by Bill Meissner
In an instant, the world is pulled through a small hole in the galaxy and
the galaxy is pulled through a small hole in the universe.
Somewhere, a Mayan priest dressed in a white robe
and stone necklace poises in front a pyramid
slithering with limestone snakes. He lifts offerings in a golden bowl, chants
with words that sound like cicadas buzzing in the grass.
Oxlahuntikul, he says. Ququmatz.
Somewhere, a man in a three-piece suit lifts his IPhone.
He checks his calendar. He’s late for a meeting on the far side of Manhattan.
If he seals this deal—his last chance—he’ll make a million.
He sends a text just before he enters the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel:
Be there soon. Soon. We’ll be golden.
Moonrise. The Mayan priest bows down.
The carved calendar shows that it’s the 12th month, the 21st day.
Insects click and inch up the tall jungle leaves
as wisps of incense send a message to the night stars.
Somewhere, a man passes through a tunnel in a Lexus. It closes
in on him—endless, dark, endless, like looking
through the wrong end of a telescope.
Anxious to exit the other side, he checks his I-phone.
At the appointed moment, the Mayan priest lifts his gaze to the sky.
A thousand years pass.
The man in the suit stares at his phone for what seems like a year.
No messages. No coverage. A dead zone. Finally, he drops
it out the window of the car where it cartwheels into a black puddle.
The priest stares patiently and waits, waits. Finally it happens:
he pulls the world through a small opening in his eye, and
when it comes out on the other side, the blue-green planet is still
whole, still spinning,
bright and innocent and beautiful as a freshly-polished emerald.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Bill Meissner’s first novel, SPIRITS IN THE GRASS, about a small town ballplayer who finds the remains of an ancient Native American burial ground on a baseball field, was published in 2008 by the University of Notre Dame Press and won the Midwest Book Award. The book is available as an ebook from the UND Press. Meissner’s two books of short stories are THE ROAD TO COSMOS, [University of Notre Dame Press, 2006] and HITTING INTO THE WIND [Random House/SMU Press, Dzanc Books ebook].
Meissner has also published four books of poems: AMERICAN COMPASS, [U. of Notre Dame Press], LEARNING TO BREATHE UNDERWATER and THE SLEEPWALKER’S SON [both from Ohio U. Press], and TWIN SONS OF DIFFERENT MIRRORS [Milkweed Editions].
He is director of creative writing at St. CloudStateUniversity in Minnesota. His web page is: http://web.stcloudstate.edu/wjmeissner/
His Facebook author page is:
painting by Samuel Barrera