Sub specie lucis. From the Perspective of Light

Sub specie lucis. From the Perspective of Light

I dreamt a dream before embarking on this journey. I was swimming in cold blue water, so blue, as if intentionally dyed, as sometimes happens in dreams. I wasn’t alone; we all swam in this blueness, dense like olive oil, not turbulent, but calm. Ahead of us were cliffs, smooth and the color of baked clay, almost glossy from the footsteps of all those who had reached them before us. Upon awakening, I knew the ultimate goal towards which, blinded by fear and longing, we were striving with each successive stroke. Reality is different, and the contrast between it and the dream is astonishing. Two weeks of restless daytime sleep in the rumbling bellies of machines and exhausting night journeys, gazing at the endless array of dark ridges that we cannot see during the day – the light is too bright, and we can only speculate about it, cramped in the bellies of the heavy all-terrain vehicles with which we travel to the gardens in the desert.

On the last night, we all struggled to catch a glimpse of the promised white glow when, behind the ridge of one of the mountains, it shone like a nuclear explosion above the night garden. It took us yet another painfully sleepless day to reach it. At dusk, we were greeted by a tall and somber man who, an hour later, led us through his kingdom. The greenhouses were enormous, shining like the bellies of nocturnal insects, and when I entered the first one, I was awestruck. Inside, the base of the transparent walls was covered with creeping plants, predatory and ghostly in the light coming from the floor and ceiling, ominously subdued like guards.

In the middle of the greenhouse, huge begonias, orchids, fuchsias, welwitschias, and liliums grew, adorned with luminous clusters of milky flowers. Plants like lion’s mane, like scraped bones, like dead insects, plants with tough skins, with predatory teeth, with greedy mouths and generous aerial roots, with tendrils of white pearls, with seeds about to burst from suppressed desire, with leaves adorned with thorns and moon spots, formed as if from the semen of an unknown god, graceful and incomparable, indifferent to the desert through which we, the devotees, passed through during a seemingly endless chain of the darkest nights and days humanity has ever dreamed of, only to reach, together, this abstract in its forms and threatening in its size collection. The silence surrounding these solitary giants is damp, torturous, a mighty corporeal silence, carrying the scent of the birth and death of matter, which turns the artificial light into a heavy exhale. The trip back through this desert is unbearable for me, the oasis at its center attracts me like death, death, made smooth by the footsteps of all the pilgrims before me. And they, these plants, are so innocent in their essence. So eternal. So vulnerable. So impenetrable, despite the light that streams through every one of their cells and reflects in the pupils of our eyes, burned out from longing for the miracle.

Zornitsa Gramkova

Translated by Vladimir Poleganov