Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act ii, Scene 1
In case of paralysis, break glass. Out there
is here. Stairs, a whining thud, fat-bellied
cicada trapped in a breezeway
flings itself from wall to wall
until it surrenders
to defeat, so much like gravity.
Even with its trident of five eyes,
it is blind to the way through.
Corridor becomes vault. Had it been born
a bluebottle butterfly, it might stand a better chance,
its photoreceptors detecting
a million colors
more than those five eyes,
and far beyond what our feeble pair perceive
(and so believe). We are as wary of spectrometers
and their evidence of hidden hues
as we are of quantum wavefunction
and infrared snapshots of the Kuiper belt.
What if there is a side-way here?
This is the question the weary
winged migrant doesn’t know to ask. Maybe
it’s only ever alighted on tree
and wall, again tree,
again wall. What if rotation on one axis
is all it takes to reveal Dimension
and its confederate,
Passage? To make the pivot
though, that’s what requires a shift
in paradigm or at least
credulity, a jarring turn beyond mere
direction of travel. It upsets the known
universe, opening like an atheist
to god or a disciple
to her end.
In case of defeat, break glass.
This corridor is a hall of mirrors
reflecting only what we’ve already defined
as real. Listen: the sky teems
with rain, even on a clear day. A leaf breaks free,
falls. Where it lands is neither ahead nor behind,
instead somewhere you have only just begun
to consider a place
that exists. Listen: everyone here
is breathing. Even the cracked concrete
in its own way. Even the bent wing
of the cicada as it readies itself
for the next attempt.
Image: From the Hidden Door 2016 Art Exhibition, Edinburgh, Scotland