Clay Matthews
The Hypnotist's Refrain

You are on a dock, a boat resting in a lift beside you, your feet in the water
and there is a light rain, call it a drizzle, so that all across the lake
it looks as if the water is reaching out, reaching up, making a slight fog
between the heavens and the earth. You are getting sleepy. Very, very
sleepy, and thinking of a woman running her thumb back and forth
inside a necklace, a necklace of black beads, a prayer, a habit she
picked up in grade school, when for the first time putting on a dress
she looked in a mirror and thought of you sitting on this dock, and pulled
out ear-rings and other dangling jewelry from her mother¹s dark oak
box that sat on the dresser, beside a watch that ticked, as all good watches
do, and you are wondering what time it is though time is not relative, time
is going away, or you are slipping away from it, you are slipping into the water,
first clothed, then nude, then going under and under into a deep trance,
where you will listen to my voice, and only my voice, and follow it down,
past the shadows of the boat, past the shadows of the fish, down to whatever
grows that grows on the bottom, if there is anything there at all other than
cold mud, mud that your feet sink into, and you sink, down, and down,
and down. And you find a bottle there, an empty glass bottle, and though
this was once water it is now something else, and you take that empty bottle,
and blow, and it lets out a deep, hollow hum, and you become the hum, and hum
along, a song about uhn-uh-uhhhhmmm, dee-deee, do-wahhhh, and you do this,
you are happy doing this, you are you doing this and at peace and in love
though all these things with no consciousness of being them. You are not conscious.
You are in a deep sleep. A trance, sitting in the sunshine on a big sofa in front
of the furniture store, you do not go in, and you are not bothered by the salesman
adjusting his tie and staring out the window. You are sitting there, alone there,
with the whole world there, in its hands there, humming the song, the same song,
another song, you are free, I am setting you free, you are free to go or free to stay,
you are free to listen to my voice, you are safe with me, we are down here in the water,
we are down here with each other and you are sleepy, tired and tired, you are deep
but not asleep, you are in some place where I cannot go with you but I am there,
beside you, you are letting go, there is no system to this place, there is no symbolism,
there is no hunger and no pain and no laws an no one else. You are in your childhood,
your are in your adulthood, you are everywhere at once and as the water pitters
and patters above, you are looking up at a bird flying over, a white bird, a bird with a coat
of many colors, a dark bird, a shape-shifter, a man or a woman with wings dipping
down into the deep. You are deep now. Deeper than deep. Below the mud and below
the cold. Under everything. Under knowing and not knowing. And when I snap my fingers
you will remember nothing, you will forget nothing, you will loosen yourself out
of the nothing and back into the nothing, nothing from nothing, the cold, dark mud.
Snap, and you are coming back to me. Snap, and you are shaking free, free from
the other freedom, you are coming up. And you have been here all along, and we have
been here all along, and alone, and not alone, but a long, a long way from home, or else
home, or else you are a long, long way, the way itself, the places, the spaces between
all that I have failed to mention, each good memory and every bad one, each man,
each woman, each foot dipping itself bare into the darkness, going in, and coming out,
the water running from heel to toe, wet, and back to the place where water began.