I wanted to be alone for this night, so after dinner I wandered out, planning to hitch a ride with a passing art car. Parked outside and waiting to go was the silver Sphinx. Serendipitous. So I climbed aboard and met Mato, the beautiful man organising things. He was one of the most beautiful beings I’ve encountered. Long hair in dreds, threaded with ribbons, liquid eyes, a black leather cincher, a skirt made of brightly colored rags caressing his boots.
In the middle of the roof was a wooden harp and a woman seated in front of it.
I moved to the front of the Sphinx and we started to move across the playa towards the Temple. As we got there, the music was turned off, and we stood and watched it burn brightly. A cowled man behind me with dark eyeliner spoke of his friend who’d killed himself. The Temple was entirely surrounded by people. As we waited and watched it burn, someone started a wave of noise that went around the circle like a Mexican wave, infectious. It went around six times.
I started crying, for Grandpa, for other reasons, for a teenhood that I could have had. Hands touched my shoulders.
Behind me, a voice said “To forgive is to be free.”
“To forgive is to be free.”
“To forgive is to be free.”
On the third sentence, the Temple fell.
“Third time’s the charm,” I said.
“That’s why they call me 3D,” said the cowled man.
We were asked to clear the decks so the band could play. It turned out that the beautiful man was the lead singer of a Las Vegas group called Kinetic Origins of Rhythm. He chanted the names of god in twenty languages. He sang of us all being messiahs and spoke of love. He channelled primal energies and stamped ancient rhythms for the harp to play against, eerie sounds distorted through the mixer.
He made eye contact with me and mouthed something I didn’t quite catch. He was the incarnation of masculinity and magic. I tried to tell someone this later and they asked me what I was on. When I told them I was “on” the power of the music and nothing else, I don’t think they believed me. It was true, though.
Afterwards, I spoke with him and hugged him and told him, from one messiah to another, that he had an incredibly powerful gift. A woman from Ecuador wearing an amazing feathered headdress came up to us. She had in her hands a carved Phoenix, blackened on one side. I’d heard a rumour that part of the first Man had been put inside the second. It had been shaped as a Phoenix and its single eye was green bottle glass. On its back were the signatures of all the people who’d built the second man. It said, “You thought we had a second Man in a box. We didn’t. You are all the second man.”
Apparently, it was in the Man’s head and his head didn’t burn. She saw it fall and went to pick it up from where it fell. The Phoenix is arisen once again!
The Sphinx went back to the Village and I said my farewells.
[EDIT: The story of the making of the Phoenix. The eye is melted neon from the first Man.]