For just this night, I want us to forget the facts we know. I want the night to widen, leave sleeping those who sleep, but stretch out an extra hour on our clock, from twelve to thirteen, the space for living dreams, for accelerated experiencing, for that phenomenon of the brain that sometimes seems to make the moment still. I want the wind to blow from directions our compass and our plumb line cannot find, for us to chase the scents it carries to a story made in parallel.
This night, they say, used to connect the timelines of every soul. Who knows the effect such believing once had; it has not endured. Halloween was delivered to us extinguished, a relic in a box of ashes. We burned the witches to fill it.
So we close our eyes and open them again. This is not necessary, but it seems intuitive. And now there is smoke on the wind. It may be chimneys, it may be sacrificial pyres, it may be the forest burning. There is a pile of leaves, a smell called fresh but that comes from their decay. I toss an armful over your head and they sing like chimes as they descend. There is the smell of mercury, of amnesia. The wind has shifted over a forgetful lake—it has brought the mist to our nostrils. This carries away many details from our memories, but we are promised that they will be returned. I do not know whether to trust the promises of the spirits. In the meantime, I am happy to forget the ones I can.
There are the signs we must draw meaning from, and the signs we must ignore. Who can say which are which? There is a rainbow around the moon, the part we can see, and the part we can merely feel. There are the songs that summon ghosts, and the songs that send them away. You can play the flute here, as if you always could. It is made of bone. Its music alters the perfume of your sweat. I catch a bottom tone of death, just enough to intrigue but not disgust, and a top of apricots and sage. It does not matter what happens in an hour that does not exist, and it matters more than anything what happens in an hour that does not exist.
Here, if we take laurel or peyote, and swap coins or tokens, we can share the hallucination. Here, we can gaze back at the world. Here, a kiss is a ceremony the spirits invented in order to feel mortal.
And if the night is over and the rest of my memory has not come back, that hour is all I’ll need to keep.