I was looking for something unknown,
There is a road,
An Old Path,
… It is not large enough to accomodate
Two travellers walking side by side
It winds around a lake in the north
The land is rolling hillside covered with Cedar
Green and blood rusted dirt and yellow sunflowers
The air is thick and the wind blows hard from the south
I walked on this same road alone
I came to a place at the foot of a steep red hill
A grove of Cedar Trees lay ahead
The shade looked cool and easy to a traveller
As I entered the grove there was an old woman
Sitting quietly at it’s center, tailor fashion
Rocking back and forth she crooned
It sounded like some anguished prayer
I thought to myself
“What is wrong with this old woman
to cause her such sorrow?”
I waited, curious but detached until she saw me
Freezing in mid-prayer
She did not bother to look at me or turn,
“Who are you?”
“A tired traveller….”
“No…who are YOU!”
She commanded me
“I am a lion…captured and trained by evil gods,
I have all the instince to breed but the ability stolen…
I fled the cage with wild yearning but my keeper
Came and rescued me from near starvation
I was never taught to survive…
I escape every time and am returned to the cage….
“What is you NAME!”
Another demand….a harsh demand
“My name is Moira, Mara, Maria, Mary, Marie, Maryam, Mirium, Meara….”
I trailed off
“Mary” she sighed deeply,
“Each contact is a stab for me…it hurts to be alive…”
She rose slowly from the ground and turned to face me,
“Why would you speak with me?”
I wanted to leave because I had no easy answer,
Had I been seekin her?
I was only walking the Old Path…
How could she have seen me so clearly?
It seemed as if I knew those eyes….her eyes
They were at once both clear and black…bright and young
In an old and withered face,
As she studied my face she began to chuckle….
I DID KNOW HER!
“You know who I am and you are speechless!
What do you ask the first woman on earth?
What to you say to somone as old as dirt?
You believe that if you understand me
You will understand yourself…so be it….
But I will make no promises…”
(the second night)
The next night I woke up once more in the cedar grove,
There was the old woman, praying and crying in that odd language,
… “Why are you crying?”
“Why?” She almost swallowed the word with a sob,
She turned and those young-old eyes pinned me,
“I weep for my children who will, shortly, destroy each other.
They will unleash the great force of light…Wisdom…but there will be no wisdom it it. The light will anilhilate them…..once light was a rainbow after the first rains, and far away where I could no longer go was a lovely garden in my memory,
I gave the gift of free will where only destiny should have been measured…
This would have been given when it was time to give it….I gave it too soon.”
She was crying again.
“I have been all over the world. Very few noticed me. I have seen everywhere but where I wish to return to. I have seen the Earth when she was an infant…I have seen what my children have done to her and to themselves….”
Again she was weeping…
While she cried I thought of all the places I would never see. I already knew in my heart and had seen that much was written. The Rift Valley, Mount Everest, The Khyber Pass….all dreams of dreams….The fables cities for song and story: Tashkent, Samarkand, and I might never see Kashmir. These places danced in my head and I knew the old woman had seen them all…how horrible to see the end from the beginning….the price to pay for teaching too much…to be deathless without any glory left…
She screamed at me.
“Do NOT dream of what you DO NOT know that way leads to the death!”
I looked at her stern face with it’s still strong lines etched in iron,
“How did you know what I was thinking?” I asked softly,
“You are a part of me I can never reclaim. You are that part of me which desired to learn. I know you as well as I know my own self. You are my daughter.”
The old woman walked stiffly away from the grove then and the wind shifted now blowing from the north and the sun…sun here?….cast long shadows…what had become of time??? As I mused she was about to round a corner of the tall canyon,
“WAIT!!!!” I cried out to her
But she was gone.
(the third night)
As I awoke once more in the cedar grove it was nighfall and she came back around the corner with sticks for a fire. She blew on them and a fire appeared.
The oldest woman on earth…
… “I thought you were dead.”
She began to laugh and cackle almost like the crackling fire…
“In all your readings where was it ever mentioned that I died? In one tradition I was turned into a demon…but that was not so. This is my punishment. To see all things deteriorate into nothing. I had children with him. SHE had children with him. On this earth are two sets of these. You are of mine. ”
This struck me with a kind of force past words. She was not talking about what happened AFTER the flood…she was…
….as the idea exploded in my head she started to laugh….
“You are right….I do not ever recall a story about your death.”
“My body has wasted away to almost nothing and so the impression was that I died. This pleases those who rule. I am an earth bound spirit and I cannot leave until I have completed the years of my curse here. Why you are allowed to meet me in this dream I do not know.”