September 25, 2013

Tantra Bensko

Among Stalagmites of Burnt Umber

When the rickety tour guide took her on the unpopular tour alone, into the commercial cave of wonders, of awe dripped and solidified into trembling beauty, down into the part where he turns out the subtle lights hidden amongst the stalagmites, to show her what complete darkness is like, he could still see her glow. You're giving off some kind of light, he said.

I am a miracle-worker, she informed him, with a glowing smile. A light-worker. It only makes sense.

He started laughing, and chased her around, reaching out to her.

How many fingers am I holding up?

3! You're holding up 3!

That I am, that I am.

When he'd manage to touch her briefly on their gallumptious chase in the dark, that tickled, and she curled over, guffawing.

Light came out of her mouth.

I wonder if I am dying, he said. Or something.

This has never happened to you before?

And I have a feeling it never will again.

When he turned on the lights, he was standing straighter. His cheeks plumped out with glee. His steps tapped frail on the cave path, as he motioned for her to walk ahead of him, while he continued to point out the things mandatory on the list, which she pretended to tolerate.

Can you see that stalagmite? Bacon, am I right? And look at that one. Popeye. And there's the McDonald's arches.


Tantra Bensko is an a author and fiction writing teacher, artist, healer, and filmmaker living in Berkeley, CA. More about her at

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