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Vision Quest

Craig Morgan Teicher


I'm sitting here on the top floor
while heat rises to envelop me
in its warm, wet hair. Though
it rises not toward me but
toward something above me and
toward something even above that,
something above the birds' upper limits,
a place where whatever goes there
dissipates and becomes—when it falls
back to earth—the stuff dreams
are made of, something human
or of human invention, like
the new bionic arms described
in a recent New Yorker article,
something for people to interact with,
which makes life more
palatable if not easier. We're after
an image of something, hunting it
like a memory of something that never happened
but which would explain everything
that came after. When I look
into a mirror I see someone
looking into a mirror—I don't see
the mirror—and that person looks like
me looking for something
but seeing myself instead.
Life is a prolonged vision quest
—isn't it?—a trip into the desert
for the purpose of interpreting snakes,
which were sent down from somewhere
above as signals at our feet
meant to beckon our eyes
to the heavens, like a reflection
in a puddle, something that keeps on going.


Because it is mysterious and
made of disparate elements connected
by and unlikely logic, this is
beautiful, so beautiful I almost
suffer to see it, so brilliant
it hurts my eyes and gives me
a headache, so powerful
I can't sustain my gaze
for long. I'm tired
—I think it made me tired—
and was tired before I began.


What am I after? What
on earth am I after? Nothing
on earth, something from elsewhere
that has dissipated and returned
transformed, a beautiful phrase
reconstituted from gasses
and dirt and plants turned to grasses
that were atomized and sent up
and returned as something new.
A beautiful phrase is found
in the slag heap of what was
lost. I want a conclusion
to a path that narrows and
converges but never ends,
two lines paralleling unto eternity.
I want to stand at the horizon
and report back on
what's beyond. I want
to have a mystical experience
right here in my chair, and without
professing the slightest faith
in anything particular. I want to be
the puppet in the mirror who sees
a real boy, the man
on the end of a drift
to nowhere, the one who is
self-aware without being self-conscious
or the other way around.
I want to tell you, to tell all,
to tell it like it is, as if
it is this way. If I love it,
let it go—if it comes back
it was meant to be, or
                              at least it is.

Craig Morgan Teicher

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