The sweetness will mellow,
Proofed with time,
To become its own rich
To be wise
The sweetness will mellow,
Proofed with time,
To become its own rich
To be wise
Her hand clasped the steering wheel and she fought against the tears that threatened to blur the road ahead.
The wheels whirred over miles and miles of black as the stars spread a rotating canopy over her car. A bug atop a line drawn in the sand, she was. A smidgen on the wide expanse of life under the heavens.
She won’t go back.
She could not allow it.
He had her squelched under his thumb for so long that she did not recognize her own face in the mirror. Her eyes had become a stranger’s.
“There are times,” her mother once said, “when a woman must believe herself. You may think yourself broken, but you will love again the stranger who was your self.”
She’d thought it cryptic at the time, melodramatic.
She understood now. “I’m coming home to myself at last, Mom.”
They none of them could explain when it had been built or how it had been done. The standing stones were magic enough, but the slab of solid rock perching above their heads against the laws of order and human power — it went beyond what anyone understood.
Even The Sage did not know.
And she knew everything there was to learn and some of what could not be taught yet she ascertained anyhow.
“Though I heard say …” The Sage stretched the words as every child and many an adult leaned into her speaking. It was the mid-of-day that followed the longest morning. A time of pause and story. “… that it could have been the Angel Bird.”
The elder’s wisps of hair haloed her face. The oval itself was shadowed by the relative darkness under the stone overhang.
A child shifted in his mother’s lap. An errant toddler was reprimanded. A baby’s wail was quieted by its mother’s nipple. The people settled.
The Sage lifted her chin and many eyes followed. Soot and marks of time tanned the gray expanse above.
“In her beak, the Angel Bird can carry many men into the sea. Her wings can mask the stars so fishers lose the way back to their hearths. She can lift a whale and place it on the shore to feed the people. She can bring the howling wind. She can ice the river. She can slash the fire in the skies. Yet she can also pluck a clover and carve a snowflake. She can blow a single hair off of an ailing person’s forehead and lead them back to health or to the place-of-no-more-breath. … ” The Sage paused and filled her own lungs with air. “Perhaps the Angel Bird was the one to lift the slab atop the pillars.”
“Can she take it down?”
An admonishing murmur rose. Young voice or not, saying a thing made it. Now the notion hung above them like storm-clouds. Fear thickened the air but to state the worry might make it, too.
The Sage raised her palm but let the silence linger. Her eyes wandered over the cracks and small crevices of the ancient stone.
The questioning child was not to blame. The Sage had wondered similarly herself. Had her thoughts manifested through the young one’s mind? It had been known to happen. Sometimes it was a sign of too-easy a persuasion. At other times it signaled the nascent perceptiveness of a future apprentice.
The girl met The Sage’s eyes with tears brimming at the unfairness of collective condemnation, but stared on, defiant.
The latter then. The Sage allowed a corner of her lip to twitch. She’ll take it on herself to observe the child. In the meantime the girl deserved the response that had chased away many an hour of The Sage’s sleep.
“Indeed the Angel Bird can …”
People gasped. More frowns were directed at the girl, who pulled herself straighter, pushed a mess of tangled hair off her face, and squared her shoulders.
The latter. No question now.
“And she likely will. In time,” The Sage added.
An audible inhale rippled through the group as more and more faces lifted to inspect the heavy ceiling. No longer a taken-for-granted solid refuge, but a slide-between-the-fingers sand.
“All things die,” The Sage pressed on, aware that the answer had become the opportunity for its own story. “It is no curse nor blessing. No different than the change of seasons or the leaves that bud and green and grow and brown and fall. In early summer it may seem that foliage had always been and always will be, and yet we know that time will come when the leaves will die and the branches be laid bare.”
“This is no leaf,” a woman murmured, eyes uneasily on the rock and her body curled over a nursing infant.
Several other women fidgeted and darted glances at the sunny meadow at the shelter’s side.
The Sage sighed. Panic tended to have its fingers intertwined with knowledge. She knew it better than most.
“Life requires faith,” she said. “Every person who ever took shelter under this place of magic — from the first ancestors to the persons sitting here today — accepted that it is not of our doing. Whether by the Angel Bird or a different magic, this marvel means that our people do not suffer in the rain or ice or burning sun. We did not build this. It is our home but we do not own it. The most we can do is ensure we keep it well and are not the ones to destroy it.”
It had been a long night. It will be a long day and night still.
The old man sighed and watched the spirits paint the sky.
The youth had spent the night secluded in silent contemplation. The elders had kept vigil not far from the tent.
Some elders frowned at the arrangement. “Right of passage should require complete solitude,” they’d argued. “How else will there be quietude enough to hear the whispers of the land?”
“Times had changed,” he’d stressed. “The current world requires the tent’s protection as well as our watchful eye. Surely the spirits, in their wisdom, understand.”
With slightly curled
She is feeling
And she smiles
At the buds,
A fresh edge.
Sun and wind
Kissed her leaves.
Rain had shared
Its own drink.
She is older
To live in all
Shades of pink.
For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Rose
“Be like a flower,” she said,
Wrinkles creasing like sun
‘Round her eyes.
“Be like cabbage, too!”
And she laughed
At my confusion and
Touched a calloused hand
To my cheek
For the umpteenth loving time.
“Bloom alone does not fill stomachs,”
And the years without
Flickered sad behind her smile
But did not interfere.
“Cabbage blooms as pretty as any,
Yet unlike most who wilt
At summer’s end,
It will hold goodness at the ready
To nourish you through winter.”
“Be like a flower, then,” she smiled.
“And like a cabbage, too.
For it will sustain you:
Bland or spiced or hot or cold
Until the snow melts
And you have lived to a new spring
And can, one day, grow old.”
Thankful still for life’s living
For the hope
That each breath that’s drawn in
And can bring.
Thankful still, if hadn’t always
For the ebb
And the flow
Of small joys and big sorrows
As they come
And they go
As we grow
And we know.
In a park, on a lawn, by a
This board aimless wander
And the question it
Brings along varied
What would your heart
If you saw such a
And the stories that we tell
To small ones under
Good tales’ spell
Become the fabric
The yarns they’ll spin
Or might dispel.
For the SYW-Revisited Challenge
“These are tempestuous times,” she said
And her strong hands wrung the laundered sheets
To squeeze out suds
As she would want
To push out infiltrated evil.
“I’ve seen hardship before,” she stirred
In the boiling vat,
Simmering the despair
Till it foamed and evaporated
Into bleached hope.
“Wrong does not last,” she rinsed
Till it fluttered
Only the barest of stains
In the sun.
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