Friday, April 19, 2013

Last Night

The air is thick and wet with human smells. People move in slow motion, moaning and swaying to the sounds that come from deep in their bellies. The gloaming makes shadows of trees through windows not yet hung with the black cloths that fill the corners of the tiny house. Night is coming and its presence will soon pile grief upon grief.

Peace will not be with the widow on this night though her husband had descended into a peace wrapped in silence only this morning. Just as the light reached over the horizon he fell into darkness. She would never feel his longing stare caress her again. Now only a memory to be stored in a mind more like her grandmother’s attic than a kitchen filled with aromas and breezes on a summer’s day. An attic now so seldom accessed that the spiders have begun to weave the webs that will soon become cobwebs coated with dust, disintegrating.

The day is now gone and night begins to feed on their fears and their moans become deeper as they each stand over their father, grandfather, brother, cousin, friend, husband. The morning will bring Mr. Walker and his men and they will carry him on his final journey down the old town road, one last time under the ancient elms as the sun finds its way through a canopy of green.

Lamp light fills the room, reflects off framed pictures of sons, granddaughters illuminates his favorite chair. A red velvet antique impressed with years topped with a fresh doily ready to receive his weary head after a day in the shed, in the sun, in the company of sparrows and squirrels. The side table holds his glasses and books on the Classical Greeks and Ancient Egyptians. A book of poetry lays open on the seat, reveals the last words his eyes drank in. It was Whitman’s song he carried with him as he stepped out onto the porch and watched the grey begin to turn gold.

His son shakes out a black cloth, lifts it high and lets it sail and settle upon the red velvet chair. His mother wails and his father’s brother begins to sing…

My rider of the bright eyes,
What happened to you yesterday?
I thought you in my heart,
When I bought your fine clothes,
A man the world could not slay. [1]

And then they all fall into song...

Go in Beauty
Peace be with you
until we meet again
in the light

[1] Excerpt of an Anglicized version of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire and Irish lament  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Excerpt from The Weavers, A Novel

     Illumined by the eerie glow of a full moon, Michael’s breath rose up towards the forest canopy. The cool, damp air left his skin feeling wet. Something brushed the back of his neck, sending a chill through him that radiated to every nerve. He quickly turned to the left and saw a crow fly up to a tall pine, to a sentry position. Michael took a deep breath and started to walk on the path lit by the moon. He couldn’t quite see the bright lunar disk behind the trees, but its light broke through and guided him.
     The bushes to his right rustled. He stopped. A small figure ran ahead behind the trees.
     “Wait! Who are you? Where am I?” Michael started to run after the figure.
     The only response was a giggle. He glimpsed the silhouette of a little girl.
     He ran to her. When he was nearly upon her, he saw only her shadow. “Where are you?”
     “Everywhere,” the small voice echoed from all around him.
     Michael was about to step on the elusive shadow when it vanished. It didn’t move away. It was just gone.
     Suddenly he didn’t feel very well. The forest seemed to be reaching toward him. The crow started to caw raucously and swooped down. Michael ducked and then started to run. He ran and ran, stumbling on the uneven ground and gnarled roots as he went. There seemed to be no end to the woods. His lungs soon burned with every breath he took. Where was he?
     Just as he was about to give up, he found an opening in the trees. He ran out of the forest with the crow still just behind him. He kept running until he came to the edge of a cliff. Its sharp edge abruptly fell away into darkness. He nearly lost his balance as he gazed down into the blackness. He turned his head. The crow was still coming. It seemed huge now, as if it had grown large enough to grab him. Michael looked back down into the abyss. It felt like he should jump and at that moment he realized he was in a dream.
He jumped.
As he fell and fell he wondered if he would ever land. If he did, would he die in the waking world if he died here? Then his arms started to tingle. They felt so light and as he lifted them he heard the swoosh of feathers so he started to flap his arms. His fall slowed. His arms were now wings. He pumped them and started to move upward. He was no longer falling but flying.
     With a few flaps of his wings he rose out of the abyss and turned back towards the stand of ancient pines. From above they looked peaceful, like silent Druids robed in silvery moonlight. He flew to the highest tree and landed. The crow that was chasing him now circled above. He flew up to it and then realized, just as he woke up, that he was a crow, too.
     On his back in bed, Michael stared at the ceiling. Though sweat ran down his temples, he smiled to himself. Switching on a lamp, he eagerly sat up and grabbed his dream journal from the bedside table. He finally had his first lucid dream – and what a dream it was.
For the first time in months he felt he was coming back to life. Spending nearly six months nursing his dying father back in Nova Scotia had taken a greater toll on him than he realized. When he moved to California he had hoped he would feel like composing again. It had been months since he moved and so far nothing. But now he felt something shift. Becoming the crow in the dream and flying out of the darkness was a good sign. Maybe his muse had returned.

Last Night

The air is thick and wet with human smells. People move in slow motion, moaning and swaying to the sounds that come from deep in th...