IN THE WAKE OF DREAMS

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14. THE MOUNTAIN



Am climbing
A steep silk-slippery incline
The pungent greens audacious
The hour in sepia time.
Reaching ground level
I lose all sense of direction.

My long range vision
Glimpses a pink neon sign
Blinking "EXIT" but
Failing to detect a scent
To set a course
Aiming for the absence of scent
I start walking.
To tame a budding fear
I sing.
My voice hits the air but
Sound un-aimed bounces back
And now arrows of light
Pierce my eyes.
Teary-eyed
I bump into a stone and
Sit down.

*

Re-posturing my voice
I hear a faint tut-tut in my ear—
I look around but no one is there
Yet words start falling directly
Into my vacant mind—
"I. Am. The. Silent. Other.
I. Build. Out. Of. Destruction."
And after a pause
"Merciless. Immediate. Precise"
Words dropping in like calling cards.
And after a longer pause
I. Direct. The. Hand.
When. It. Directs. Itself."

In a thundering flash
The mountain splits open and
I fall into its dark belly.


*

I am seated in a throne of stone
Before me
Fire blazing in a ring of stones.
In the far shadows—commotion
A procession forming.
First to enter the circle of light
Were two severed heads
Spiked on poles.
Placed on either side of the throne
They made me turn and
That's when I glimpsed
Seated on the right
The savage impassioned sharp profile
Of the one who knows me
Intimately.

Next appeared the twins carrying
A huge double-edged axe which
Placed like a coin on edge
Between me and the Noble One
Blocked my sight of him.
Then came Fertility wrapped
In her stained cloak
The serpent she carried like a stick
Placed at our feet.
Then the Shipbuilder and
The Sage in the shrine
Followed by the Black Woman
Flanked by two swans
Followed by Mother Earth
On the leash of Mother Nature.
Then the elephant the lions
The five white horses
Followed by Mother and Father and
Last in line the ancestors
Hosting the event.

Voice crackling thunderous
Father Time announces—
"This is your inheritance—
By this double-edged axe
Ye shall know each other.
By this two-faced awareness
Ye are rendered separate
Yet indivisible."


*

A sharp clap punctured
The swelling silence.
Flames shot up roaring
The fire column ramming
Into the darkness above.
Another sharp clap brought
The Majestic Other to his feet and
The third made me stand up
Black scarf over my head
Obscuring my vision.

On the banks of a distant river
A reed flute started wailing.
Now facing each other
The Noble Other and I
Both invisibly naked
Now shuffling around the fire—
First in wide open circles
Then closing in until
A high-pitched sobbing flute
Insistent like a drum
Makes us spin—
A ferocious hunger in the gut
Drawing us closer and closer—
A glance a touch
To shatter the spell of two
Moving as one in mirror reflection—
I black he white
I male he female—
I on fire
Pushed up by flames
Soaring—

High above the mountain
Hovering in the afterglow
I looked down—
The mountain's flaming mouth
A fiery nest
In the nest
The petrified egg—

A finger of light touched the egg—
It cracked and
An immense hatchling stood up and
Spreading its pale featherless wings
Rushing time
It pressed against rock
But merely lifting its head
It collapsed.


*

Under the crossbeams of light
That held up the firmament
I heard a cozy chatter—here
My Ancestors were weaving a tapestry
Sunbeams spotlighting different areas.

Those seated in a circle were
Spinning yarn and telling stories
Fingers aflutter in rhythm
Elbows at acute angles.
Each time around
The same ancestral tales were told
In a different voice and each time
An ancestor picked up the yarn
His/her pitch of voice
Changed the color of the string
Passing through the fingers—
Balls of rainbow hues bobbing
Chuckling at joyous events
Swaying sadly in misfortune.

Ancestors walking around them
Looked for colors of a specific hue
Then snipped off a piece of string
And gave it to the weavers
Each using a single shade
For one specific pattern.
Those standing bent over the weavers
Watched the emerging designs
Their animated responses
Either aligning the patterns or
Clustering them in converging
Or exploding configurations.
Not a strand of color was rejected
Not a single pattern corrected
But marveled at by all.


*

After learning the intricacies of every task
It was my turn to contribute to
The ancestral tapestry.
What emerged from under my fingers
Was an angular white patch
Leaning precariously forward
Tips sharply jagged.

A gust rattled the firmament
And someone shouted
"The white bird! It has hatched
The egg has hatched! Look
It's flying out to sea!"

The pattern I just completed
Was of a white bird in flight.
I jumped to my feet—too late—
The bird was nowhere to be seen.


*

Standing at the edge of the firmament
I beheld a hundred suns melting—
A splendorous ocean of liquid gold
Rising slowly
All the way up to my ankles.
After washing around my feet
It receded just as gently—
Not a ripple on the surface
Not a rippling inside me.

The gold-heavy shimmer
Rose again and it rose again
Up to my ankles—
Rising and falling again and again
In its ancient unmoving time.

Under my toes a pebble—
I pick it up
Wrap it in the scent of my hair
And bury it underfoot
Lest I forget that I saw
Light liquid
Rise and fall.


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