The Mystery Dream

Images from Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film Stalker

A man sleeps at the edge of the woods
with flotsam of dirt and debris in the pond.
Tiny fish swim in a metal pan, loose coins
scatter around the portrait of a saint.

The camera pans slowly along the waters
as if we're watching a Chinese scroll inside
someone's dream of a surreal landscape
mysteriously beautiful and sublime.

A rusty coiled iron spring appears in
this debris that was once somewhere inside
a machine or gadget that's no longer working
like those helices breathing in hemoglobin.

Next we see a ripped piece of paper calendar
with the number 28— was this by chance
or by director's design placed here to wake
us from our tired slumber to wakefulness.

Ah 28!— the second perfect number discovered
by Euclid, equal to the sum of its divisors.
Suddenly those words at the film's beginning
become clear— "and the moon was like blood".

The lunar cycle is twenty-eight days
in sync with a woman's menstrual period.
Silicon's atomic weight is 28 as well as
the nitrogen molecule in the air we breathe.

To see silicon dioxide in a grain of sand
and heaven flow to earth in computer chips—
Blake knew this well: "The 28th Lark flies clear
in inspiration... The Lark is a mighty Angel."

Professor Bird says this Sci-Fi film is
about an alien or meteor strike of earth,
but somehow 28 has turned the horror
of this place into the descent of grace.

              — Peter Y. Chou
                   Mountain View, 5-19-2009

Notes: The above poem was inspired by Professor Robert Bird's lecture
"Stalker's Dream: Mediation & Violence in the Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky"
Stanford University Symposium: "The Descent of Grace", May 15, 2009