If I told you
that while I slept or
more accurately, lie in my tent
on sleeping bag,
pad and tent floor trinity
on the desert ground,
my body dusted by desert kisses
and calcined ashes,
once the bottom of a vast wet lake in which life flourished
and flourished life;

and that time evaporated
or elongated
ancient and present merged
dimensions expanded
and beings entered
my tent, my blood and soul

what would you say?

In my billowing shelter
the wind blew the tent wall behind me
it bowed and crested like stormy sea waves
and contorted the shadows of beings
alive and walking outside
and others that were suddenly with me;
I saw them swarming
in a dream, on the back of my eyelids
although I swear my eyes were wide open
because I couldn’t sleep

which was it?

The macabre and their shadows inside
overlapped in menacing relief,
dancing and wrestling grotesquely and beautifully with shadows
from outside;
I was visited
although visit may be too gentle a word;

their strange presence radiated darkness
darker than night
I named them my demons
and the long raucous battle began.

I fought them one by one
and all together
twisted and tangled with them
returned their shouts, grabbed their limbs and throats
as they grabbed mine

do you think I was dreaming?

They roared at me incessantly, wordlessly
deafening me
but no one came
their wrath was for my ears alone;
and as they wrenched my arms and legs
and threw and spun my body
I felt contact and fear but no pain
I heard thuds and knew I had to escape or win.

As they waved their arms and bellowed hotly at me
I caught my breath and
in terror
I realized
they wanted not to kill me but
desperately needed something from me
what, I didn’t know
all there was
was me

it could only be me
they wanted
to nurture and feed them
as I had been

I rose then thudded
clawed and shouted
I wondered while I fought to keep them from rushing in
if maybe it was best they return home,
to me
they were my demons after all
they needed me.

My world spun
my tent left the ground
and turned upside down
as I was pitched, as I shouted
I asked myself
didn’t I send them up in flames just hours ago?

How did they survive?

I had watched them explode then disintegrate into the black sky
heard the blaze devour them
watched and felt the dark ash mix
with desert dust
and fall like forgiven snow;

Yet here
they begged me
prodded and
caressed me
until I ached
and grew weary of
their belligerent
and torturous gropes

I tried to recall what I had written on the dusty tears-wet paper
that burned magnificently with thousands of other
prayers, memorials and demons

what words?

Names of those I loved
whatever half-formed thought that that fell from my mind
and slipped off my pen
with my intention
to let go
of everything that imprisoned me

and find my crystalline path
where hearts collide
in joy
tending and nurturing love
from a stone
from a seed
across a table
in a gaze
a dream
a letter
a kiss
through time
and space
less every other thing;
that recognized and welcomed me.

But instead of leaving
my jailors came back for the final duel.

So I let go
and stopped fighting
to think my way out of this fatal combat zone
of my most recent and long lived past
I willed myself to focus my mind on a thought
an ideal, concept of heart
that comforted me,
a magical word.

I don’t know if the demons watched me
or rested
or still grappled with me
trying to get back in
because I was gone;

I thought of flying
and flying carpets
and I flew away
with grace and ease
and left the last of them
all ready dematerializing
yet calling out
are you sure?
are you absolutely sure?

Yes, I soared
I’m sure

I flew
exhilarated, terrified
and as the sky lightened, I came back
into myself
exhausted into peace
vague memories of the battle flashed before my eyes;

back in myself
silence came
my limbs loosened blissfully
sleep melted me into the earth
my body and soul together again

the demons of the night
no longer mine
were gone
as pink dawn erased the shadows
and most of the memory

What would you say?