“I don’t feel anything, dude.” Tim whispered though we were alone,
words slurring, hand out waving slowly back and forth,
back and forth, back and forth. “I think these mushrooms are …”
I waited for him to finish but he was busy staring through his hand, grinning like an idiot.
I took another drag of my cigarette, cherry glowing like a star in the dark desert night,
sweet clove smoke billowing around me like fragrant incense before an ancient idol.
Sweat trickled down my neck, and my flesh was chill as corpse flesh,
despite the waves of heat still radiating off the red rocks.
I could feel the bones beneath my skin, and my heart thudding in my chest.
Hear my pulse, and the pulse of the earth beating in synch with each other.
I waited some more.
“Maybe I’m tripping. Am I tripping?”
“Naw, this is just the way the world is. ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed
everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up,
till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’”
Tim nodded sagely, almost toppled over. “That’s beautiful, dude. Did you just come up with that?”
“Sure,” I chuckled, stabbed out my cigarette and immediately lit another.
“Now shut up and enjoy the ride.”
He was about to say something indignant, but his ridiculously wide-pupiled eyes caught motion off to his side and he
got lost watching an invisible lizard or mouse scurry away.
I melted back into oceanic euphoria as milky stars danced a Cretan crane-dance overhead
and the silent music of the spheres swelled around me.
My eyes fluttered closed and I took in a deep breath of desert air, held it for several heartbeats,
and then several more, feeling it circulating through my whole body, exhaled and then sucked in another.
Lights swam and flickered behind my eyelids, throbbing sexually, as I slipped outside of time and space.
When I opened them again I sensed the eyes of Dionysos staring back at me.
I smiled and waved, though I could not see him. He was there, on the other side of the mirror, watching.
Not a man, with olive skin and black beard streaked with brown,
and wavy hair that spilled down to his broad shoulders, clad in fawnskin
and head crowned with clusters of reddish grapes and vine tendrils that coiled like green serpents.
He didn’t have massive horns and flared nostrils and tawny fur and a broad, flat tongue
and bulk that made the earth thunder.
He wasn’t lean and spotted and baring sharp teeth,
tensed to pounce on prey with swift precise grace.
But he was there. In the soil and the scrub and the stars,
in the lingering heat and the all-encompassing dark
and the slow, persistent thrum of life in this seemingly barren place.
And I breathed him into me and felt him dance all around,
felt the world dance under his spell
and all the things in the world danced
and I, too, was dancing
though I lay there gazing up into the vast heavens
and Tim giggled insanely and said, “Woa dude. Like, everything is so 3-D.”