I dreamed I was wandering in the desert, a sea of golden sand.
I was dressed in a suit, in the style of the 1950s London Everyman -- black jacket, starched white shirt, and a bowler, though no shoes (a curse for a desert-walker!) or socks -- but very, amply, dishevelled, so not quite English at all.
I walked for two weeks, although I hadn't really walked for two weeks -- such a dream would be so very tedious -- but as the coarse grains began to thin beneath my feet and thickened into pufts of grass, I somehow knew intuitively, as if I had been briefed by my dreammaker, that I had been walking for such a period. It was not quite right, then -- but then again, such gross disrespect of reality is not also uncommon in dreams -- I suffered nothing more than very hot skin and a pounding desire for a cool drink of water.
A structure rose before me as I exited -- bizarrely, a resort, a holiday spot. It imitated the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and had terrace upon terrace, built though not of stone but grey wood, the sort stripped of its natural colour by long years of weather and wear, salvaged for its flat, straight shape and still-sturdy strength, and rickety bamboo. Everything was in mad bloom -- magenta, violet, electric blue, fuschia, scarlet, orange -- from the most gargantuan blossoms to miniature flowerets, and gnarled storms of leaves and vines.
As I climbed up, wearily but strangely painlessly -- my scorched soles did not even ache -- I found myself walking past not only land greenery, but sea plants and creatures. Sleek fish with silver tails. Tiny turtles and black tadpoles. Enormous, warty sea cucumbers. Anemones -- curlicue, tube, Caribbean -- their colourful, translucent tentacles wavering back and forth in the water like dancers' arms.
A young Indian boy -- a Sikh, by his look of the skilfully wrapped snowy white turban -- walked by me; he seemed one of the tenders of this marvellous garden. His legs were barely long enough to master the wide steps, so there were awkward drops in his gait. He was bare-chested, skinny, though not thin, and wore a bleached linen skirt. He gave me a look of mistrust so piercing that though I was his senior by ten or eleven years, I felt severely reproved.
The next moment I was settling by a window in a posh bar -- all tinkling glass and black Damasta marble and polished laughter -- with a margarita glass in hand. I was still in my wildly unkempt suit, despite the obvious dress code. I looked over a deep, still, pool that glimmered dark blue and gold, with the desert beyond blazing like honeyed glory -- my eyes still smarting from the shifts in light -- and savoured the cool, recirculated air on my cheeks.
posted at 8:05:20 pm
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.
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