Io sol uno

The day was departing, the darkening sky released the animals of the earth from their labours, and I alone prepared myself for the struggle of the path of pity and piety. It is true that I had a guide with me. But my guide was dead, whereas I was still alive, alone among the dead. Or if I was reading a book, then he was its author; I was as alone as you are now, reading this. Or if I was dreaming, then I was the only one in my dream who was dreaming; the others were being dreamt. So I awoke inside my strange nightmare, all alone on my own – with my guide. We walked under the gate with the deathly writings. We witnessed a sighing, faceless crowd, following an empty, unborne flag. (I did not know that death had undone so many.) We arrived at the river Acheron, where Charon ferries the doomed souls across. They cursed god and their parents, the human race, the place and the time of their conception. But he refused to take me. My guide spoke sternly to him, reassuringly to me, and when he had finished speaking, the earth trembled, a great wind blew in which lightning flashed, all my feeling left me and I swooned. After no time or an eternity, I awoke with a crack of thunder. These natural phenomena, trite as they may seem, serve to illustrate the discontinuous nature of my transition. How I got to the other side I cannot say, just as you cannot say how you fell asleep, and if you can say - you feel yourself falling, you think “at last” - you’re not falling asleep.

© 2009–2023, Martijn Wallage