This morning Sylvia of Wild Talewort Missives and The Gleewoman’s Notes left one of her beautiful newsletters in my inbox – I often feel like she is a sprite of some sort. Her writing is otherwordly. Today she wrote of dragons. I write of dragons. Not like her but the theme of hers today was so much like one I wrote almost 20 years ago I had to send her a cc, and put it here to share.
Here is her story, “To My Future Granddaughters” – please do take time to read it.
And here is mine:
Song of Ta-Marra’s Child
Philomena, the grass
has turned blue
and all the beautiful dragons
have died, their peacock scales hung
in the square
to be broken by rock throwers
like so many common dinner plates.
It is my fault –
the last dragon came to me for shelter
and I turned her away
just like I laughed at the
old women who picked the wild mustard
and wrapped magic in wet steaming leaves.
Philomena, the world is crying
and I don’t know what to do –
show me the caves and rivers,
I will walk unarmed
to find the dens of hatchling dragons
the ones who may still be there
Oh, Philomena, just one more time
I want to hear their discordant songs.
Philomena, Holder of the Purple Moon
Keeper of the sacred Evenstar Flower
I have discarded the clothes of my father
I have traveled your path on my knees
I have crossed through the Gate of No Return
to lay before you, to touch your hem
Tell me the Way to Mother Crab
that I may gather the threads she weaves
tie them into a ladder and
descend into the Abyss to find the key
I can use to unlock Memory
to find the moment when I turned away
from the mothers’ ways, lost my name
and let the dragons die.
Daughter of Ta-Marra, we have awaited your coming since Time brought Death to our land. Your name is written on the tablets in the space between black and white. What you need to know has always been written in your heart. Sit here and we will listen together.
In the space between the cavern’s dark
and the fire light the Heart flows
like a river whispering all the names
ever lost or given away and
in the quiet I heard for the first time
the wax and flow of the seasons spiraling
followed the murmuring to where it became
a roar in an ocean I had forgotten I knew
a roar that sounded like dragons laughing.
Under the roar I heard the ancient
stories and I heard the words stretching
backward and forward like the threads
of Mother Crab, and recognized the Way
I had been seeking. And I saw the Way was
too long for Memory, and I saw that I
would have to trust to see this Way by Heart.
I thought it was you, Philomena, who
held my hand but awoke to find myself alone
amidst the faint scent of charred oak wood,
cave wet, and the particular smell of
pine boughs and Evenstar flowers. I saw
a hall I had not noticed before and heard
the beginning of my name flow through the hall
like wind, saw a path that seemed to shimmer
between the walls of white and black
like a shadow of something I should remember.
Oh, Philomena, the path faces North.
I have always wondered
where dreams come from
the crooked houses where I walk
upside down, go backwards
through doors, find whole sections
that were never there before
in dreams I can fly, sometimes,
and sometimes not, sometimes even
walking seems too hard, breath
coming in short gasps as night
closes in and the sky is dotted
with white lights, the kind the
legends allude to, the ones that
burn in and out the same way eyes
open and close; candles that
don’t know what they want to be,
killing moths without trying.
In my dream there are women weaving
tapestries that intertwine.
In the past I did not know them but now I can say their names.
Mickie sends me buttercups pressed in purple tissue.
She writes words on black paper
cuts angels from discarded sheets.
Lucie sends me a dried acorn
along with a red feather, wishes me dark earth and blue sky.
She tells me she has learned to fly but her life is not easy.
Evie wears a torn dress
has brambles in her hair and runs barefoot through the nettles.
She feels pain she feels pain and fashions something beautiful.
Consider what the women feel
as they peel back fabric
layers used to fashion
safety in their lives Imagine
the clarity of the air
its sparkle as silk threads
Weigh the tender care
of uneven stitches
as the women shape
Philomena, the days and nights
are filled with walking
and I don’t know where I am
whether I move up or down
back or forth or if
I am standing still;
perhaps it is I am sitting.
The white wall is as blinding
as the black – my eyes are useless.
The wind never stops
it pulls and snarls my hair
tears my cape and scrapes my skin
like sandpaper. It moans and moans
like a woman keening for children
who are dead –
Philomena, there has been
no sign of dragons.
Somewhere I stop standing
and becomes the ocean of
and water through which
have been moving since
in pale violet silence
and then, Philomena, at last
split apart like a cocoon
splits at its time; white and
black shatter like jewels
scattering flakes of obsidian
chips of diamond on the floor
reflecting like tiny mirrors
where I can see myself
over all of this
on the open sea
colors flashing not jewels
but something like
that – pretty, pretty, pretty
and I want them
these pretty, pretty things
and fall to the floor
to gather them in my arms.
Philomena, I have found the treasures
long hidden, they flash in my hands
in my hair, not just black and white
but blue and red and all the shades
between, sometimes I even see green
and flicks of yellow and all I have
to do is reach out and there they are
just waiting, almost real, they feel
happy in my arms, it would be a sin
to leave these pretties here all alone
in this void. Why, I’d say, if dragons
were to come anywhere at all, it would
be right here because dragons like
pretty things that sparkle, don’t they?
Or is it that dragons sparkle by them-
selves or is it that there never was
any such thing at all as dragons –
just these pretty, pretty gleaming
piles of …
so I threw them
there was nothing left
Skyline that extends forever,
broken only by clocks that run backwards
sundials that cast no shadows
the smell of something old and forgotten
like birth blood,
to whom shall I whisper my truths? There is
no one else – never was. There are no dragons,
never were. The sky is blue here, cerulean
my eyes say; then my heart says no, no
it is all gray
and the word sticks in my throat
while my hand reaches for something just a
little to the left, too far away to touch
even when I stretch my fingers out as far
as they can go,
In my dream I am walking a ledge, shuffling
closer and closer to an edge of air. All around
there is a curious hum
constant as a beating heart
and as thoughtless, a live thing inside a
live thing that is not conscious but
requires movement and sound nonetheless.
Behind me there is a stirring, a feeling
that runs between shoulder blades, a tension
at the base of the neck. I look down, try
to see where I am going, and see claws
that move with my volition – I am not
surprised, as though I have spent my whole
life on four legs instead of two, as
though claws make as much sense as
wilting clocks, wailing wind and stones
that clatter down a mountainside in the
middle of a flat, flat plain.
the stage was set
before time began
no changes allowed
now, like an animal caught
in a too small cage
all coiled senses
quick as nightfall
and Night closes in
her answer to my cry
I have followed invisible threads
tread paths that were not there
walked off the rim of the earth
to find you, Mother Crab,
and found myself in the netting
of your lace climbing its lattice
as though I understood the motions
of my hands and feet, my talons and claws.
What claim can I make to this knowing
that sways like orchids after a rain
all white and shining and radiant?
The language is foreign, it hurts
my teeth, falls bitterly from my tongue.
My skin is become scales from sand
and wind; my eyes, accustomed to
dark, are hooded. What is the
brilliance of flame to a moth,
creature of nighttime? Must we all
come willing to be scorched clean?
Child of Ta-Marra if you continue to look only left you will soon be chasing your tail in circles. Look to the right for connecting rays to build the ladder sides. And if your skin doesn’t fit, shed it.
Ah, great mysteries, this
this is what it comes to
skin myself alive or
dive into the fire
and all I ever wanted
was to find the one last
the one most beautiful dragon
and memorize her songs.
I sing a song of myself
and lift the latch inside
that frees the dragons
bright as flames
as skin drops
Consider what the woman feels
as she peels back
layers used to fashion
safety in her life Imagine
the clarity of the air
its sparkle as new skin
Weigh the tender care
and uneven voice
as the woman sings
The wind bringing the storm
lifts strands of hair
from my neck
forms lines of silver
before my eyes. The air
black fire and white ice
it feels warm
on my tongue.
Exploring this enchanted path,
below moondark skies,
I meet a presence old
as the Mother
new as tomorrow
and invite her in.
The thoughts in my head
there is mud
between my toes;
in my throat
I hum a melody,
in my mouth
the orange flames
Unfolding newfound wings,
shifting, I soar
above the void
singing even the forgotten songs.
The moons wax and wane
the light of sun covering
their rhythmic coming and going
as I sit and sing all the
songs that come to me
not from Memory
not on the wind
but from my Heart
who has known all of this
all along, has beat inside
me as I walked with women
hidden from my eyes
like the moons are hidden
beneath the blindness of sun
light creates dark creates light
through seasons and cycles unnamed
unheralded beneath the business
of quiet. And you, Philomena,
no saint, no goddess, but Friend
of Heart , friend enough, sitting
patient as stones, knowing what
I could not see – the dragons have
been here all along, the dragons and you.