I’m a vein of flickering ore
woven through undisturbed rock,
a compacted silence.
I’m the tunnel winding past,
an opening pulled from one darkness
to another, in a line, and a walker
who wanders along its length.
Each direction dissolves into vacancy.
In the half light of a torch
someone left behind,
I look at the wooden braces
and sense the immensity of the weight above.
Who built this place?
Where were they going?
What were they looking for down here,
miles beyond the reach of sound,
cutting paths through sleeping stone?
What will wake it up?
Beyond the reach of the lamplight,
I’ve learned to trust this groping quiet.
It’s like an incinerator of identities.
I pinch the dust from the walls
between my thumb and two fingers,
rub it gently back and forth,
and it starts to glow softly.
This is a clue.
Who has left me this message?
I press my ear to the cut stone passage, and listen:
waves are leaving me that will never return.
I lay down and dream of
a woman planting seeds
into my heart. One by one
she holds them up to look at them,
inspecting both sides carefully,
touches each one softly to her lips,
then places them inside a ventricle.
When it’s full,
she presses the valve closed between her fingers,
then waters my chest from a can.
The strange thing is, I’m not even cut,
even though all the seeds are stuffed
into one of my ventricles.
Maybe this isn’t a dream.
I have already died, I decided,
but that was a long time ago,
longer ago than I can remember,
on a day just like this one.
I’ve been wandering here for an age,
and I’m going to die again, anyway,
down here alone in this tunnel,
so the seeds will sprout.
She told me the vines
will travel through the rock,
following the vein of flickering ore.
When the vines are thick as a man’s arm
and wound all through the stone,
and there is nothing left of me
but a pair of boots in this empty hallway
the vines will die.
Mice will emerge from them
and run along the flickering vein of ore,
cheeping to one another in their own language.
Down here, that’s like being tickled
by an entire battalion of feather dusters.
It’s a thrill while it lasts.
Then they, too, will lie down and sleep.
Probably turn into geodes.
I’ll find myself walking again,
only I’ll be someone else altogether this time,
an amnesiac in a familiar darkness,
rubbing that glowing stone dust between my fingers,
This could go on forever,
but I don’t think it will, because
I’ve started to see the graffiti.
Like the other day I walked past a man
with a name tag that said The Poet.
He was mumbling at the rock
and holding a can of spray paint.
I sidled past, caught in my thoughts,
careful not to bump him in the act of spraying,
and when I realized I had stumbled
all the way through a Curiosity without
even stopping to squint my eyes at it,
I went back to take stock.
There was just a hole in the stone wall
shaped like a big oak door
and an EXIT sign painted above it.
I marked it down for further investigation.
Then later I saw the woman with the seeds.
She wrote a long, flowing note
down the tunnel wall
that went on for days and days
and I followed about two steps behind her the whole way,
reading every swirl and curl of it.
It said, basically,
There’s a whole lot more happening
right now than you are inclined to believe
but you can’t see it yet,
so we’re doing this for a little while.
You see what I mean?
The clues are really piling up.
Silence is like a tremendous Eye
that’s just about to Open.