Epic — A Dream

Stylized photograph of a Beech Tree, as if it were a drawing.
“Beech Tree” — C.Birde, 11/20

Never mind how we got here… The headlong, hell-bent, hair-raising rush… The RV careening over narrow dirt roads, its windscreen blacked out… He – at the wheel, navigating as if by sonar, by radar; by the tiny icon moving across ten inches of computer screen, charging ever closer to the engulfing sea…

Never mind that we shot past that liminality, metaphorically blindfolded, and landed – not in saltwater embrace, but within a Renaissance palace, within a walled fort on a shadow-clad hill… That somehow, we had traversed the creases of time and space and geography and sped into the deep past… That, with equal surreality, he now guides the invisible, behemoth RV through ornately carved hallways and corridors draped in rich colors, through the two-story central room toward the narrow galley kitchen… That he maneuvers the vehicle deftly past the assembled crowd and strikes not a soul…

Never mind the gentle cascade of enveloping sound… The chanting female voice that reverberates like the sea… A soft, beautiful, lapping, echo… An encircling song…

Never mind that I now occupy a narrow galley kitchen… And slowly, carefully dismantle – with the aid of a man unknown, unfamiliar – a small cube refrigerator… Remove shelving, pull out wire racks, peel back the refrigerator’s rear wall, and ultimately uncover a crude exit…

Never mind that the woman’s melodious voice is suddenly replaced by a man’s… The chieftain; the king speaks, is speaking… Everyone drops to their knees, bows heads to listen… All except the young girl beside, who sings and chatters without interruption… Who plays with a kitten, despite serious looks bent upon her… Despite raised fingers and hisses and hushes… The chieftain’s daughter will do as she pleases…

No. Never mind that. Dismiss it from your mind. All of it.

Slip with me, instead, down the narrow kitchen, past the humbled crowd… Past the submissive collective… Follow me, to the left, beyond this partition wall… Into this hidden, hallway alcove… To the heavy wooden door, here, at the hall’s end… See how the light bends through its many beveled panes of glass? See how the hills and village beyond are gently refracted?

But look again… Look again, to the middle ground – how could anyone miss it? How did I? The tree… An enormous tree, of untold antiquity. Its trunk and main boughs, symmetrical to left and right, while smaller limbs branch off in lively directions. And there… Do you see? Suspended above the tree’s crown, the great amber prism that throbs with light? Are you stunned? Near speechless? As I am? Do you feel the need – the driving, overwhelming, urgent need – to touch the tree? To lay hands upon it? Press palms to its deep-grooved bark until vascular cambium bites flesh?

And did you see her? The woman flaking our right side, here at the door? Or was your gaze, too, pulled beyond her, swept past her, as was mine? Pay her no heed. Disregard her cryptic remarks regarding my desire… I am not Matilda, Melinda, Meridan. I am no tear-scryer.

Ahh… The door swings, opens… The tree extends a long, uncoiling limb… Holds, in the cup of its twiggy branches, a cut crystal sphere… Amber… Radiant… Roughly the size of a toddler’s head…  Withdraws the same, in enticing fashion, when I reach to touch it…

Are you still here? Do you yet stand beside me, shoulder to my shoulder, toes also curled over the threshold’s edge, two stories up the palace’s stone walls?  Does the tree fill your vision, as well? Do you see, as it questions me, as it drops the mussel shells into my open palms, each ridged, pearly concavity inscribed with a query? Do you hear my responses, or do I answer within the frame of my own mind as the great tree confirms my beliefs?

Never mind. Never mind. Raise your hands, as I do… Palms before heart, outward facing, thumbs touching… Lift the hands, up, up, before the face, then out and down in circular motion…  Draw palms to naval, thumbs reconnected… Lift the hands up again before the heart. Bless the tree. Bless all its offspring. Bless all that it shelters.

Bless us all.

— C.Birde, 11/20

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