Five things are a sixtieth part of something else

Five things are a sixtieth part of something else: namely, fire, honey, Sabbath, sleep and a dream. Fire is one-sixtieth part of Gehinnom[1]. Honey is one-sixtieth part of manna. Sabbath is one-sixtieth part of the world to come. Sleep is one-sixtieth part of death. A dream is one-sixtieth part of prophecy.

Berakoth 57b
Babylonian Talmud, 200 – 500 C.E.

I dreamed of you, Sar.  I dream of you every night since the full moon when you left.  Where did you go?  Even you don’t know.  I get letters now and then.  You say you have been taken, like the swell of a wave.

(key: A♭ major, quality: low, raspy, withdrawn)

I dreamed we were in a house on the Detroit River.  It was a house from the future, a house that landed there for us – our friends, our family, lovers, exes, everyone.  A kinship spaceship.  The exterior was a combination of Parliament Funkadelic’s Mothership, a rounded tetrahedron, and an Igloo.  It was silver, but in the setting sun, it reflected each colour of the light spectrum.  The interior was like Rideau Hall – huge, colonial, almost comical.  In the dream, I knew this building was a hybrid space.  A post-Capitalist, Indigenized institute kind of thing.  Not a house per se, but a political structure; a home-temple-headquarters where resisters could congregate, reflect, fuck, and then return to the exterior where nothing was quite right.  Who’s “we”?  Not sure anymore, Sar.  But it was more than just you and me.  There were multitudes, past and present.

Let’s call the house Beit ha-Cholem, House of Dreams.  Let’s say that’s where we fell in love.  Let’s say that’s where you told me of the tunnels.  There were hundreds of them, coming up inside the basement.  Tunnels crisscrossing underneath the river – Windsor, Detroit, Delray, Grosse Pointe, Chatham, Sandwich, Amherstburg.  The tunnels were built by those escaping slavery, then used by rumrunners, and now we are using them to avoid the Border Security Firewall.  That bastion of steel, cameras and retina scanners forced us into the mud. We got used to almost daily wades through the dark, fishy stench, especially strong in spring, bone-cold in winter.  Echoing like organs shifting inside a skeleton.

(key: D minor, quality: urgent)

In this moment of the dream I found myself crawling up from one of the tunnels, into a long promenade on the first floor of the Beit ha-Cholem.  Look there, I have something in my hand.  What is it?  It’s a message, but written in code.  I’m supposed to deliver it to him.  Who?  That guy on the Edwardian bench in the South Wing.  I don’t even know my purpose.  I just go with it, serving something I can’t articulate.  Serving what’s to come.  It’s that kind of moment.  A future harkened by our sneakiest of ancestors.  The ones that congregate when we sit by the river, laughing and sucking the charred bones of squirrels we caught the night before.

Sar, is this our future?

Is this our end?

(key: back to A♭ major, quality: serene, hopeful)

You told me once that I could have access to the Divine Mind if I follow these simple steps:

  1. Ritual purification (no fucking, dairy or gluten for 7 nights)
  2. Going to a body of water (use the river, not the lake)
  3. Burning incense (sweetgrass from Wampole Island)
  4. Performing an incantation (you suggest the final 3 verses of Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather)
  5. After 3 nights, the Angel will appear.  Go with her, do not resist flight if she arrives in wingèd form.

When you left, I did that, Sar.  I did all that.

Still, nothing arrived.  Not you, not the angel.  Then on the 5th night, I dreamt of a train, a train rushing into my bed, rushing over me, rushing over my heart, my fingers, everything.  I felt the vibration run up my spine, into my brain.  The train became my voice, my heartbeat, it was everything.  I couldn’t stop it.  My eyes rolled out of my head, bouncing off the gravel from the velocity.  I could still see with them, Sar.  I saw you in the conductor’s seat, driving that train.  In the distance was your future, your future without us.

Go if you must, I will remain here, here in the future.

Here in the house on the river.

[1] the spiritual realm in which souls are cleansed from the blemishes brought about by their conduct while on Earth.

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photo of Marie Brassard in Me Talking to Myself in the Future by Frederic Auger

Reena Katz

Reena Katz is an artist, curator, and the wielder of a most fantastical imagination. You can see what she’s up to these days over on her website.

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