May 1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

 Why is it that amid our happiness

At times I know your lips can but intone

The commonplace, so foreign is your heart?

And I too sometimes turn my eyes from yours,

Caught in a web of memory, a regret

For all the lovely things that could not last:

The rainbows always just beyond our reach,

The fawns we cannot play with, and the sea

Where no-one ever sailed, the island there

Forever singing with celestial voice.

How is it all these once were part of us,

So that, remembering, we sicken with

A longing for these visions of the past,

These strange and lovely things that could not last?

Thank you, Bernice, I remain in your debt always.

LETTERS TO THE UNBORN

I am Moondog, kin to the Twilight Women, Greihound Bard. I stand with the Ancient Ones. I am your Ancestor and reached into the Unborn to insure that you would know your people. From where I am standing you are a great distance from me, deep in that world. It is hard to grasp that Gobetween is from your world as well, that she lives among you now and yet stands at my side six thousand years before you were born. This speaks eloquently of the success of my dreamloop, does it not? She is the trophy, the resurrection of the dust that contains the history of our people.

I am Gobetween, kin to the Twilight Women; a cosmogonal wayfarer grounded in a parallel reality. I reside in a failing vessel. With the indifference of a distant observer I watch as my primordial essence wages battle with a soul that longs only to return to its ancestors. I fear that this stout heart will drag me long into old age while Moondog waits for me on the other side of eternity.

 “The wind whispers in the salt marsh, ’Open up to receive the seed.’ Consecrated the Life Givers repose to take the consensual host, free and alive. Animals blessed with flowers and smoke are released to the hills to range in the bliss. Grain lost to the Winter Wait explodes to tender, quivering chartreuse. The willow rustles, on its shiny crimson length perch the amorous dances of the lapwings. We offer ourselves to the beauty, praying for blessings of gentle rain, bursting kernels, and the warm breath of our Mother. Green tongues of cattail poke through the spring thaw like secret kisses of young girls nudging the lips of their lovers. Birth Clans whirl, faces hidden behind their ancestral beginnings, rods rigid to the imperative. Our people dance the delirious welcome to summer.

The Bard grunts in breathless gyration, teasing the inflamed young ones and igniting the recollection in those no longer driven by fire. He pauses as though inspired by a forgotten memory; scratching his chin he turns to face the Valley of the Caves. His arm raised he sights past its length as though it was an arrow drawn on the string of a bow and points with a crooked finger towards the Predators and Great Flesh Eaters. Crushed under the draft of his unblinking stare the Winter Wait flickers out and the Death Clans spent in the dreamtime, die back to the Mother.”

[Moondog}

Prayer, is it thought or contemplation? Is it entreaty or song, ecstasy or tribulation? For our people it is steadfast and fragile as breath, dissipating smoke, immixing water and Earth. It carries the fragrance of buckskin and herbs, the pungent perfume of forest detritus and ritual smoke, the bite of salt air and the divine decay of rebirth. I am called Moondog. You know me well. I live because you do. I pray pressed against the Holy Mother, pressed against my Gobetween, they the self-same manifestation of a mystery more ancient than the mountain, older than the ever-unfolding ocean, beyond the cosmic shimmer of galactic glitter. I am a myth and she the life giver of magic. When hearts are full and lips cease to speak we are ritual.

Certainty eludes me. From what distant dream or revelation did we know that the moon returned home every eighteen and half years? She meandered about the night sky like a mystic seeking a vision of pristine truth just as we do. And to make it so we prepare for it as in no other season. We pray and make ready, fast and fashion gifts. We build a village, a microcosm of our life and put to rest all that troubles us. It is the season of Sacred Clowns.

[Gobetween]

The Twilight Women’s camp was sealed for the season and we bid farewell to the last of the sunlight we would see for days. What would become a great river was nothing more than an ice-rimmed ribbon that danced at the hem of mysticism before venturing toward the ocean many miles below. We too were descending into the realm of spirits, dark, stirring, palpable. Cold clung to this ancestral place like a crest-fallen lover reluctant to leave. His lamentation compelled us. We neither lingered nor hurried. But our pace was determined, brisk in a windless place where air moved of its own volition plunging into the low country days and days away.

The Old Granite Range cloaked in its primordial forest smelled of antiquity. The fallen leaves of last autumn and a hundred before it were still there, layer after endless layer. When disturbed they released the sharp, pungent aroma of leaf mold and aged leather. Unlike the Chalky Mountains, far to the north, where life hurried through its cycle, the Old Granite Range savored it. Here life was frugal and processes moved slowly around. I often thought I could dig down through the many layers and find a bow, an arrow, or a quiver millennia old and perfectly preserved. Nothing including decomposition hurried, and neither did we.

But clearly winter’s grip was slipping. Delicate flowers, locked into tight baubles were beginning to peek out. Green casings were splitting; the treasures they concealed were swelling and showing us the first hints of pink and white faces that would openly smile after we had left their domain. Even the reluctant coils of fiddleheads were venturous now. Poking up, looking around to see what the season would bring. Soon the shells of acorns, nestled beneath their leafy blanket, would rupture. The distant child of an ancient oak would unfurl its life, holding the promise of reaching into the world of the Unborn for centuries. I could see vivid new candles on the tips of uncountable pine branches, reaching toward the invisible sky. Old limbs long fallen to Earth were covered with a thick coat of green velvet; popping spore pods and colonies of mushrooms, all flocked in the glisten of daybreak frost.

None of us really wanted to leave, not ever. We knew that one day we wouldn’t, the day we became just another layer of forest detritus. I believe we left for the ecstasy of longing, the savoring of anticipation. Our ancestors would wait for us. A joyous homecoming. The season of dreams. The reason we drew breath. The reason we inhaled the last of the bouquet and pushed on to our village. The perfume would linger like a tentative kiss, an inaudible whisper, a soft echo to and from Infinity. We were tired, longing to relinquish the burden of our nature and yet forever driven to return. I think we were stark, staring mad.




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Responses to “May 1”

  1. Jackie B. Steele May 1st, 2017 - 3:46 pm

    One of my favorite essays from you, thank you

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