Peter Dubé

Dreams Again of Water

The city turned upside down surrounds and the Shadow Man walks through it. The sidewalks are in the sky, become the crowns of thousand year old trees gone absent; disappeared. Above them must be, he thinks, the bowels of the city: storm drains and sewers, subway tunnels and the secretive nervous systems shepherding power and data and wealth. All of it sucking in light, rendering darkness. Descending, the windows of the towers reflect and distort images, twist them in the accumulated grime awaiting cleaning. And the tips of the construction are uneasy spindles; they shudder with the weight they must now maintain. The outlines of the buildings quiver too; the suggestion of pain, unease, discomfort, and of nerves before the transformation. The shadow man’s fingers twitch at it; he moves on. Seizing, touching, coming to terms at the terminal points. A city upside down around him. An overturned aeon. An inverted infinity.

The polished concrete spans, the curtain walls of glass all gleam reaching downwards, sinking deep into the elemental world. The man stops; regards, his arms extended, hands spread in recognition and in the instant knows that it is not the world that has changed, but him. Above him the sky is wet and he is underwater. The city’s uprightness is untouchable, though its representations remain malleable. The thought shakes him; his is walking through an image: the reflection of a city in accumulated rain that somehow covers him. He cannot know whether he has shrunk or the city yielded to a flood. He walks submerged. The creature of a puddle.

The thought jolts him awake. Pulls him upright in a rented room where – now – the light pouring through the blinds leaves stripes across his torso and his sheets. This unchanged; it is perfectly symmetrical, its regularity is constant. Merciless. Reasonable. Brutal.