We don’t need other worlds. We need mirrors.” —Stanisław Lem
The infinite, dark lotus that haunts our waking dreams,
Lurks just below the surface of these frozen seas,
Reminds us that we are old men now, wrenched from time;
The euphoric ouroboros, it says, will swallow us whole;
Gorged full on remembering, we are destined to bottom
Out, like echoes from dead wells, seven generations
Into the heart of the pale spiral and elide into black noise.
The oceans of our youth are not the same seas
That cover us now; they were never the same
Anyway, so they say. Every time you slid
Into them they were new, reborn; just like
You were never the same each time you stepped
Back into yourself, bringing with you (as you awakened
From slumber) that spark of consciousness,
Cupped in your hands like a firefly with its wings torn off
To keep it still, to keep it safe; but the spark will fade,
As always, muted and smeared, and you are erased
By the eternal sleep, until you reappear again awakened
And lit by some divine phosphorescence.
The pearls that were mine eyes are not pearls
Of wisdom, merely the decorations of false gods;
And the alien sun recedes from us,As if it would break upon contact,
To the arctic edge where shadows encroach
Upon this outer world’s perfect circle;
And winter comes early (or maybe it never left),
Building a living architecture in crystalline
Composed only of ourselves.
The auroras spit light upon our failing eyes:
Beaten rods, broken reeds
Cones of silence, staffs of wonder;
But we are no closer to you
(As we analyze and split you
Consume you and extrapolate you,
Hammer you into the thin, golden
God-like mask we wish to wear)
No closer to that lurking dream-like lotus
And our last chance sinks beneath the surface.
Ryu Ando writes speculative fiction and poetry. He lives and works in Los Angeles. Inspiration for a lot of his work strikes while sitting still in long meetings, an occupational hazard. His work has appeared in speculative magazines such as Strange Horizons, Unbroken, Liquid Imagination, and more.