A dream, a prose poem, an alien, and David Bowie:
A little trip into the strange …. This started as a dream than and then morphed. Kind of a sci-fi prose poem.
It was David Bowie’s alien that caused the chaos. After it was caught, it died, melted down into a little pile of goo and one very dense spot – a diamond. And Bowie kept it in a glass aquarium. He stood on a step stool and gazed down into the searing diamond-light. Then people started to get sick. The visible symptom was the hard, beak-like growth that emerged just under the collarbone.
But none of us knew the alien had caused it. And the military started to round up the sick and herd them into camps. Finally, David (it’s a dream, so I can call him David) shows me a live satellite image of the earth. There is this brilliant light beaming up into space. I look for the origin; the picture of North America is like a map. The light comes from the alien-diamond. Anyone touched by the diamond-light is infected.
In the dream, Bowie is smaller than I would have imagined. Very thin. A gentleman, polite.
They make people strip, take their clothes and shoes and put them into piles. The children can’t take their dolls with them. Most are cooperative, quiet. A boy starts to cry and every head turns – not toward the cry, but away from it, embarrassed.
As more and more are packed into trains, shuttled off to barbed-wire camps, I think – but we are all infected, the whole world, or soon will be, so why are only some of us being taken? I tell a corporal that I am infected too, even if I don’t have the telltale beak in my chest. Like me, David Bowie is infected but it doesn’t show. For the ones like us, there are a thousand, a million tiny beaks, but inside – living in the blood.
Another train pulls out of the station. David and I stand together on the platform, which is suddenly deserted. In the stillness I study his profile: the sharp nose, the one blue eye.
He smiles, taps his chest and says, “Eventually they will realize we are infected too. And then there will be more in the camps than out. Finally, the whole world will be a camp.”
“I don’t understand,” I say, “What do the beaks want? What will the disease do?”
“Listen,” he says, “Just listen.”
Together we stand on the platform and I close my eyes, listening to the thousand-thousand beaks inside me opening and closing. I realize each beak makes a sound, a call, infinitely faint. All together, sound added to sound, they begin to make a kind of music. Following the music, listening more intently, I realize I can hear the tiny beaks inside of David Bowie singing too. And then more – I can hear, all over the world, these tiny creatures all calling out. The whole world has become a finely tuned beacon, singing out to the stars.