There is certain majesty
That lives still in the
Highest places where
There remain the palaces
And magic lands of story
Books. Birds of light,
Even golden light and
Clouds of many colors
Piled up against each other.
The whole place seems a
Stage for fairy tales
And diadems. Oh single
Rose, oh song of the day
Is true and of fair
Maidens and spells and
The best of manners
These things grew.
We were sitting on the edge
Of the meadow just
Where it begins to lift
Toward the high lakes and
The stoney outcroppings and
Small woods and copses.
A certain crystalline glaze of colors
Was left wandering across the
Best of evening. I was
Going to chase it but found myself
Full of a sadness
That may have been of the season
But probably had thicker roots.
Something prompted by the color
Of the day? What the breeze had said?
(A flush of quail showing pure gold
And amethyst with silver beaks, ruby eyes.)
The sky a million doors
Opening and closing constantly.
All is revealed. All is concealed.
Even the continents moved
Beneath our feet.
O trees, oh grace of
The dream revealed.
We walk among you as you
Do among us. The brink
Shines upon us every minute.
The light moving. Oh, its
Jagged lines across the
Edge of the horizon,
Just above the ground.
These trees move. They are
Not stone. I have seen
Them migrate through
The tongues of sailor songs
Touching the edges of the clouds
And when they thought,
They thought in trance
And could not be harmed,
For the grace of protection
Kept them safe from all danger.
In this state they could
Travel and rule without
Being seen to have moved.
Such was the gift of trancing.
It was rain, or it was fog.
It was lifting from the streets.
It was lifting from the fields.
I could stand here all night
And talk to you about
Which roads came down
From the mountains,
Which ones led to the cities
Or the sea, where we were
Required to be blind and
At what moment we must
Open both our eyes to see.
And you shall be golden in the morning.
And the light will pour down on you.
And there will be millions
Of drops of water in the air.
And they may or may not
Have come from tears.
Or they may or may not
Just have blown here
By some wind.
Just as we may or may
Not have been where we
Woke this morning and
Saw the fog or the rain
Or the tears of an entire
Nation as we sat without moving.
The morning, a blear of leaves
Trundling before a wet wind.
They had delivered their message
For almost a full season,
Chased the squally days into
The white-topped wavelets
Clustering near the shore line,
Grumbling into the shingle
Far below the bald tor
That had watched the sea
For centuries, content to be a place
For wolves and an occasional man
To gain for a few moments,
Commanding its view, then strike
The trail back down to the shore.
We come here to release the days
We have spent sequestered in our
Rooms, imagining the edge of land
To the west, huddled over
Books or writing of such a place.
Imagining it could be so real
Rather than black marks
On an off-white page.
To be the leaves this morning.
They were lighting small lanterns
All the way across the headlands.
Ships were coming. They
Had been seen from the pilot hill.
Bright flares on the tops
Of their masts. The lights
They carried were of many colors and
Occasionally shot bursts
Of colored flame into
The high atmosphere
Illuminating the bottom
Of the clouds.
The coming of these ships
Had been foretold but
They were not expected
To arrive in the dead of winter.
The children had begun
Behaving strangely about
A month ago and the Teal
Gulls were seen on the
Edges of the Father glade.
At night the booming
Of the fisher bells
Could be heard at
Curious hours of the night.
There was a hesitant
Music coming from the
Taverns that was neither
Joyful nor sad. It held a
A great sense of longing in its notes.
We were unable to determine
If there were words to the songs.
The crowds grew well into the night.
The ships arrived much past midnight.
Were these sailors Gods
Then, plucked from the night
And to be proclaimed
Throughout the land?
Their garments were magnificent.
Some of us could see
Them, some could not.
Quickly there were stories of them
Before the morning came
People were waiting upon
Them for answers.
The ships glittered with lights.
In the morning they were but
Hulls abandoned and gray.
Peopled by shades the same gray
As the forged bullets with which
The world infects itself.
There was no conversation.
There were no oracles.
Glimmers ran softly up the sails
Like fairy lightning and
Nothing was forthcoming.
All day they sat in the harbor,
A kind of fungus on the water.
By nighttime fires were
Started on their decks.
They burned with sickly
Colors and drove flights
Of dark birds around
And around their sails
Even as they burned.
On the following morning,
Ashes on the water.
The children packing
Their lunches and
Heading off for school
Whistling tunes and
Singing songs we
Had never heard before.
By the end of the week
We were once more
Upon the beautiful
Hills gazing out to sea,
Hoping to spot a sail.
We were told to move. The order came
Very late in the night. There was no way
To prepare for this. We gathered what we could,
Saddled the horses, loaded everything on a travios.
We headed for the western provinces. These were
The ghost provinces on the borders of your world.
This was quite serious. When we reached Belin
There were reports of the lakes rising up into the air
And hurrying toward the mountains where they crashed
Into them, inundating thousands of villages nearly like ours.
The sky was filled with birds of all kinds and spirits
Who trailed long strips of cloth from their bodies.
They travelled just on the close edge of night with arms
Outstretched, shrieking furiously, begging the winds
To begin and break the tumbling of the clouds.
This was the Maddenah we had been told about
In the old tales; a cleansing of the land that occurred
At unexpected times throughout our history. It was
Often thousands of years apart that it came, but it
Had been known to happen as close together as five years.
We knew the songs and could repeat the words
To the prayers. We had heard them all our lives.
The Maddenah was brought to us by our own dead.
They could see the needs of our people and prepared
It for us, to help and cleanse our souls.
We have lived long in this land. We have seen
Peoples come and go across our land. We have
No great feeling for these people. They are not
Lateeta as we are. Even though we may live
Many miles apart from each other, we know we
Are of one people because it is our people who hear
The orders to move before the Maddenah. We have
Come here for awhile to be safe. We will leave you soon.
Learn to listen to the land, to dwell in its spirit, to beg grace.
Little brick and charm,
The baby angel say to us
“Don’t let him come to harm."
Give him a flower,
Let him call it a day.
Give him a perfect night
Let him dream it away.
One day is for golden breath.
One day is for singing.
All the days they crowd around.
Who knows what they’re bringing.