Arhat is the explorer of a hidden cave, finding exotic and near extinct animals and insects. He finds roly-polys with no eyes, frogs and beetles with no eyes, they have no use for eyes. Grasshoppers crawl on stone, lizards turn into snakes, fish become amphibious to survive. In the depths are bag ladies lugging mountains of recyclable cans, a zoo and dump, pockets of magnets, and twin light waves fanning a kaleidoscope. A dragonfly molts, skims the water, and on wings surveys the cave.
The breadth of the cave is assessed with its own tools, hatched out of cave parts. Shrewd inventions, new pathways. The distance of hollows, wall to wall are the length of crab pincers lined one to one to one. Volume is how many breathing panthers fill a void. Velvety, alive, breathing appraisal, warmth and mass.
In the dark, the explorer feels his way, runs fingers over contours. Like the bark of a tree, there’s an impression with every bump, a history buried in every dip of rock. The floodwaters that shape the cave over the years come from outside, where there’s light to read. You see the marks on the page and your eyes scan the letters as dips and bumps that unfurl the details of a picture. If words are lush, you may forget they belong on pages and your senses caress them like bodily textures. What would it be like to feel an entire tree in the dark? Perhaps from end to end the experience is a kind of book. It’s possible that the interior of the cave is tree-shaped, with corridors branches and the atrium the trunk. In the cave, image becomes braille and the memory of touch picture. The explorer is wary of becoming incestuous and hybrid. He takes a step back, watches the floodwaters stream in, mix with a host of sediments and creatures, and coagulate. The thick substance flows, erodes and calcifies the walls, constituting the stories of the cave.
Like the Hang Son Doong cave of Vietnam, this expansive cave has a collapsed roof. Where the hidden meets the sky is where the explorer enters and adapted creatures surface. Underneath the opening is a jungle rising. The creatures of the darkest crevices blindly build to the outside using clay, sticks, bones, refuse, and ropes. A peculiar ecosystem of natural flora, mutant fauna, and stopgap means. The structure builds itself, overlaps the jungle, and surpasses the opening. On the surface, these creatures continue to build. From the outside the cave looks like its family of inhabitants, with orifices where floodwaters enter and leave, together with fossils and trace fossils, cruft, tree, hands, and an oculus.