Lost Paradise

 

I remember paradise

and I remember the snake.

I remember

hues of blue water

and pink and purple sky

that burned to orange

before its fuse dwindled down

to explode in a million

brilliant constellations.

 

I remember you

and I remember every day

before,

and every day after.

I remember sitting with you,

staring at the moon

and wondering

if the next bite

would reveal its secrets.

But the secrets

stayed up there,

far away.

 

We didn’t understand

the cosmic mysteries,

or open doors of perception,

previously closed.

We didn’t gain

power over the cellular,

or the quantum,

or the atom.

No,

that would come much later.

 

Instead,

as the night wore on,

it grew dark,

as if the stars had dimmed,

and the moon had been covered.

The temperature

coming off the water

fell,

and I could feel myself

descending.

Imperceptibly at first,

then,

like a feather

in a rainstorm,

faster, and faster.

 

I looked up at you

and saw

a wild look in your eye

that I did not recognize,

but I knew,

by the pallor of your skin,

your heart was thundering

in your chest

just like mine.

 

Suddenly,

we were in total darkness.

The feeling

of being an unfathomable distance

from anything

familiar in the world

was excruciating.

I couldn’t see you,

couldn’t feel you,

couldn’t hear you,

but I was terribly aware

of the vastness

of the darkness

that I now occupied.

 

Cold and alone,

for the first time in my life,

was also the first time

that I knew fear.

Paradise was lost,

and you with it.

 

I began to feel,

somewhat less anxious

and when I breathed in,

I became aware

of something in the dark

with me.

A presence I had never known;

malevolent,

and hungry.

I could not hide,

I could not run

and it was then,

I first experienced despair.

 

Fear enveloped my being,

because in my soul,

I knew that this darkness,

this emptiness

and this presence

were one and the same.

The entirety of uncreation,

the absence of love,

and hope, and care, and order.

 

Immediately I feared for you.

Strength and courage,

these were also new.

A spark inside that lit a fire

in the darkness,

and I finally found my lungs

to scream.

 

In an instant,

brilliant light shone,

and I beheld

the vast form and eminence

of the horror

that lived in the dark.

It turned to me

and it took in my soul,

my mind,

my heart,

and my life.

 

I screamed,

as if my flesh

were being pulled from my bones

in strips and ribbons.

I was broken down,

piece by piece,

cell by cell,

atom by atom,

until I ceased to exist.

 

Consciousness left.

A new darkness.

After a time,

I heard the sound

of wind and waves,

and rain

fell upon my naked form.

 

I opened my eyes

and tried to move,

and was surprised to find I could.

Standing up,

I walked unsteadily down the beach

in search of you.

I found you,

hiding under a fallen palm,

shaking and terrified,

and wrapped

in the carefully tanned hide

of a young deer.

 

I made to speak,

but you looked at me,

and the fierceness of your gaze

silenced me.

I shivered  in the cold

and without a word,

you handed me

an animal skin,

like the one you wore.

I didn’t ask why,

or how.

I knew.

I knew a lot of things, now.

 

Huddling in beside you,

we sat

and shivered together,

as we stared off

across the grey waters,

waves roaring in

under an angry sky.

Silently,

mournfully,

we looked out on a world

we no longer recognized.

 

The promise had been true.

We knew the world now,

and it knew us.

Naked,

weak,

and vulnerable.

No comfort,

no love,

just fear

in a lost paradise.

 

 

HG – 2022

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