I wake up slowly in the soft infinity,
to discover I’m a dried out coffee stain
on the office floor.
By eight o’clock, I’ve morphed into a forgettable insect;
in half an hour, give or take, I’m a currawong
with a broken wing that fluttered through a window;
and when a customer knocks at nine,
I’m vaguely human, vaguely a detective,
polite, denatured, and unnatural.
My client’s dressed in gray scale
with retrolescent highlights,
hand-tinted, frame by frame.
She asks me if I’m qualified,
and when I indicate my prized achievement,
she is not impressed.
This is a diploma in designing
awarded magna cum laude.
I have ready explanations.
It depends who reads it.
The quantum onlooker always changes
And it was left here by a previous occupant,
an investment adviser, as I recall.
Let’s get down to business, shall we?
For everything we learn, a fantasy’s forgotten.
When I mastered quantum theory,
an important dream was lost:
I need to rediscover
what lies beyond the obvious sea.
Your case is curiously nonsensical,
but I’m not the kind of detective
who rushes headlong into anything at all.
All of my decisions are based
on thorough mathematical reasoning,
and what my horoscope says.
I consult my diary, scratchings on the wall—
shaky rows of four with diagonal reinforcement.
With Aquarius ascendant,
I have a little brooding and moping
on my schedule for today,
but I think that I can fit you in.
Let’s take a walk in the world outside,
there are things you need to see.
I’m afraid I cannot go with you.
Before my revelation, I undertake
a brief but suspenseful study of my nails.
I’m imprisoned in this office,
and I can never leave.
Then how will you resolve my case?
A single phone call should be sufficient,
I’ll contact the Embassy of the Ocean.
My client taps a foot and paces,
fishes in her handbag and retrieves
an origami model of a crumpled
piece of paper, a Smith & Wesson .38,
and a fish.
She targets my crescent-moon glasses
with the fish,
and by unexpected oceanic magic,
invisible doors in the walls and in the ceiling
are restored to visibility.
After brief discussion,
counterpoint and rapprochement,
we agree that we’ll depart
in a horizontal and westerly direction.
Something I should have realized sooner: this piece does not display properly in the WordPress Reader (the web page is fine). The same thing applies to some earlier pieces as well. Unfortunately I don’t have a solution at present …
Maintaining the balance of fact and fantasy in the world is possibly the work of Jakaíra, the god of clouds and mist in the mythology of the Brazilian Tupi-Guarani peoples. She makes appearances here and here.
The Embassy of the Sea appears in China Miéville’s intricate and imaginative novel Kraken.
artwork before and after facts (part above)