As imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
- William Shakespeare
Silence. Consider how silence gives shape and meaning to so many things. The pauses between bursts of light emitted by a pulsar are so regular that if you set clocks to them they’d be incredibly accurate. Without breaks there’d be no morse code. The breaths between musical notes give them life just as much as sound. The rests in our heart beats may vary depending on if we are in motion or still. Our heart’s rhythm is a steady, continuous thumping and it has a language all of its own. It races with joy and as it slows, it lulls us to sleep, comforting our young who listen to it even before they’re born. We not only hear this lifeforce, we feel it. It moves us. We move it.
In poetry, pauses are as meaningful as the words, whether they rhyme or not.
k’a katz’ ininoq,
“…You were talking in your sleep. I couldn’t understand you. It sounded like a different language…”
My daughter’s words from a couple years ago prompted me to start recording my dreams more diligently. Not just words and sketchings of what I brought back from my dreams, but also the audio of my sleeptalking. These audio recordings were especially important when I was jolted out of sleep and all I seemed to remember was the last instant that flashed like a lightning bolt.
It took a while to translate what I was saying, since the words were an unfamiliar language. And one day it hit me. They came from a poem I had studied back in grad school. The poem was chanted in K’iche’ so its verses were a mystery to me at first. I had taken classes in another Mayan language, Kaqchikel, and the variation was just different enough that it took me a while to realize its origins. When I took Kaqchikel, I not only practiced listening and speaking the language, but I started a journal to learn to read and write hieroglyphics.
Starting in middle school I was drawn to study everything Maya. I fell in love with the art, the architecture, the hieroglyphic writing as well as the people’s oral histories, as colorful as their textiles.
k’a katz’ ininoq, Now it still ripples,
k’a kachamamoq, now it still murmurs,
katz’ inonik, ripples,
k’a kasilanik, it still sighs
ka’ kalolinik, it still hums,
katolona puch. and it is empty.
“For ears attuned to patterns that run below the level of syntax, this seems to be one of the most densely poetic passages in the Popol Vuh. For Quiché ears it is rather the sound of chaos… a chaos of vibrations and pulsations.” -Dennis Tedlock
The passage I was reciting in my dreams came from the Popul Vuh, which in its first lines gives its own translation as
“The Light that Came From Beside the Sea”
“Our Place in the Shadows”
“The Dawn of Life”
The Popol Vuh tells the Mayan creation story. As with many cultures around the world, the Mayans also have a tree of life — the World or Cosmic Tree, the ceiba. My dream symbol. The code that somehow connected me telepathically with someone. And as I worked to break the code, I continued to trace my steps around my trees of life.
For the Mayans, the World Tree stands at the center of creation, a crossroads in between levels of reality.
Rooted in the Underworld,
its trunk grows out of the water depths of a primordial sea, through the territory of humans, Ordinary Reality.
The ceiba rises up into the Upper World where branches spread and hold up sacred foliage.
It is in these highest boughs that ceiba flowers bloom.
These blooms, symbolizing human souls, are rarely seen, however, due to the tree’s height but also because they blossom at night, remaining open only in the very early hours of the day, appearing once every one to ten years January through early February-in the month before creation day, February 5th. The Mayan creation story is not only mapped into the life cycle of this tree but also the movements of the Milky Way.
“…there is the sky, and there is also the Heart of Sky. This is the name of the god, as it is spoken. And then came his word, he came here to the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, here in blackness, in the early dawn. He spoke with the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, and they talked, then they thought, then they worried. They agreed with each other, they joined their words, their thoughts…” — Popol Vuh
Heart of Sky,
Heart of Earth,
Storytelling has shapeshifted through the ages, taking on different forms-the stories being told in different ways, but our love for it has endured. Time folds in on itself when we take a moment to quiet our lives, sit still for a while and spin tales around a fire in the dark of night, at parties and festivals, mealtimes, during reunions, and while traveling. Those times when we weave our lives together.
My waking world is so abnormal now. In my voyages through space, I have scouted bizarre locales and have faced weird and challenging conditions, stranger than my dreams. My dreams are my ordinary reality. I revisit them to better handle my present. One of the forces that gives me balance, to calm the dizzying chaos of unfamiliarity? Create poems of my favorite parts of stories I share with my partner in our dreamspace. The times when our stories fill the silence.
My thoughts have strayed my way to you
We are too close to stay apart
We move each other
everything around us still
overcome by emotion
washing over us
seeing past what our eyes can see
The music of nature
There we stay for a while
The scene around us fades
and we only see each other
I look into your eyes
and then my eyelids close
and I see where we go
Here we sit, listening
as the day ends and
the soft sounds of night begin
to slip past
to show on my face
I see my happiness
reflected back into my eyes
We are face to face
You linger there
whispering your lips
back and forth
In an instant
you could be capsized
As your kiss gets more serious
We lose our lighthearted smiles
Our hearts racing
That spot where you kiss me warms
I lean into you
and you into me
Sharing this moment and space
that no one else has or ever will
You steady me
by giving me a quick hug
“Do you hear that? In the distance?”
I peer up into the dawn sky
The shadows of predawn
are lifting with the rising sun
You lift your head
the beginning of night
Partner: On a world where it’s night
Me: Scouting a planet at daybreak
Although wherever we travel, time is measured differently, for logging purposes, we keep a running 24-hour clock. Our internal clocks still tell us when we are most awake and how long we need to sleep. Experiences of “night” and “morning” may not happen at the same moment for us so we say “Happy Sleeping” and “Good Awakening.” We talk ourselves to sleep, leaning on each other, feeling each other’s heartbeat, listening to each other’s breath. We know when we wake up. We know, because we sense when the other stirs before getting up to start a day’s work. We feel what moves each other. Worlds apart, we’re joined together by our thoughts and senses. There is no lag time in what I call our InnerNet.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu
* Synchronous Logs *
The poem above is a compilation of the following shared stories.
For archival purposes, synchronous contacts recorded as story end cues.
“Warmth” 05 January 13:58
“Cottage” 03 January 22:31
“Vines” 15 December 14:16
“Steam” 15 December 19:01
“Around the Bend” 24 November 13:41
“Bikeride” 24 November 13:22
“Uxmal” 24 November 12:16
“Treetops” 24 November 11:53
“Moss” 18 October 23:06
“Meet” 11 October 21:35
“Sand” 20 August 20:04
“Snow Tunnel” 15 August 16:12
“Hay” 13 August 19:35
“Innertube” 05 August 10:33
“Marsh” 02 August 12:56
“Camp” 29 July 18:17
“Incline” 28 July 15:31
“Rapture” 27 July 12:40
“Pines” 22 July 18:37
“Lily” 21 July 09:53
“Haven” 19 July 11:42
“Dune” 16 July 09:32
“Orchard” 15 July 16:14
“Overlook” 14 July 23:00