Tarzan peers through a telescope. Earth, in its aphelion, is approximately 40 million miles away.
He brings it into focus, and sees Ghana, and Togo, and the Ivory Coast.
He lives alone on Mars. Earth is dying. But there is nothing he can do. It is beyond help. He puts on a robe of black feathers and wanders the halls of his pleasure dome. The thing he misses most is clouds.
He is old. He misses Jane. He misses his ape family. He worries about going blind.
He has a greenhouse where he grows spice for his meals and medicine for his injuries and nerves. A thesis of thorn thunders in his bones. He has chosen to live alone. He has chosen a life of solitude. Despite his extreme age, desire continues to haunt him. Words, consciousness, memory, are the jungle of the mind. Mars is cold. But there are ways to keep warm. He reads poetry. He lets out bloodcurdling yells. He pounds his drums in a fury of savage release.
He misses swinging on vines, wrestling with lions, and battling evil. His animal nature has become a philosophy. An abstraction, like fingernails, or flax.
He swims in a subterranean pool. A crystal dragon lifts its being into clarity. The animal provides illumination. Its name is legion. Its name is Ducasse. Its name is Maldoror.
What if paradise turned out to be a chemistry of words? Snapdragons, jonquils, orchids. The names of things. Names give intimacy. Names give locality and myth.
The night air fills with a sorrow that anchors in his heart. A strange trance overcomes his reflections. We are cast into nothing and grow into nothing, he muses. Reality unfolds in the shadows of language. What a beautiful mind it must take to invent something like water.
Tricks of light convulse in frosted glass. Cotton stars undulate on a soft blue fabric.
He rests his head on a pillow embroidered by Jane and falls asleep.
Morning arrives in a sky of pink indifference. He feels the kiss of day on his weary eyelids.
The past is a shadow, the future is a destination broad as air. It is without definition. The lack of meaning isn’t meaninglessness but equivocation. The lack of form. The lack of cause. Heaven must have its hell and hell must have its heaven.
He sees the face of Dante in a slope of ice. Giant windmills turn in the thin Martian wind.
Creation never stops. The universe is in flux. Questions of value are thrown to the winds.
He has divorced himself from humanity. The expanse shoulders a burden of rock and ice. Solitude is as wide in time as it is deep in essence.
Pterodactyls wheel in the sky. Protozoa writhe on a glass slide. A cool blue sphere of emotion sings in his heart.
Bees swarm in his greenhouse. He paints a waterfall from memory.
When he dies, there will be no one to bury him. His bones will whiten and remain where he falls. They will not retain his form. The sharp cold wind will whisper them into dust.
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