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spring 2012



featuring the art of Bill Rogers

Henry's Dream: taken from R.A. Lafferty's Archipelago
spring 2012
Henry dreamed that night, as he knew he would, and of a boat. The name of the boat was the Navicula Petri. It looked like a Galleon, and yet it was quite other. There were many pennants and flags flying from it.
In hoc signo vinces, said one of them. And there was another in the looping handwriting of Finnegan, the left hand of Finnegan for he wrote left-handed half the time: Nisi esses sollicitus--, and then the Latin was scratched out and it was Englished boldy: If you can't be careful, be good.
Ubicumque fuerit corpus illic congregabuntur et aquilas, said another, and it was an echo of the high motto of The Dirty Five. And then there were three banners in a series that read: Tu es Petrus, and Portae inferi non prevalebunt, and tibi dabo claves regni.
There were various devices. There was a Lamb, and a Greek Cross. There was a Fish, and a Six-Pointed Star. "I always assumed it would be five-pointed," said Henry, "but I don't know why I thought so."
There was a woman , and a Serpent, and a Crescent Moon. "If I were making the little boat," said Henry,"I would consolidate the symbols for neatness."
It was hard to discern whether this was a toy boat, or a real boat afar off. Part of it was plainly more real even than the prosaic world, and part of it was drawn in with child's crayola. The seamen may have been dolls, or they may have been alive. There were the Apostles; and Stephen and Paul and the Baptist; Linus and Clement and Cletus. There were Barbara and Catherine, looking like sea-urchins, there were Gregory and Constantine. Jerome and Augustine glared at each other over a davit. Francis and Anthony were there, Thomas and Patrick, Hildebrand and Adrian the Dutchman. The Theresas, French and Spanish; and Joan and Xavier.
"It is odd that I know them," said Henry, "for I never saw them before. But that is who they are."
The boat was in trouble, and it gained in verisimilitude as the waves rose and the wind blew. It was a real ship and it was badly tossed, et descendit procella venti in stagnum, et complebantur et periclitabantur, and the account seemed to be translated for Henry into his own tongue like the sub-script of a foreign language movie, un tourbillon fondit sur le lac La Barque se replissait d'eau--
"Never mind," Henry told the dream. "I recognized the passage. I always preferred the Vulgate to the French."
There was salt in the spray. Was the Sea of Genesarat salty? Or was this bigger boat on a larger sea?
And now Henry first noticed the shattered and broken masts. There were many masts once, and the boat must have flown like a great white castle; but now they were splintered and down. There was Albion of the White Cliffs where Apostasy is foretold in the Apocalypse. There was Moscovy which was Third Rome. There was Gaul itself. And others were betopped and tottering.
A multitude was watching the boat, and almost any one of it could have reached out a hand and helped. But the people believed it was only a toy boat, as Henry at first had believed. They did not know that it was real and was about to go down: and that if it went down, the whole world would go down with it.
But Henry the Frenchman from the swamps knew that it was real and that he was involved with it. He also knew that it was the same ship as the Argo on which he already sailed, but that the quest had been sanctified during these last short millennia.
And he realized, before he awoke, that this was his Vocation; and that, whether he accepted it or not, it had come down to him.

~from Archipelago by R.A. Lafferty, Chapter 2 Part 4