Foundation of a Shadow
Vaguely, you think that this must be a bad trip, except nothing about it particularly bothers you and even that doesn’t bother you anymore, not the way that it used to when you wore little golden crosses on delicate chains around your neck and imagined that God dwelt in a palace of crystal surrounded by English gardens. Now you can tumble within the swirling black vapors like a sky diver through clouds, without fear of Gods or Devils that struggle over pure souls like Counts and Dukes over the young virgins of adventure stories. Now they are just these two things that give you the benefit of travel; shadow and light, and neither one loves you more than the other and neither one will hurt you more than the other. They are not your parents. They are your children, your toys, your tools. They are the tricks that make something out of nothing, motion out of stillness, form out of void, and whatever you are, wherever you go, you’re just passing through, crawling through sticky bloody hells as tantalizing to the senses as any heavenly field of lavender under a bright blue sky.
Crawl out into an office of clean white walls and blue Berber carpet and white laminate counter tops stocked with jars of tongue depressors. Slip up onto a cushy rainbow colored bean bag and make yourself comfortable, because you are a body now, a human that knows the words for “bean bag” and “laminate” but not the words that describe the other places where you have just been. The therapist arranges herself on another beanbag. Her coat is white, her hospital pants are powder blue. There are pens in her pocket and glasses on her clean friendly face, framed by straight auburn hair, fashionably layered to balance against the spectacles and make her seem perfectly ordinary, not too much of anything, nor to little.
“I like bean bags,” you tell her.
“Yes,” she says, “they do the job.”
“I’ve always meant to get one/ wanted to have one/ am meaning to get one soon/ saw some when I was little.” You say all of these things at once but it is organized into one concise sentence such as,
“I’ve always liked them.”
There are some juggling balls out on the floor. You pick them up because they seem to be out of place and you think that you are preparing the room and making her comfortable while she waits for the person she is going to help, so you tell her,
“I can juggle.”
“Really?” she is sincerely interested, but not overly excited, just right, like warm water.
You try to juggle but you don’t catch the balls. Apologizing, you try again. When you throw them into the air, you experience a temporary blindness. This shouldn’t hinder you because you know you don’t need to see the balls to catch them. You try not to look at them and focus on the woman’s face the way you were taught, but it seems that you are also throwing them out of pattern so that they spill onto the floor far from reach. Collecting and examining them, you notice that one is smaller than the other two. You explain that this may be the reason you are having trouble and trade the odd ball out for another that seems to be of the same size as the other two. Then you notice that all three are of slightly different sizes and decide not to throw them all over the room again.
You tell the analyst:
“I’m out of practice. I used to have a friend that I practiced with. He taught me how to juggle. I could juggle three when I met him…”
A vision of when you first saw a jester with jingle bells on his cap standing under a canopy within a circle of hay bails. You looked at the straw on the ground as he shows you how to throw the ball so that you catch it again. And you bought three little sacks, like tiny firm bean bags that were delicately furred and took them home with you.
“…but he taught me how to pass with a partner…”
You picture the different ways that you passed, sometimes facing each other and standing perhaps three feet apart, sometimes side by side with one arm each wrapped around the others waist, locked together like Siamese twins, your left hand passing to his right.
You describe the different methods to her and continue, “And he taught me to juggle four balls, and two in one hand so that I could juggle four that way.”
While you are speaking, you begin to suspect that she is here to listen to you. She is not waiting for anyone else. And you wonder what you will discover. You wonder what it means. And you decide not to finish the story because you are afraid of what it reveals. That is how the blackness eats itself here, how the scene falls away so that another will emerge built on the foundation of a shadow.