Is this a dream? Has he drunk a draught of absinthe or inhaled a breath of ether? Nothing is either/or; everything is always already other than itself, the ever-changing static of television ghosts.
The fog giveth, the fog taketh ere all can be seen. His eyes tell him he may pass in, go there; the reality is that he may be there already; but when he looks again it is something passing, other, ethereal, ready to shift sense in the interstices of the senses. He does not know if he has seen an angel or a sylph or a simple wisp of phantasy. It is sketchy, but it draws him. It is a theory: not solid but so persuasive.
He has entered the highest realm, above the clouds: the empyrean, above the realm of the empirical, where there is ether. And he sees what he could not have expected to meet here: a lady, on a stairway. What runs in this figure’s veins is surely not blood but plasma. But this figure runs in his veins. It is a thrill to be held in its thrall.
Who is this pale, wispy, beautiful, delicate creature, this shimmering figure? Something sidereal or a serial killer? A witch, a Wiccan, a wick for the flame that will immolate him? Is this a form of Morpheus, or is he Orpheus and this Eurydice? It is light and fantastic, sliding between the blinds of the scene like cold felid smoke.
He follows. He hears celestial hymns now from this siren siffling through the heather of the heavens, Poe’s poetry:
And all my days are trances
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy dark eye glances
And where thy footstep gleams—
In what ethereal dances
By what eternal streams.
She leads him hither and thither, far from hearth and home, and by misdirection to the margin of the river Alethea. She is a soft dream of mist and gossamer hair and lace. And yet when he looks away and looks back, he is confused: Does he see leather? How does he feel this sting?
How can he relate this? Does he hear telegnostically? He senses her only through ESP, and often sees her only with averted vision, like a distant star not to be looked at directly. He has crossed the celestial pons asinorum to find what Oxford describes: “A substance of great elasticity and subtilty, formerly believed to permeate the whole of planetary and stellar space, not only filling the interplanetary spaces, but also the interstices between the particles of air and other matter on the earth; the medium through which the waves of light are propagated.” And he realizes now that this is no light matter; this is dark matter.
But she fills him so completely, although there is nothing there he can find. She holds him together, and he yearns to hold her, ungraspable though she is. If she will slide in and out of his eyes and seduce as a siren this sailor at sea, let her. She has touched the softest part of his heart elementally, and once more all is in order. If this is a pale, beautiful dream, he will sleep softly so as not to wake the real.