I will take you under the ground

down

Macy moved forward, down along the dark tunnel. Feeling his presence behind her, hearing his shuffling rubber-soled shoes dragging, his breathing laboured and yet deep with occasional muffled grunts and sighs. And his scent preceded him, drifting into her nostrils—musty, sweet and fermented from immeasurably long hours of undergrounding.

She moved along without knowing — without awareness of the wheres or the whens or the whys. Stumbling forward without purpose or an end. And as she did, the damp stone walls seemed to breathe in and out as she traveled, pressing in towards her, opening up and then pressing in on her again.

Her eyes struggled to find focus, something that might be a beacon to blunder towards and yet there was nothing but darkness and the sounds and the smells of the cool damp underground surroundings.  And so they went on. . . down and down . . . into the ground, blood, stone and bone. . . alone.

As they moved forward into the darkness, the air became even more damp and cool. He began to sing the words to a tune that she seemed to know from long ago.

Steady woman won’t you come on down? I need you right here on the ground.”

He was so close behind her that she could feel his breath on the back of her neck and was electrified by the occasional light touch of his hand on her shoulder and lower back.  Eventually the incline of the tunnel leveled and she began to perceive the glimmer of a cool white light in the blackness ahead.

I’ve walked the outskirts of this town. Been terrorized by what I’ve found.”

Slowly they approached the light and as they drew closer, it flickered and sputtered off and then on again several times and she realized that it was set in the wall above a dark wooden doorway.  The tunnel widened at that point and he moved past her, fumbling with a set of keys.  She could see that he was nervous and distracted and realized that perhaps this was a moment where she could make a run for it and dash back through the long tunnel into the sunlight above.  But she didn’t.

Eventually he found the key he needed and the door creaked as it opened inward into the room.  He stepped into the dark room ahead of her and then turned to face her from within.  He grinned as she stood straight and still outside the door, his face etched by the harsh white light from above the doorway.

She knew that by following him into the room she would provide her tacit consent to enter his world.

She remained frozen.  Her brain screamed, “run!” and yet every muscle in her body quietly vibrated and she was drawn towards this murky muddy man.  He cocked his head like a dog, smiled and then turned his back to her, walking over to a long wooden table that ran along the length of the wall to the right of the entrance.  He struck a match, lit a dusty lantern and spoke again.

I saw a standing virgin bride where holy Dionysus died. She tore the heart out from his side and laid it there and there she cried.”

She was mesmerized.

“Whoa,” he muttered and sat down slowly on a worn wooden desk chair that swiveled as he turned. His gaze took in her entire body and he slowly licked his lips.

As he passed his tongue along his upper lip Macy took several slow steps forward and entered the room.  To her left she could see rumpled sheets on a cot along the wall to her left.  She walked over and sat down on the edge of the thin mattress and faced him in the chair.  She raised her hand and clutched her blouse together at the neck.  He leaned forward and she whispered,

Hello. I’m a monster too.  What poisons me is what poisons you. Into these animals we grew. But when we were young our eyes were blue.”

He continued to gaze at her intently. Then he sighed and closed his eyes.

“I take my medicine on my knee, twice a day but lately three.  It keeps the devil from my door and it makes me rich and it makes me poor.”

Eyes still closed, he pulled his chair closer to her.

“I’m a beggar in the morning, I’m a king at night. My belt is loose, but my trigger is tight.”

And it came without warning at the speed of light. He opened his eyes and she looked into his soul. She could see and feel the depths of his pain but she flew past it and found herself in a place where the earth began and his love was the beginning and the end of all that was true and all that she knew.

He whispered so softly that she could barely hear him,

“Make it shine so pretty, make it shine so bright.”

His shoulders slumped, his head fell forward and his long brown hair covered his face.  Then he lifted his head, shook his hair out of his eyes and looked directly into hers.

“I think I’ve come a long, long way to sit before you here today. They’re yours alone, the songs I play, to take with you or throw away.”

Swaying for a moment, he dropped to his knees in front of her and sobbed,

Oh, I want an angel to wipe my tears, Know my dreams, my hopes, desires and fears.”

She reached forward, brushed his hair back from his face with both her hands and touched his lips with hers,

We may capsize, but we won’t drown,” she replied

And they held each other as the sun went down.

*******

Jac and Macy’s  words to each other are the lyrics to the gorgeous and haunting song Beggar in the Morning by The Barr Brothers.

Image source: Image credit Josef Koudelka 

Skimming

skimming-witch

Since the lights went out, the business of living had become both more difficult and much easier.  When she thought back to her life before, Amber wondered why she always felt so busy and stressed when life’s essentials  were so easy to acquire.  During those bright, secure days she woke up in a warm bed.  When she got up, she turned on a tap and warm water came out.  She could straighten her hair with a flat iron and then get annoyed like it was her only problem if it rained and the humidity ruined her sleek long hairstyle.

Now, she brushed her wild curls out of her eyes and tucked hair behind her ears smiling ruefully.  Yes, things had changed for sure.

She settled behind the hedge at a spot where she could easily see through to the lake.  She waited for a very long time and then she saw it again.

At first she thought it was a bird flying across the dark water, but the flight was too steady and straight; the creature moved swiftly along just a few feet above the water about one hundred feet from the shore.  Amber parted the branches of the hedge and squinted her eyes to see more clearly.

It looked like. . . could it be?  It was a naked woman, seated on a broom, thighs tightly gripping the long handle and hands holding on behind.  The silhouette of her sharp nose matched the pointed outline of her breasts below and she hunched over, intent on maintaining her balance as she skimmed along, her hair flying behind her.

It was an unsettling sight to behold and yet Amber was not alarmed.  She had come to realize that since the lights had gone out, the magickal world that was once thought to be lost forever was slowly regaining hold and the artists’ brush strokes that once may have delineated the fantastic from the mundane were becoming less and less defined.

Image source: Unknown

As darkness fell

nad

Jac didn’t know how long he had lived in the hill but he figured he had been there since before the lights went out.  During those early days, he would limp up the path at dusk using a walking stick to take some of the weight off his injured leg. When he finally stumbled out from the woods and into the high meadow he would gratefully sit his bony ass on the cold ground and gaze out over the city below as darkness fell. His mind would settle as he listened to the low hum of traffic as it rose up and he’d watch the wisps of mist drift past, rolling down from the mountain top into the urban landscape below.

As the sun sank behind the spiny hills in the far west and the darkness enveloped the city he would count each street light as it flickered on. He would listen so intently that he learned to measure the sound of the traffic and he’d know when it began to ease up as the workers arrived home, parked their cars in front of their rickety gray wooden homes and trudged inside to eat their dinner and settle on the couch to blink at the flickering lights of their televisions.  Sometimes he would hear a dog bark or a mother shout to call her children home for their nightly bath.  And sometimes he would hear the whiney sound of a motorcycle as it revved its engine and sped along the ring road coming closer and then fading into the distance.

While he watched from the hill Jac found it easier to think about the time when he was a boy and had lived in his own small wooden house with his mother and his orange cat with the one blue eye and the one green eye. He would remember, but he forbade himself from weaving the story of his simple childhood together not because it made him sad, but because the weft threads that ran over and under the warp threads didn’t lead to a place where he found himself sitting all by his lonesome on the top of a hill.

One night he noticed that there were fewer lights on than the night before.  And sure as shoot’n, the next night he counted fewer still and then eventually he could see that whole chunks of the city had begun to go dark.  The hum of the traffic changed too.  It was no longer steady and reassuring, but began to vibrate with a frenetic energy; he could hear engines racing, tires screeching and car doors slamming. He could hear shouting. There was panic in the calls of the mothers as they searched for their children and the dogs’ barks were short and insistent and filled with alarm.

Finally, the night came when he climbed up the hill and all of the lights in the houses and buildings had gone out. He could still see the lights of cars but they were not headlights.  On that rainy night Jac sat on the hill and watched as long lines of red tail lights from the ass-end of cars snaked their way south and away from the pitch black city.

Image source:  Arthur Rackham

The Diafol Gwas

diafol

They are the ones that come when the giving has been breached. When the balance has shifted so that more  has been taken than has been given.  When the tipping point has tipped, when the sails have been stretched and the sorrow has been sown.  The Diafol Gwas are the takers of the taken, the enders at the end.  They wait and hold onto the last bit of love until it has been stretched so thin that it can no longer endure the hope and the desires of those who have lost touch with the smooth and the righteous.

The Diafol Gwas are not spoken, they are not holding on.  They wait on the prick at the end of a needle and when the time is sorted they drive the needle into the skin and they travel through the blue veins deep into the heart of the spark.  They only take, they do not leave behind; and when they come there is no turning back, there is not even the smallest iota of hope.  They truly are the end and they can only come when all hope is lost.

The Diafol Gwas are deep and they are driven.  The Diafol Gwas know how to travel in the space between the neutron and the electron and in so doing they can transcend time and space.  They live on the horizontal and they travel on the vertical.  They are holy and they are empty of cures and corners.  They are doon and they are dorn.

The Diafol Gwas know who they are.

And they are watching. And they are waiting.  And they are getting closer.

Image: The All Pervading ~ George Frederick Watts 1887-90  http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/watts-the-all-pervading-n01687

Searching

abandoned-train-yard

Macy and Amber stepped carefully through the puddles along the subway tunnel.  Their way was dimly lit by occasional shafts of light that filtered through air vents in the concrete ceilings above. The air was damp and musty.  They stayed close but didn’t speak—and the regular drip drip, drip, drip of water punctuated their footsteps as they moved forward.

After what seemed like forever, the tunnel opened up in the distance and the sisters could see light from a wider space ahead.  They moved closer to the entrance, and the tracks divided. They could see that the tunnel emerged into a cavernous underground space that housed unused and now abandoned subway cars.

The cars themselves were amazing works of art—every markable space was covered with graffiti, letters and symbols and swirls spray-painted on by long-since-gone-forever street artists.  As they moved into the opening space, the air cleared and the mustiness of the tunnel was replaced with the steampunk petroleum smell of old and unused machinery.

“Do you think he made it this far?” asked Macy.

“It’s hard to say,” answered Amber.  “He can be quite resourceful when he chooses to be.”

“True enough,” Macy replied. “And stubborn too.”

Stepping around the oil swirled puddles on the concrete floor, they looked for any sign that their brother may have passed that way earlier in the day.

Macy thought back to the events of the morning.  Harsh words had been spoken in the heat of the moment and she knew her younger brother would be regretting his angry outburst by now, but would be too proud to make amends just yet.  Talie had changed a lot since the lights when out.  Before the darkness fell, Talie, like many young men his age had been lost in video games and rap music, drifting along without purpose or goal.  He was an amazing guitar player and when he set his mind to it, would write beautiful melodies which he strung to lonely lyrics about being lost without a place to go.

Image source: http://fuckyeahabandonedplaces.tumblr.com/post/56034322928 

China Teapot

china-tea-pot-forget-me-not

I dreamt that a porcelain wife allowed us into her perfect pink and lime green home
and prepared a formal meal reluctantly.

It was in the place where I used to live.
and I was wearing a tattered, thin cotton, dress that kept sliding off
and so
I crouched naked on the floor hugging my knees against my chest
as my mother sat in an exquisitely reupholstered chair
and sighed at my shame.
My father was there too and when we gathered to eat he
glared at me from the head of the table.

I tried to speak, but the words caught in my mouth like tiny fish bones
and so
I chewed and chewed and finally swallowed them.
They pricked and dragged slowly down my throat
and got caught in my stomach, undigested.

After dinner I helped the woman’s daughter hand wash a delicate China tea pot.

I found my dress and slipped it back over my head.

I thought of going back outside to explore my old neighborhood.
I wanted to stroll on Main Street and casually look for forgotten friends from days long-passed.

But my son was there.
He was holding my grandson.
It turns out he had been there the whole time,
but he pretended I did not know him.
He was lying on his back on the couch
with the baby sleeping on his chest
just like his father had once held him and slept.

I asked if I could hold the baby
and my son looked at me blankly as if he did not know what to say or do.
I leaned forward and gently took my grandson into my arms
but I did not know how to hold him.