Garden of Night (a prose poem)

I. A Dark Field

There is a field shrouded in darkness. You’ve been there before, though you only vaguely remember it. Maybe you saw it in a dream, but maybe, you were there in waking hours, but it’s buried deep inside your mind.

The field is like this: Cold, completely dark; the only sound is a groaning wind. There’s no moon in the sky, nor can you see where the sky and horizon meet because it’s as if you were blind. Yet, a fire burns far off in the distance, and you smell sulfur. The wind kicks ashes in your frost-bitten face.

You’ve been here before, you know it.

On the fifth day of your travels, you lay down to rest. Your stomach hurts from starvation, and your mouth is parched. Yet, somehow, you sense this field; this land is beyond the border of something. Yet, the darkness seems to be infinite.

You call out for help, but no one can hear you. Is anyone there? You doubt it.

On the seventh day, you lay down to die.

II. Flames of Sustenance

You wake up, and the bonfire is there in front of you. The fire speaks to you, but you can’t understand the words or language. You sense a humanoid shape in the fire, perhaps a man burning in there, and he speaks to you.

The ground is hard, unforgiving. The fire is welcome because it warms you. You wonder how long you can subsist without food or water.

The man in the fire emerges and sacrifices himself. He offers his hand, tells you it can provide you sustenance. So, you eat the flames, and it doesn’t burn like you suspected. Instead, it’s cold like whiskey.

The fire-man evaporates in the air. It is still dark. You are beyond the border, but you’ve been here before, you know it.

III. A Scream

There’s a hole in the hard ground. The wind is so cold that your hands are dry and bleeding. You climb into the hole, and you realize it leads to a cave.

On the cave walls, there are paintings that glow in the dark. The images are depictions of various scenes from your life. You’ve been here before.

Further down, there’s a steaming pool of water, and you immerse yourself in it. It feels so good, yet your frost-bitten body burns.

There’s no one here, and you sense that’s the way it should be.

Time is a circle, you remember, and the earth is a tiny dot. The physical plane is superimposed over the spiritual planes, which are infinite.

The field is in total darkness. The cave, other than the glowing paintings, is darkness. The spiritual plane is darkness, and there is no guiding force.

Only you, and you’ve been here before.

Only you, and you’ve been here.

Only you, and you’ve been.

Only you.

Then you hear a scream.

IV. Beyond the Physical Plane

The scream is in your mind, and it shatters your nervous system. You’re drowning in a steaming pool of water because your limbs no longer move.

It’s like your brain is being ripped apart, and the pain shoots down your spine and through your body. There seems to be no bottom to the pool. You continue to fall and fall, and the water fills your lungs, yet you’re not dying.

Then there’s a voice in your head.

“Beyond the field. Only you.”

Now, darkness. Now, blood. Now, rage.

“Beyond the physical plane,” the voice says. “I love you.”

Blood, rage, pain. Memories of long ago.

“Beyond the physical plane. I hate you.”

Anger, fear, pain. Vibrant-colored ashes.

“Beyond the physical plane. I am you.”

There is a face, and it looks like your face. Except the colors aren’t right. The face is pink and translucent. The face is reptilian. The face is still you.

“I am you. Surrender.”

V. Hail the King

So, you surrender. Beyond the physical plane, in the spiritual plane of darkness.

At first, it is an unspeakable pain. Then, indescribable ecstasy. Like a full-body orgasm, you shake and contort into impossible postures.

You open your eyes, and there’s an old woman in a black robe with a cloth mask covering her face. She holds a bloody knife before her. The knife handle is encrusted in the finest gold, which shines so bright it hurts your eyes.

She says nothing, only hands you the blade.

“What is this for?” you ask.

“You know. You’ve been here before.”

Her voice echoes in your mind, and it does not sound like the voice of an old woman. The voice is deep, rich, baritone. It echoes in your mind.

“When the clock tower strikes midnight, you will know.”

“Know what?”

“That you’ve always existed, and that beyond the physical plane, in the world of possibilities, you are the king of your own palace.”

You’ve heard her say this before, maybe in a dream.

You take the blade, and the blood drips into your hands. It burns like acid. There was a time when this would make you afraid. But now, it feels so right. That’s because this has all happened so many times before.

You stab the old woman in the chest. She removes the cloth mask, and she smiles. Her teeth are red with blood, and her eyes are dark holes.

She thanks you, pushes the blade in further. She smiles.

“You are the king of this palace. Hail the king!”

VI. A Throne of Flowers

In the palace, you sit on your throne made of flowers. You are the only one here, but that does not disturb you. You are the master of this spiritual plane, the one that is beyond the physical plane. You know this.

Once, there was a time where you’d doubt it.

But now, as the moon re-emerges from its hibernation and the nights are permanent and filled with the screams in your mind, you know, deep down, that it’s always been this way. And it will be forever.

You thought the time would be lonesome, but you remember that time is a circle. And the flowers from the throne fill your lap, and they smell divine.

The scream sounds in your mind. You arise from the throne, and with the blade, you prick your thumb. The blood trickles onto the floor, and a garden appears.

Everywhere, the garden appears in the palace.

The garden of night, the one you’ve always wanted.

Rest easy, my king. This kingdom goes on forever.

The End

(Photo by Claire Brear on Unsplash)

4 thoughts on “Garden of Night (a prose poem)

  1. Dave Williams November 22, 2021 / 9:12 am

    This is a great read, Nick. A dark, fantastical, circular journey — and I enjoyed the ride.

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