The Great Pour by Douglas Gwilym


 
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On the bus

From work at

The library to

The specialist I

Close my eyes and am

Awakened by a pop,

Which is either something impossible

Or the very possible sound of

Humans indicating

They want off,

That the bus should sidle up and

Wind down and

Make its

Deposits.


I walk.


Posture good. No bag,

So hands in my pockets but


There’s a spot growing over my eyes.

I can’t see it move or jump

Like it should when I

Shut one eye with a palm over

All those muscles

Designed by Millenia

For that intricate purpose.

It just hovers there

Saying “I do not depend upon you

For my reality.”


At first I don’t get it.

I duck into a

Cold Stone Creamery

And scrub at my face

In an every-sex bathroom

That belongs in someone’s home,

Cabinet stocked.


With cleaners and sponges, I

Tweak ointments and tinctures in

To make it shrink, or fall away, or

At least play nice and

Obey the laws of physics

As I have known them.


I get moving again

Because appointments are things,

Deep and substantial as

Country and creed.


I can no longer look away,

Though.


It’s a hole in you, a hole in us,

A hole in everything.

First a peephole and

Now a manhole and

I think it will invert us,

Go topsy-turvy and

Make home-pressed noodles in the

Steaming bowl of

Everything that is out here,

That is not it,

That doesn’t fit in our

Dewey Decimal System.


But it holds. Sits there.

And I realize it is only

The size of a dinner plate,

Hovering at a distance I should

Be able to pace at

A 3, 2, 1 countdown.

(One, two, three)

But of course the steps don’t

Do the trick. They

Make me awkward with

The rest of the room,

All elbows and—yes—

There are other people in the

Room who do not like elbows.

At least jabbing their

Armpits and ribcages.


They are in a line and

They wonder what’s

Wrong with me and

Tell me so and

A kid with an

Angry set of braces

From some cruel 80s movie

Actually kicks me a little,

Timid but firm.


I stagger back, and my head tilts,

And I am looking up at the television

Mounted by the door in the

Waiting room and

I realize that while the

Hole in the world is

Content to go where the

Turn of my head dictates,

It has an older, more

Dedicated relationship

With terra firma,

With the gravitational pull or the

Distance that humans carry their brains

From the center of this particular earth,

And it will not bob at my whim

Or bow to my wishes.


I feel two panics

In rapid succession.

One that I will never know

What is there inside the haze

Where I see motion now

Where a figure moves and

Light shifts as if it

Were filtering across a

Molten plain.

And the other that

I will never be able to look away,

Never find my way around,

Never be alone with

The population of this world

Again, elbows, shin-kicking

And all.


But then I right myself and stand,

Arm’s reach from the door and

Forgetting why I’m here.

Not what my name is, at least,

But forgetting

That the sound I hear repeated

Again and again

By a woman in visibly bisected glasses—

Possibly from the same movie

The girl who hates elbows

Is from—

Is in fact my name

Said again and again

For attention, for closure, for

Identification.

But I can’t turn to see her again.


It’s because I have been

Watching the spot

On the door where the

Hole in the world has dived

And disappeared….


I feel like a sinner redeemed,

Like that world is no longer

Simmering in a bowl before me.

No longer waiting for

Some figure that moves

(Light shifting across a

Molten plain)

Forward for the kill.

Forward to take the great

Bowl of our world

In its arms

For the piece de resistance,

For the devouring.

The Great Pour

From everything

To the unknowable bowels

Of the beast beyond the world.


Looking at the closed door only,

I feel like a sinner redeemed, but

Also like a sinner who has

Lost his chance to sin.


I gasp for breath,

Can barely make sense of the air—

To remember what to do with it—

And I lunge.


The bisected horn rims are

At my side now and

I hear the tone of concern,

Gentle human touch at my elbow.

“Mr. Something,” she says,

Dr. Someone will see you now,”

But I lash out, make contact,

Am out the door and into the hall and

Not looking.


Too afraid to know whether

It is with me or

Against me, I

Keep my eyes closed and

My limbs in motion. I

Try to see the murky manhole of

The hole in the world

In the reddish, bleeding blackness

That is insides-of-eyelids,

Living veins of remembered light, and

I panic one more time

As I trip across an intersection,

Squinting—

Is it with me

Or against me?


The intersection is not busy

But it is not so not-busy that

The people of the bowl of

Home-pressed noodles

Fail to shout with their

Car horns and

Apologize with

The squeals of their

Tires.


But I do not have eyes for them.

In a parklet with child’s drawings I

Open my eyes again and

Find I am not alone—

Not abandoned.

And that there ‘round the

Hole in the world is the

Rim of the world and that

If I could just hoist myself up

I could get there. Go through.

Be the first wide noodle to

Be slurped up and

Out of the Dewey Decimal.


Determined,

I hoist myself up

And pour myself in.

 

DOUGLAS GWILYM is an author and editor who has also been known to compose a weird-fiction rock opera or two. He edited four years of the themed annual Triangulation (now in its 17th iteration) and is an active member of the Horror Writers Association. He has served on staff at Alpha Young Writers speculative fiction workshop and is the Gwilym in Gwilym & Oreto’s Good Dark Fun. Check out his stories at Tales from the Moonlit Path, Dark Fire, and Danse Macabre's DM du Jour. See him read classic weird fiction on YouTube and find more stories at douglasgwilym.com.