Another night, Swann hummed the song "Billyjo was seen dropping
something off the Talahachi Bridge", while downstairs, Rose was
drinking from a bottle of beer. She saw Swann come down and clovely said, "Hello
Swann answered. "Hull. How'd you know I'd been writing about a photo of
a sailor and a male prostitute? It's the only picture from the early days of
the Bordello that I've seen so far. The guy whose granddad had taken pictures
at the Bordello in the 1920s hasn't come through yet. What's your plans tonight?"
Rose dryly said, "I have to go to the Mark Twain caves for a secret meeting
- do you want to come? You have to swim under-water for about a minute..."
Swann took a deep breath that went to the bottom of her guts and decided. "I'm
up for an adventure."
They drove to the Mark Twain Cave entrance. The shades were down and a sign on
the door said Closed. Another car arrived and a group got out. Everyone was introduced.
They all seemed friendly and stable. Everyone walked through the gift shop to
the cave, which smelled of light bulbs that had slightly burned both the dried
acrylic paint and the mold. It resembled a funhouse at a carnival, or a NY '80s
theme disco with a name such as the nightclub Area that in 1984 had life-size
dioramas that once represented religions through the ages. This included live
people that pretended to be statues, frozen in a pose for hours, playing witches
and wizards in caves.
Back in the Twain caves the colored lights accentuated the hand-sculpted look
of the walls. Swann noticed how now it all looked fake. Small brass plaques said:
Mark Twain played house, or hide-and-seek or had tea parties with Becky on this
spot. This second time inside, she realized that there it was a fiction constructed
just for tourism. The guide brought everyone to a secret door. They walked through
the door to the regular cave. This part of the cave had slanted floors and imperceptibly
high, skinny ceilings that opened up to the night sky at some points and disoriented
everyone. It smelled of fresh melting ice. The group was led along a skinny one-foot
ledge. Swann clutched the wall to her left, barely breathed in terror because
to her right the drop was 100 feet.
Inside the cave they stayed behind the flashlight to find their way in the dark
to the innermost pool of water. The air was thick with steam as a result of the
hot springs. Sitting on the ground to get undressed, the ground felt cold in
contrast to the hot air . Swann was slightly terrified in the utterly black darkness,
in order to feel a little better she shut her eyes. Rose put her hand in Swann's.
Swann held Rose's hand desperately until the swelling anxiety slowed down again.
Everyone was in a kind of hush with the knowledge that they must remain focused
in order to do the next step safely.
The flashlight was cast down, which lit up the water into a gray post-sunset
sky with little flecks of silver that floated inside, closer and far away, defining
the depth of the pool. The illuminated hole looked about the size of a basketball,
at an undefinable length away from the waters edge. The tour guide had a special
underwater flashlight tied to her wrist. She would take the first group through
the water and then swim back. The first of the group slid under the water with
the guide in front shining the light forward. It seemed a long time before the
guide came back. Swann started to freak out again, but tried to relax as the
guide said, "You have to swim under water for all-together a minute."
The last four people put on the goggles that the last group sent back with the
guide. The guide said, to each one, "Are you ready?" Everyone said, "Yes." They
figured out an order to swim through the hole in. The guide would swim through
first and flash the light on the hole then the others would climb through. Swann
dove into the water which was surprisingly warm. She felt great kicking her legs
and scooping the water in her hands and pushing through until she remembered
she had to open her eyes. Suddenly she felt terror and claustrophobia in the
dark water. She had to turn her head slightly to observe the others climbing
through the now back-lit hole. She quickly glided underwater to that spot, being
the last one to enter. The tour guide took her hand as they swam up to the waters
surface. Swann took a deep breath which made a large sound when she opened her
mouth to the warm air inside the cave chamber. The flashlight revealed the roof
of the cave was three stories high, a curvy roof with spikes floating down thirty
feet suspended above their heads.
"Here is the goddess!" The guide shone the light at a calm face. The
face was made of stone with a many-creviced and cracked surface. Her finely chiseled
eyes were half-closed with heavy lids curling up in the corners, looking compassionate
and wise. Her hair was shaped into a three-leveled bun. On her mouth was a peaceful
slight smile with implied hair over her upper lip. The flashlight followed her
seated sculpted body made of the same very old stone dressed in a carved classical
robe that implied sheer. She was the size of a movie theatre screen.
Swann approached the goddess statue realizing that the carved stone robe flowed
open at the hips revealing her carved yoni, with stylized spirals (not Greco-Roman,
but more Asian looking maybe mixed with Navaho) for pubic hair, and from labia
lips carved into the shape of an arch was a live hot spring flowing from between
her open legs. Sacred vagina energy. Swann lost her breath for a moment as well
as her balance, twisting back and catching herself with one foot.
The guide said, "That water coming from the statue is sacred and good to
drink." Rose cupped the water in her hands, took a sip and stepped away.
Swann rested her two palms on the smooth cool thighs of the statue and just put
her face in the spring to drink. The guide suggested that everyone say a prayer
for each swallow of water that everyone say a prayer of what they wanted for
themselves and prayers for others who needed healing. Swann got an image of her
Aunt Violet. Her eyes teared up as she felt a prayer for her.
Swann perceived her Aunt as one of those women made of strong fossilized wood
that once in a while crumbled. Violet's eyes were olive with large, wide-open
almond lids with long eyelashes. Her nose was long like Swann's only a little
more bulby. Her face was oval and she had lines and jowls that implied deep concentration
and strength of character. Swann has thought of Violet as someone who finds earthbound
solutions for earthbound brains.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Aunt Violet walked down sixth avenue with the song "Here
comes Peter Cotton Tail" winging around in her head. Not insidiously every
word, but "Peter Cot........... Peter Caught in tail........... Pete...........
Peter Cawt-ton tale........... cottin through the cotton trail" cycled up
through her mind.
The nighttime sky was jet black with a low-hung, three-quarter moon that gaped
out between long clouds. The moon turned the cloud into a luminous muddy paint
flesh-tone that implied a large eye. When Violet arrived in her apartment, on
her wall was a reflection of a lit lamp in a mirror that bounced off the wall
which to her looked as if a beautiful big eye of the Hindu goddess Saraswati
watched. She dropped down exhausted into her bed, kicked off her penny loafers,
wriggled out of her dark green linen long-sleeved dress, and kept her white lace
slip on. The eye comforted her as it was warm and seemed to emit a blue light.
She saw its lid shut as her own lids shut to sleep.
Back in the cave Swann noticed a woman that sat with her eyes wide open as tears
fell down her face. Swann wondered what was wrong, why was she crying, and asked "Are
you alright?" The woman replied, "I am so amazed at the utter beauty
of life and living." Swann said, "Yeah." and walked away, empathetic
and moved. She sat down nearby and felt her body of light come down and join
her physical body. zzzzzzxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxccccccccvvvvbbnnm
Shelley Marlowe [Pisces Pig] lives in New York and has a palm-reading
column at http://www.Gurl.com.