tagReviews & EssaysThe Pillar in the Garden

The Pillar in the Garden


Dust clouds boils up high out of the plains of North Africa, obscuring the sun, turning it into a flattened orange in the lemon sky.

In the Pacific Ocean, islands so green that walking in their forests is like walking through a wet and dripping emerald, with the startling brilliance of birds in tearing flight.

Long gray streets of Midwestern cities under the endless skies and cold frozen glare of streetlights, the yellow glow of houses swathed in the warm odors of food and home.

Beneath the waters of the Caribbean shoals of fish twist into sight like Venetian blinds, flooding the water with their color, the shocking excess of life.

On her bed she writhes to me, presses her body up at me, her long slim thighs, the luxury of her breasts, the mane of dark hair: child of the planet, confusion of the ages. Her teeth are like the temples of Ophir, alabaster in the warmth of the sun, and her lips promise the coolness of an oasis: the wet refreshment after days spent in the desert of her soft tawny skin. Dip into the jungle between her thighs, the coral cave, the lush reward of body and soul, and you'll know that everything she is speaks of where she comes from, and that her very body celebrates her home.


"When I say that the full moon is no bigger than the nail of my thumb I speak in metaphor," I say. "We can leave its real size to Science, but for you and I it is an enormous pearl, taken from the great Oyster of the Deep and set there in the clouds for our own pleasure. Now listen carefully, because all the moon tells you, you will repeat to me in your kiss; and the secrets of the way the clouds move across her face you will explain in the way your arms cross over my back when we make love. There's nothing in nature that isn't already in you, and all you are already has expression in the world around us. I don't know much, but much of what I know I have learned at the secret fountain between your legs."

She and I see through shadows of leaves and routinely gaze at each other across deserts of sand. Our hands reach out and find one other through a riot of flowers. For us, there is no Angel with a Fiery Sword to keep us out of anywhere, and we go where we please, wandering around the pillar that stands in the garden. We eat of all the trees and the plants in their profusion are our bread and wine. We lie down with animals as family, the lanky tiger purring beneath her neck, the apes playing a fandango on plastic guitars, shaking bright maracas and hooting dreamily from the flowery shadows.

When we dream, we have dreams of the Earth our home, where everything is a miracle that dwarfs any tales we can tell. The ant with her crumb of dirt leaves us gaping with disbelief. There aren't enough books to describe what she does or how she does it: books after books, lines of books, in each book a soul and yet never enough books. We're reduced to this: tangling our limbs and joining our bodies, the only language we have to describe this ineffable joy of being here in this garden, and alive.

What these trees know they say in low tones, murmured echoes of the sounds underground: seeping water and clicking rock. The roots of each tree are as big below as the tree is above; a symmetry reflected by the ground like a mirror. You can see how each tree breaks the sky into thousands of pictures, each one framed by twigs and leaves, each one different, fragmented and entire. And when the wind blows, the pictures dissolve, disappear as the branches rock, then reappear renewed, entirely different and completely unchanged. How should we be different than the trees? How should it be that we're not framed by every creature and breath of air around us?


My cock rises up with the pride of the towers of Babylon, Sidon and Tyre. Her face appears above the sere hills of my thighs, her eyes are the sun and the moon. Her mouth is a song of the depths where the sportive fishes play, deeper than the deepest darkness. Her teeth are the surf on the shores of her coral lips. Leviathan her tongue come to call me home, to the depths where water blue turns inky black, and no one knows what lives below.

In return for her mouth I give her pearls: incandescent drops in which miracles abound, miracles upon miracles, countless miracles. That any mind could conceive the wonders that any cheap microscope reveals in inconceivable. Pull your camera back. Farther. Farther still. Off the planet and now turn back and focus on the planet: the teeming density of it.

Fuck your angels dancing on the head of a pin;

There's a drop of semen hanging from her chin.

All those snowflakes. All of them perfect, each one different, and all of them unseen; ignored. Nature is just profligate the way she lavishes beauty around; just wastes it, as if she can't get out of her own way. It's as if we farted Bach cantatas.

Wonder of wonders, saith the prophet: All is wonder.

I love the idea of God resting on the seventh day. As if making all that stuff just plumb took the starch out of his collar. Whew! What do you think tired him out so much? Stuffing those cellulose-eating microbes into the termite's gut? The owl's call? The cheetah's speed? The opposable thumb? Teaching the wolves to smell each other's asses? Arranging things so that when a woman stops and absent-mindedly brushes her hair back behind her ear, the way she hold her fingers—relaxed, gracefully curved and yet with a bit of self-referencing pointyness to them so that she subtly calls attention to herself, attention that's all the more affecting because it's completely unconscious—it makes men ache with a vague, sexual ache, makes them love her without even knowing why.

I love the idea of God standing at his workbench screwing the pieces of life together. I see him working away, while Lucifer--he wasn't the devil yet--leans against the doorway with his bowling ball at his feet, looking on impatiently. "Come on already! You know, you're putting way too much work into this. Why don't you just make a couple of people, a few animals for them to eat, and leave it at that? No one's even going to notice all this detail work."

"No," God says, finishing up a particular batch of lichens, "Someday they'll notice. Someday when they don't even believe in me anymore they'll notice, and then watch their jaws drop!"


What is bigger, I ask you: The vasty, big-ass universe? Or the tiny pink mind that contains it? And think of all those minds: ant-minds and flower-minds, fish-minds and people-minds, all containing universes, all flicking on and winking out like lights from an airplane window, each one so precious, and all so cheap.


This is the Secret of the Symbol of the Pillar in the Garden. It's a Pillar of pure Porphyry. Or maybe Alabaster. Or Onyx, or Lapis Lazuli. It's an Ionian column, or Doric, or Corinthian; Antediluvian, Precambrian, Latvian. (Oh, some damn thing; I don't know...) It reaches up from a clearing in the center of the Garden and into the sky, and simultaneously reaches down out of the blue, blue sky, to the fertile earth of the Garden.

The clearing is surrounded by noble cypresses and silent yews, shadowy oaks and graceful willows; and all about the clearing, as if in homage, are plants of every description: ferns with sun-dappled fronds, riots of wildflowers, sweet and humble mosses on quiet rocks, all quietly and politely murmuring their secret names. At the foot of the Pillar, ivy twines like pubic hair, hiding from view the sacred juncture where the Pillar enters the earth, hiding the nature of that juncture. Some say that the Pillar plunges into a deep, dark hole carved into the body of the earth itself, others that the ground reaches up to meet the pillar with fervent eagerness, puckering up around it. But nothing hides the spring of sweet water that wells up from this union, that swells about the base of the Pillar in a joyous, brimming pool and runs laughing away into the dark and tulgy woods and from thence, out into the wide, wide world.

The Garden is well-kept, watered and tended by beautiful Virgins who are the only ones who may touch the plants or the sacred Pillar. Everyone else who comes here must walk on air, touching neither heaven nor earth. And from far and away come people and beasts, birds and creeping things, nymphs and sylphs and satyrs and unicorns, all the creatures ever imagined, all to celebrate this wonder of rare devising: this proud Pillar in the luxuriant Garden.

And it doesn't even exist. Or at least, it didn't before. But now that you've read these words it exists for you in your mind, which is, after all, where all things find their being. And so you can picture what happens there in the clearing, where the satyrs goose the maenads and the centaurs chase the sylphs giggling into the forest and the flowers clap their hands and laugh. The image is yours. I give it to you to decide what happens next. It's the seed of an idea.

The seed is life: the earth the mother in which it grows. The ancients knew it, just as they knew that the rain and the dew were the semen of the sky, spread with such breathtaking profligacy through the world. They also knew this: the great paradox of life: that life is precious, and yet life is cheap. There's nothing more sacred and nothing more common.

And so the Pillar stands in the Garden with the moon on one side, the sun on the other, the roar and the flash of lightening up above, and the bubbling pool that splashes around it, and from the woods come the sound of infinite sexual ecstasy.


The Egyptians weren't dummies. No religion lasts 6,000 years that doesn't have some truth in it. They didn't make pictures of gods they thought were animals. They made pictures of spirits that sat on the earthly shoulders of men, spirits that were made in the mind, that then sat up and walked out through the mouth and into the world of men: God with the head of a jackal. God with the head of a snake. God with the head of an ibis. The spirit of a falcon on a man's body. Goddess with the head of a cat.

God with the head of a human. God with the head of a mountain. Goddess with the head of a cloud. God with the head of a flower. The rain-draped sea on the shoulders of a man.

God with the head of a baby. Goddess with the head of a man laughing out loud. God with the head of a woman, crying alone at night, God with the head of loneliness. God with the head of a happy little tune. God astonished at what God's made

God with a hand saying "How ya doin'?" God with a head of lightening: Lightening-head God. God with a cloud of fart-gas for a head. Infinite Gods standing in a crowd, all changing heads. Going out to the car. Waving goodbye and going to work.


I make no apologies for my cock, though God knows he sometimes needs them. I drag myself through the back alleys of my Midwestern city watching the grays: the snow melt running in a rill down the middle of the alley, the colorless puddles or water reflecting the colorless sky, mirrors showing images of mirrors. I walk and all the dead walk with me, telling me I'm their best hope. They're all gone and the things they knew and did are gone with them. Their games are rolled up, books put away, socks and underwear thrown out. They count on me now, me and my stupid cock that knows so much more than I do. I don't know if I'm up to the task.

There are 24 people alive at any time whose job is to justify the sanctity of the world to God. They don't know who they are, and they only find out the moment they die. Just in that split second before darkness gathers, God comes and tells them that they were one of His chosen ones, that their entire lives were prayers without their even knowing it. All their joys and sorrows and curses and despair: He heard every word. You wonder about the look on their faces when they find out.

I walk down the alley with my cock in my pants. It could be me too. In buildings on either side of me are holy people in the holy evening, watching holy TV and eating their holy dinners beneath the holy sky beneath the holy stars. It could be me.

It could be you, too.


Oh my goddess—and she is my goddess, whomever she might be—open the temple of your body and take me inside you. I am a supplicant and lost. Feel my anguish, feel my need, feel my foolish bubbling words in praise of your beauty, and beautiful is the woman who will take you inside her, no matter what she may be on the surface. Holy is the cunt, holy is the prick inside that cunt, holy is the fusion, holy the foolish bubbling words.

The fool sees only the fuck. The complete man sees the currents of the universe, the slow, thick energies of the natural world, mute but inevitable in their urgency. You feel her calm accepting breath on your chest, warm with her sighing, languorous pleasure, the slow patient workings of her beautiful animal thighs. She stretches out in time and enjoys your enjoyment of her. She knows she's beautiful when you're inside her: the mystery of the moon, the glory of the sun, the freshness of the rain on your parched and hungry land.

"What are you doing?" she asks me with her little girl lilt.

"Looking at you. Studying you."

She is sitting in a wooden chair as I kneel at her feet. Her thighs are spread at my insistence and my chin rests on the seat of the chair, so close that she feels the breath of my nostrils in her pubic hair. She's amused at how serious I am, and she's getting embarrassed and uneasy.

Her labia are two folded mountain ranges, critical foothills that signal a profound topographical change. From here on, everything changes. "Remove thy shoes for the ground thy standeth upon is consecrated ground, and holy." They're sentinels that frame the secret valley within, where the convolutions of flesh are as individual as any fingerprint, or the singular landscape of any beloved place. There is so much flesh crowded in there, as if to contain all the life and sensation, as crowded as the teeming center of the dewy rose; all the richness of terrain that's the sign of a special and complex environment, an ecosystem of pleasure, a ragged range of peaks and valleys that's crowned by the trembling bud of her little clitoris, moving as she breathes and twitching as she nervously laughs. (Sure, they tease us about out dicks, but you want to make a woman squirm, just stare at her pussy for a couple minutes. And remember, they've never even seen their own cunts, {'cept with a mirror mebbe.})

And through this wonderland runs a trickling rill of her own lubrication. I can dip my finger in its warm waters and watch her jump. I can press my face into the turf of her pubic hair and smell the earthy life of her desires, something so young and ancient that it calls to what's young and ancient in me too. (A Pillar in a Garden indeed!)

"What are you staring at?" she asks, trying to close her legs. "Would you stop!?

And what's inside? Beyond my sight, all of her, beneath her skin: the crowded pulse of organ and muscle and meat and bone and vein: the bellows of her lungs, the hammer of her heart. I hardly know. All I know is that when I lift my lips to hers she is all warm surrender and wonderful feminine greediness. She wraps her thin arms around my neck, and her smooth legs around my hips, slides forward in the chair so that my own feverish pushbone is awash in the seas of her female swamp, and the currents that surge up through me are as strong as the tides of the moon on the ocean, telling me to enter her and find my home inside her, urging me to beat the waves of my furious male hunger against her giving female shores.


The Moon on the Face of the Sea at Night!

How I long to see it. It's an image that haunts me, like a memory from another life. I need to understand it.

I'll write a story about it. No: better than that, I'll change my name to "The Moon on the Face of the Sea at Night" Moon-on-the-Face-of-the-Sea-at-Night Mabeuse! Is that why American Indians named themselves the way they did? Because they had visions of power and mystery from the world around them? Because there were feelings they could only describe by talking about them in terms of nature? I'm sure that's it. It makes such absolute sense.

"I feel like the May wind in young grass," says Wind-in-the-Grass "I feel like you feel when you've been sitting in the stinking teepee too long listening to too much bullshit and then you come out and stand up in the fresh night air and feel the sting of wild rain in your face," says Chief Rain-In-The-Face. "I feel strong and confidant, like a standing bear!" "I feel stars in my heart!" "I feel like the Moon on the Face of the Sea at Night!" I do, I do. That's exactly how I feel, and I want to fuck a woman who feels that way too.

I want to tangle legs with her and send my living cock into the depths of her dark waters as she heaves against me, never knowing what's beneath the surface: glittering treasure of Spanish doubloons or horrible monsters with tentacle suckers or the great surging suck of the darkness that calls to us all from the ocean's mystery. She's in there. She's like that. I can hear her breath like the sound of the surf that foams on the waves, feel her living lift and roll beneath me, feel the spindrift of her hands as they search over my body, kiss the watery billows of her breasts...

And all this in moonlight. All this time the pearl in the sky pours that semen-y light down upon us. Makes her horny too, I bet...


At any place on the planet there are more creatures living beneath the surface than are living above it. It's true; you can look it up. The land is really an ocean, a sea of soil and rock, and every speck of sand is coated with the grimy business of life, with eat and be eaten, reproduce and multiply, slide around and see what's going on. It's only us big dumb fuckers that thought it wise to leave the safety of the soil and walk on our own two sticks; only us that plop our asses down on the ground and think we're the Lords of Creation. Beneath us the planet buzzes and hums. Most of it is in the top few inches, but down as far as fifty feet, roots snake their subterranean way and fungi feed on dead matter, even hunt and eat other fungi. Each grain of soil is coated with a skin of water, and in this water life thrives: miniature New York Cities, while copepods and planarians swim through the dirt, grazing here and there like fishes in the sea. The planet is lousy with life.

The largest living organism is not the whale, not even the mighty redwood tree. The largest known living organism is a single mold that occupies several square acres of land beneath the surface of Washington state, all its cells connected to make one vast, hugely expansive net of life, so humble that even if you dug up a shovel full you'd never even notice it, but it's there. Bigger than a fucking shopping mall. Only lately have scientists begun looking at what's beneath our feet. Everywhere we look we're drowning in the miraculous.

And you and me, darling, are planets of our own. There are things living all over us and inside of us, our own little flocks and schools of this and that without whom we could not exist at all. Every time you go to the bathroom, almost half of what you excrete is from your own flock of beneficial bacteria, little domesticated pets who live in your gut and whose work is now done. Good bye and farewell, and thanks for your help! Ulp!


Animals don't know about death. Animals don't know they're ever going to die. It's only us humans who have to labor under that weight, and we don't even learn about until about the same time we learn about sex. We learn about death and about the only way we have to protect against it at the same time. No wonder it's such a tough period to get through.

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bydr_mabeuse© 19 comments/ 38917 views/ 8 favorites

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