Issue 52, Summer 1971
LANDING AMONG BLUE TREES
This is the beach that outlined an entire continent. The water on the sand and the water in the air were indistinguishable. At that time, the Emperor was watching the crepe butterflies. He approached the field where his nieces were playing and hid behind some tufted bushes. The girls stopped playing with the other butterflies and strove to catch the one their uncle had secretly perfumed. With one sudden gust of the wind, the butterfly swept over the grassy curl of a jutting cliff, and the Emperor’s nieces, ecstatically following it, all fell. The wind instantly stopped, and the butterfly fluttered down zig-zag over the crying heads among the waves. It touched the flowing cheeks, absorbing the tears in its taut crepe wings. With that, the heads sank under the waves, and the wind started up again, carrying the butterfly over the ocean.
This is the way it always is, until you hide, or rather simply lie, under a blanket on the beach with your closest friends. You make a point of not moving. Then you’re convinced that your friend has just moved, so you make a more definite move, as if somehow distracted. Others seem to be slowly wriggling one way or another, though the surface of the blanket barely ripples. You’re immobilized between the conviction and the wish that something is jabbing you. There is no length or width under the blanket and practically no perspective. The rain doesn’t stop. You are poised between the earth and the earthiness of the friend beside you. You think your friend is asleep. You think your friend thinks you’re asleep. You sleep. At the moment the sea water, entering through your nostrils, is spewed into your throat, you wake with a start. The tide has come up and covered the blanket, You reach down to awaken your friends, but they have all drowned.
It is for this reason that now in shreds I float down among blue trees. And it is for this reason that my heels now sink in the firm sand that the ocean water neatly quits. Empires will fall. Glass domes will continue slowly to revolve and then quietly shatter. A thousand worlds will have one moment to say. Here life flourishes. A rag king will say. Send for my supper, and a castle king will say. Tear me to rags. A single palace will house a kingdom of bees, and the queen will then die off. A shipbuilder will discover behind his workshed a flat planet and, upon announcing it to deaf ears, jump off.
Yet one day not long afterwards, the shipwreck was found. The remains of the bridge appeared as the tide reached its lowest point. Several explorers ventured out to the wreck and touched and handled its extremities. The metal was green and porous. The rain that day was heavy. No one arranged to have the shipwreck raised. There were many divers who found small treasures, but the ship itself was considered too bulky and decayed to haul ashore. The rain didn’t stop. Workers came and painted the bridge and the mastheads that were exposed at low tide with a thick, black substance. It dripped and shined on the delicate, worn-out metal and dried hard against the dull water.