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Picardian Angels

Dreamed 1993/1/7 by Chris Wayan

I'm standing in line to get my visa stamped, on the isle of Martinique. What a scam these governments have going! The damn line snakes outside the building and halfway down the hill...

I notice a man watching the line, an idle man in the shade of a tree. He looks familiar. But who would I know here? Then I place him. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of the starship Enterprise! Looks older than I recall, sixty or so. I talk with him a bit and decide to leave the line and stroll with him. He's not a local man now, but he was born here: long ago from his perspective, but he's time-traveled back to visit us. Indeed, he may be alive as a small boy in town right now, though this possibility only occurs to him as we pass sumptuous mansions from colonial days, or even the age of slaves and pirates. They're beautiful, despite the values of their builders. They step down the Hill like a stair... They're familiar to me, too... but how could I have seen them before? It's my first trip to Martinique. Am I in a timeloop too?

As Picard tells it, the French Caribbean was a quiet place to grow up, back in our primitive century, and Picard was shaped by it. A quiet, dreamy, elusive boy, filled with wishes. He didn't know that strange invisible aliens, who people called angels (they may think themselves something quite different!), were hovering around him. They granted a lifelong boon: he'd get whatever he wished for. He soon created quite a backlog. Many of the strange events of his adult career can be traced back to some unspoken wish of a ten or twelve year old boy on a tropical island. This trip may be one. Some forgotten wish has pulled Jean-Luc back to his native isle...

We walk a sandy street of picket fences and bougainvillea flaming. A feline, feral, charming boy peers at us between the slats of a fence. Picard freezes. Very quietly he tells me "As a boy, I wished to meet my mysterious grandpere. My mother told me tales..." We dare not go speak to the boy, the risk of paradox is already too great. For it's himself. The boy Picard is getting his wish. The Captain's trip in time was fated by his own childhood wish. He is destined to be his own grandpere! He'll meet--perhaps has met--and love--a woman deeper in the past (or will she time-travel herself?) For her child is, was, will be... Picard's mother.

And the loops don't stop there. Sketch of Jean-Luc Picard's life as an arch: on the left, a boy, on the cornerstone, a starship captain; on the right, a 120-year-old legless elder. Cartoon angels hover, still busily granting wishes.

As we stand terrified and enchanted by these coils of time, there in the flowering alley by the archway of the oldest mansion, an ancient man in a levitating, wheelless wheelchair glides out of the courtyard, through the arch. His nurse, herself very old, walks beside it. The old man has spindly paralyzed legs under the blanket--might as well be none. And I know him. He's twice the captain's age, visiting from the very end of a long, long life... to see himself. Not his boyhood self of the Caribbean isle, playing sea-captain and dreaming of ships far smaller and simpler than the great magical vessel he'll one day command, in fulfillment of his boyhood dream. He's come to see himself in his prime--as a grandfather. Picard is just HALFWAY through the long arc of his life! It's taken a hundred and twenty years for those overworked angels with a perverse sense of humor to fill all his wishes to overflowing. So many wishes...

And... the old, old man with no legs radiates joy, wild laughter, and so does the nurse. They've attained uselessnees at last: the blessed uselessness of old, gnarled pines. He and the nurse laugh at it all, or rather, with it all. They have no wish to change a thing. At last those poor tired angels can catch up and rest.

I look at Picard, age 120, and think of Yeats. He once had a carving of lapis lazuli, with some Daoist sages on it--

"...and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay."

--from LAPIS LAZULI, 1938

This is half of an experiment: the same dream told in prose and poetry.



LISTS AND LINKS: Star Trek dreams - time travel - home - angels - prayers and wishes - inheritances - Yeats - Taoist dreams - longevity - life-paths - A distillation of the dream, inspired by Yeats: Picard's poem

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