I know it’s been months since I’ve written in my Blog but we’ve both been very busy preparing for the impending crisis, and now something else… I didn’t want to write about waking up alone without her touching… She moved out…
I had made lasagna. I finally got it right. It was perfect and Zawmb’yee loved it, but now she’s gone back to the cave, to the sacred quarters. I’ve eaten a little. I still have plenty of my five cheese masterpiece, but though I am hungry, I cannot eat another bite.
In my messy sadness, tomato sauce drips from my lips, and I miss her already — could have fed her more. With her touch, this has been an intimate place, a sacred place. And now with her gone, my palace is a pumpkin I cannot decorate.
Because I cannot let sighs become sobs, hiccups overtake me. All these perturbations make me laugh at myself. I think my cold is worse because my eyes are leaking over the silence of my tomato lips. She chose the napkins. Maybe I’ll have another bite. I am so hungry.
I’ll need all my strength, I suppose, when I go back to the cave. Utcoozhoo wants me to meet him at the Nipeiskwari. We’re going to swim to the Tzvaleubhoi.
I think I do feel better gorging on what I do have for the moment. I was right to remember it being delicious, this lasagna, Zawmb’yee, and me in this place setting with sauces, a candle, and a napkin.
Swimming Underwater to See the Tzvaleubhoi
Arriving early at the Nipeiskwari, swamped by uncertainty, by fear, excited for adventure and discovery, for success, and weighted down with anxiety and the scuba literature in a waterproof container, I waited for Utcoozhoo, eager to begin. To see the Tzvaleubhoi at last could only be entry into a Shangri-La or disillusionment, though the task was to find the voters against Zusoiti. I stared at the blue waters.
At the appointed time, Utcoozhoo leaped out of the water like a hairy gray dolphin. He said, “Doug, do you have the scuba brochures?”
“OK, then, I want you to do some deep breathing, but be careful: only hyperventilate slightly, because if you faint underwater it would be tragic. When I raise my hand, we will both take our final breaths. Then, I will dive into the water, and you will follow me to the Akwangtqua and into the Tzvaleubhoi.”
“What do you mean don’t hyperventilate?”
“Well, I mean, you should be able to hold your breath in a natural way. Umm, OK, let’s do a practice run. Do some deep breathing and hold.”
I breathed in and out as deep as I could for several minutes, and held my breath.
Utcoozhoo said, “Now flap your arms like you’re swimming …”
I was feeling sick. I had to sit down.
“Now breathe. How did you feel?”
“I felt dizzy. I thought I was going to faint.”
“That’s not good. You over did it. Next time, a little less. You’re going to have to depend on your natural lung capacity. OK, you’ll just do a few preparatory breaths and then one deep breath. OK, start and I’ll give you the signal when to dive.”
When Utcoozhoo gave the signal, I followed him underwater. He dove to the bottom of the K’ut’mbletaw’i, swam along some corals, by some odd blue and orange stones in a mosaic, and for a long time in an unknown direction with few markers, an expanse of empty blue water, until we reached a tunnel opening. I already felt like I was running out of air. We entered the tunnel and I knew that I did not have enough air to turn around and go back.
Several feet into the tunnel there were several branches. Utcoozhoo swam into the rightmost tunnel. I followed close behind until we reached another fork; he went left. Then right. Then right again. The urge to breathe was strong.
He went left, and then right, then right, then left. I was totally lost in this maze of tunnels, desperate to breathe, claustrophobic, praying, picturing my grand leap into the air. I couldn’t hold my breath much longer and couldn’t speak to Utcoozhoo. I just followed behind him as he swam rapidly. It did me no good to know that the order for the scuba gear was subject to 4-6 weeks delivery time with the notice that they were not responsible for unforeseen circumstances beyond their control that could delay fulfillment of the complete order. And yet, Utcoozhoo has done this for years without equipment.
Utcoozhoo picked up speed and headed straight for a wall. When he got there, he stopped swimming, floated upward and disappeared.
I swam as hard as I could into the wall, stopped and waited. I floated up and with a final push, burst out of the water into an enormous chamber, gasping for breath on a ledge with not even the energy of a flopping fish, exhausted.
The Cave of the Third Sun
I crawled from the ledge onto what looked like a meadow. At the edge of the ledge and the grass, I saw an ant hill. Turning onto my back, I looked up to see a blue sky, a bright sun, a drifting cloud, and Utcoozhoo. I said, “Are we outside?”
“No,” said Utcoozhoo, “this is the Tzvaleubhoi, the ‘Cave of the Third Sun’.”
“That’s a Sun?”
“In a sense it is, but much cooler. It is much, much, cooler than the sun. It would have to be 93 million miles away if it were as hot as the sun, but this sun is very close to us.”
Still recovering from the swim, I thought I must be dizzy and disoriented, because I felt like I was on a roller coaster, like a wave just passed under me. I said, “I feel like I’m floating on the ocean, and a wave just passed under me … I must be getting sick or something.”
“No. I felt that too. That’s a small earthquake …” Utcoozhoo was distracted, looked into the distance. Dodging a butterfly, a plump but frail man in a blue robe limped around a tree, sun-coated with enjoyment, lynx-eyed. Utcoozhoo ran the last few feet to embrace him. “Naztko, how are you? I want you to meet Doug.”
I struggled to get up. I think I had a leg cramp.
He said, “No need to get up. Just rest. Nice to meet you Doug, and now you see why we can’t swim out of here. I’m afraid I’ve become too fat and lazy to swim out of the tunnels.”
“It’s an honor to meet you, Sir,” I said.
Utcoozhoo said to Naztko, “I just felt an earthquake.”
“Yes. We’ve been feeling quite a few tremors, and something is very odd.”
“The far outer wall is very hot. We think someone has activated the pfayohiqusi of the third kind without permission.”
“There is heat venting?”
“Yes, I suspect a magma reservoir is forming. I could be mistaken — it may just be some natural process, but …”
“Some of the quakes seem consistent with unauthorized drilling.”
“Give me all the reports you have, and I’ll look into it. You see, like I’ve been telling you (actually, Doug got me started on this), here’s an example of where modern technology can help us analyze a situation. The traditional ways are not always sufficient.”
“I’ve been worried enough to think you might have a point. Something doesn’t feel right to me. I’ve a very bad feeling about Zusoiti. I don’t know how to explain this insight, but I think the way I could put it is that, somehow, Zusoiti is creating what perhaps I should call an interface between pfayohiqusi and modern technologies. I don’t know how to describe my vision because I’m not familiar with modern technology… Do you know what this might be?”
“Well, if she could build a modern device that would simulate the steps that a person would apply to operate the pfayohiqusi, and then connected that modern device to the Internet, she could have a remote station anywhere … Does this make sense to you?”
“Yes, I think I see where you’re going. That’s scary …”
“Well, anyway, that’s just speculation. In the meantime, we’re going to need your vote.”
“This scuba gear that you want to order will let us swim out?”
“Let me read about it … I’m not sure if I like this up-top technology.”
We felt another earthquake, this one much stronger. Part of the ledge cracked off and fell into the entrance tunnel.
I said, “Uncle Utcoozhoo is this serious?”
“I don’t know. If the tunnels become blocked, there will be a dilemma.”
Naztko said, “What dilemma? If the entrance tunnel collapses, you’ll just stay here forever. What’s the problem? We’re self-sufficient.”
“You miss the point,” shouted Utcoozhoo, “a tyrant may seize absolute power, and even you will not be safe from her reach.”
There was another small tremor. Utcoozhoo ran to the ledge, looked into the water. “That does it, I must go to the Forbidden Zone immediately.”
I got up and peered into the entrance tunnel. It was still clear, but a few large boulders had fallen into it. “Maybe we should go now and get help,” I said.
“Not yet,” said Utcoozhoo, “I must reactivate the dormant pfayohiqusi that serve the Tzvaleubhoi exclusively. Each of the pfayohoqwaahujpi must be brought on-line in sequence …”
Naztko said, “No, you must not. You cannot enter the Forbidden Zone until the Gods return.”
“I must. It is pcapdyntpa. As a member of the Grand Council, I hereby declare an emergency.”
Naztko was stunned. He straightened his back, stood as tall as he could, said, “Do you swear by the sacred oath, by the Gydm, that this, in holy purpose, is pcapdyntpa?”
Utcoozhoo said, “I do.”
I said, “Wha…”
“Doug, wait here,” said Utcoozhoo.
Utcoozhoo ran across the meadow, past a willow tree, over a hill, around a steep cliff, and disappeared.
Naztko said, “Doug, I’m sorry we have to meet under such strange circumstances, but I’ve heard some good things about you. How is Zawmb’yee?”
We were both uncomfortable, but made a lot of small talk. We walked a short distance across the meadow where Naztko showed me his orchard.
I said, “I can’t get over how it seems like I am outside. Is this a complete ecosystem?”
“Well, mostly. It’s just that the Gods have provided the energy source here to sustain all life, whereas, up-top the Sun is the source of life-sustaining energy. Well, I guess you could say that the main problem is expelling the heat that is generated by the pfayohiqusi. Up until now, it has seemed like the volcanos have done a good job managing the heat flow …”
The Tzvaleubhoi at first appearance did seem a complete paradise. Gazing upon the grass, green with chlorophyll, the energy sponge, upon all the green oxygen makers, the leaves of the peach tree, Naztko watched a cow approach, a leaf fall, as he ruminated something in the air. “Well,” he said, “it’s an ecology of convenience, a necessary delusion. I suppose it’s an unnatural environment, because we have no predators.”
“Do you need them?”
“I don’t know. Maybe imbalance is good.”
“Predators kill the weak, and keep the gene pool strong?”
“Well, we already have the perfect pedigree I think.” The cow mooed. “This one almost talks,” he said, shooing it away. Walking into the shade, reaching up with aplomb to a low hanging peach, he plucked the rosy one, ripe, and gave it to me. “Eat this for your trip back, a sample of paradise.”
But before Naztko could digest his own thoughts, Utcoozhoo galloped into our sight, shouting from a distance, “Odd revelations.”
“Whoa,” said Naztko, “come closer, catch your breath. We can’t hear the news if the messenger dies. Whatever the crisis, we can spare a few minutes.”
Utcoozhoo sat down under the tree, sweating profusely. Naztko tried not to look worried. I didn’t try.
Naztko said, “I imagine reactivating such ancient pfayohiqusi would bring some enigmas. We’ll deal with it.” Naztko reached into a pocket in his robe, and pulled out a thermos bottle. Removing the cup from the top, he poured Utcoozhoo some ice coffee with cream and sugar. “See,” said Naztko, “I got to use this bottle you gave me last year. How is it?”
Utcoozhoo drank half. He said, “It’s good. I’m glad you’ve been using your gift … Um, I want you to call an emergency meeting, and bring as many elders as you can to the Forbidden Zone — preferably, everyone. I need help interpreting some ancient language I’m uncertain about. ”
“We can’t …”
“Yes, yes, yes. Do I have to be so official? OK, it’s pcapdyntpa, I swear.”
Naztko asked, “What’s it about?”
“As best as I can figure out, it has something to do with Earth Wobble, eccentricity, and the blockage of equatorial ocean currents, but you have to see it for yourself. It’s better if you get the complete picture. I don’t think I can describe it properly here.”
Swimming Underwater in the Maze
“Utcoozhoo,” I said, “does the revelation have something to do with Zusoiti?”
“Yes, I think she’s tapping into the grzepepa looking for information.”
Naztko asked, “Can she learn to control the pfayohoqwaahujpi?”
“That’s,” said Utcoozhoo, “what worries me. She is trying …”
Naztko said, “You’re right — we had better call a meeting. We’d better go now.”
Utcoozhoo said to me, “Doug, listen carefully. Do you know hexadecimal to binary conversion?”
“Um, well, yes.”
“Then what would nine be?”
“You mean, 1001?”
“Yes, and two?”
“That would be 0010.”
“OK. Now I want you to change each ‘one’ to an R, and each zero to an L. So now say, nine is R, L, L, R.”
“Nine is R, L, L, R. ”
“Now say two is L, L, R, L.”
“Two is L, L, R, L. But what is this for?”
“R means take a right turn in the tunnel. L means turn left. These are the directions you will need to leave through the tunnel maze. Naztko and I have to go to the Forbidden Zone and you have to go back to the Nipeiskwari by yourself. You’re going to have to hold your breath and swim out. If you get lost in the tunnel, you won’t have enough breath to get back home.”
“Uh, oh, um, what is that again?”
“Nine: go right, left, left, right. Two: go left, left, right, left. Just remember 92. OK?”
“Uh, well, I … ”
“We have no more time. Take care.”
“Bye Doug,” said Naztko over his shoulder as Utcoozhoo and he broke into a run across the meadow, past the willow, and over the hill. Even Naztko with his frailties was able to put on a burst of speed, and they both vanished.
I walked slowly to the ledge thinking 92, 92. Well, at least, this would be the beginning of my journey instead of the end as it was when I came here and was out of breath in an unknown place. This time I would be desperate for breath at the end of my journey in a familiar place — I think I’d rather die at home than here in a tunnel like I had thought I might when I came here. OK, I had to focus on 92.
I dove into the water, thinking, OK, nine is: right, left, left, right. When I touched bottom from the force of my dive, I could feel a tremor. I swam forward towards the intersection as the shaking increased. Rocks started falling from the ceiling and I wondered if I should go back.
A bright gnolum lit the first intersection and I could easily see the right and left branches ahead. OK, first is right.
Before I could reach the right tunnel, I heard a rumble. An avalanche of rock and crushed gnolums filled the right tunnel, totally blocking it.
What now? Well, I thought, I should at least see where the left tunnel goes and then I could always go back, rest, and then maybe think of a new strategy.
I entered the left tunnel. It went leftward for a short while and then started into a clockwise curve. Maybe it was curving back toward the direction of the blocked pathways. In fear, the journey seemed endless, but eventually I came to a passage that seemed strangely familiar. There was a sharp jagged rock by a gnolum that reminded me of something that I had totally forgotten, because it was such a minor injury: coming in, I scraped myself on the rock, swimming swiftly in a panic behind Utcoozhoo. Yes, this was the rock. Now I had to think, how many more turns were there when I scraped myself? I had to try to bring the memory back in detail. There I was, annoyed by the scrape, ignoring the pain, focusing on where Utcoozhoo was swimming, and then we did, turn, turn, turn, turn — dum, da, dum, dum, or something. I thought: it doesn’t matter; it’s just that there were four turns, so I must be at the place for the last four turns. Yes, that has to be it: left, left, right, left. Was I right or did I have to go back?
I couldn’t waste anymore air thinking about it. I turned left, then left, then right, then left.
Hurray, I was out of the tunnels. I swam past the orange-blue mosaic and didn’t think I could make it.
I floated upward, and gave one last kick. I burst out of the water like a flounder, falling onto the rock of the Nipeiskwari where Zawmb’yee was waiting for me.
She was going to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but I put up my hand to stop her because I was gasping so hard I thought I would suck her lungs out. While I was breathing in and out, in and out, I pointed at my cheek and she kissed my cheek.
She said, “Utcoozhoo is in the Forbidden Zone, and reactivated its pfayohiqusi. He used the grp’nl to send me a message in the sacred quarters. He said the tunnel collapsed, and I didn’t think you were going to make it.”
“It was,” I said, “a close call and …”
Zawmb’yee burst into tears, and my tear suppression self was too overwhelmed by her love to stop my eyes from flooding. I couldn’t deserve all this when I had done little, and I hated to see her suffer. “I’m alright,” I said, but I felt so sad to be in a world of gloom.
I stood up, and was surprised to see a crowd of people milling around in the cave. The cave had always been relatively empty which is what I liked about it. I said to Zawmb’yee, “Who are all these people?”
“A lot of up-top people have returned to the cave to help during this crisis,” she said.
Utcoozhoo’s assistant, Otuux, a tall man, square-jaw efficient but jocular, stumbled onto us out of the chaos. “Doug,” he said, “how are you? I heard you were the last person to make it out of the tunnel, and how is Naztko?”
“I’m OK. I last saw him running to the Forbidden Zone with Utcoozhoo.”
“He was running?”
“Yes, he seemed rejuvenated by the emergency, but I really didn’t get a chance to talk to him much.”
“Yes, well, he is a fine gentleman, and very wise. I think he and Utcoozhoo will find out what’s happening … I’ve got to go. Zawmb’yee, tell Doug everything. Be well, and don’t worry — we’ll find Zusoiti.” Otuux dashed off in a dignified trot.
“What happened to Zusoiti?” I asked Zawmb’yee.
“She left the cave for the up-top world. No one seems to know where she went, but she seems to have established herself, and set up a remote access station. She’s tapped into the grzepepa, the Gods’ data base, looking for the protocols to launch the gst’fibiches.”
“The ‘arrows that reach the stars’. She wants to call back the Gods. We think there may be a whole constellation of procedures and sequences that if wrongly applied by the pfayohoqwaahujpi might trigger an Ice Age which is what she wants.”
“So you’re telling me Zusoiti is using her new found wealth to destroy us and trap Utcoozhoo? Are the tremors I felt the beginning?”
“We don’t know yet about that, but there are indications of changes in the ocean currents, and we’re concerned about Earth Wobble …”
I was in a bit of a foul mood, and began to think time had run out. “Doesn’t it look like,” I moaned, “the ancient prophesy is true that the world will end in a frozen agony of death and suffering? I’ve accomplished nothing, and now the world ends. Isn’t this charming?”
Zawmb’yee said, “Doug, don’t be so down. Let me tell you the story of Tpiqlat’ng that Utcoozhoo always tells me.”
“I thought you told me that already.”
“No, no, this is a different story,” she said.
“Well, I’m sure it’s a charming story, but isn’t Tpiqlat’ng an ancient hero? If he’s a prototypical hero from mythology he would have greater courage and insight than any of us mere mortals could ever hope to have.”
“I suppose that would be if he were a Myth, but he’s not, except to the extent that primitive people had trouble describing miraculous things they didn’t understand. So the description is a little ambiguous. But, anyway, I just want to tell you an inspirational story. Pretend it’s a bedtime story … And, anyway, you’re a contradiction, you know, because you choose to believe the worst — you’re willing to believe the ancient prophesy of doom. Right? So you want to believe the worst and I want to believe the best.”
“Well, some of these ancient tales are very unlikely to have happened.”
“Yes, that’s what Tpiqlat’ng said to the God Kragzluk … What?”
I guess I must have looked exasperated, because Zawmb’yee paused in annoyance. I smiled. “Oh never mind. I’m tired enough for a bedtime story. What did Tpiqlat’ng say?”
“Kragzluk told him he would bring all the deer to an inner garden. Tpiqlat’ng thought that was highly unlikely. Kragzluk told him he would create a Sun to place in the cave. Tpiqlat’ng broke into laughter, saying, ‘That’s as improbable as all the deer coming to be slaughtered’
~~ “Kragzluk replied, ‘Intelligence applied can focus harmony into a certainty. Detail comes from focus.
~~ ‘The heavy-essence of the Sun can be brought to focused resonance. When this is done, it tunnels into a crystal heart, fusing the heavy-essences with certainty.’ ”
“What is ‘heavy-essence’ ? ”
“Otuux thinks it means Deuterium or Hydrogen, you know, what makes the Sun shine.”
“And what did Tpiqlat’ng say?”
“He said, ‘Huh, what?’ ”
“A sensible fellow, this Tpiqlat’ng.”
“Yes, well, but he did memorize the words even though he didn’t understand it. So too, as Utcoozhoo says, we must hold all these mysteries in our minds without judgment until they coalesce into an understandable form, when the tiger only leaves his roar behind … ”
“Ha, very Tpiqlat-ian of you.”
Zawmb’yee is always such a supportive, encouraging person that I so much wanted to embrace her optimism, but this time I feared that events had overtaken any reasonable expectation of success. However, the blossoming of her enthusiasm is such an exuberant seeding of joy, even in desert sands, that I would endure a scorpion bite just to see her tickle the cactus into yielding water to drink.
It was an odd mix of people in the cave: some were frantic; others seemed out for a picnic. I imagined those with the most information were frantic, and the others were there for a reunion atmosphere. There was our best sprinter, Ayomkst, across from the bacon-ribbon speleothems, who could zigzag around any cluster of stalagmites in record time like a slalom skier in a snow storm, graceful like a horse that all the women wanted to ride — I bet he has a stable up-top. He was unpacking a picnic basket with Efilioe, the beauty queen of the Ut’ishsih, a tastefully hairy situation, and they were oblivious to anything that was going on around them, each with a leg of lamb and a leg of each other.
I think I knew too much to not be morose. “Disaster seems inevitable,” I said.
“Yes, but even if everything were perfect all the time, all of us will eventually die.”
“Now who’s being morbid?”
“I’m just following your logic, playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’. Is this world the only existence? Didn’t you hint at this question in you poetry?”
“I guess, but that’s just crappy poetry — it doesn’t really mean anything, does it?”
Zawmb’yee fumbled through her bag and pulled out my poetry book. She said, “And oh, would you autograph this damn thing already for me — I think I’m a friend of the author, you know.”
“Yeah, OK, but no one is ever going to see it.” She gave me her lucky pen and I signed it.
“Well, I don’t know about that, but you know what Utcoozhoo always says …,” she blurted out.
“When a grasshopper has made a book from the leaves of a fallen tree, and no one has heard the tree fall, is the grasshopper literate, even if no one hears it sing?”
“That doesn’t sound like something Utcoozhoo would say …” I laughed.
“Yeah, OK, I say it,” she confessed.
“Um, I don’t think you’ve ever heard me sing.”
“Yes I have, Sweet Lips. OK, I’ll indulge your dark mood with one of your ‘crappy’ poems. So, let’s see, here is ‘Dark Sun’:
‘Millions of years festering
our Sun did die
a ding in my
we were to be married. I’d
been born to a frozen death,
missing you in an abyss:
exploded gases tore us apart
In my death,
I searched for you
alone in darkness
I thought you were a super nova
an obscene sunrise. It seemed that
only I, a dot, remained
alone looking for the key
to find the opening door
to restless imaginary things
dancing teasing lights that
would swing open to a dream
of glistening dots ordered
in shooting streams of golden water
like bubbles up the nose gently,
dream bump ode to
to sleep after playing
that the afterplay was foreplay
but thought dots seemed
like black holes
for I was a singularity
waiting for grief
to explode, but
why am I looking to
haunt an old house long gone
and every material star?
Yes, I of soul, not flesh
will look in the dark
for the true light of heaven
if you will only signal me
If you would gather my love like kindle
and light a campfire in heaven
I know I could come with marshmallows’ ”
“Egads,” I said, “I’m darker than I thought … I’m sorry. You’re right: give me your beauty to gaze upon and I will conquer the world …”
“See that: you can sing, Sweet Lips.” She dreamy eyed my eyes.
“And as Utcoozhoo always says,” I said, “ ‘Zawmb’yee is so beautiful, so exquisite …’ ”
“Now that doesn’t sound like something Utcoozhoo would say …”
“Yeah, OK, I say it.”
With Zawmb’yee stroking my face until I smiled, I briefly closed my eyes, and sighed, as Zawmb’yee took my hand. She guided me around the bend in the K’ut’mbletaw’i to the blue-tinged curtain formation, the Wejpob, a grand speleothem that many an artist has stained with rare mineral drippings, a now rarely performed technique, abandoned by the child who has become too mature to do drip castles in the sand, though here there are no ocean waves to wash a child-artist onto the dry sand of adulthood.
Zawmb’yee slid a large boulder aside to reveal a staircase. She said, “Come to the sacred quarters. You can dry off.”
We reached the bottom of the stairs, and the boulder slid back into place. I said, “OK, now, how can we help? I have no idea what’s going on.” We walked down a long corridor decorated with framed drawings by children — I thought, maybe, one of them might even be one of my childhood drawings (but mine I don’t think were this charming, just crude as I remember it). Zawmb’yee had mounted them herself below the gnolums, as carefully as a professional curator, making them seem as elegant as any museum display.
Zawmb’yee said, “Utcoozhoo wants us to leave the cave again, mingle around in the up-top milieu, perhaps by the Blue Attic Club, but see if we can sniff out a trail that leads to Zusoiti.”
“Well, I’m not exactly an expert on high society, you know,” I said.
“Yeah, but neither is Zusoiti.”
“That may be, but she is quite clever, charismatic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s found some supporters and sycophants to help her out even if she’s new to the up-top world — I’ll bet they find her oddness attractive and her obscure philosophies profound by default, when they are intrigued but puzzled, and of course, she is a champion at bluffing that she has an army behind her before she has assembled it.” We turned a corner to Zawmb’yee’s apartment entrance hall.
Her demeanor sagged in agreement as we approached her place. She turned to the upbeat, “Utcoozhoo says to just go with the flow — see what you see. He says we should leave the cave again, go to your place, just relax, and hang out, because serendipity belongs to us, and this is our role …”
“Geez, I’m glad Utcoozhoo has such confidence in us … to be cool — hang out. I think I could do that.”
“Yes, let’s celebrate vagueness, and I have venison and buffalo fried in duck fat with truffles, just like you like it, and a little caponata, blue cheese, wine, and me …”
“Yes, I feel better already (and we don’t need to know what Utcoozhoo really means).” She led me to her quarters and I felt that in service to serendipity and duty to the clan, even lust was sacred if my serene mood and pleasure would massage my mind into solutions that I would find tomorrow, postscript to consummation.
From the journey of a dream, I awoke happy, enveloped in warm morning confidence. The voice of Zawmb’yee was in my ears. She was singing, “Better Than a Dream”:
“Enraptured in the blankets of home with you, of you,” she whispered. “Our embrace is the brightness of us, with us.” In glowing soprano, she sang, “We are the morning together, together: an awakening is here to be for real, at home — peaceful passion, satisfaction day — not dreaming, but being in the lightness of us, with us. We are warm, being the morning sun, better than a dream.”
“You do that so well,” I said, “and you kept to the original without one of those arrangements that ruins a song. You are an embellishment, more beautiful than a song … beautiful voice …”
“Thanks — I knew you’d like it.”
“Sometimes I’m in the mood and for a minute I improvise a song, but then somehow I drift off-key. It’s frustrating. I feel like I should be a singer, but my voice has run away from a roar to a snarl when it should be humming.”
“I always love to hear your voice,” she said. “By the roar of your hum, I think you could learn to focus your sorrow, your joy, if you’d let the inner music carry you beyond a thought.”
“That’s a thought — um, I mean, maybe I could … Where are we going today?”
“Why don’t we go to the village near the cave exit for breakfast today. It’s quiet and peaceful and the café has good service I’ve heard.”
“Yeah, good idea. I remember that place. Excellent food.”
“OK. Join me in the shower and I’ll get you singing in a clean clear voice.”
“Off to the suds then, m’Lady … Zawmbee, Warmbee is okey dokey soapy. Shall we dance to the shower?”
“I will tune you up,” she said and did a little trill.
It was a foamy morning. We were so clean when we dressed and left the sacred quarters.
Zawmb’yee showed me the stairs to the Qukwerpfm. This was a new passageway for me, and I said, “How come you’ve never shown me this before?”
“Well, you’ve always been an ‘official’ visitor to the sacred quarters, you know, like an ambassador to the White House, honored but not trusted, but now you can sneak in and out as the honorable lover with tacit approval, if not by the gods then by me.”
We climbed the stairs. The walls were covered with Zawmb’yee’s art work. I said, “These are great. I remember seeing them when you were still angry at the paint for not being the perfect color, but you’ve made every shadow complement the bursting-out joy. Magnificent colors. Don’t you think someone should see these?”
“Well, you’re someone.”
“You know what I mean … you’re a great artist.”
“Maybe. Maybe we could do that joint project you wanted to do.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that. I like acrylic because it’s fast drying and you can correct mistakes quickly and keep going, but you seem to like oils …”
“Well, I could try acrylic …”
We reached the top of the stairs by the Qukwerpfm, made our way past the Cathedral formation, past the golden stalagmite with the purple pothole base, and down the final tunnel to the exit.