12:2: “Solaris”, by Rob Bliss

12:2: “Solaris”, by Rob Bliss

grass encased under clear water spectrum of greens vegetal tendrils frozen in artificial flow, a new element of life, roots clouded airless alien multitude ripples float a raft of leaf

he stands in a field of fog and flowers
all trees are medieval nothing grows straight, gravity pulls to the earth, home shield dome against the sky water smoked, haze exhaled elemental mirror, inverted home
the solitude of the image

horse loosed hoofs itself a corral free of rein and saddle

trees rooted in marsh angled surface speckled with droplet leaves, broken arms lying offshore, twisted limbs reaching out, an eternal hollow grasp

he washes his hands in mercury
remnants of family staged on the bridge watching his theatre prevented from escaping his own humanity, she, an only child, oval eyes of the steppes, cloaked by thin lids, face a jowled triangle, the upswept curve of her mouth as she curtsies glance tilted suspicious Russia the history of ballooning floats across lithographs, birdcage hangs
in the open window, bust of a bearded man shelved inward to the room, accompanied
by a pastoral vase of Dutch blue

replica of a lost home the house died with a grandfather son lives in replica twin of an old life, a sudden summer rain falls motion curtains the scene of children, new generation
chasing itself he lets himself soak the teacup fills brown droplets overflow peach and grape uneaten, watered on the table, a spoonful of rain he sits like a prayer tree limb over water drips
a soft storm as the sun returns

black and white, they watch a film of the past hall of hero portraits, old man watches his younger self, nothing but cloud and ocean beneath his flight the young live in air the aged stay closer to earth to lighten the fall of their ideals low roof frames doorway pillared by shelves statue with a cowboy hat antique tennis racquet portrait of his mother, eyes regretting the camera, youth in her neck
closed sorrow in her beautiful mouth


window like an aquarium looks out to playing children the adults watch from inside
whispering about the concept of goodbye, how to sleep before departure black horse shaded in the shadow shed terrifies the child, his mother changes horror to beauty with a few words and a warm grip, battered blue wooden wall aged and weathered, patched with gaps of fallen flakes becomes an abstract painting for him to lean against, talking about
hallucinations Earth has adapted to the pain
of humanity, space lives
still unwounded, we are
a weak virus in a massive
body perpetually immune

flow of thin traffic the road leads, white line a leash pulling him into the city tunnels, bridges, ramps lit by specks of sun strata of roads buttressed, the path rises and falls, splits away is joined, he sits hand to mouth seeing nothing ahead, feeling
the head of his wife rest against his shoulders, night shadows in the arteries of the city are bloodied by the flow of red taillights

mist on morning water
colour faded to shades fire contained burns on the grass he drops photos and writing
his past recalled in a glance disposable memory feeds flame, smoke rebirth, dog watches mist haze the countryside from a perch of hilltop, flame flows like water across the photo
of his wife still alive on paper he swallows a sky of stars
they swallow him
encapsulated body
instability of motion
station in an ocean of cosmic mist self-lit, its own star an island of light floats in nothing the void has many names and rejects them all

a ball rolls down the littered steel corridor thrown by an unseen hand, introduction to a new home butterflies pinned and framed bronze horse marching over

the opened pages of photography metronome hammock sways laundry hung from computer consoles flame lit in the palm witness to the explanation of suicide

room of curved walls portholes, circular tables the man stands erect

child’s drawing of a red man noosed by a blue rope, door of the suicide’s last home, the dead films himself for a future visitor, explains his ending, a reasoned
madness as calm as sanity dwarf golem, twin of its creator, escapes its laboratory womb
dark sea of white motes flows counter-clockwise against spiraling clouds veined red

ghost motion attracts the living into the frost room of the dead, blanketed in plastic
and ice mist, the living can only ask the living about the dead, the dead have no memory of themselves
or of the concept of living


door closes out colour last drink of suicide a glass of milk delivered by the memory of his ten-year-old daughter as rescue clamors at the locked door mirror behind the headless man in the open closet, bodiless suit assembled is more human than the man reflected

he sleeps to give birth to a ghost she lives in orange light cast by a sun captured in endless dawn she shines against his eyes awake on a sea of pillow shoulders shawled in the end moment ageless, they kiss gun tickles the sole of her foot she kicks away another death finds a photograph of herself and asks who she is, compares her mirrored self to the sepia forgets that he has remembered to forget pinprick of suicide, still dots her arm, skin unlaced cut away by a new surgery in the sheath of smoke rocket rises from the eye, she the life inside he burned beneath the launch branded with the wing of another’s freedom

books base the television intellect inactive, he sits shawl on the shoulder of the chair, wounds balmed by fingertips, door of his other self locked, thinking away, finger strips of paper on a vent rustle of leaves, ears hear home as the body sleeps through the false
night, she resurrects

a five foot circumference sun silhouettes her undressing skin easily peeled away in her second life shawl on shawl abacus of reincarnation she tears herself through metal would rather die than separate from the living, when there is no time cuts heal quickly, scars
wiped away with a towel a ghost introduced to the living she smiles at baby photos
two forms of birth communicate
through silence and gesture, immortality
brands her blood, endless life caged
feeding on love

ocean crusted with a milk skin swirls on itself like a galaxy of perpetual motion

winter boy climbs to weave a twig into the yard fire parents again full of youth mother a sentry of the garden wife a guard of home memory resumes a happy life a film that only plays once ghost sees herself in the mirror patches of memory land like Tarot a drink of tea, recollection of hatred fear of following another’s path
away from home

icon on the mantle watches the ghost sleep, pretend to sleep, attempt to be human, head swarmed by emotion, desperate to hear and see nothing to dream

water follows the tide of cloud to a boiling white horizon

she knows she is a semblance of herself, a past persona locked in the present, she can be nothing but a copy, attempting to reenact the other, become the dead self, assure her heart
that it is capable of love that her dreams are not manufactured from stories he tells her

they wait behind a cage of candles, in a room of books paintings lit around the walls
the words of Quixote equate the living to the ghost, a just judgement of sleep


mankind does not want other worlds, only mirrors
first contact only with the self to conquer home like a knight riding
a starving horse from windmill to windmill

ghost argues logic, he is crowned by her hands, not human enough to own a gender, growing her humanity, emotion constructed becomes real, monolith machines draped in plastic, stand tilted where they were left, civilization lost, leaving the residue of its mind

memory of winter
a painting by the elder Bruegel how many crows to perch on painted trees, how many skaters stilled on the pond, pencilled layout of the town, each rooftop dabbed by a brush of snow

life floats animate and inanimate a book flutters by the painted world model molds reality

water foams against the shore eddies spread points across the surface like a plague eruption

suicide by freezing her face aged by frost stretched in the curved mirror scattering of eyes across rubber skin, a desperate attempt to become human, she drank liquid oxygen

body jolts in regeneration mouth bloody, she finds her voice again, blindness gains sight, limbs find motion, reason returns she remembers she is nothing but a twin of a lost self damned to eternal resurrection.

ocean smokes
orange patina across the sun

shawl fringe lines her body with tiny feathers wings too small to warm or fly a skin to be shed in sleep

islands of sweat on the pillow he rises, fades into himself inverts judgement, pity empties
him, casts him in suffering fueled by love

ocean eats its centre

living and dead, twin crutches for the sick, the empty, ceiling mirrors back his blindness he mumbles through memory the room fills with multitude replicas of the woman
he loved forgoing the present he slips into the past a grown man returning to youth older than his mother remembered life encased in plastic the artifice of home wounds of a life abandoned washed off by the ghost that gave him birth

spectre of his wife leaves a note of retreat sacrifice of departure “self-annihilation: a burst of light and wind” the ball bounces home the ocean forms islands to harbor the living, remnant shawl, mystery is a necessity of life, immortality in unknowing


the ocean passes into cloud time returns like breath grass sways in water pond freezes to contain its life, end rebirth for a season

rain pours inside the house
jacket steams off his father’s back like roiling wings
clutching son to his knees in the island of home

Rob Bliss has a degree in English and Writing from York University, Canada.  He has had poetry published in The Malahat Review, Descant, PRISM International, and Quarry.  His stories have appeared in Aphelion Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, SNM Magazine, 69 Flavours of Paranoia, and Death Head Grin.

Inspiration for “Solaris”: I was writing a series of poems based on films, using Sergei Eisenstein as a jumping off point, to translate visual optical images into visual literary images.  I moved through surrealistic and Soviet filmmakers, which brought me to Andrei Tarkovsky, and his film Solaris. The poem is a transcription/interpretation of that film.

Illustration is by Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Great Barrier Reef 105, Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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