Author: Jeremy Nathan Marks

Her eyes are a blue million miles
-Captain Beefheart

It was October. The hickory leaves were yellow and smoke emerged from the woods. She was a woman and she was a girl and I was sure we had met before, walking this shoreline. I didn’t know the sound of her voice so I would speak to her.

Albemarle Lake is shallow but in dream I would dive down and discover an abyss. I would skin dive and sprout gills because there was a God in that lake and she/he/they insisted I touch bottom, possess enough air to reach my destination.

The deeper I dove the louder it became.

Waking, a drum would pound, a bass drum. It was like I was marching in the second line of a Crescent City funeral, sashaying past marble graves planted above ground to prevent their decay. The lake nearby might join the great river and spread its fingers beneath the soil, lifting water towards the sky to swallow the city whole . . . letting the cadavers escape.

Albemarle Lake has no mouth. It is a single eye, an iris that no one save a pilot or shaman could spy. They would have to skirt the upper atmosphere, look down on the teary vale to see.

The drum steadily pounded and my temples vibrated like skin beneath a mallet. It was a heart I was hearing; from the bottom of the lake it was beating. The same lake -Albemarle- where the woman/girl would walk, hickory leaves falling to her shoulders.

I found a heart at the bottom. But not just one, there were many. The entire abyssal plain was a wreckage of ventricles and valves, each pierced with inanimate fragments from the surface. It was a landscape of the Titanic . . . arteries clogged with candelabras, sterling silver forks, and the jewels of a dame’s décolletage.

I tried to lift the hearts, but they were heavier than stone. They were cold as a glacial spring but still they beat. Then I heard the woman/girl’s liquid voice. “My name is M,” it said. “I want to talk to you.”

I swam toward the surface with the knowledge of what beat at my brain. And I would tell her. This was to be an important day.

But there was no surface. There was no sun and no October sky draped across the water. I was not in a lake but swimming through M’s eye. A dark core floated before me, obscuring the light. It was her pupil. What I took for fishing poles and nylon lines were her eyelashes.

When at last I could make the shores of the true lake, the actual Albemarle spreading out beyond the murk, I knew I was within her vision. I was a speck at the centre of what she saw, my form projected toward looming western mountains with their hints of black bears and bearded armies.

I was in M’s eye and there I would remain until she decided to cry. But for now, her blood would feed me memories I had assumed were mine.