River Daughter by Charley Linden Thorp

あじさいと一緒に修正

 

I remember the day we died together on the green river in every single detail. It is not a memory or a dream, but a repeated reality. I turn away to repeat it like a mantra when everything in this war seems so hopeless.

I am the river and the river is me. Papa is me and I, Papa. I am the river and the river is me. Papa is me and I, Papa.

Our boat moves slowly despite the danger, the authorities pursuing us down both banks. I take a single thick hair of your moustaches between my teeth, you smile and I feel its bulge against my bulge and we gaze at the same rolling dark green waters and the waters gaze back at us. This airy bliss is our death.

But soon, our cheeks are torn apart to play out other scenes by uniformed arms. Our roles? I play the Madonna. You, Christ’s soldier. The setting? A country where all religious beliefs are outlawed.

Since our green river day, I have become a teacher and nurse, rearing more soldiers for “beloved leader” to deploy, then caring for them when injured and dying. This is my way of being myself.

One day Papa, a city plaza is bombed from the air. Spindly death machines swing through space, their bombs are kicked off rusting underbodies by pert jackboots. The wounded are my pupils so we bundle them and their limbs into the hospital ship and leave dock immediately. The aerial pests shipwreck us and we become specks in the flaming ocean!

I help an injured soldier to keep afloat, holding him on to a black spherical mine. His blood spills out, his legs are pulp below the waves but eventually, the enemy-swarm moves on to other flowers.

We sleep, then wake with a start to check our pale grip. The soldier’s time is up so he pulls aside his studded collar to reveal a chain, dragging it up to show a beautiful crucifix, encrusted with gems; a glorification of God, number one enemy of the state!

He hands it to me, asking me to use it to get through the madness of this war. He calls me ‘Madonna,’ asking for my blessing so he can go to ‘heaven.’ I put it on quickly for fear it will sink like everything else and when I look back at him he has slid away.

Now, I am the only survivor bobbing on this black bauble, but I’m aware of my fingers moving slowly towards the crucifix. And then suddenly Papa, I see our wooden boat, the green body of the river moving steadily with it, and feel our cheeks resting together.

Now I completely understand the difference between sea-water and fresh-water. A great river is a large body, a substantial limb, while the ocean is many smaller bodies, made menacing by salt.

The crucifix wakes me. I take it in my fingers.

‘Papa, do I feel something watching me, protecting me? Is it you? Can this encrusted metal shape make me feel something? I have been trained to know that this is a phantasy and yet I can hear you saying, ‘Must we believe that there is nothing else except birth and death and suffering, and working for others in between? Nothing held in the wonders of nature and weather. Nothing more than H2O in a heartfelt tear?’

With such salty questions asked and allowed to evaporate, I find myself in a hot apple orchard in the mountains. The villagers have locked themselves into their houses in the valley because the enemy is near, but we, another fatherless daughter and me, are picking the apples before they drop and spoil. Authoritative foreign voices shout to each other below.

We listen, the still crucifix inside my blouse. The gipsies come, talking loudly, petitioning the officer. They have no fear, living in a flurry of violin vibrations and scintillating tambourine cymbals. Momentarily, the officer seems clasped by their hope, as we are, but then he dismisses them goose-stepping away.

They become silent, except for a small voice, shaking her quarter-size tambourine. She does not stop even when the machine gun is cocked. And even as it fires.

The rapid volley slaughters the adults. His fellow officers rebuke him but he laughs, saying, ‘Nobody in their right mind needs a gipsy.’ The small remaining gipsy has never learned fear or choked down the lessons of ‘time’ or ‘space’ or ‘form’ and she never will.

He spots the abundance of our orchard and swivelling his gun onto his back, starts to climb the hill. I stand rooted behind the green apple spheres but he finds my face hidden behind one especially large fruit.

He drags me down the hill looking for somewhere dark and muffled. In the barn, I escape his tight grip and run on ahead. He stalks me among the dark hay stalls but Papa I am saved. My ‘daughter’ friend is waiting with a pitchfork to pin his greedy eyes to the timbers. In time, his friends come looking for him and we finish the remnant enemy off.

And again, I feel the crucifix dangling between my perspiring breasts and again I feel some benevolent vigilance. I can even become the blessed apples themselves, just as I am you and our green luscious river! The agonized crucifix is somehow bringing me to an otherness.

At night, the battalion has moved on, so we start to walk, talking little so I can go to our river and check your cheek and eventually, in the middle of a burned hay field, we see the surprise of a basilica. It is deserted, the treasures pilfered, apart from the glorious Madonna in copper and bronze hanging high above the ruined altar.

We fill a tin bath with fresh water and harvest illegal ‘Our Lord’s Candle’ flowers growing nearby to make frothy shampoo. We scrub and cut out the combs from our matted hair. I remove the crucifix while I wash but it catches the light from the highest dome, reflecting the beautiful paintings inside and making us envious.

One day, I return from collecting blueberries, but see that the uniforms have found our holy camp. Prosaic bicycles thrown down hurriedly, a boneshaker motorbike and sidecar with warm tyres block the main double doors meant to receive robed processions and choristers.

As I move by night and sleep by day, tying myself high in a tree, ‘Papa I can feel you near! You are here, perhaps looking for me, perhaps to experiment with God.’

I end up back at the wheat field to see our basilica reduced to dust but the wondrous Madonna still hanging untouched and I know you were there stealing my combs in your filthy clothes.

Later, as I crouch by a stream munching on stale cakes from a bombed bakery, I hear a plane shot down. The crucifix becomes hot on my breast and I start to look for survivors.

I spot the burning plane wedged in rubble, shouting for survivors. Someone groans. Lifting away tin sheets and timbers, I find the pilot, leaning upright against the exposed bones of the matchstick plane.

I move in front of him. He tries to speak but his larynx is burned and only squeaks. I bandage his hand, inject him with morphine and as I reach around his wide chest with bandages, his eye fills with light. The unburned cheek bulges with a smile and he indicates something beneath my blouse with a nod leaving my eyes very briefly.

We both stop, acknowledging the crucifix, smiling to have shared it illegally. His broken lips ask me to show him what lies below it, deliriously enunciating the word ‘Heaven!’ ‘Heaven,’ another officially eradicated disease.

I begin to unveil my beauty to him freely, wondering if this is what prostitutes feel like behind glass? Morphine? Opium? What does it matter? He mouths the word ‘Madonna,’ repeatedly.

‘Papa, I have never felt so beautiful since that moment against you on the green river.’

I slowly undress, pulling multiple layers over my head, letting the plumpness of my breasts drop, the gleaming broken body of Christ lying across my breastbone caked in gold and gems.

My eyes return from inspecting myself to see if I am fully revealed to him, anticipating his joy like a beacon in his pain. But his eye is fixed, his mouth open as if about to speak. And a thin rivulet of saliva trickles down into the rubble and blood at his feet.

I remain still as wet snow starts to drop, aware that I am the only sentient being in this metallic-asbestoid scene.

Towards the end of the war, I find my regiment and put on my uniform again, but cannot be promoted for my work with triage because I can no longer speak to tell the authorities. We are camped on a hilltop near the enemy bunker, anticipating the reprisal in the trenches below.

‘Papa, the green river has never faded despite 12 years of daily horrors.’ It is the only reality, pinned against the sacred crucifix and the Madonna.

Opposite, the enemy spies through gun slits and plays gramophone records of mighty Wagner and Beethoven. Down in the valley, we see civilian men walking up in the direction of the bunker, moving confidently holding stout sticks. We wonder if we are dreaming as full symphony orchestras mount towards their climaxes? Then, more and more civilians appear with an army of accordion players, drowning out Arian goddesses with gipsy folk music.

‘I actually see you Papa in your full regalia as colonel at this moment. You are leading the surge of people moving steadily up the hill. I run, bursting out of the arms of my comrades, shouting at the top of my lungs, the first time I have uttered a sound from my mouth for several years. “Bapa!!”‘

At first, you do not hear me, glancing casually at the jackrabbit careering down the hill in your direction. But then you match fragments of sound and shape, realizing that it is your river daughter in the flesh. And you start to run on uneven boggy ground, your eyes lighting up, the tears rising.

We get closer, you slowing down, aware of some danger that I am not, me running on unbridled, always a child. And as we meet, you hold me still at arm’s length, trying to calm me enough to make me look down at my feet. I look down and realize that your jackboot is resting on one of my boots, which in turn has depressed the detonator of a land mine.

‘You speak urgently but calmly Papa, as always.’

No time to let the tears flood or our cheeks lock together. One of us will be blown up and you are determined it will not be me. You reach into your breast pocket and bring out my comb from the basilica, saying you knew I had been there with the Madonna.

Then, you order me in military fashion to lift my foot out of my boot and step away. Shout at me to turn and walk back up the hill, slowly and quietly without disturbing the ground. I protest again, trying to spit out words that have congested my body for so long.

I turn from the glorious site of you and we both wince at a huge explosion up at the bunker. One of your snipers with a working gun high in a tree has picked off the main bombardier and set off a chain reaction detonating all the ammunition stored there. The enemy is annihilated and I have found my papa, all in one of ‘time’s’ precious baubles!

As I slowly climb back up the hill, away from you and you make to move, you know that you will detonate the mine! If one moment can contain both the zenith and nadir of two lives, this is it.

You wait for me on the green river while it is clear that I must be a Madonna guiding my people to reality for some ‘form’ and ‘time’ and ‘space’ yet to come.

 

 

 

        Images by Japanese artist Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl

valid-lit-logo

Advertisements

Mansfield Park (1999): English Innocence.

 

mansfield-park-6

 

What is it that gives me such hope about British films? After watching endless protracted dramas and crime films made in US, one becomes jaded, almost immune to blood and guts, torture and the deviousness of the worldly mind.

Why do we watch them you may ask? Waiting for another mutilated body or packaged body-part, a dank basement masquerading as a graveyard, a filthy bathroom, rampant sex acts or mental health problems, becomes a way of life on modern TV channels. But I believe that present American film directors are fixated on blood and filth because those aspects of human life which are normally hidden need to be fully illuminated. We are living in an age of what Buddhists would call ‘hungry ghosts’ and depravity after all, and we need to confront that full-on.

 

mansfield-park-8


So, after such inurement, ‘Mansfield Park’ set in early and relatively innocent 19th century England, will lift the spirit, will bring on a deep sigh of relief. Of course, in this story horrors and unfairnesses, poverty and life exigencies abound but the principal message is one of hope and light. Protagonist Fanny Price, sent away from her poor docks’ home at the age of 10 to serve the wealthy branch of her family, is heavily oppressed because of her class. In spite of this gross handicap, in the end she wins the true love and status she clearly deserves and we are gratified.

 

mansfield-park-5

This setting of one of my favourite Jane Austen novels, truly lifted my heart after a spate of subjecting myself to deep cinematic darkness. Being British by birth, I am not proud of the British class system or the societal havoc reeked by the Industrial Revolution in any way, but somehow the light always manages to get through in British culture. This story is a fairy story which the British are so in tune with.

The beautiful and talented Fanny is marooned in a poor home although her imagination is rich and she entertains her siblings by writing stories and histories prolifically. The family is overburdened financially and so it is agreed between her mother and her mother’s sister that Fanny will be sent to Mansfield Park to act as a servant and get an education in the meantime.

Having arrived there, Fanny is devastated at being treated as an outcast and being given a neglected attic as her bedroom. She sorely misses her family’s genuine love but she almost immediately meets Edmund, her cousin, who tries to comfort her with jokes. It is then that their love is kindled and becomes a bond made for life.

 

mansfield-park-3

But there are many shadows cast amidst the sunshine and brilliance of the central figure and her deeply pious Edmund. For instance, Sir Thomas Bertram, Baronet, the owner of Mansfield Park, runs a plantation in Antigua and with it a great number of black slaves at a time when slavery is starting to be abolished. Tom Bertram is a drunk, a gambler, and eventually becomes gravely ill due to his reckless lifestyle. Lady Bertram is vague and distracted, addicted to laudanum and lap dogs, and her sister Mrs Norris who is a skinflint and total snob persists in keeping Fanny in her place. Henry Crawford is a lusty bachelor who falls in love with Fanny but she refuses to accept his dubious morality.

 

mansfiedl-park-1


At one point, grown tired of her social oppression and the demands being made of her by Sir Thomas to marry a wealthy man she does not love, Fanny decides to return home. Then the class contrast becomes patently obvious. She is once more marooned in a dirty environment, presided over by a drunken father whose dark family secrets are palpable in the eyes of the girl-children. And now, she deeply misses Edmund who is betrothed to be married to someone of his own class.
The gay balls and elegant dancing suit Fanny so well once she returns to Mansfield Park to care for son Thomas who is declining rapidly, and as luck would have it, she confronts Sir Thomas with his exploitation of slaves while Edmund steadily realizes his mismatch. Eventually, his betrothed, Miss Mary Crawford, Henry’s sister, reveals her true meddlesome and insincere nature to the whole family, and Edmund breaks off their engagement and listens to his heart. He immediately proposes to Fanny and plans to publish all her literary works.

 

mansfield-park-8


This is truly a rags-to-riches story and Fanny is perhaps the most compelling of all Austen’s heroines. The light created by this wonderful story comes flooding through and reminds us that we too have a True Nature and should never lose track of our dreams and native knowing.

Watch this film soon. It is oozing with period accuracy and attentiveness to the original text to lift you easily into the saddle of your heart. Fanny is a weaver of tales so reminiscent of Jane Austen’s herself.

 

mansfield-park-7

 

Images courtesy of imdb.com (Internet Movie Data Base) and megapixyl.com

 

 

valid-lit-logo

An Audience with the Master III: Valid Lit

dscn0420

 
A kiss shared between spiritual equals blends their spirits together in such a way that they do become one, an indestructible union of two spirits sharing the same destiny, and this is the kiss that unknowingly so many of us spend our lives looking for and rarely find.

Perhaps this is what the lips are truly intended for, and not for mindless speech and blowing bubbles. Indeed, perhaps the silent smooth flap of mouths of truth against each other in silence is the only sincere way to communicate.

There are moments, though scarce nowadays, when I unconsciously attempt to trace the learning and development which enables me to know what words proffered like the Master’s should mean. Or, even how to get into a situation where someone will say something of this nature to me which I will recognize, or even hear. But there is nothing linear about it, no hint of a chronology, no white-mind logic. I cannot ask the questions when or where, though “how” or “why” may be more feasible choices.

 

aerial-view-of-prague-czech-republic-38212137

You and I agreed, back in a western city of a thousand spires, that dreams have always been important to us, and that we have tried to listen to them despite cutting and derisory comments from others.

I shared the dream which has recurred since I was a young child with you, so that these words, uttered to me in this remote country of Myanmar before a great Master of the truth, will have a grand significance for you. You, who shared preparations for what is unfolding in my life, and are witness to all, but are unable to accompany me. You, who are still entangled with negative karma which detains you from what your heart knows and needs to put into action, but that your head rejects.

Being apart from you is thousands of miles in the mind, but only across the ditch in the heart. I hear your voice in strong mode telling me my own dream, enjoying pronouncing the words of it, my words which you have memorized, but being totally unable to know your own dreams, or to own them.

“A young fair-headed child looks softly into a mirror. She wonders at the pale skin and iceberg eyes, and is involved in intimately experiencing herself directly, the eye seeing exclusively. She is certain that there is no imagining at all. Each slow blink of her long lashes reveals a different person there in the large mirror surface: male, female, young, old, of many different complexions, a compendium of karmic identities. And someone photographs this procession of reflections obsessively from behind her, flash bulbs sizzling, the shutter rasping.

 

 

spa-wellness-cameo-3088420

 

 

Then, as the rapid flick stops, from the side, dark elegant hands offer white robes of fine cotton to decorate the smooth skin of this mirror child. The child accepts them, and slowly raises them towards her nose to absorb the scents of jasmine and Japanese cedar, names which she repeats to ensure that sensing is exclusive, letting the sounds of the words drop away with their idea.

Then the dark hands offer a large stem of pink lotus complete with several woody seed-cases. The lotus is the only plant in existence which produces seeds whilst still in flower, and which can thrive in the poorest patch of mud.

The child smiles and walks out of the reflection, her cool bare feet spreading on marble.”

Since that time, white garments, bare feet and lotuses have always been important symbols in my life despite my modern urban origins in the first world, and now as I get closer to the moment I have been preparing for from my birth, I am instructed by this Master to take them up. Words are also spiritual signs etched into our energy constellation; a certain pattern of stars embedded within millions of others, which we can only read when we are ready to.

 

 

lotus-5595396

 

 

As I leave the audience, walking with the charming interpreter through the confusion of converted buildings towards the gate, I feel the need to clarify.

“Do I need to wear white garments, or is this expression symbolic?”

He looks at me kindly, his devotion to his Master and the monastery so unshakeable that his steps do not pause to speak.

“You will know.”

He smiles reassuringly and shows me out courteously on to the busy street, bidding a local farewell to my guides. I have the strong feeling that I know this man intimately.

 

 

lotus-seed-cases

 

 
Join me tomorrow for ‘Audience with the Master IV.

 

 

valid-lit-logo

                                    Images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

7 Pyrenean Moments from’Veil.’

josa-del-cadi-2233467

moment 2

As winter progressed, the deep valleys were snowed in, so our island trips came to an end. We brought in our last load of firelighters-huge pinecones as large as children’s heads from Wild Boar Forest, and closed up the shutters of the house.

In the haven sitting room, I begged for rugs and curtains to cushion us from the increasingly shocking cold, but you refused. You demanded we actually experience our first winter. So, the inert embers of the fire were continually exploded with pine bombs to build the slow crescendo of heat, the air bitter with resin.

Without doubt, you were more medieval than I was. Bare-armed, always preferring the large glass garden doors open, especially when the winds were high. You would smoke and sip local wine, an open book balanced on your lap, your slender legs crossed to immerse you in the corner of your blue hydrangea sofa. But you were only temporarily at peace, anesthetized.

 

img_20170112_0001

 

We had adopted the medieval way of life, sitting around the log stove, preserving garden crops. Sometimes, at our peril, we shared stories of our lives never told in the city of ‘Frowns and Tears’ ruled over by the tyrant ‘Time.’

The high mountains surrounding the village had many secrets. They were dotted with Cathar castles of ‘the Good’ camouflaged on craggy precipices. They were mystical paragons who had hidden there during the Spanish Inquisition, and who posed a massive threat to the Roman Catholic Church exactly because of their goodness and their spiritual perfection. This was also the enchanted land of the Troubadours and Trobiaritz– renowned minstrels and poets who sang of pure courtly love and spirituality.

Evenings had always been our special time back in the city, each one a life in its own right. It was usually initiated with flames and candles, and the opening of corks. Each make or break, the visible or the invisible, irresistible attraction or polarization. Now, in the mountains, evenings ended in small deaths in the full darkness and silence. We two isolated souls, who might sting or flee at any moment, were entirely alone here.

 

spinners

 

We had thought that your nightmares of torture by fire, your terrifying sleep-screaming, would stop once we left the stress and degradation of the city, but they continued. Already twice you had refused to come to bed. The moon shone in on the long many-windowed room so you could find your wine glass in the dark. As I left you to go to bed, your cigarette fire glowed in the dark when you sucked on it.

I stood outside the door for a while, debating if I should leave you alone or not. I crept back in, coaxing you, your reaction unpredictable. I came close to your fire, felt the dark hydrangeas, sitting close to you. I reached across to touch your thigh, my fingers and lips gravitating towards your places of release, but your clipped voice paralyzed me.

 

smoke-on-black-38610515

 

“Put the light on if you want that!”

You insisted that I did not actually love you if I closed my eyes as I became aroused.

“It could be anyone,” you always spat out, mildly indignant. The visible was all that counted to you.

Upstairs I dozed, and soon the strains of your beloved Maria Callas recordings filled the shell of the house. I accepted that you were going somewhere I could not go, sinking in your suffering like quicksand, so I slept until you made your way back to me. Or not.

I had always been aware of your multiple fears, but they were more prominent in a place where the population was dominated by rock and bear, larch and scorpion.

Here humans were simply a passing fad.

 

img_20170112_0002

 

This is the second moment of the opening of my Cathar novel ‘Veil.’

Author page: http://lulu.com/spotlight/Veil_linden415  +

http://www.amazon.com/author/lindenthorp_inthefield

I will be serializing the first chapter moment by moment in the coming days.  Please join me in the Literature sphere.

valid-lit-logo

Veil book jacket

The Fall: the criminal mind is fascinating!

Cover Picture

The Fall: the criminal mind is fascinating

Do you long to become utterly absorbed in a story, film or piece of art? Do you long to be totally beguiled and to experience another reality in the full which will lead you to know our human existence in more detail?

In our modern lives of super-convenience, I often stop my mindless response and acceptance to become mindful. I take myself to a time and place when and where we lived in close partnership or conflict with nature and its cruelty or benevolence. To a time or place when radio waves had not been harnessed for our entertainment and edification, to inform us of the contents of other minds at the press of a button. In those situations, story and the human imagination were arguably at their peak.

We cannot go back to that state now, but when we find ourselves riveted as I have during this year to the Netflix Drama, The Fall, I strongly recognize my roots in story-telling and my absorption in the human condition. There is nothing quite as fascinating or compelling as the desire to kill another creature or human, nothing quite so magnetic as the power of the occult or devil.

The first two episodes of The Fall defy summary so here I skim the surface for impressions while strongly recommending that you fall into The Fall as soon as possible because you will also certainly be riveted, and you will yet again marvel at the intricacies of the human mind.

The story begins when Stella Gibson of Scotland Yard is called to Belfast Police Headquarters to head a team focused on hunting down a serial killer known as the Belfast Strangler. She has quite a reputation and it is easy to see she is unconventional and intriguing as a senior police officer. She starts to investigate the murders with her mostly female team which follow a pattern because the targets are single nubile female professionals whom he (presumably) stalks and then strangles, bathes, dresses and poses ready for the police to find.

Through 2 gripping seasons, Stella manages to catch the murderer who is shot at his capture, the final episode closing with her holding his head as he bleeds heavily waiting for the emergency services to arrive. Returning to new episodes in season 3 after a break and such an intriguing and pregnant ending, I realize how skillfully the characters in this British drama have been developed.

Paul Spector (not Spectre), the serial killer – sexual deviant, bereavement counselor, adoring father and husband, talented artist and poet – is, after drastic surgery to save him, found to be suffering from amnesia so that he cannot recall the 6 years of his life when he allegedly killed numerous women by strangulation. He also has apparently missed the growing up of his baby daughter and even the birth of his son in his time warp.

The approach to this killer’s hospital treatment is worthy of comment because we have already taken a peep at his ritualistic killing of several of his mannequin victims, but now we are treated to a close look at his insides during a major surgical procedure, coma, massive blood loss and rehabilitation. During this time, the calculating murderer is alone with a dedicated and beautiful ICU nurse and we know that he could kill her despite his incapacity by summoning up his demonic energy. We even get to look at his near-death experience through her caring questions giving us a unique opportunity to look inside even further, behind the presenting horrors, sickening premeditation and manipulation.

Stella Gibson reveals herself and her psychic closeness to Spector still further. She may even be his accomplice for that matter. We feel her humanity, her sadness about her own life, her sex drive, her frustration as a matriarch in a patriarchy, the police force. Her insights and focus on him are consistently impressive and her natural beauty and elegance shine through in each shot. This cannot possibly be a scripted performance for her.

The darkness inside Spector’s life is moving. He can see only pain and loss in loving, nothing bright or hopeful! He was an abused child and so he feels it his right to abuse in return and has nothing to lose as it has already been lost to the suicide of his mother when he was 8.

In his amnesia after shooting and surgery, it is quite difficult to believe his honesty because he has lied consistently even to his closest loved ones. We expect him to turn any moment, to put on his disguise and destroy and pose yet one more victim. He is described as a predator, and yet the predator in all of us feels his suffering. Somehow we know that if not stopped he will get to Stella and strangle her, recreating her infamous beauty in a death pose.

Sally-Anne, Spector’s wife, is in a tragic condition after his capture. She is so shaken by the charges against him that she decides to drug her young children’s bedtime milk, put them in the car, and drive into the incoming tide. She will soon be tried and convicted of obstructing justice as she has unwittingly aided and abetted her husband in her disbelief.

Things eventually are coming to an end! Spector is in a secure asylum facility, but we know that he will make his attack on Stella. We know that she is vulnerable to him, that she is not afraid of him and maybe even willing to die in this big game hunt. We go back to the image of her holding his head in the forest when he was shot. She says she didn’t want him to die because he must be tried and punished for what he has done to other innocents. In some way, he has got into her head as he does with everyone. He certainly got into mine.

all images courtesy of imdb.com

Calling: to the white marble of Montpellier

Cover Picture

Calling

Sipping Rhone wine under the flounces

of the massive Lime-flower tree

aroma and scent trouble me.

The wine at its best, the flowers at their peak,

and yet my habitual absorption in

the sensory is being tugged at,

its tension overstretched like used muslin,

its once overwhelming newness wearing thin.

The perfection of sky balanced on untouched forests

almost eludes me at this time,

but the gist of your abstract words has already

dropped in the fine covering of flowers at my feet.

For someone is calling me from

the white marble of Montpellier.

A dream in our shuttered salon, the logs in the stove

like wands of alpine witnesses,

compels me to descend our mountain hairpins

on the weekly bus alive with grape-pickers,

my suitcases slotted between their stained baskets,

to the other North African haven of Montpellier. .

You demand why and who and how I must go down from

this ultimate haven of Cathars, catholics, shepherds,

but the gist of your question disappears

in the evening sizzle of biftek buried

in an armful of bay leaves and vine twigs.

For someone is calling me from

the vivid painted timbers of Montpellier.

The fierce row on the boards at bedtime,

your coarse tears extinguishing the candles

and unbalancing the stable slab of incense,

propel me out of your faithless fleshy cloisters.

You hurl bells, burn sutras in your ashtray,

demand and denounce my path to this ‘borrowed’ deity,

making last-ditch interrogations under a strong light.

But the gist of your spite is sucked

into the Lama’s Himalayan eyes,

dredged over the ample of his saffron robes,

as he welcomes me to the wooden temple in an orchard,

its specifications exact, my mission specific.

He has been waiting with his butter lamps and words.

‘‘You heard my calling. I knew you would come soon.’’

valid-lit-logo

Just-Knowing: talks with Ninija

dreaming legends

Here’s my latest story on Slate – text and images. I hope this will make indigenous wisdom accessible to those who are overwhelmed by reading pithy texts!
Ninija is traditional landowner and spiritual leader of her tribe in the South Australian Desert.
https://slate.adobe.com/a/yvKdA