The Boy Who’s a Floating Flower
by Tantra Bensko
We begin. Swirling like a backwards somersault off a swing, landing in a pool of water, sending ripples beyond all knowledge of time. This is the essence, then: heady freedom of motion between worlds of formlessness and form, that which is formed and that to be formed, and other versions of them all that call to you with clear voices from across the river banks with the voice of a pre-pubescent boy trained in classical voice.
It’s a magical thing in this land of old folk songs. It is one of those voices that call up so much love and awe. How could he have learned to sing so well so soon? It is high, but unlike a girl’s obvious, easy, accessible high pitch. His is paradoxical, attractive, yet innocent.
He says, “Come on. Hey, want to hear some news about that other side of the creek? I’ll tell you! There’s an answer here to a question you have.” He gestures athletically, perhaps to imitate the boiling up of a question. “We don’t know what the question is. But we feel it in our bones. It’s a kind of liveliness superimposed on our waking hours. It’s like something is moving, chattering, going about its business. And there you are, arising out of it, standing on the path on your side. Let me show you what you look like from our side.”
It is the most absurdly unadolescent speech I have ever heard, like an old movie by someone never young. A wave of time or space or blackness or fullness of images washes over you. You dry your eyes like the little stars.
You are alert to sounds around you. A sense of rabbits jumping. Frogs leaping. Crackling sounds of birds. A sense of others moving here and there around you. A sense of love comes from one, a female, tall, yet how do you know? You don’t really see her. A sense of a curmudgeonly bloke shuffles off around a bend, sitting on a rock and staring off, ignoring you as if he doesn’t see you.
A ring of people are around you holding hands. You notice the fairy ring of chanterelle mushrooms at your feet. You propel your consciousness smaller, inside a dainty bit of moss, and then inside the molecules. And the singing of the ring of people reminds you of the boy’s.
The sounds hit against each other, friction causing real illusions in as many realities as the atoms care to jump inside, all the worlds singing together in a weird harmony. You see their worlds coinciding, events all adding up to one incredible event after another. Or, rather, not after, or before, but combining both as makes the most beauty.
In one event, the boy is singing to you, in many worlds. He looks a bit different in some. He’s barely recognizable in others, certainly not a human form. Yet, though he may exist there as a flower floating in the air, hovering, changing your future, or as a twisting of enveloping patterns of some game with rules encoded on angles of movement, you know it is him. You wonder how you could have forgotten him from your future.
Then you flash back through the moss and the mushroom ring, and the people holding hands and the sky with its dark clouds and lightning. Was that sound lightning?
* * *
“You’re a really interesting bunch of symbols, you know,” the boy tells you, grinning just a little.
You’re silent after that. What can you say? Just, “Am I?... Thanks.”
“Let’s go.” He jumps off the rock he’s sitting on over there on the other side of the river and cocks his head. You’ve always wondered about the trail you can barely make out across the little river. Not much more than a creek, really, and pretty dry this time of year. You walk parallel to him, and get to feeling a bit jaunty. Off for an adventure, eh?
“You’re not bad yourself. I mean, symbol-wise.” Leaves. Symbols. Birds. Symbols. Yet so real and lush and living, with individual emotions. Being symbols doesn’t make them any less poignant and vibrant. Or any less messy and silly. You touch the leaves with your hands, your fingers gliding over them, luxuriating in the sensuous feel of the physical symbols.
You move your fingers through your hair, feeling the realism. You imagine yourself with leaves for hair and hair instead of leaves in the plants. Would you have to water yourself? Brush the houseplants? Plant salons could dye them any color before a show. A plant beauty pageant.
“That’s an odd one, that world,” says the boy, looking back at you quizzically. You ask him how he knows. “I can see it now you made it. There it is. People watering each other’s heads. Waxing the leaves is getting to be pretty popular. Hey, so are curling irons for roses.”
“You can see it? It’s really there?”
“Sure, you’re There, aren’t you? What’s the difference? Maybe people there will dream about you and where you live, sometimes. They’ll think it’s funny, I can tell you that.” His chin has a little plumpness underneath it that is accentuated by certain expressive postures. He lookes as if he is of Swedish origin, very tan, his hair a sandy color. Much more ordinary than leaves. But stylish. “I think I’ll let a little of myself live there a while, now that I think about it. Might be fun.”
* * *
What a quirky boy. His hair is jaunty, making him almost elflike. His earth colored cap is turned down on the sides, set at an angle that looks as if he sees everything as an adventure. His walk is bouncy but graceful, with the hint of a skip every now and then. He doesn’t look as if he could ever have gone to school. If he had, he would have been laughed at. And put in detention, most likely, and told to wear socks that matched.
A tree catches your attention, as if it were saying “Hi.” You pet it and spend time with it, your arm around it. Trees take a liking to you as you walk past them often. This one is endlessly fascinating to look at. You can see where the recent flood had come up to on it, and you can talk to it about its flood experiences. Its soul seems especially talkative. Its trunk and branches are muscular, reaching out to touch another tree. You let yourself watch as its molecules dance in their pretense of solidity.
The trees seem to send out ghostly images of themselves to each other back and forth, at this dusky time of day. The woods always relaxes its illusion of being made up of separate things, of being only one woods in one time and place and dimension, especially about this lighting, this time of day.
Between this tree and the one next to it, along the path, is some kind of relationship. Geometric feeling. An unusual magnetic quality, that seems related to ley lines. A door-like quality.
You stand looking between them with the idea of doorway. Oh, and there it is. “Look! Do you see it? Right there: If you look at it just right.” The boy crouches down and peers, his head cocked, grinning a little. The scene through the door takes a lot of work to define. It’s mostly the idea of another reality, the air magnetically colored differently. But you notice the contours of its contents being gradually filled in as if by water in a stream, flowing around the objects; but it’s music. It’s the voice of the boy. He’s singing. That... boy. What’s his name? You’ll have to remember to ask him later.
Now, it seems that if his voice were to be interrupted, the colors would shatter away from the other world before their form could be revealed. That voice is high as a girl’s but with a more woodwind quality. As if being high is an unnatural near miracle, because of his maleness. The tone will change very soon, as he matures. The near miracle could only last a little while, and its hint of change already occurring gives it an attractiveness even more compelling and complex.
It highlights the sense of walking, of maybe several people crossing, going various directions. Colorful clothes. Maybe birds, also colorful. Unusually colorful Actually, perhaps it was really colors walking across the scene. Colors alighting and flying, not birds after all.
Yes! Colors dancing and shouting and jumping, free from constriction! Incredibly rich colors that mixed as they crossed, and separated again, but with a difference, as if they had communicated, loved, proclaimed their oneness by retaining some of the other’s color. What vitality they had! Brash combinations of orange and fuchsia.
It reminds you of snorkeling, watching tropical fish, and coral, in amazement. You can tell that you are real looking at a woods. But superimposed is one of the other systems of reality that exist all around you. But not, it seems, hidden to the boy whose chin doubles in such a funny way when he sings, and snaps his chin down at the end of a phrase.
But the phrases aren’t in English. You hadn’t noticed the wordlessness. The music made such obvious sense, yet said nothing. You may feel as if you’re living in the middle of a Swedish poem with a Hungarian translation on the mirroring page. The sounds seem to have more to do with the essence behind poetics than with logical syntax. Like dream poems that aren’t remembered in any detail, but seem to create the day.
Poetry seems to be the best way to create what you will live. Better than lists. Or affirmations. Proclamations. Colors will create your day. Color sequences become a language translated by your skin. By your stride. By your breath. Not translated into English. Into something for which there is no English word.
* * *
“Hey, boy, are you really alive?”
“You bet!” And with that, he reaches down and splashes you with cold river water.
“Ah ha!” And that is the end of polite conversation. Any written dialogue would have to be in growls and laughs, and screeches. At least you got him back as well as he got you, water spraying every which way, arcing up and clashing over the center of the creek, making a kind of bridge. You both certainly have something in common. Now you’re wet. But he looks funnier.
There’s something about how you always feel after you play ridiculously. Truth. Absolute truth. No right or wrong to contend with. A return to something you stray from any time you get serious. Play lets you get out of any stories you may be in and let’s you get back to being the storyteller who knows all the stories, and can make more up.
You have to know what story you’re in before you can get out. The storyteller sometimes likes to just be. Outside of pretending there’s time. Outside of struggles and their interpretation. (And then, anything can happen!) You’re outside of doing something to try to make something happen. Outside of questions and answers. Just plain outside.
Copyright © 2009 by Tantra Bensko