Friday, April 25, 2014

the story-cloak

Not long ago, I climbed once again to the summit, Lucia, to make my offering, to break a great silence.

How I have yearned to be a butterfly alighting on your hand, a flash of Cinquefoil in your eyes, the vanishing of a fox's tail at the edge of a wooded copse. But alas. My steps were ponderous, as if my feet had clotted into earthen clods and they wanted, stubbornly, to cling, first to the thickets, and the meadow, and then to the lichen-spattered rocks above.

When I neared the trickling spring and knelt in the moss, I realized I had forgotten all of my prayers, and the only song I had left was, There is a balm in Gilead. I wept, for I held in my pockets no great love story, no pearl, nor any other bright treasure to gladden your eyes. I leaned my empty head into my hollow hands, and sobbed until I slept.

I woke with a start--a great white owl was regarding me quizzically, its head in a half-twist, from a perch on a mound of lingon-berry bushes. You are holding my moon-egg, reached my senses. In my hands was cradled a rounded phosphorescence. I held it out to the owl, wonderingly. Look at your cloak, said the owl. With not a sound, nor even a flutter, an enormous, transparent cloak had began settling itself around my shoulders. Wherever it touched me, I was alarmed, at first, but its weight reassured me, as if an unexpected embrace.

For a moment, I glimpsed the traceries of vines and flowers, of fractal patterns, uzori--surrounding and descending upon me. It seemed as if within the patterns was hidden a code, a key to a language in which all of my life-stories were written, all the strange blossoms of my dearest and hidden desires, my most harrowing sorrows, and bitterest sins. Its colors were beloved and familiar: the flaming red of a dogwood branch; the green of the first sticky leaves; a morning-glory blue, the silvery gray of a trout stream. In a matter of a blink, I lost sight of the cloak, yet continued to feel its presence.

After time passed, or did not, I noticed the owl beckoning to another figure in the moss; if I had squinted, I might have confirmed the presence of a man.

Sensing it was time for me to depart, I bowed my thanks and turned back to the path down the mountain. From the corner of my eye, I spied the man thirstily sipping moon-beams from his own palms. I will say no more of this matter, Lucia. Perhaps a similar cloak has found its way to him.

The shawl of mists in which I was then enveloped has now become my constant companion, but my steps have grown lighter--a mystery of solitude and flame.

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