Prophets (Burning Man)

There is a singular darkness in the desert, a darkness without shadow. Even at the center of Black Rock City with the wild populous pulsing at the limits of human experience pressing further into space, at the center of the desert the darkness is as steady and strong as faith.

We wander into a two dimensional forest; nine foot plywood cut outs of trees like a child’s drawing clustered in 100 square feet of empty desert. At the center is a three sided pyramid facing the center of the playa. In the hollow at its apex a thin man sits motionless staring out at the lights in the distance. I catch sight of him from a clearing and immediately shy away. I sit on a low bench at the clearing’s edge and watch my friends dart in and out of the trees. Hey there’s a guy up there! Andrew’s grin looms over me. His teeth sparkle. I swallowed my disquiet, Yeah, he’s been up there the whole time. I’m going to talk to him! I turn my face away as Andrew strides toward the pyramid and starts to climb. Jonathan wanders over, Where’s he going? I watch Andrew’s ascent in the elevation of his eyes.

Well? What did he say?
He gave me a blessing.
When I got to the top he asked if I wanted to sit there and I said no, I’d just come to say hi. And he just looked at me and touched me on my forehead with a feather and said “For what you dream.”

Jonathan is moving before the words have finished sliding a tingling path from my shoulders to the base of my spine where they coil and throb. I watch Jonathan’s conversation from beneath my eyelashes as he hangs on the ledge by his fingertips.

Did he bless you?
I think so.
What did he say?
He said “There’s nothing to do.”
And our eyes widen to accommodate the weight of this revelation. Our breath expands with the resonance of the messages and their suitability to their recipients. My gaze hits the ground and I hope somehow they’ll forget me. You should go!

My steps are measured, leaden with the weight that now rests in the pit of my stomach. The climb in easy but I take my time with every grip, feeling the ground beneath me recede until I’m eye level with crossed bare feet and knobbly knees.  I look up past a sinewy shirtless frame to a straight white toothed smile and the deep creases in taught weather beaten skin on a face of indeterminate age.

Did you want to sit up here?  It’s a beautiful view.
No thank you.
I’m embarrassed to say it. My friends… They said I should come and see you. And he sighed slightly and looked out over the desert, a little weary but undiminished, gathering strength from the lights in the distance.  When he looked back his eyes were bright blue and transfixed on mine. He held my gaze with no expression and the space between us began to expand while the space outside us faded away.  He reached out and touched my forehead and my eye closed as he gently rubbed a circle over my third eye. When he took his hand away my eyes popped open and I remembered that I was twenty feet in the air clinging to the side of a three sided pyramid in the desert starting up into a benevolent ageless smile.

You must let go of the veil of forgetting. You must let go of the veil of forgetting and when you do all the pieces of yourself that have flown away will come home again. And I promise you, they will.




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