A traveler is dawdling on the way to Port Botany. He’s been guided by the polar spirits, crossed paths with the alchemist Alcione, and passed through a portal into an alternate, but equally dull, reality where he had a therapy session with the Medusa, who recommended he wear a tomato. Part one is here.
I missed the world I’d left behind,
and through a day and night,
I sought another path between realities.
I opened doors and gates,
climbed over fences, in and out
of windows, all to no avail.
In the end, I traveled on, tomatoless,
waiting at the Don’t Walk signs,
while all around me, molecules collided,
each one evincing miniscule importance
and discussing pasta sauce.
In this strange realm, where hours passed
in hourly succession,
I feared that my beloved Port Botany
might never have come to be.
But as the gods of impatient narrative
would have it, I turned a corner
and there I was, sleepless by the Bay.
I had no expectations, so nothing was as I expected.
A plasticized Sargasso, poly this and poly that,
was floating on the waves, more wrapping
than commodities, and on the shore,
a treasure trove, a high-tide supermart
with no-one at the checkouts.
I drank my fill of fizzy drinks,
and gathered spindrift bubble wrap
to shape a modest sofa bed.
While I wondered whether I might find
a television, the gentle ebb and flow of flotsam,
with punctuation from the popping of the bubbles,
lulled and soothed me;
I sent my blessings to the Kraken,
and fell asleep at last.
I awoke to a geometric dawn,
with sunlight slanting from a cubic sky,
flashing on the bubble wrap to send
three flickering visions.
Esperanto symbols, assemblages
debating Babel’s high rise,
permuting all our hopes.
Leonardo, his equations in a dusty
shaving mirror—we look towards the sky
and only see ourselves.
Polished rice grains whirling,
a stain upon the earth, rice becoming
organisms, a multicellular plague.
The meaning was quite subtle,
but I grasped it in an instant.
I would meet a foreigner named Leo,
bearded long and gray,
and he would offer me a bowl of rice.
I don’t think so.
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798.
- The Kraken tore open a number of shipping containers.
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s mirror writing. I don’t think Leonardo shaved too often, and neither did the ancient mariner. I’m starting to suspect they were one and the same person.
prepackaged, part above.