his head

By a candle stands a mirror
Of his heart and soul she dances
She was dancing through the night above his bed

And walking to the window
he throws the shutters out
against the wall
And from an ivory tower hears her call
‘Let light surround you’

It’s been a long, long time
He’s had awhile to think it over
In the end he only sees the change
Light to dark
Dark to light
Light to dark
Dark to light

Heaven must be more than this
When angels waken with a kiss
Sacred hearts won’t take the pain
But mine will never be the same

He stands before the window
His shadow slowly fading from the wall
And from an ivory tower hears her call
‘Let the light surround you’

Once lost but I was found
When I heard the stained glass shatter all around me
I sent the spirits tumbling down the hill
But I will hold this one on high above me still
She whispers words to clear my mind
I once could see but now at last I’m blind

I know it’s easier to walk away than look it in the eye
But I had given all than I could take
And now I’ve only habits left to break
Tonight I’ll still be lying here
Surrounded in all the light