Baudelaire’s Eyes

We had drunk hashish tea, Marie and I, and we both got stoned a little beyond the easily describable.

Toward morning (or thereabouts—time had been fairly well lost track of by now), psychically shipwrecked, I drifted toward sleep only suddenly to be stirred awake then salvaged and then captured by two small glowing planets.

A little earlier that night (or the night before), I had told Marie all about my moving-to-France-and-become-a-poet plans and about my admiration for Charles Baudelaire. I had even hinted, more than once I believe, that perhaps I had been Charles Baudelaire in a previous life—something that I, as I now look back, see that she took with a teaspoon or two of salt.

Point being, though, that as I drifted toward hashish induced slash enhanced sleep, Baudelaire had made himself quite comfortable in my brain, so to speak,

I don’t remember whether my eyes were open or closed at this point, but I do remember lying on my back, Marie beside me (probably sleeping by now), when two globes of fire appeared in the air, each globe a foot or so above each of my (probably open, yes, come to think of it) eyes.

From only god knows where, this notion percolated then surfaced: these are Charles Baudelaire’s eyes; these fiery orbs are the long-dead poet’s eyes, come to show me capital-T Truth. This surfaced not as a guess or a hunch, this was a certainty. Fact.

Somehow, again from only god knows where, I also knew that in order for Truth to reveal itself, Baudelaire’s eyes would now need to slowly lower themselves toward and then to merge with mine, so that I would in fact be looking out through his eyes.

They would not sink toward mine of their own accord, though; his eyes stayed put in the air, holding steady at their twelve respective inches. I had to will them to sink (really, really will them to sink), so will them I did. Slowly, slowly, they came closer and closer: half a foot, three inches, two, one—which is where my courage ran out; i.e., beat a fast retreat and headed for the hills.

I could not, did not dare to, complete the sinking. I was truly afraid; not of what was happening but of what I might see, should I look out through his eyes. So, I willed them away, and away they flew up into the ceiling and the night sky beyond, never to be seen again.

I don’t remember whether I woke Marie at that point to tell her all about it, but it seems I didn’t. Rather, I probably—exhausted and still terrified—fell asleep at this point and told her later than morning (for it was indeed morning when this happened, dawn already in full swing outside her windows).

A day or so later I wrote a poem (in Swedish) about this. Here is a verbatim translation from Swedish to English:

 A look of fiery yellow,
a spear of dread,
concealed in dark currents,
flowed and swirled out
of the body’s earthly dreams.

It slowly lowered itself
from the hidden halls of time,
as if to ask the soul to come
to where the voices of
past centuries are heard.

But the space of thought
froze to anguish
in the hypnosis of this death
as the soul still was too frail
to be torn from its stall.

And here’s an attempt to shape this as a poem in English as well:

A fiery look, a spear of dread,
in dark and hidden streams,
it flowed and swirled,
and rose and fled
the body’s earthly dreams.

Then slowly sank towards my eyes
from past and hidden halls,
as if to bid the soul to rise
to hear those ancient calls.

But space of thought
froze and quailed,
transfixed by this death’s fall,
as my soul was yet too frail
to rise and leave its stall.

For years after that I was convinced that I had, indeed, been Charles Baudelaire in an earlier life, and that these eyes were none but my own death-eyes come to show me truth, whether capital-T or otherwise.

I was equally convinced that, had my courage not failed me, these death-eyes would have shown me something: Truth, truth, Lies, lies. But, alas, that was not to be and I am still wondering.


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