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Amber Paulen

Chinese Lanterns

This was written in Seville, 2004. I have always found this image captivating since its conception in words. I would like to use it one day in a graduated form. As usual, to stay as near to form, I’m keeping the lowercases as that was how I used to write.

here i am, in the corridor. the corridor which houses the wheel of destiny and it is lined with chinese lanterns. light and papery their light emits, subtle and at moments barely visible. my walk is slow and deliberate, one would say i’m barely moving, but moving i am. there is a constant faintgusting breeze. the lanterns sway when caught,, gently rhythmic in the absence of rhythm, without order yet without chaos they sway. these lanterns with their lights and shadows are my illumination. they are the corridor and pieces of the wheel of destiny, they are my guide and my enemy. i discern what they illuminate, my self seemingly fragmented until the placid and onyxed exhale trembles through and sets in undisturbed motion, at random yet with purpose, a lantern here, a lantern there they sway. the corridor is slow going. at times i stop my ambulations to sit below a tree to hum a little tune, to forget about the lanterns and the corridor: they will be there until the end of time. i sit and i hum. my mind is always empty. if my lips part smiling then all the better and if they don’t what does it matter? this, my one life, intersecting itself at all points, without points, only the illuminated and the shadow. my one life, this, the thought rushes through me in shivers, my eyes are shutting. i am falling asleep.

in this sleep, the sleep of all sleep, the dream of all dreams, the back of my naked body is turned to his naked front, we sleep. we are asleep under the tree. he is my equinox and i am his for he has awakened me though i am still asleep; his action that of penetration yet he is still asleep. all action in my dream which only he can shatter with his strong actuality. the colors are that of fire, yellow, orange, burning red, amoebic and growing in constant motion, around and in and out of each other. at the center, located deep there is only blackness, much too deep to ever be seen, beyond the memory of the womb, beyond time and space and into the great universal. the red, the yellow, the orange, pulsing and heating, fire felt visually, physically flaming,, the black core palpitating. though now i am awake and he is hard between my legs, the colors ensue and engulf giving way to full consciousness and him and my thighs. i turn tremulous, he quenches my fire, shooting straight to my core. all goes black.

the blackness of neither new world nor old, neither of dreams asleep nor dreams awake. somewhere in the shadow of a lantern, somewhere beneath the branches of an ancient maple tree. branches and boughs balk and bow. they are heavy with verdure in this spring of my soul. he is lying sweaty and spent besides me. i leave to gather moon flowers, though it is not their season they are ripe with blossoms. their downy white petals open by the gravity of the moon or perhaps, because of contrast: white on dark is a brazen display of phosphorescence, perhaps that is why they choose the night. their elongated cavern arises out of green twisting brush, white succulent mouth and lips in outward exultation. i follow by their glow and pick arms full. tonight they will make our bed halfway between heaven and earth, somewhere between all contradictions will we sleep. i let the efflorescences pour over him and he jolts. curling into our lunulate bed, the petals like fresh picked down, i fall into him and pull over us a myth of creation, that of the acquisition of fire.


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