The shaman stands on the peak of a jungled volcano at night, under a vast congregation of constellations, the glittering belt of their galaxy, as meteors hail down like droplets of blue fire from the firmament. They realize they understand nothing, are nothing, will never be anything against the scale – whose true magnitude is still unbeknownst to them – of universal flowers unpetalling within flowers within flowers of incredible brilliance and complexity. Primordial patterns, sequences, cosmic regulations, all proceed without awareness or comprehension in the cooling embrace of space’s detonation through the unknowable void. Loose particles condense into fleeting forms before being scattered across the countenance of the eternal. Specks of dust flit through the silence, pirouetting mindlessly from orbit to orbit, from distance to even greater distance, in an ashen, directionless rain.
Nothing is known of the wider music, the orchestration of coronal mass ejections, quasars and galactic collisions. A ghost-glimmer of photons wade through the immeasurable dark as a diaspora of interstellar objects are cast out on their endless trajectories. Light and matter perish in the blind eyes of singularities. Visible and imperceptible coexist, only to be torn asunder by unnamed forces. Chaos beneath apparent structure or structure beneath apparent chaos? No differentiation between them. Dust sluices over every monument, both natural and artificial, burying them so all evidence is extinguished, all fossils extirpated by the weight of the silt above, lonely signals traversing the void, going unheard for eternity.
The membrane holding it all together ruptures. A child tries to hold the moon in the palm of their hand. Somewhere a baby cries inside a locked room as shapes revolve in the empty space above their cradle. The final echoes of a breath diminish and at the edge of it all a light goes out. A bottle with a blank slip of paper adrift in the sea. The distances beckon to those they hold within their grasp but their depths are insurmountable. Each story is a fickle condensation told by a machine in a cage sealed to the outside world, programmed to go on indefinitely.
There is no end or beginning.
It was there once and then it went away.
No contact. An epoch of utter dissolution beyond the borderless field. No foundation. Matter retraces the steps of its senseless emergence. A fusillade of interdependent systems decay in freefalling harmony. All information travels along a pathway of absent perpetuity as the silhouettes of non-being flicker atop a self-erasing horizon in the entangled dance of umbra and antumbra. If time is drizzling water, the ground where it pools is a sarcophagus of night. Walk along a beam of light as its brightness diminishes into the cosmic wasteland but its colour remains constant, tunnelling through the temporal backwaters without direction, boring through the blackness.
Skies droplet down over curling leaves on the hilltop, on the bone-punctuated wetlands where songs ring out in the mist and fade to whispers. The shaman kneels down on the damp earth and thinks about change. Nothing will be the same as it was and yet everything recurs. The ouroboros is entranced by its own tail and doesn’t realize the act it’s engaged in is one of self-cannibalization. How many ships dashed against the rocks of an unknown coastline during the tempest in search of promises slipped from the tongues of the stars, in search of else and other, in search of newness and immutability, in search of escape? How small of an event is each collision. Formless become form become multiple become one become multiple become form become formless.
The shaman cries with joy and sadness and something else they cannot name.
Ronan Fenton is an Irish writer living in London. He writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama and art criticism. His work has been published in Poetry Ireland Review, Trampset, Violet, Indigo, Blue, Etc., Neuro Logical, and The Citron Review, amongst others.