A Revisionist’s History

Endless stars.
The corners of the universe unfold
from a thunderous tunnel,
cascading light into being,
roving paths
of great uncharted sound.
Until at once, Paulo becomes
aware of his body.

He is face down in sand.
The grains suck in,
expel from his nose with each breath.
Errant kernels fill the dry sockets
between his teeth. His tongue
runs them over, grit collecting
in saliva.

With clarity beyond the divine,
Paulo’s mind erupts
with every morsel of coral and shell
from his lips that for eons eroded
to create this sand.

Then forward
a few thousand years
to the Blessed Savior,
his mother’s church
when he was a boy.

Instead of a wooden messiah,
Paulo himself is on the cross,
for the congregation of sand.
There are no hands on the nail,
but his palms are filled with empty.

After a glimpse of the eternal,
the rush of returning
charges to his heart
and his mouth expels
the finely milled aragonite.

His eyes open, now
firmly in the present,
stare down a shoreline
he instantly recognizes,
one he’s called home
for the better part of thirty years.
The light from downtown illuminates
the lake. His condo high-rise
just beyond the first row of buildings.

Foam from crashing waves
sweeps his toes,
leaving long brush strokes
in the sand. Plankton churned
from the sill
surrender their radiant tracers.
Tiny cinders of life
sparking in the electric pop
of false starts.

To his left,
a bright melon sun
is cresting the horizon,
interrupting the static of gray.
Shards of light fan out on the water
like a spilled box of razor blades.
The world is begging
for illumination,
every molecule absorbing.

To his right,
another story.
The world is more than gray.
It’s black.
A deep, sucking black.
The light instantly vanishes
when it reaches him,
drawn to the slick surface of a door
standing obelisk
in the center of the beach.
It’s trisecting metal belts surge
with electric light,
char the lumber beneath.

The purpose of the door eludes him;
he knows he should be dead.
But then he remembers not to care.
There’s no being in the beyond.
There is light and matter,
heat and sound,
temporarily congealed into meaning
and just as quickly rearranged.

He stops,
never moving his eyes from the door
as if the threat implied
by its other side were real.
And then it is.
A voice Paulo has not heard
in nineteen years. His wife, Diana.
He cannot make out the words,
but the tone is unmistakable.

Staggering to its threshold,
he scans the door for a handle
or knob but there’s none.

Diana’s voice echoes from beyond.
He reaches out,
places a firm hand on the door.
The light coursing through it
converges on him
and his skin goes transparent,
bright white bones
braided in blazing capillaries.
He can no longer feel the wood
beneath his palm.

Paulo places his other hand
on the door, leans into his stance,
and steps through the doorway
into the nave of the Church
of the Blessed Savior.