Their lovely eyes are large and tired, straining deep into their detectoscope goggles, piercing the veil of my frayed curtains. They have conducted near miraculous feats of reason and persistence to identify these precise coordinates—my home—from whence I alone establish and maintain the forces arranging the cells of their bodies, and binding their bodies to a planet, and their planet to its star, and that star to every other.
When they find me, I am not standing at the stove heating a can of soup, or lying on the sofa with my swollen ankles crossed, reading a dystopian thriller, or watering my numerous species of plants whose names I affectionately muddle. They search room after room, noting the magazine piles, the errand-lists, the abstract paintings I’ve proudly made. These signs of me draw their eyes further in. They detect me at last behind the closed door of my study, ass-up in a down-dog on an old REI sleeping pad that I have declared a yoga mat.
I could have done their calculations in my head, could have known now was when they would find me, this morning of the 13th day of a 14-day yoga journey with Eve, my podcasting yogini who speaks gentle encouragement into my Airpodded ears.
They fall to their knees, unsure how to mark this epic scientific and philosophical achievement—their world’s first direct glimpse of me. Some feel compelled to attempt contorting their inhuman bodies into a shape like mine, which would right now be an elegant triangle if I were as lithe as Eve, but I am not, so they curl themselves softly into heaps as if imitating overstuffed laundry baskets. Their well-made detectoscope goggles stay firmly in place as their heads fall toward the ground.
I look down at the lines in my wrists and the winter-dry skin of my fingers, so alien from theirs.
“Follow your breath,” Eve says.
They follow my breath, marveling at the bodily workings of my lungs.
“We’re here for three, for two, for one. Beautiful, you’re amazing.”
Indeed, I amaze them.
“Okay, friends, let’s lower our knees,” suggests Eve. “Take your time, find your own way there, and we’ll meet in tabletop.”
I’m as comfortable being a tabletop as I am being the single old woman I appear to be. They attempt to become tabletops, too.
Later, I walk from my car into the grocery store, and they have no difficulty tracking my movements. It feels strange to be noticed, and not just because this noticing comes from above. As a deity, but even more as a 72-year-old woman, I’ve been practically invisible for so many years. This new scrutiny doesn’t resemble cat-calling. It’s like an infant’s gaze, the kind so filled with innocent wonder it can’t turn away.
I fix my mask in place, take a cart, and head for the produce.
They are at first surprised to see not only me, their monotheistic creator, stopping to admire the bright tangelos, but also an apparently different me standing nearby with pimples on my face and a nametag on my employee shirt, assembling a small pyramid of English cucumbers.
They pull back their goggles from their eyes and mist the lenses generously to assure the clearest possible vision. Dozens of misting bottles spray at once, clouding the Methane-heavy air of the observatory. No, it’s not a technological or anatomical failure causing this double-vision. Perhaps their God is not singular, but many. They will have to revise certain tenets of their religion. They put goggles back on and resume looking.
I inspect and select just two mangos, two pears, two bananas, two grapefruits, like I’m saving them from a flood, but mostly I worry that any more would rot in a bowl. I add a medley package of multi-colored grape tomatoes, and two bags of arugula mix, while at the far end of the produce aisle a pregnant me scans the row of store-brand smoothies, checking each bottle for the ingredients I’ve placed inside.
Across the store, a stooped me who has never done yoga struggles to reach the softest brand of bread on a high shelf, so an overly kind me stops to lend a hand.
They slowly become more certain that I can incarnate many beings at once, but they still can’t quite fathom us all as one.
I get my pre-sliced packages of cheese and turkey, my coffee, rice, and beans from their respective aisles, and make my way to the checkout.
As I join the line for a self-check machine, how can I be appalled by the gall of the me ahead of me who makes us all wait, ostentatiously trotting off in my business suit for the flowers I’m inspired to buy for my hot Tinder date?
They are not appalled, either. They are delighted by the lush flowers, of course, as are we all.
My turn comes and I scan my Big Y card, fill my reusable bags, tap my credit card.
I am rolling away with my purchases when I see another me there, so young, so small, sitting cross-legged in the shadow of the ice freezer, a child drawing this odd parade of me’s. The me sitting, drawing, wears my mask below my mouth. Our eyes meet. I pause, as if I might scold me for letting the mask fall.
Their mouth-organs open wide, wondering if now they will be first to witness an act of divine speech—words spoken by one manifestation of God to another—words of commanding power they know will be recorded for posterity, broadcast across a planet, enshrined in history.
But my hands, gripping my cart, warm to the memory of waxy-papery crayons my fingers once held—fingers that now suddenly seem healed from their arthritic aches. I continue walking, and just smile behind my mask as I watch me draw.
I once drew the most beautiful worlds.
Blair Benjamin’s writing has appeared in The Threepenny Review, North American Review, Atticus Review, Bluestem Magazine, Lumina, Spillway, Sugar House Review, and Typehouse, among others. His recent work riffs on fragments of text from ancient scripture, such as the title of this piece, spoken by the god Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. He (Blair, not Krishna) is the Founder and Director of the Studios at MASS MoCA, a residency for artists and writers at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA.