Thursday, 1 October 2015

The Flame Without

Night after night she held a beacon; held a flame over the waves crashing against the rocks, mimicking what Hero had once done for Leander, except this was centuries later, and she wasn't acting as a guide, but as a seeker. Trying to throw light in dark inlets hoping for a sign, or that she'd recognise exactly what it was she sought.
At first sight, like the love some people claim they've felt for another.
The blindfold would magically lift from her eyes as she realised what was truly in front of her, or she'd feel the pull like that of a magnet and be conducted to the part of her that she knew had for a long time taken leave. The re-discovered piece slotting neatly into her person and not jammed into the chasm. Like a black sheep coming home, assimilated once again into the fold as if they'd never been away.
Gone would be the repetitive Ugly Sister moments where body parts were butchered with a paring knife or cut with a pair of nail scissors so that found donor flesh could uneasily fit and reside on borrowed time. Borrowed because patch jobs only mask the pain of the search, in spite of the faint glimmer of hope they provide at the beginning. A hope which dies when the body refuses to accept the donor flesh, shakes it off as it were a parasite riding uninvited, although in the short-term it's better to be patched than have large black holes of nothing.
Knit one, purl one, drop stitch, drop stitch, drop stitch...
Dark matter, everyone can see and intrude into without asking; conjecturing as they do so as to the cause of your emptiness, your melancholia, your dissatisfaction, and as they probe the openings get bigger and bigger. There goes a kidney...the spleen...part of the intestine...a section of the stomach...a fallopian tube...a lung...a sliver of the heart...a whole breast. The small spaces of flesh lying in-between look like tropical islands. Their jagged shores surrounded by dark vacuous pools, an inky sea that a pen might dip into and write with.
But who, in this case, would be the writer?
Her? The missing part of her? Someone removed from her story? Someone who wanted to write her a new one?
A tattoo of spidery words spilling across her remaining skin and people studying them as they do passing clouds; the pictures that appear compared and analysed. Look, there's a huge somersaulting fish, over there a palm tree and in that hollow a camp fire.
What does it mean?
Why does this person have words materialising as pictures on her body?
Not one of them considering if she wants them to read or stare. Didn't anyone ever tell them it's rude?
But that's just how it is if like her you feel in some way incomplete. You come to accept it and long for a day when temporary fixes will be a thing of the past. You hope, as she faithfully does, for a gradual restoration or a sudden solution, sharp and clear, and when the fog parts, the calmer breeze will blow out the burning light. That eternal flame that was without will finally be within, and nothing how she saw it will be as it was as the time for numbly seeking will be over.
Beings having a human experience call that hope for there is never any assurance that what we think we want will come to pass. Nor is there any certainty that we will know when it is within inches of our grasp or if we will ever attain it. To search is a fickle thing...
And until that search has died a natural death, her light will waver and disorientate men; quite a few will lose their way, entangled in seaweed or dragged under by her tempestuous current, for the flame she holds is not a beacon for mankind but a self-seeking, flickering light.

Picture Credit: Hero Holding the Beacon for Leander, 1885, Evelyn de Morgan

Thursday, 24 September 2015


Once upon a time, in a far-off land, the Old-Woman-Fairy pointed her wand at the All-Seeing-Eye and firmly pushed the Mute button. Human reality was so much better with the sound killed, and besides her charge was simply exasperating. There she was, looking in the bathroom mirror and working her jaw, her eyelids fluttering and her pupils as large as saucers, as the words she mouthed, although formed as normal, were inaudible; now she held a palm of a hand up to her mouth to feel the tepid air escape from her rapid lips.
You're not dead dearie,” muttered the Old-Woman-Fairy to the blinking iris, where in the dilated pupil her charge stood transfixed, studying her reflected self with a look of utter bafflement on her oval face.
Always the same...a dramatic clutch of the throat and terrified eyes...with frantic attempts to speak words in different tones, hum in different pitches, followed by red-faced rage, or a soundless tantrum and heaved unheard sobs...wish one of them would accept it with some semblance of dignity. It is, after all, for their own good.” The Old-Woman-Fairy grumbled as she kept an eye on the All-Seeing-Eye as she at the same time washed up her lunch plates: she'd had Tomato and Basil soup with a cream cheese and cucumber roll and a mug of Builder's tea.
Anyone would think I did this for fun...,” she continued as she vigorously scrubbed the tea-stained mug and rinsed it under a trickle of cold water, but whether she was referring to the sink of dirty crockery or her job who can say for she commented or made disparaging remarks every single day, yet somehow failed to see the similarity between herself and her charges, and why it was that she had been chosen to temporarily dumb others.
Her attention having wandered, her charge no longer filled the glass eyeball set. Now where had that pale freckled slip of a thing gone to? The Old-Woman-Fairy tutted and tottered up to the blank central dot, “Show me the girl!” She commanded in her don't-mess-with-me voice and thumped it, whereupon its eyelid flickered several times until its tired pupil could again bring into focus the current subject, who was now sitting down but still speechlessly pawing her white throat in disbelief. “Don't you dare doze off on me!” The Old-Woman-Fairy reprimanded the Eye, and possibly the girl although she showed no such signs of doing so.
This particular charge hadn't been placed under the practised gaze of the Old-Woman-Fairy for very long, less than four months, but in that short spell of time, she'd come to know very well this Irish-blooded girl's articulated and unarticulated expressions. And she was infuriating! Never listening to reason, even if it was her own, and so indecisive you wanted to shake her! Even when she was doing nothing of interest at all, her brain was busy: chattering like a crazed monkey as it created obstacles where they were none, pulled apart every minor and major detail, over-identified with the thought of new horizons, worried about trivial items or dug up deeper ones. Silencing her tongue was the only way to put a stop to her over-analysis, and the Old-Woman-Fairy felt, as she always did, a sense of glee upon reaching this conclusion. There were, of course, other ways to silence charges, but muting the voice was by far her preferred method.
But that's not to say she wasn't a kindly Old-Woman-Fairy; the decision was always made in the best interests of her charge, but when all had been said and done, rethought many times over, really what else was there left to think or say. And she plainly didn't have as much patience with these young things having arrived at a wiser age. In her undergraduate years, she'd had more sympathy and had engineered the zapping of their voice bit-by-bit. “I was too soft,” she now said to student fairies to ward them off making the same mistake, “the shock is greater if you take the words right out of their mouth in one fell swoop. Fairy-technology, as you know, has moved on, yet the results are the same for our charges: Being unable to say nothing at all is a distraction tool – it forces humans to stay present.”

Picture Credit: In the midst of a tree sat a kindly-looking old woman by Arthur Rackham

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Seek and Ye Shall Not Find

Pop! Out flew the Moon which startled the girl in pearly white for it was such an unexpected sight that she had no choice but to follow; the stars the Moon trailed in its wake dazzled her eyes and made them water. The girl audibly sighed: the way they glittered and twinkled was so very pretty. So pretty that she had quite forgot the door she had a moment ago set ajar behind her; the gap through which she had hoped to peep in on a wiser, older land.
The Moon instead, now positioned overhead in the darkened skies, shone benevolently on her and held her captive in a river of light. It beseeched her to gaze longingly at its mottled surface which looked like a tea-preserved hard-boiled egg with its grey age spots, but nonetheless prized for its dulled luminosity, the light that radiated from within and spoke of wisdom.
The Moon having escaped Eden was exalted and wished to save the girl from her own burning curiosity: no young girl should be exposed to that which she thought she wanted to see. It would waken her from her adolescence far too early and end in tears! Just as it had done for other girls and boys before her. All that had peeked in before it was their time, before they had reached the first rung of maturity. The Moon had not always been present on those occasions or its place in Eden's skies had been compromised, yet it had witnessed even adults struggle after seeing the land of its forebears, for its beauty now inspired lust, made them envious of its simplicity.
Paradise held in time, the apple not yet eaten. Innocence not yet completely lost, but a tiny glimmer of humiliation found. The small green snake already begun its entreats, pluck the apple, eat the apple...from where it was strung among the Tree of Knowledge's branches. The fruit ripe and tempting, a burst of rosy colour against the spring-green leaves, almost willing Adam and Eve who stood before the Tree to partake of its juicy knowledge. Eve ready to instigate the deed, Adam needing a bit more convincing.
The opening act that led to mankind's creation...The scenes that follow it have happened...but HERE, they won't. The decision deferred. The 'what if they don't' captured for generations; whereas others merely wish to view the pause before that pivotal moment. Does Eve bite into the apple first? And how does she induce Adam to copy her? What were truths, what were lies? How much of what we think we know was improvised, then transcribed as irrefutable knowledge?
Irrespective of the truths or the lies, the young and the impetuous always had to unfasten the door, try its handle and were astonished when they found it unlocked, little realising that in doing so they substantiate what happens when you taste an apple laced with Knowledge. That which they've been given is now not enough; a Paradise glimpsed is too tempting - so desirous they must at once give everything up. Throw caution to the wind, sometimes without thinking of what they will lose, what they might miss, and the hardships they may have to confront or endure, so convinced are they that the grass will be a shade greener in this Eden. The contemplation of an unknown Eden always leads to the Sin of Envy being born; some believe Eve was guilty of this before she bit into the apple, that there was some yearning for knowledge already deep within her. The small green snake stirred it from its dormancy, provided the apple as the key and the tree as the portal. Adam, then unversed in the guile of women, and content to give in for a quiet life would have, as supposed, eventually followed inquisitive Eve.
Adam needed a nudge and so Eve plucked the apple, and set their eternal banishment in motion. And committing that unpardonable sin increased their courage for it could never be undone or atoned for.
They rolled the dice just as the full moon has now done in this suspension of time; they exiled themselves from Paradise, little realising that their descendants would forever seek it.

Picture Credit: New Zealand, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, by Kay Nielson