Canto

Fireflies

Jesus lying in his mother's arms
is a photon released from a dying star.
We move through the forest at night,
the sky is full of momentary light,
and everything we need is just too far.

We are photons released from a dying star.
We are fireflies a child has trapped in a jar,
and everything is distant as the stars.
I am here and you are where you are.

We have lived a long time here in the forest.
We lie beneath the heaps of leaves.
We are partial to this partial light:
we cannot sleep and fear our dreams.

There is no order here and nothing can be planned.
We are fireflies trapped in a little boy's hand,
and everything is as distant as the stars.
And I am here and you are where you are.

We lie among our atoms and I speak to you of things and
hope, sometimes, that maybe you will understand.
There is no order here, and there is no middle ground,
and nothing can be predicted, and nothing can be planned.

A star is just a memory of a star.
We are fireflies pulsing dimly in the dark.
We are here, and you are where you are.

We are here, and you are where you are.

—"Fireflies", Ghosteen (2019)
Nick Cave

At dawn she lay with her profile at that angle

Which, when she sleeps, seems the carved face of an angel.
Her hair a harp, the hand of a breeze follows
And plays, against the white cloud of the pillows.
Then, in a flush of rose, she woke and her eyes that opened
Swam in blue through her rose flesh that dawned.
From her dew of lips, the drop of one word
Fell like the first of fountains: murmured
'Darling', upon my ears the song of the first bird.
'My dream becomes my dream,' she said, 'come true.
I waken from you to my dream of you.'
Oh, my own wakened dream then dared assume
The audacity of her sleep. Our dreams
Poured into each other's arms, like streams.

—"Daybreak",
Stephen Spender

KRZ.01 Ghosts

BEN: ... so then [the radio] won't mute while it scans between stations.
BOB: OK. Cause that's where they live, right?
BEN: Um. No, you just want that constant static noise.
BOB: Right. The noise, that's where they live.
BEN: They don't "live" anywhere, dude. They're ghosts.
EMILY: I didn't hear a voice at all.
BEN: I guess it doesn't matter - the ghost voices don't really come out until you play back the recording later.
BOB: They only exist in recordings, like a copy without an original. A mirror reflecting something that isn't in the room.
EMILY: Like the mounds.
BOB: The burial mounds here in town? You think they're haunted?
EMILY: No ... or, sure, probably. But I meant they're like the reflection. The people who made them lived hundreds of years ago. That whole society is long gone, and now we just have these lingering echoes, without any trace of context.
BEN: Yeah, that is kind of eerie.
BOB: So the ghosts speak and we can't hear it, but the tape recorder can hear it? Is that right?
BEN: I don't know. Sometimes I think it's more like the recording itself is a ghost. Like, that's what ghosts are. Recordings of events that didn't happen. When something keeps leaving new marks even after it's gone. False memories.
EMILY: A ghost is just an absent person, whether they're dead or not.

Un Pueblo de Nada (Episode 4.5),
Kentucky Route Zero

Where is it that we were together? Who were you that I lived with? Walked with?

The brother. The friend.

Darkness from light. Strife from love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face?

Oh, my soul, let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made.

All things shining.

The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick

I came to explore the wreck.

The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.

—"Diving into the Wreck" (excerpted),
Adrienne Rich

In the same way, we all have in us the ghosts of long vanished things, of fallen cities and marvelous machines.

The Citadel of the Autarch, chapter XXVI,
Gene Wolfe

You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope. Shall this be the substance of your message? Be human in this most inhuman of ages; guard the image of man for it is the image of God.

—Thomas Merton

Vega nightfishes in the Great Sky River. Copyright © 2021

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