1. RED RAIN FALLS IN INDIA
I trace my finger to make shapes in the dark. The window is open and the shades are up. I am spelling words no one knows the meaning of -- not you or me or anyone we will meet in this lifetime. I am writing them on your skin: down your chest, around the calves, between your thighs. Outside the cries of street-boys come as if from another life; or else we are submerged under warm water, far from the surface world with its motors, and pavement, and signs pointing one way.
Did the house shake? Was that a bomb? In our darkness nothing gets in: if there is war outside then let them war. We have one rule: keep the lights off. It is easy tonight, with the moon absent in the sky, and the thick clouds covering up even the brightest stars. In the dark it is easier to lose myself so I become tangled in the folds and mistake the world for something I dreamt of, or consciously made up, like opening your mouth to talk only to find what comes out is a perfectly arranged poem. On the bed I hear you arrange yourself, limbs like a compass, your head aiming north past the mountains and the villages who know nothing of the world we spend our lives trying to escape. As I put my mouth on yours the roof begins to rattle with drops of rain, and the shouts outside grow frenzied and wild as the boys are caught in the onset of the storm; I imagine them running for cover, brown bare feet taking them to safety...
2. AT THE MONUMENT
The pyramid is not like those in Egypt. It has seven points, and to the ancient men who built it meant not a resting place but an escape: from the boundless sky, and the long stretches of land that lay between men and the end of Earth, which is called the world. It grew oppressive, scholars say, to live, eat, and die bounded as if by invisible chains to the soil that waited with horrifying patience to eat us every man, woman, and child who walked, run, or slept upon it. The pyramid had a name which meant Dreaming Place; like dreams it provided relief from what we now barely even notice. Once you told me you dreamt that your father had gotten so mad, he took you in his hands and squeeeeeezed until he had shrunken you down to the size of a grain of sand. At first you were terrified -- how could he do such a thing? -- but soon found yourself at home in the universe of the small. There were so many places to take refuge in! Even the slightest crack became a hiding place, and you had no problems evading the garangtuan rats with quick clumsy feet or the ant who would feed you to his queen. Dreams in the pyramid are not like dreams on the outside; scholars may disagree but I have seen the difference with my own eyes. I never should have come; some things are beyond undoing.
3. EXPLAINING THE RAIN
"On 25 July, 2001, blood-red rain fell over the Kerala district of western India. And these rain bursts continued for the next two months. All along the coast it rained crimson, turning local people's clothes pink, burning leaves on trees and falling as scarlet sheets at some points.
"Investigations suggested the rain was red because winds had swept up dust from Arabia and dumped it on Kerala. But Godfrey Louis, a physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, after gathering samples left over from the rains, concluded this was nonsense. 'If you look at these particles under a microscope, you can see they are not dust, they have a clear biological appearance.'
"Louis determined that the rain was made up of bacteria-like material that had been swept to Earth from a passing comet. One analysis showed the particles were 50 per cent carbon, 45 per cent oxygen with traces of sodium and iron: consistent with biological material. Louis also discovered that, hours before the first red rain fell, there was a loud sonic boom that shook houses in Kerala. Only an incoming meteorite could have triggered such a blast, he claims. This had broken from a passing comet and shot towards the coast, shedding microbes as it travelled. These then mixed with clouds and fell with the rain.
"'It is too early to say what's in the phial,' he said, holding up the sample from a shelf in Sheffield University's microbiology laboratory. 'But it is certainly not dust.'
No DNA was found in the red rain.
4. IN THE BEDROOM
Sweat on your neck, sweat on my face. Exhausted, we are finally one body and there is no way to untangle. What do we dream about? In the morning we will not remember the life we lived in the dark. I will forget how I imagined the strange city under your skin, and then shrank, and let myself in. Cells humming to secret rhythms, I discovered that your body is the music of so many vibrating strings, and dreams are the music of soul, and words are how we pin them down. Let the world do what they want with them: there is always a need for new signs to plant, new documents to start or end a war, new ideas about where the world ends. Outside the pyramid life is hard and if you wait too long the soil will patiently eat you alive. Inside we lie with each other in the dark, sleep to the sound of rain, and let the strings dream us into being: limbs wrapped and angeled toward the silent, invisible stars.