True, when we try to understand, we are leaping open armed into our own
ignorance. It’s impossible to put everything in order when we can’t even agree
where order begins. One strategy is to abandon any attempt, or risk going mad.
But at one time we possessed certainty: we saw the sky as a collection of companion
bonfires. In fact, one theory states these distant flames are the source of our own
alien origins, and yes, this is the reason I, as a child, would often press an ear up
against old trees—I hoped to hear the escape of some cosmic inertia. That rumble
which moves never ceasing into emptiness.
Once in a dream I thought I witnessed this indifferent conquest. I stood on the edge
of reality, watched everything expand into nothing, no steady movement, but
random, crystalline cracks, pregnant with possibility. What would you do?
I ran, turned my back on that expanse of fissures, and fled across void and planet as
if they were the dirt and root making up this path. I shut the blinds and read a book.
I located number stations, listening intently while trying on socks. I slept for hours
in insignificant prophecies, keeping a dream diary, detailed in its economy. I tore the
pages out of the journal and covered the window, blotting out light, but before I
clouded the final square, a passing bicycle kicked up a pebble, shattering my view.
I realized then that that was actually mercy in the distance our minds can travel, and
how at the center of every horrifying reality we conjure, there is a core of certainty,
which rises to the challenge, much like an oar in water, felling the deep weight, and
cleanly cutting through. I saw the same, fractured beauty in that broken glass, and
with stunning ease I barreled foreword, correlating all content. It allowed me to
look at the night sky without fear, to see in each star enough light to carry us away
from space-yet-to-be, away from night terrors, which promise only confusion,
collapsing the distance until we return to that spot under the night sky where we
once felt the universe’s weight, heavy and warm.
Duke Trott’s writing has appeared of is forthcoming in American Athenaeum, Artful Comics, Better Than Starbucks, and The Hawai’i Review. He is currently a graduate candidate in Emerson College’s creative writing MFA program.