Frozen beetles, coasters from Rick’s, Xanax. In the weave of a dormitory sofa, two hairs from a Tunisian lady’s brushed Victory.
In this meadow, where grass is whetted by constant slight dispute, lies that once respiring block lung, a patriarch whom pressure made hot and cold in useful ways, and who over epochs went spilling milk and spiritus in exhalations until he broke along his tubing.
Canisters of Rogaine, a topological map showing the most unreliable overland routes, a Babylonian for a servant: a dusty cuneiform-writer who can’t do anything simply, a clumsy mathematician, a city slicker, a mediocre joke teller. Brita filters. Sachets of honey.
I have journeyed all this way to pick a shred from the bark of the Dogleaf, who grows in the arch-ring of this mess. I will apply twine to compulsion and achieve the gift of foresight.
‘Sagire’ means to wield an acute sense. Certain old women are called ‘sagae’, meaning witches, because they are thought to know many things, and dogs are called ‘sagacious’. Someone who smells an event before it happens, we say that he presages, which is to pre-sense the future …
The historian of astronomy tells us that if a glass cathedral existed, it would be a tremendous and communal work, transmitted from generation to generation like sensitive, everlasting grapes.
In any case, I shout, I’m off to get married! Historian of astronomy, how can I develop the gift of foresight?
The historian of astronomy responds:
Aeneas’s dream was so precise, he dreamt it while his natal city burnt forwards to its socket, an old umbilicus where wolf’s milk poured into the stomach. Flecks of hair caught in the passage like cassettes, creased photos, paperbacks by Len Deighton. When Aeneas woke up, his head was chronologically wrong. He summoned tar and rope, barrels of salted meat, fish-finders. He put his father on his shoulders and adventured throughout continental Europe,
First going to Sicily, where his father died, then going around and doing other things, then coming back to Sicily for games, then going to toxic Avernus by nostril, nest of Dogleaf without sparrow or parakeet, to visit his mother the Sibyl.
Sibyl, said Aeneas, I can’t keep this up. I meant to ink a sort of commemoration. Alas, the needles have fallen out of my box.
The Sibyl told him that this is the Dogleaf: You must hold the needles so tight that a baby can crawl over them.
Eventually, your children will find rest in the Glass City, where frozen beetles and commemorative plates are incinerated far away. In the arch-ring of the city stands the glass cathedral. Only information can pass the threshold, and men and women are liberated from memory and translation by weirdly free instant access.
Excuse me, I say to the Babylonian, why is it that whenever we try to think about something important, I mean really crucial, the mind distracts us as if by reflex?
I wake up on a thin bed and find in the bathroom, on a shelf over the sink, a disposable razor, plastic cup, soap wrapped in friable tissue. If somebody might want this, I would handle it like a petal, and I might leave it for them, even if they arrive unannounced. It would amount to a felty substance between two unknowns, a wine for actual thirst, an immunological hive for bees.
I wake up again. I’m not in a Marriot growing like a mineral from the western shore of the end times. The Babylonian rustles in his sleeping bag and the historian of astronomy reads a trade manual in the dark.
Here’s what I was going to say. What’s the nature of this terrible fear, passed down or inherited or what you will? It’s obviously well done. To say it’s not fabricated by cunning tools and hands…how could you say that? Imagine saying that, for instance, about a glass cathedral!
When we reach the Dogleaf, in a meadow of flashbulbs, VCRs and diapers, I see that the Babylonian has dramatically misplaced our basket of fish.
Only the devil could have cheated me so! cries the Babylonian.
That night, it rains live trout. They bash themselves up in the knots and crooks of the Dogleaf. In the morning, they won’t go away and cannot be eaten. I might think of a trumpet so void it blows this poverty to the margin.
Guys, I’m selling out.
At that instant, I pass across a window of the cathedral and become a circle of information.