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He stared into the mirror but couldn’t connect to his face. His right hand glided across its cool surface- smooth and without any dimension.

The running water had reached full pressure. He spoke his intention, the prayer, and began washing hands, mouth and spread water over his face.

He looked now at an empty mirror. No face looked back.

At the base of his spine the serpents coiled and writhed- an inner sunburst about to explode.

His heartbeat became a drum, a beat he had heard in Brazil, in the rain forest, in a circle of men gathered around embers, faint in the early dawn; their beat summoning the sun- or the sun summoning their beat.

Water on each arm, he heard his teacher say in his mind- don’t stop, don’t stop- water over the head, inside the ears and over each foot.

He stood in a room full of mirrors, fragments of family, lovers, children, foreign faces revolving around the beat of his heart…and he was falling.

Falling toward a central alter of time stopped, further past the warmth of mother, the strength of father…falling past the scintillating lights of the mirrors into the blackness that was like sleep… without sleeping.

The consciousness of self-appeared like a bloated balloon, so large, further down he fell until it burst and the darkness velvetized into texture. No sight, only feeling. No sound. Spiraling through black velvet without stopping.

Flying into a new sun.

Eons passed in a second and the Beloved’s face appeared- Baba, father, mother, brother, friend, tree, dog, vegetable, fly, ant and the pain- was it pain? He hadn’t noticed it before.

The pain of confinement and connection with- he stopped- or he was stopped- dangling in space- held in space- lost in space…

And the sound of a woman’s voice calling prayer. Her voice wrapped him like a chrysalis, invited him into its scent. He didn’t want to leave; the pain was too delightful, too real to have any replacement. Better to have the pain than any feasting on prayer.

And when he thought this, when he was aware of thinking this, he found himself touching the mirror once again.

The face that wasn’t there, reappeared.

And, he wept.

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