I descend, alone
into the dark depths of this space;
the sound of dripping water bouncing
off rocky sides
echoes unforgiving around me.

The rope taught and stretched,
anchoring me above to a place I can no longer see
or sense, but with faith I cling to - 
into the darkness.

This is the place I should not go,
below the murmur of computer screens
and text messages,
Facebook posts and conversation, advice and graphics 
ever increasing vibration, everything shared, everything high.

With a golden light strapped to my forehead,
a beam of clarity cutting through the void,
I swing the tether to get closer to the side of the 
never-ending egress which delivers me
to what lies beneath.

In the short throw of the light 
from my battery powered forehead I see
pictures, soiled and mildewed
plastered over each other in thick layers of
decay and non-life.

Like decades old carnival bills, ghosts posted on the
side of brick buildings, old painted advertisements weathered,
these are answers to problems I didn't know I had;
these coverups that forced me ever upwards to the surface
when really - all I ever knew was how to go down.

From my tool belt I select a dull, flat file - 
the edge beveled and the surface textured.
I begin to slowly chip away, peeling back these layers of pictures
that have obscured the naturally rocky sides and
reveal earthen cut rock beneath

the very essence of the shaft; 
of this space that connects what is above to what is below. 

My grief overtakes me; the task at hand seems impossible. 
How to return this space to the innocence of what was
before answers came in to solve problems that
did not exist to begin with? How long does it take
to turn back clocks and begin a new?

How much time has been wasted creating not from the 
place of my origin, this primitive cave without a bottom, but from 
the highest peak of the valley above? With tears, streaming down
my blackened cheeks, I hack harder and harder at the layers,
hoping that someone will hear my cries.

Up from below
a gust of cold, unfeeling air
breathes new life, a low, masculine sound -
(not unlike the sound from the moment of the big bang)
my senses heighten and come alive in this creative moment.

This, this is something to take notice of - 
a language I do not understand but 
feel like telepathy in the depths of my heart and soul. In an instant 
I drop the file, and this low, deep breath says to me: no tools are needed here; the layers of pictures are not to be removed.

observe and acknowledge; forgive yourself
for they are part of us now, part of this space, grown into the rock.
I quicken and adjust the beam of golden light on my forehead
expanding it to see more -
no longer narrowly focused on what is in front of me.

I begin seeing larger swathes of pictures
plastered over each other in layers, yes, but intertwined
in mosaic patterns that defy explanation yet 
explain everything perfectly in present time - including
the shape of things to come.

With renewed fervor I begin to SEE, taking in all the information
I have been avoiding and distracting myself from
appreciating the experiences it took to create such an 
intricate, unique galactic pattern of pictures - 
and falling in love with the state of this space for the first time.

I look below me into the darkness without fear, but instead with curiosity. My grief becomes strength.

I see nothing, sense nothing, but still feel the cool 
wisp of air that speaks (in an unfamiliar voice I am learning to understand)
that there is more below. There is more below to see and find. 

I reach up and with a single movement, I release the safety on the rope that has held me so tight.

I plummet into the darkness quietly, returning to what I come from and what I have always known.

- William Pacholski