Orange Dream: Story of a Dream Embedded Within Five Different Strata

Xavier Queipo
Translated by Jacob Rogers

Instructions for Reading this Story

Read out loud, preferably in solitude.

If accompanied, it’s best that it be by a bottle of water, in order not to lose one’s breath.

Once the first reading is finished, begin again until no water remains. If one considers it necessary, one may consult the glossary at the end of the story, which is in any case completely dispensable.

After finishing the water, it is advisable to go out for a walk and repeat series of words. In this way the story achieves its original objective: to declutter the mind and develop one’s taste for vocabulary, to divest oneself from the tombstone of monolingualism and practice a wide register of sounds.

Once the reading’s objective has been reached—one’s mind clear of the grime of preconceived notions, immobilizing prejudices, and the darkest of biases—one feels better. Naturally.


I
Stillness

In the beginning everything was orange. Orange like the texture of silk, like an orange vein in every possible hue of orange. What I mean is: an orange cloud, an orange magma, an orange gel, an orange sensation. Later on, or perhaps simultaneously, the expressivity of hands. Of my hands. Of other hands. The movements by impulse, appearing to have neither order nor correlation with other variables. Hands moving by impulse in an orange sea. Perhaps this is the first thing that comes from the memory: the epiphany of the labyrinths of neurons, the gleam of movements by impulse. I don’t know. It’s not very easy to situate perceptions chronologically, one after another, after another, after another. They come in a disorderly fashion, as if they were numbers with an indecipherable cadence. Many messages all at once. In unison. Some galloping over others. Perceptions. Orange and movements by impulse. And then there’s the language in which one listens, in which one speaks, in which one perceives, from the moment one constructs images which gallop, one after another, after another, after another. In the orange vein. In the orange magma. In the orange gel. What language? I’m not sure how to say it, a mixture of ancient, Latinate English perceived as a foreign language, of German recovered from the labyrinths of memory and various romances, of Arabic learned against the grain and Chinese dreamt of, of nebulous Sanskrit and Tibetan picked up along the way. Man. Arbeit. Sumum. Salam. Guanxi. Pomme. Carino. Hoshi-hoshi. Then, a word come from faraway, from the orange depths, from the depths of the cloud, from the deep seas of the magma, which moves slowly, in an imperfect tectonics of bubbles and rainbows, of layers on top of layers, of holes in the gel which was thought to be uniform. A word which could be Holem, or Halam, or even Hokhim, or perhaps Apsara, or Upsara, or even Samsara. A word which I am unable to identify. A word for which I have no image. And more words: soft, bewildered, poured through the funnel of the original confusion, disorderly and terrible. Love. Campei. Podias. Uskok. Xiuxi. Babá. Aleppo. Might orange be the color of the dreams without color? Might it be the first symptom of blindness or light, the dawn of a new faculty, that of seeing, of perceiving with the eyes, that of recognizing images, that of feeling we are in the center of the universe? In the center or in the periphery? Above, in the middle, or below? Autumn or spring? Sunken in an orange ocean or wrapped in a toxic and orange cloud, like a lethal, bug-killing gas, like fumigation, like transit between two worlds, between two universes, between two states of being and matter? Absent mind. Tranquility. Stillness. An image that arrives for the first time, epiphanic, novel, supernovel, within the orange. The sensation of stepping foot for the first time, of leaving footprints, of the ground being transformed by our path. Muck. Gravel. Something which moves. Perhaps both things simultaneously, moving beneath our feet. Hands moving by impulse in an orange sea. Mine. Others. My feet. The sensation of having feet. Of moving. Beneath my feet. Moving. Allowing for the feet to sink in, for the hands (mine?) to shake. By impulse. By waves. By arc sine forces. Orange first orange first orange. Language as an obstacle for the expression of the I, the ego, the eu mesmo, the meu, the eu, of that which identifies, of that which differentiates, of that which isolates. The difficulty of lifting one’s feet. To feel oneself trapped (in the muck), sinking (into the gravel), covered (by the orange gel), invaded (by images, sensations, bewildered memories), pursued (by confusion, by impulses, by the movements of the hands, no longer mine). Stillness. I already said stillness. Possibly the deepest feeling. Now. In the center or the periphery? Above, in the middle, or below? Not muck. Nor gravel. A mixture of the two. Wet sand. Thick sand which the bare feet sink into. In that moment the orange splendor is the ocean sunset. What ocean? Why sunset and not sunrise? Why an ocean and not an inland sea? Why not a lake? Salt. The enjoyment of salt hanging off the roof of the mouth. Inundating it. The absence of wind. I already said stillness. I’ll have to say it another way, please forgive the textual annoyance. Stillness = sosego. Tranquility. Sosego. The absence of wind. Somewhere I said absent mind. Did I say it? Well then I’ll have to rectify, change, say absent mind = mente demente. Perhaps an imperfect translation. Words keep coming. Bursa. Han. Hamaca. Bias. Feeling-based bias. Sunset. A lake. An orange fog. The first sensation. The past. Previous life. (Knowledge = regained memory). Nocturnal. The future. Noctambulatory. That which has not been lived. That which is dreamt. That which is dreaded. The insecurity. The fear. The absence of wind. A calm beach. No longer a closed-off place. An open place. Stillness. I already said stillness. Definitely, I said it. Stillness. Aroma. The aroma of the sea. The salt. Seaside or salted lake. This is undoubtedly real. Orange. The color of blindness. Or of light? The color of the beginning. Of the start. Of when we were not. I was not. There was no one yet. The sky behind the eyelids. Open them. I can’t. Scream. Throw fear away. The breath. I feel it. The breath. My own breath. Campei. Arbeit. Sosego. Uskok. Podias. Love. Lava. Muck. Gravel. Fumarole. My breath. Sunset or dawn? The sun reflected in the water. The salty aroma. Orange. Dissipating. I arrive. I return. I come. I go. That which has not been lived. The succession of images. A mackerel drowned in a sheet of ice. Three blue lings with their fins open. The sea. A crab caressing one of my feet. Feet sinking into the sand. I conjure memory with a mantra of words dreamt or invented, remembered or, perhaps, never uttered before: Orange. Campei. Arbeit. Sosego. Uskok. Podias. Moving. Samsara. Love. Lava. Muck. Gravel. Semut. Fumarole. Holem, or Halam, or even Hokhim. To feel oneself trapped. Sinking. Lost. Heavy. The absence of wind. The salt. The insecurity. The fear. Advancing in an orange gel, an orange magma, an orange cloud. This is undoubtedly real. Sunset? Dawn? I already said sosego. Stillness. I already said stillness. Definitely, I said it.


II
Beach

The knight wakes up on Carnota’s sandbank, weapon rusted by moisture and salt. How long has he been in the sand? How long have the crabs been clawing beneath his chainmail coat? Sunset with the sun reflected in the ocean’s waters. The waves with their coming and going, cyclical and tired. The seaside aroma. The crabs beneath the chainmail coat. Clawing. The knight exhausted and sad, defeated or directionless. On Carnota’s sandbank. Waking up. From a dream of instants or ages. From a dream or a lost battle. Weapon rusted by moisture and salt. Feet sinking into the sand. The immense sea and the gulps of cormorants. The waves with their coming and going, cyclical and tired. The knight getting up on Carnota’s sandbank. Confused and frightened. Gazing at the sea and at Mount Pindo. Alternately. Without knowing where he is. Without remembering what happened. Thousands of images come from the four corners of the memory. Bewildered. In unison. Some galloping over others, without respite. The dragon. The fray with lance and mount. The shield lost in combat. Where’s the horse? Where are the prints in the sand? Asleep how long? Unconscious how long? Where’s the water dragon? Had it taken the horse with it? Had it eaten it, the ravenous, terrible beast? Confused and frightened. Feet sinking into the sand. Without knowing where he is. On Carnota’s sandbank. Schools of sardines brightening the sea. Without remembering what happened. With conflicting sensations. With an orange cloth, which covers his eyes. Fright and disquiet. Where’s the horse? Where’s the dragon? Where’s the maiden of infinite beauty? The immense sea and the gulps of cormorants. Waking up. The knight. From a dream of instants or ages. Thousands of images come from the four corners of the memory. Feet sinking into the sand. Weapon rusted by moisture and salt. The waves with their coming and going, cyclical and tired. Where was the battle? Had the dragon taken the horse prisoner in its claws? Without knowing where he is. Confused and frightened. Schools of sardines brightening the sea. Shield lost in the roar of combat. Feathers and helmet, spurs strewn among the shells of dead animals: cockles and clams, striped venuses and thin tellins, mussels, ark clams, sea snails and periwinkles, limpets, oysters, left-handed whelks. Where’s the water dragon? Fright and disquiet. Alternately. Without knowing where he is. Gazing at the sea and at Mount Pindo. Thousands of images come from the four corners of the memory. The waves with their coming and going, cyclical and tired. The seaside aroma. The algae hanging off his elbows and knees, stuck to his steel back and his velvet boots. Preventing him from agile movement. The oystercatchers traversing the seaside in a low flight of search and inspection, looking for oysters, sea urchins, or striped venuses. Sunset, with the sun reflecting in the waters of a sardine-flooded sea. A gap in time. A gap in dreams. A voice which breaches the orange vein, the orange magma, the orange gel that covers all. The seaside aroma. The lance broken into a thousand pieces, which the sea is dragging away, which mix with the memories of the singular battle, with the vision of the dragon-headed and snake-bodied monster, covered in spike-armed scales and gnarled canines. A gap of time. Images which return. Hundreds, millions of images come from the four corners of the memory. Imprecise. Overlapping. Terrible for their recollection of the violence. On Carnota’s sandbank. Waking up. From a dream of instants or ages. From a dream or a lost battle. A voice which breaches the orange vein, the orange magma, the orange gel, which covers all.


III
Samsara

Samsara. Samsara. Samsara. The wind. Nothing can be felt but the wind. From the desert of rocks and wastelands, burnt by the frosts and the salt from the lake, a mirage emerges. On horseback, a lama robed in an orange tunic. Among the slabs of the valley, a river descends from the mountains. Spring. The river brings much water. All things which flow are beautiful: love, rivers, time, words. Thawing. Wind. Cold. The lama. On the riverside, a single tree tortured by eolian erosion. A man strips himself of the orange tunic. He extends his arms and pierces into the water. Up to his ankles, up to his knees, up to his thighs, until, upon the water’s arrival at his hips, he stops walking. Splendid. The sinewy body. Splendid. Samsara, he repeats out loud. Samsara. Samsara. Samsara he repeats against the wind and the word echoes in his face discomposed by the cold. Samsara. Samsara. Samsara, he repeats like a lullabying mantra. The water swirls along the contours of his back. All things which remain are beautiful: love, swirls, time, words. Samsara. The wind. The water up to his back. The running of the water with its delicate murmur. Spring. Thawing. It must be late in the day. The lama appears tired, dirty from the dust on the path. A sinewy body, molded by daily exercises of stretching and rhythm. A beaded necklace around his neck. A red thread on his left wrist. The company of the I. Shaved head. Indigo lips. Meditation outfit. A birthmark on his right forearm. The running of the water and its delicate murmur. The marvel of that which has been and will once again be: love, rivers, time, words, the wheel of changes of karma until one reaches nirvana. The marvel of that which has been. The marvel of that which will be. Samsara. The horse which plays with the orange tunic. The lama. Out of this world. The river, which never brings the same water, which flows into the sea, so far away. The lama, who trembles from the cold, who recites a strange mantra. Samsara. Samsara. Samsara. A beaded necklace around his neck. A red thread on his left wrist. Trembling. He gets out of the bath trembling. He dries himself by flailing his arms, uttering hysterical screeches, like a wounded bird in a state of agitation, which eliminates the background noise (the wind, the flowing water, even the cold). An eagle commands the sky. A flight of search and exploration. The lama puts on the orange tunic and, over it, a purple one, to immediately stop the cold, which is causing his temples to throb, which is producing spasms in his diaphragm, which is disappearing with simply the willpower of he who suffers it. Thawing. Spring. All that which flows is beautiful. The mount chews on buds by the riverside. The lama sits on the ground. He has suddenly changed. He has stopped shaking and begins an exotic recitation. Han. Joshi. Hamaca. Guiding. Galatian. Xiuxi. Ayán. Guanxi. Uskok. Peng. Waiguro. Tsui. Samjang. Mawas. Sumum. Salam. Hoshi-hoshi … In order to, afterwards, tie in his favorite sequence: Samsara … Samsara … Samsara … The wind. Nothing can be felt any longer but the wind, which quiets the sound of the water’s current, which now appears—ecstatically—to the lama’s shocked eyes. The one with the orange tunic. The one with the purple tunic. Spring. Stillness. The river never brings the same water. All that which flows is beautiful: love, rivers, time, words. The wind. Nothing can be felt but the wind and the silence of the tree tortured by the attack of the sand, which wears it away, which dirties it, which scrapes it, which sands it. Indigo lips. A beaded necklace around his neck. A red thread on his left wrist. Samsara. Samsara. Samsara.


IV
Whispering

In the distance a maiden observes the knight. Whispering. Whispering your name like a nourishing mantra. Musitando. Musitando o teu nome coma nun mantra salutífero. What name? Galahad? Lancelot? Arthur? No, not Arthur. Amadís? Palmerín? Glaxus? What does it matter. Your name. The knight’s name. Whispering. Like a nourishing mantra. From the hillock. The maiden. What maiden? Geneva? Ophelia? Desdemona? Galadriel? What does it matter. Her name. The maiden’s name. Whispering. The immense sea and the gulps of cormorants in surface-skimming, linear, direct flight.  The boulders battered by the foam of the waves in their coming and going, cyclical and tired. Fright and disquiet, in unstable equilibrium. Where’s the water dragon with thorny scales and forked tongue? The knight advancing in the sand. Heavily. Slowly. Shedding himself of the pieces of armor. The seaside aroma. The lance broken into a thousand pieces which the sea is taking away, which mix with the memories of the singular battle, with the vision of the dragon-headed and snake-bodied monster with armored scales and gnarled canines. The fray with lance and mount. The shield lost in combat. Where’s the horse with the familiar haunches? Algae hanging off the protection of his elbows and knees, stuck to his steel back and his velvet boots. Hindering the advance of the knight, who sinks into the sand, who sheds himself of the pieces of armor, of the chainmail coat, of the crabs lacerating his muscles, now unclothed, who advances, with strength and determination, who goes toward the sea, who allows the waves to carry him—magnificent and glamorous—who enters the ocean with cetacean agility, who no longer gazes at the beach, who plays in the tiny, calm, leisurely waves. There’s no wind. A gap of time. In the distance someone is singing. Scales. Cold. A mackerel drowned in a sheet of ice. Schools of sardines brightening the sea. The dolphin-knight, with an abundance of gills and membranes between his fingers. The siren-knight, with a dorsal fin and scaly temples. A gap in time. When there was no one. The merman-knight, with a powerful flap and an amphibian air. The grouper-knight, with fleshy and sad lips. In the distance, someone whispers the name of that which is loved, like a nourishing mantra. There’s no wind. A gap in time. In the distance, a maiden observes the knight. Musitando. Musitando o teu nome coma nun mantra salutífero. Whispering. Whispering your name like a nourishing mantra.


V
Conjuring

I conjure memory with a series of words invented, remembered, or, perhaps, never uttered before: Orange. Campei. Arbeit. Sosego. Uskok. Podias. Moving. Love. Lava. Lama. Gravel. Fumarole. Holem, or Halam, or even Hokhim. One voice, two voices, a chorus of voices which arrive and fade away, which say just one word, which enter and exit from the dream to pronounce a single word, terrible in its synthesis, ambiguous in its sense. Disconcerting in its sound, which isn’t associated with an image. Alternately. Imprecise. Overlapping. Far off, on the sandbank, distant from the sea—fright and disquiet—the maiden waves toward the beach. She waves her silk handkerchief. Graceful. Whispering your name and requesting help from the gods. At sunset or at dawn. Hoshi-hoshi. Beauty. Softness intuited from the shapes in an orange sea, in an orange gel, in an orange cloud. Impenetrable in his statue-likeness, the knight advances, leaving behind footprints, which the water shamelessly covers up. Moving. A sensation of stepping for the first time onto the sands bloodied by the combat. Without realizing what happened. Conflicting sensations. Palmerín? Glaxus? What does it matter. Confused and frightened. On Carnota’s sandbank. The oystercatchers in their scrutinizing flight in search of oysters and striped venuses. A line traced by the fleshless, spineless, lifeless sea urchins spread among thin tellins and clams, among whelks and cockles, among dried-out algae and sand-licked wood. Voices which return like an inordinate, rhythmless chorus, hammering on his temples. Complex. Unfamiliar. Without images for reference. Ambiguous. Silk. Galatian. Ayán. Antollo. The maiden. Graceful. Whispering. Moving the orange-silk handkerchief. The color of the beginning. Of the start. Of when we were not. I was not. There was no one yet. Nirvana. The sky behind the orange eyelids. Open them. I don’t know if I can. I’m scared. Walk toward the maiden. Graceful. Geneva? Ophelia? Desdemona? Galadriel? What does it matter. Her name. The maiden’s name. Whispering. Whispering your name like a nourishing mantra. I conjure memory with a series of words invented or dreamt, remembered or, perhaps, never uttered before: Orange. Campei. Arbeit. Sosego. Uskok. Podias. Moving. Love. Lava. Lama. Gravel. Carino. Fumarole. Silk. Galatian. Xiuxi. Ayán. Antollo. Guanxi. Hundreds, millions of images come from the four corners of the memory. Imprecise. Overlapping. Terrible for their recollection of the violence. Bursa. Han. Hamaca. Bias. An orange fog. The first sensation. The past. Previous life. The feeling of stepping foot, for the first time, onto the sands bloodied by the combat. A gap of time. Scales. Cold. A mackerel drowned in a sheet of ice. Schools of sardines brightening the sea. Feathers and helmet, spurs lying among the shells of dead animals. Where’s the water dragon? The immense sea and the gulps of cormorants in surface-skimming, linear, direct flight. The boulders battered by the foam of the waves in their coming and going, cyclical and tired. Whispering. Whispering your name like a nourishing mantra. Advancing. Sinking. Walking without leaving footprints in the sand which the waves lick. Naked. Free. In an orange sea. I arrive. I return. I come. I go. That which is not lived. The succession of images. The past. Previous life. Podias. Uskok. Ayán. Hoshi-hoshi. Ophelia. Galahad. Desdemona. Love. Lava. Mundur. Previous life. Poting. Carino. Bias. Pine tree. Garden. Hamaca. Xiuxi. When no one was. Memories. Mazes. Interwoven memory. Gazing at the sea and at Mount Pindo. Whispering. Whispering your name like a nourishing mantra. The pine tree in the imperial garden.


Corollary

In the beginning everything was orange. Orange like the texture of silk, like an orange vein in every possible hue of orange. What I mean is: an orange cloud, an orange magma, an orange gel, an orange sensation. Movements by impulse. Perhaps this is what comes first from the memory. The waves in their coming and going. A sensation of stepping foot, for the first time, of leaving footprints, of the ground being transformed by our path. I conjure memory with a mantra of words invented or dreamt, remembered or, perhaps, never uttered before. In unison. Is there more pleasure than in the renunciation or abandonment of the senses? In the beginning everything was orange. Orange like the texture of silk, like an orange vein in every possible hue of orange. What I mean is: an orange cloud, an orange magma, an orange gel, an orange sensation. The marvel of that which was and will once again be: love, rivers, time, words, the wheel of changes of karma until one reaches nirvana. The marvel of that which was. The marvel of that which will once again be. Is there more pleasure than in the renunciation or abandonment of the senses? Samsara. Samsara. Samsara. A beaded necklace around the neck. A red thread on the left wrist. Samsara. Samsara. Samsara.

Appendix: Dispensable Glossary

This glossary which I now present will be dispensable for the many and indispensable for the few, interesting to some and a manifestation of arrogance to others. Those too are options, and I won’t be the one to revolt against any interpretations they might make of this. I would just say to them that this story is a dream (or rather, the result of a dream) and that, as it happens, in my dreams (to persist in this state is what I desire) I am prolific in languages and diverse articulations.

The order, although it may seem this way, is not necessarily alphabetical, due to me using the same graphical symbols for all the mixed languages, and not, as would be appropriate, the different alphabets which characterize them. Some will know how to gloss over this circumstance and others will look within this very fact for a motive to denounce he who writes this text. To them I say, bon appetit!


Aleppo. A Syrian city.

Antollo. Galician: a craving, a powerful desire.

Apsara. A Hindustani deity.

Arbeit. A Germanic word. It means work. It was one of the words written on the entrance to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where so many Jews were massacred during the Holocaust.

Ayán. A notable, local leader in the Ottoman Empire.

Babá. An Ottoman word. Literally: father. Used to designate men respected for their sanctity.

Bursa. A city in the Ottoman Empire.

Campei. A form of toast in Mandarin Chinese, equivalent to health and happiness.

Carino. Italian: good-looking, or very similar.

Guanxi. A word in Mandarin Chinese to express personal relationships, contacts, influence.

Guiding. Chinese: a norm, a rule.

Hamaca.  Galician: a hammock.

Han. A name given to inns in the Ottoman Empire. Of Chinese origin.

Hoshi-hoshi. In Mandarin Chinese, it means beautiful, good-looking, or very similar.

Joshi. In Japan, a name given to a certain type of double-suicide.

Mawas. A monkey, in the vocabulary of Indonesia’s lingua franca (Kamut asas).

Mundur. To walk backwards, in Indonesia’s lingua franca (Kamut asas).

Peng. A creature from oriental mythology, with the appearance of a gigantic eagle, capable of lifting an elephant in its enormous talons.

Podias. Greek: on foot; walking.

Pomme. French: apple.

Poting. A proper name in Chinese, not very common. Its meaning is confusing, but it would be something like “the pine tree in the imperial garden.” The pine tree in the symbology of the far Orient is a representation of immortality, explained by the persistence of its foliage and the incorruptibility of its resin.

Salam. A greeting, in Arabic.

Samjang. A proper name, in Tibetan.

Samsara. A locality in Northern India, where there is a temple of Tibetan lamas.

Semut. An Indonesian word (Kamut asas) to designate an ant.

Seda. Silk, in Galician.

Tsui. A proper name, in Tibetan.

Uskok. A Turkish denomination for the bandits of Dalmatia, during the time of the Ottoman Empire.

Waiguro. A Chinese word, from the Mandarin, to designate a foreigner.

Xiuxi. A Chinese Word, from the Mandarin, to designate a nap or a siesta.


Xavier Queipo is a Galician writer based in Brussels, Belgium. He has published nearly twenty books, ranging from fiction, to poetry, to children’s literature, as well as essays. He has won several prizes for his novels, including the Spanish Critics Prize in 1991, for The Arctic, and Other Seas, and the Blanco Amor Prize in 2015 for his most recent novel, Os kowa. He also works as a translator, and has translated work by Joseph Conrad as well as being one of the four collaborators on the 2013 award-winning translation of Ulysses into Galician.

Jacob Rogers is a translator and bookseller based in Asheville, NC. He has translated work by Begoña Paz, appearing on inTranslation, His Excellency, a novella by Carlos Casares, published by Small Stations Press, and an excerpt from Chains, by Xabier López López, appearing on the Portico of Galician Literature.