by C.W. Emerson
And the angel said:
“You have not listened”—her message chastening, yet full
of love for me, so full I was left drenched in love,
monsooned in it. Later, I would hike the dry Lykken Trail
listening for the sound of this love. I imagined it
resounding like pebbles falling on a path above or below
me—in either case, something to be wary of.
I listened for the voice of the guide, for Marguerite, but
heard nothing; there was no sound but the wind, no sign of
anyone, no trace of the auburn hair, the vermillion jacket,
her bright blue serape of wool—so I sat silently below the
peak and watched as the swallows opened and closed the
dark pages of their wings and glided into the gray cloud-
bloom opening all around me.
Before the devastation,in the final days, before the last
revelations were given and received and the stones were
pulled from the temples, before the temples themselves
had fallen, there had been ample warning. Signs, portents,
enough for anyone watching, for anyone aware.
But I was locked in a dream, waiting for the fields to burst
into flame, oblivious to the rack and whine of slaughter, the
sacrament of blood flowing. Only my fantasies were real
to me then. I still believed in the luxury of time, in the
remnants of a civilized world, my delusions as real as the
chaos that surrounded us.
Marguerite was already lost to me. I knew a path through
the mountains and reconciled myself to the fact that I
would, in the end, save only myself.
Poems and devotions pour themselves out in dreams,
purifying the landscape. Smoke in bursts of ochre, loden
green, the dull violet hue of wet cement. The race
destroying itself, committing atrocities, then beaming the
images across hemispheres. But of the sacred spaces we
made of ourselves, nothing was ever spoken.
We were lifting off the mountain, our bodies a mist, the
barley a memory the earth once possessed. Devotees and
poets, what we were and again shall be—for nothing is
more joyous than becoming a body then leaving it behind
again. Marguerite, you taught me this. You showed me
that there was more than this one life.
There was the love of the world to weave ourselves into,
the vows to be made and then retracted. There were all the
harsh blessings of the body. The stepping into the tyranny
of time. The sun, bruise-yellow, rising in a sulphur steam