Not See Become

Nine Dragons
Scroll of the Nine Dragons - Chen Rong - circa 1244

Waterfall and Monkeys - Shibata Zeshin - 1872

the interrogator
the process of torture
born out of a dream
long ago in Morocco
he studies me patiently
states he wishes to add a chapter
to our mutual exploration of pain
much like the Waterfall and Monkeys of Zeshin
or the Scroll of the Nine Dragons by Chen Rong
you know these, of course
framed images in the room now
he indicates Zeshin
note the water is unpainted
it is not even there
the lines of ink
merely contain the absence
the most dynamic, energetic
moments are the most empty
the paper underneath
unpainted, untouched
he passes his hand lightly
over the rocks below the monkeys
you can almost feel the water
rushing through your fingers
he walks over to the wall length scroll
now observe the dragons
swirling out of the spirals
of mist, of fog, of clouds, of time
of nothing
again everything is born
out of this nothing
you can see the dragons
clawing their way through
almost fighting their way out of it
this self-knowledge of having been created
conjured, summoned into form
note how the dragons grasp hold
of this nothing
in particular the one to the right of the central vortex
holding what appears to be a crystal ball
a circle containing all of the energies of time
what is most powerful
is the absence of anything
within the circle
the paper, the background,
the ground of being we take for granted
is all that is within this sphere
being held within the dragon's claws
I say nothing
he studies me
says, perhaps I am belaboring my point
he motions to two guards next to me
they lift me up and place me
into a trunk full of cotton wadding
my hands and my feet are bound with rope
I am curled into a fetal position
in order to fit tightly within the trunk
cotton wadding is packed tightly
around my body
it is impossible to move
the interrogator sits in a chair
leans over so his face is close to mine
it is almost comfortable
he takes small pieces of cotton
packs them tightly around my head
says, one might imagine the womb
and here he places a black rubber device in my mouth
a long tube runs into a coil he holds in his hand
he fastens a buckle around my head
holding the device in my mouth
he takes two pieces of cotton
and gently inserts them into my nose
the tubing is narrow
and it difficult to get enough breath
he continues to place cotton
all around, packing me tightly into the trunk
I am trying to get enough air
he whispers into my ear
it is important that you not panic
I want, he tells me, you to imagine
the negative space of Zeshin
to know the power of the dragons
to understand in a profound and intimate sense
how much energy is contained within
the absence of a thing
that is always present
and here the lid of the trunk is closed
and I can hear latches being locked
it is becoming hot
I am trying not to panic
to remain calm
to not let him win
to not allow him to break me
the trunk is lifted
and turned so I am now head down
I feel all of my blood
pushing into my skull
I breath through the narrow tube
as evenly as possible
I am very hot
sweat pooling in my ears
trying to breath more air
seems to constrict the rubber tube
so I have to force myself to take slow breaths
suddenly there is no air
I cannot breath in or out
I can see the Interrogator in my mind
casually holding the end of the tube shut
between his thumb and finger
as he contemplates
the Japanese prints in the wall
on the verge of passing out
he releases his grip
I am so desperate for air
that the tube seems always sucked shut
I have to slow my breathing
my blood is pounding in my head
I seems to float in this thick and suffocating
cotton womb tomb
the Interrogator repeats this process
of asphyxiation over and over
keeping me conscious
but with never enough air
but with just enough
I long to either pass out
to die
or for just one last time
to breathe deeply
just one last breath
I imagine the Waterfall with Monkeys
the empty spaces between the water
full of space of air of nothing
I long to breath in that nothingness
and like those images
where the foreground is hidden in the background
I suddenly see the dragon
not see