The Dream of the Nautili (Dreamt Noctilucence)

by dschapman

Creeping flickering shadows form edgelong memories in their stalls, kicking down the stall doors, running through the fields and leaping over fences, disappearing into the cold swelter of dwindling time, destroying time in their traces. Clouds arise from the umbra of otherness and dwell over the potent ocean, a glaze of crackling ice above it, the monster in the mouth of the bay with her eyes open and glistening, timid and cruel like bitter kings in drowning kingdoms, drowning under a sea of crackling ice and sunlight. Sunlight bursts through the cracks in the patina and illuminates the machinations within. Movements and mountains in movement; exhalations onto frozen glass. The shape keeps on shifting – Nothing is fixed! So said the clock to the clockmaker, the clock stopped in time.

Mother of the wondrous wake, darling of men and gods, death-defying queen of the interim and limit of voluminous noise, who beneath the gilded gates of heaven sunk with thy presence like a ship in the midst of the sea still sinking, the corn-bearing-hands, the leather-wearing-hands, the hands that carried everything once and will carry everything onwards hence, since through thee every kind of living thing is conceived, every kind of living thing rises up and beholds the light of the sun, the mystic turn of fate of dawn. Before thee, goddess, flee the winds, the deer in herds above the marigolds, before thee and thy advent the clocks stopped their ticking; for thee are the manifold laughter of sweet-smelling flowers, the sky of adventitious light, outspread, still shining; for soon as the vernal aspect of day is disclosed, and the birth-favouring breeze of favonius unbarred is blowing fresh, first the charms and desires, the glad pastures and the rapid rivers, homes of birds and grassy plains, love in the breast of all them, each a mistress. Wherefore all the more, o lady, lend my lays an everliving charm, live in me my past repentance, reflections in a tidal pool.

He is a beautiful man and he sits within a beautiful room. He moves his beautiful hands over beautiful objects, turning them over, enjoying them, accessing worlds far beyond the scope of his own spatial partiality, listening to beautiful works and beholding beautiful concepts like models of nautili in his mind. A roomful of looms – a looming. Gifts wrapped in paper and left on the doorstep at night, memories splashing and scalding and dripping down skulls; his skull in the palm of his hand, still grinning.

The weather is beautiful and the house which it surrounds is beautiful. The woodwork is beautiful and the ironwork beautiful, too. Worms slip up from a healthy soil, cardinals sweep down from the magnolia branches to eat them. Gardens give rise to a many-splendid architectural marvel of life, luminescent; visions give way to dreams and prophetic revelations of faith, something wicked yet fermenting, something gallant and grand searing a path across the high night sky; he lives in the thick of an interminable silence, his ears ringing, his eyes blinking, cotton in his throat. He has siphoned himself off from the rest of the cesspool and is swimming like a salmon upstream, against the current, away from the preceding eternity.

The lights turn on upstairs. The old man gets up from his bed in the attic. He begins pacing back and forth, the floorboards creaking. He begins his descent down the stairwell. He is naked in his shoes, his stomach unfolding over his legs like a warthog, a double-barrel shotgun dangling from one hand. He taps the shotgun against the wall while he’s walking. Tap; tap. The children are watching from their hiding places, shivering.