Voices

I watched the cream melt away into the darkness of my coffee cup. The thick light swirl took the darkness of the potent brew away and turned it into a lighter shade, a sort of dawn. I drank it down, hot and rich, with any bite that was the darkness now assailed by the light that was the thick rich cream. Just another Monday when we rolled into another week, another month and another year. A cavalcade of many which all seemed to move by so rapidly they were akin to the blurred advertisements on the side of a passing city train. In any case I was thankful for the sheer joy of  just being outside, the air didn’t hurt my skin like it seemed to in the  ever so efficient climate controlled offices  where I often spent my Mondays. There was no honking of horns here in the country, no mad rush up to the lunch hour. It was simply sweet bird song and the rustle of a morning breeze in the Magnolias near the tables by which we were seated. My dreams of mental escape seemed instantly destroyed when my compatriots all picked up their cell phones with which  to begin their exchanges, receiving the guidance and data that would begin our day. I just stared at my coffee. No manila envelopes full of papers handed out this time round, no making of notes or in my case, no sheets of white paper upon which to doodle Lilly pads, frogs and shooting stars. Yet the loss of the simple folders was barely noted by the rest . There would be nothing to hold, no paper to rustle as decisions were made and ideas collaborated upon.  I found this sacrilege distasteful at best. The cicadas started their song to herald in the heat of the day as I  simply excused myself from the table, took a last gulp of coffee, and dropped my phone in my purse as I rose to depart. Oh yes, I could sense the amazement felt by some at the sheer fact that I had done such a thing. Surely if I was going to the ladies room I could continue from there via text, never missing a beat in what they all felt was to be an exciting interaction, me not so much.

I wandered away from the place that had once been a peaceful veranda, where farmers and traders had ensconced themselves over an early morning repast, speaking of weather and tides, fast horses and strong mules. Today it was a world I cared not to recognize, inhabited by those who would never notice or even acknowledge the pair of Towhees busily foraging beneath the fragrant gardenias next to the rail. Yet they were very comfortable texting with the girl on the other end of the phone complaining about the trials of   her commute into LA. I think I was at that point done. I wondered  away down the hall of the historic old Inn where they’d housed us, the worn boards of the  floor visible, yet the with the voices of  old  sealed forever in  a heavy gloss of plastic and wax, not creak nor a breath, just frozen in time. By the time I made the back door and headed down the path away from them all the vibration of the phone in my purse was simply as much of an after thought as the deerfly buzzing around my head. A blood sucking thing, which needed to be swatted and banished into the eons of eternity.

The black and grey low country dirt beneath my feet looked cool and inviting. I made a brief stop to dislodge my tennis shoes allowing myself to feel it’s cool reassurance under my bare feet and between my toes. Rich dark soil from the inlands and sandy patches from the coast, soft yet gritty. I became a little more alive at this point. My path was a sweet one with giant ancient oaks on either side whose branches reached upwards towards the glorious life giving sun, each out reaching limb adorned with heavy swaths of Spanish moss. These magnificent ancient sentinels gave my escape route a cheering audience of birds and tossing leaves encouraging me on as I ambled. In the distance I heard the leader of our little pack on the verandah utter a few choice swear words and then I was too far gone to hear nor care.  Cropland in full summer growth spread out around me on past the oaks who had become my guardians as I continued my flight. I came upon a moss laden water trough, one of the old stone and cement kind, full of crisp clear water with the mud at its base churned up by many years of stock coming for refreshment from an oppressive summer’s heat. You could see the hoof prints from the most recent visitors and if you were one who knew this place, had it beaten into your soul with everyday living, you would know who had come by the simple shape of the print.  The base of the stones was surrounded by thick fragrant mint which melded with the scent of the sea in the heavy coastal air and the odors of verdant growing crops giving each breath I took a cleansing effect. I felt my senses become sharper and the long lost electronics drowned reality of simply being, living in the moment, actually feeling part and parcel of what counted becoming stronger and more clear.

As this occurred I stared into the waters of history there at the trough, that watering hole of old, no creatures  around to take on replenishment at this moment, they were all back off across the  pasture in the woods where they would sleep out the mornings heat in hopes of a cooling early noon thunder shower . I knew this to be fact and I knew it more than I knew the lady who had slipped off her shoes to go through check in for her flight to this place the night before. The lady who moved through a life dictated by clocks and commerce, a life that was a vague reality to her core, yet did so because it was what was to be done.  But the ghosts of history often screamed at her in the darkness of night, in those hours when one’s sleep is the deepest and the mind is allowed to drift  down the immortal path ways that  our world has so often forgotten. A dragon fly circled the waters finally landing on one of the delicate branches of mint, its iridescent green the most vibrant of colors, shiny and slick. The voices were strong here on the edge of the meadow. “The muscadine wine is next to the sweet butter in the spring house, but watch out for the bees in arbor as you go ”. Yet the spring house had long fallen to rubble , this was a mere whisper from the past echoing through the voices of history. Then the one thing I knew, more than the fact that my steadily buzzing phone needed me to state my stance on this or that, was that these voices needed to heard, that they counted and their songs were true and their history was a sweet prism of million different lights.

Off towards the coast storm clouds were building and lightning cracked across the sky. Yes the storm was coming, but not until this singer sang her song. I reached my hand into the soft leather of my rather expensive purse. The type with someone’s initials on it, someone I had never met but felt it of grave importance to have their initials upon my purse . I caressed the cool slick case of my cell phone, it enticed my fingers to slide across the glass and check the world inside it. Yet the caw of a large black crow out across the corn field announcing the arrival of a hunting hawk warned me off. I simply grasped it, pulled it from its resting place and dropped it gently into the waters of the trough. Let the nymphs and sprites have at it, possibly the iridescent dragon fly could deal with the frustrated lady in LA. I watched the bubbles as it sank, the brilliant colors of screen become confused and that strange electronic world fade into black.

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Roses to run for….

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What the heck has happened to the Kentucky Derby? The Run for the Roses? My Old Kentucky Home? Where are those folks that prayed over a blue grass field on a cold January day as a new foal tested its legs on the winter hard ground? A smile of understanding on their faces as legs new to this world found their strength and gave flight to the babe across grasses green. Where are those who live and breathe the scent of fresh pine shavings and horse sweat as the summer heat swelters in across the pastures? They struggle, they budget and they do without, yet they embrace the passion of something deeply encoded in their DNA and keep going even though the odds are long. All I’ve seen today is some sort of detached Red Carpet Gala. Who’s wearing who’s what and who’s with who. Where are those who mucked the stalls and mowed the fields, cutting back here and there in hopes that young colt they’d been raising could run for greatness? But Oh look Boink Boink has on Givenchy!

Well to be honest I’ll tell you where they are, or to be more correct where we are. We’ll be the tired lady who’s pulled a 60 hour week in a world we detest, but the one who does it with a smile because it allows us to be here. No not sipping champagne and hoping to be the next viral hashtag of the moment. But here, here in the seedy sale barns and desolate kill pens that are located all over this land. We won’t be dining on Lobster or winking at Billionaires. We will be cracking that ninety nine cent can of Vienna Sausages and watching the kill buyer. Yes, if we’ve got to wink, we might and yes, if we’ve got to do more, well, we may. But somewhere this side of a Lady on TV with more names than a Hanoverian Warmblood Stud who’s telling us the pedigree of her billion dollar bet. We will be the ones with our hearts caught in our throats as a beat up, half-starved relative of Hanoverian ladies billion dollar bet stumbles into the auction lot. We will hope and pray. Sometimes we’ll remember the payday loan place we passed a while back, add, subtract and calculate that we’ll have the money the pull the beaten soul from this hell. Somewhere in the back ground we’ll hear the semis rumble as they fire their engines and get ready for long, cold, waterless, hungry, journey to the north. We will smell the diesel, our blood will run cold. A journey that will carry the beat up, half-starved gray filly a relative of the fancy ladies bet, north to have a bolt shot through her head. Dead or not even quite, she’ll be chopped, minced and packed. Brilliant eyes will shine no longer, a gallant heart will beat no more and hooves will never again find their flight across the grassy green earth. But oh look, Edna Farquar Mills Helms Rosenburg Jones is wearing a daringly short skirt at age 78. Who’s it by?

The winds will blow, the kill buyers will shout and the scared filly will run up and down a 20 ft lot. Miles away surrounded in glory and grandeur a well attired man will smile to himself as he places his money on a colt. More money than the lady in sale barn has ever known. He does it simply because he likes the dam’s name. The same dam that gave life and nurture to the terrified filly now shuddering under the vicious crack of the sellers whip as she runs back and forth with nowhere to go. The well attired man sends a text to his well-heeled buddies to take the gamble on the colt upon which he’s laid his thousands. At the same moment the tired lady places a post on Facebook to her friends begging for money, if she just had enough she can save the gallant gray filly. The filly, it’s in her eyes, she has fire, and she deserves a chance. The whip cracks again and the scared filly runs.

A busy café in downtown Manhattan. The place to see and be seen. Two wealthy businessmen dine on filet mignon, sucking down gin and tonics. They both grasp their phones as the incoming texts vibrate the table. Their well attired boss at the Derby just gave them a line on a horse encouraging them to place a wager. The waitress at the bar, waiting on another round of gin & tonics, cringes at their stares and checks her phone. She sees the post, a wild eyed gray filly scared to death, in a kill pen in Montana, a lady she’s never met, but has followed her threads needs money. She’s trying to save the starved terrified filly. She loads the drinks on the tray and heads back to the businessmen. They are not so busy texting that they forget to ogle her. She smiles to herself, here you go girl, maybe I won’t ever run free, but by God in Heaven, you will. She smiles at them and leans in close as she serves their libations. She cannot stand their eyes upon her, nothing more than an item for their play, but she sees the filly spinning in the kill lot, hears the crack of the whip and decides her path. The men smile as their phones go off once again, the well attired man informs them of the windfall. The bet he made on the horse by simply the name of the dam had paid off. They smiled, polished off their drinks, asked for her number which she gave and left her a more than generous tip. In busy café in downtown Manhattan a waitress makes a call.

The lady at the sale barn cold and exhausted raises her hand, offering her last dollars in a final plea to save gray filly terrified for her life. It’s not enough, her world spins. Her phone vibrates, a girl in New York who she’s never met has the balance, and she’s sending it now. She places the bid, the filly turns sharp in the far corner of the pen and crumples to her knees as the whip licks her sweat tendered flesh. Time stands still as the words “Sold” echo across the pen. They did it, one tired lady, one fed up waitress and somewhere unbeknownst to him, a well attired man, saved a filly to run free another day. Oh but did you hear? Instagram sensation Lula broke a seventeen thousand dollar heel coming back from the paddocks and had a wardrobe malfunction.

So what have they done to our Derby? But more than that, what have they done to our horses and to us? In any case a well-dressed Billionaire has just decided to go into the horse business deciding to follow a certain mare’s bloodline. A waitress in Manhattan has just packed her car, picked up her last check and is rolling for Montana. One exhausted lady is kicked back in her pick up eating the last can of Vienna Sausages with a tired gray filly munching hay happily in her two horse trailer and damn they taste good. The woman with more names than a Hanoverian stud? She doesn’t give a crap, but hey neither do we.

2017

Funny how they  failed to sense us. How they did not see us coming ,nor felt our heartbeat. How they ignored us. Those who did not dance in the light but stoked the fires that made it shine. Yet they did not. So we watched, we worked, lived, loved, laughed and waited. Oh yes, they ate the costly roe of the sturgeon and drank the gilded bubbles born of the chalk hills. But we were always there. A grease stained paper bag of biscuits on a wood smoke scented morning, full of heart and sustained with passion written in our souls since birth. Yet today they scream, shrill and penetrating. How did we? How could we? Don’t we see? Well my dears. Yes, yes we did. We saw very clearly and very well.

After time upon time of being told “who we were” what we felt and how we should think. The people of this great Country cocked their heads to the side and said “We know who we are, But who are you?” You’re alien to us, you who dictate from your pedestals who we should be. Allow me to clarify in the most explicit of ways exactly who we are.

We are the young girl in her twenties, slathering on lotion so her legs will be soft in her first apartment. A simple place she can call her own, no it’s not much, but it’s cozy. It’s enough for her to have time with the man she loves. A space to find herself and find out if the blue jeaned, flannel draped fella she’s felt a connection with will be able to take it to the next level. Not a whole lot, marriage, children .Maybe their futures will hold more, but for her a small place full of love will be enough.

We are the mechanic on a hot August afternoon, sweat stung eyes, aching back, looking for the 5 o’clock hour when he gets his pay check. Hoping there’s enough left over after the bills are silenced for a thick grilled steak and few cold beers. A gentle rub with a work worn hand on the silk soft head of his youngest as he watches the sun set over the valley and he finds the strength to go another week.

We are the second generation rancher who’s felt the drought coming and dug a pond in the corner pasture for his cattle to refresh themselves and drink, only be told by some wall eyed hippopotamus in Birkenstocks from the EPA that this is not his right. He gently bows his head, looks toward his rangeland and returns the rafts he bought for his children to the store.

We are the young girl whose horse,( which had been her wings she was young) colicked on a trail ride one July morn. Her joy of just making the cheerleading squad at the local high school shattered by the harshness of reality. A young one whose tears flowed, for her family had not the money for the vet to save him. (Fear not for, magic is reachable and I tapped the well, she kept her friend.)

We are the people of this big, great, once free land that know exactly who “We are” So when we receive the checks for our hours of labor, see the dollars, be they many or few, each and all in its effect, seized and utilized to our detriment, we rear like a stallion on the mesa and strike out.

We are not you in the concrete towers, we are man and metal, worn and beaten. We know a good dinner after church on Sunday, the hugs of a child, and the hope of each and every sunrise. So no, you did not see us coming, but we heard a clarion call loud and clear. A man for whom we’d have paid no attention reached out to us, a man from, yes, a gilded tower. But a man in the truest sense of the word. A man with the foibles of his existence, yet a leader with nobility, fire and brilliance. He had all in all the definition of kings and towers, but he looked through his window and saw us. The sweating mechanic, the love struck woman hope for the future blazing brilliantly, the farmer letting his ranchland run dry, and yes the hopeful cheerleader who learned that magic was real that day in the hot Carolina pines.15826343_1186917394717219_5263238553884853353_n

So as the Year of Our Lord 2017 comes upon us, we have been returned to the light. Hopefully mankind returns to freedom. The future is on the shoulders of the individual for we are not a collective and the power that emanates from each and every free choice is the one and the all. Unity of fragments verse the pulsating existence of one. Run the numbers. But I have great hope for your future. Please Make America Great Again, kill the parasites and cauterize the wound for this mage is tired and there are fish to feed in another realm.

The Machinations of Men

I never understood the machinations of men. The mountains to be climbed, the conquests to be made, nor the empires to be cherished. As a woman of many passages I have seen empires rise and fled the bloodshed, smoke and fires as they fell. There will be no wounds to be healed by mystical skills in this present. No herb infused fires to burn upon the crackling hearth and no gentle rubs of healing oils to remove the pain of loss this time around. I myself am a soul of many victories and equal defeats. A walker of times and viewer of worlds. Yet in the great unwinding I am woman complete. Let it not be said that I miss my kindred. Oh how I long for the gentle evenings with fragrant candles, the multicolored rippling’s of brilliant fish as they dart about the waters surrounding our candlelit terrace. The stories of the ancient houses whose fame includes the provenance of a certain honey that adorns our bread or textures of the water like flowing silk of a soft shift or trouser. Why I walk this world is still the most subtle mystery to me. Birth to life, life to death.

Love, I assume, is the passion that endures a million lifetimes. Something ones soul follows from the cracking reverberation of a sinking Atlantis, through the burning salt of the sea waters in which we held each other as the waves roiled about us when a continent sank forever in to the history of mankind on this swirling blue orb . To our newfound home of Ern, the emerald isles where a brilliant mind guided a magical and noble leader to place his foot upon a Kingstone which cried out with the magic so accessible at that time and assumed the leadership of a mysterious land. Arthur we salute you. You were a golden leader in a turbulent time. I can still taste my lovers kiss as I sailed off for Avelon, I can feel the waters around my ankles as I boarded the boat from the mists and I can see his stalwart gaze and the sparkle in his eyes as we knew what must be. My spirit was his spirit, news from Arthur’s realm showed my loves hand as easily as the handiwork of the Creator across the nighttime sky. We went out gallantly, he and I, swords drawn and magic lit the night. We fell together. May the legacy be blessed for Arthur was a noble man. Birth to life, Life to death.

Rome, she was a magnificent place. Those nights on the roof top gardens where there was no mankind, no earthly world and no Creator. Just you and I locked in the dance of love uninhibited , a million stars in skies, the sweet smell of beeswax candles, the musky scent of your pure maleness, and the coarseness of your unshaven cheek on mine as we gripped each other with a passion that had been proven for eternity. I think those nights were the sealing of our fate together. A coupling proposed on far away stars that united itself once again in the realm of magic. The spinner of history, the creator of destinies viewed us together once again and saw that it was good. So with the magic of our history my love once again guided a nation and in this sweet, sweet time I had nothing to do but love fiercely. And there we bode together breathless and one, glorious nighttime unification in each others arms. Birth to life, life to death.

The years between become as dense this night as the mists to Avelon. I could go there and in time I may, but man’s inhumanity to man is a perilous path to take. Tonight I reside in a different realm. I never understood the machinations of men. The mountains to be climbed, the conquests to be made, the empires to be cherished. But I will give you this. I saw the serpents at the gate. As I tossed in my slumber between darkness and dawn I choose to battle. Yes, we held them back. The girls of old, Morgaine, Myself, and the ancient of healers met them, in the end we had had to invoke the name of the Creator. The battle was ugly, brutal and for the first time in many passages on this beautiful blue planet I fought without you by my side. Yet in those pre-dawn hours we brought magic back to this world.

Love I assume, is the passion that endures of a million lifetimes. Just remember as the moon waxed full and the months of darkness fell upon this world magic returned and it is a sacred gift. So if I don’t hold you in this time, know the battle is yours and victory inevitable. Be it your choice darkness or light. Birth to life, life to death.

For now this country girl is going to enjoy the rising sun, the returning fowl, and the changing of days. My sword is for now sheathed, my cauldron cold, and for those on the blue orb, you have one more chance.

The Art

Fall has arrived in my Carolina foothills. Of course this is what they tell me as I stare down a succulent piece of crispy fried chicken while listening to my friends discuss Football. College football of course, one of the deeply held traditions in this part of the world I call home. Now inasmuch as I would like to think we were gathered around comfortably in our tweed jackets, well-worn jeans and soft leather boots, all this conjuring a picture of a colorful wood Smokey Fall afternoon. One must remember that this is the South and such visions are not to be, or least not to be for several more weeks. The heat is still on, and although the nights are cooler or seem so because the water in the pool is rather chilling to a late season swimmer. We are still in cut offs, T-shirts and the ever present flip flops. Yes, although long nights of barbequing a pig to crispy perfection are on everyone’s mind, the fact remains that it is hot and that’s a festivity to be enjoyed on the chillier afternoons. I guess for now we are simply satisfied a month has arrived with an “R” in the name allowing us the freedom to roast oysters and gather round the shucking table without guilt. Now I understand that in today’s world with commercial farms of everything edible this rule does not stand, but some of the best joys in life are the ceremony to which an event takes place. So if an oyster roast is to happen in my neck of the woods, rest assured that the oysters have been freshly picked out of the Carolina tidal waters, so thus we must have the “R”. No Risk. That is just how it’s done. Our feast of oysters is usually picked by whichever pair of golfing buddies plays a course in the low country and knows darn well they better bring back a few bushels as justification for such an outing. It’s simply tradition and we hold it close. As a matter of fact we hold a lot of things close, Traditions, Wives Tales, and Celebrations in general. Some may think foolishness, but myself, I consider it the art of life.

Life in this time has become mechanical, electronic, digital and fast. This I considered today as I burned a leech off my foot after an impromptu horseback swim in the pond below the stables. Yes, sometimes the horse likes a roll in the cooling water and when one slides off, well, leeches. Nothing a cigarette lighter won’t solve and Mister Leech curls up and releases. Not sophisticated, faux intellectual or worldly enough for you? How about passionate? Because as with all art, and that of living being one, passion is the key. These are my Carolina foothills and this is my life. It ebbs and flows without predictability. No I won’t be sauntering to the market for my raw honey, but I’ll be whipping it into Old Jim’s driveway. He’s been a beekeeper for nigh on 50 years and his clover honey is the best. As tradition lays out, the fall months are the best times to get honey, so I do. Yes, my compatriots will discuss College football and of course I will follow along decked in the colors of my Alma Mater. But it goes so much deeper than that. Long held traditions that are constants in the life I’ve been raised with and continue to carry on. I know the two old veterans that have the best boiled peanuts in the land will be parked on the highway to the Blue Ridge in the fall and the apple harvest is coming in. So all this heartfelt  thought from a run in with a leech you think? The answer is simply yes. I must say, we have learned to imbue our traditions with the cadence of nature. I know soon my pasture ponds will be cold, my summer swims will be a memory, and yes the leech will have been bothersome. Yes rest assured laughing about him on the cold winter days will bring memories of a hot summer sun, golden horses sparkling in emerald fields and wide open gallops as storms build in the distance on a summers evening.

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So it is the art of living that I embrace here on this hot September day. I cannot pull back from the passion and the life I live, these are my Carolina foothills, and this is the life I know. As the cold months roll in across our verdant lands, we shall do our best to hold on to it all. And as my people before me we shall embrace the memories, uphold the traditions, weather the storms and pass the torch on to our progeny so no matter where this wild life takes them they will always know the lands and the people that are their home.

Andreas

The tapers in the vestibule must have been beeswax this morning for Alexandra’s eyes did not burn after Midday Mass as they did when the simpler ones created from fat renderings were used. This was a good thing all in all, for she bathed this morning and wanted the scent to linger. The copper basin had been filled in the pre-dawn hours with water hot from the kitchens below. The boiling liquid had been infused with oils of rosemary and lavender. She had luxuriated in it as the fragrant warmth had brought her to the world after the night’s gentle sleep. She was not afraid to say she had admired herself although vanity was a sin Brother Barnababus has lectured her on from the very first days he noticed her budding beauty. Yes, she had raised each of her slender creamy legs to the sides of the basin propping them one at a time upon the soft rolled copper edges and admired their toned perfection. She had also taking the blade Mira the girl from the spice road had given her and shaved them slick. It had been weeks since they’d received the missive, a simple statement from her Father in Outremer and she had allowed a time to pass before beginning her preparations and questioning its content. Yes she had even taken the blade and sculpted the growth in her nether regions into a perfect triangle. Dear Brother Barnanabus would have been apoplectic if he knew she had admired herself in the long piece of polished silver she had in her room. If he knew she had smiled when she noticed the delicacy of her waist, the full ripeness of her creamy bosom and how her long legs flowed down from the now perfectly sculpted golden V of soft blonde hair the held her innermost secrets. Brother Andreas on the other hand would have lauded her embracing of her womanhood in all is raw uncovered glory. He would have approved of her taking what the hand of God had so perfected and making it better with the hands of man, or in this case woman.

Dear Brother Andreas, Alexis smiled to herself as she climbed the chiseled stone steps to Parapet high above the city. He may never have danced to the music of passion but she was certain in the dark hours after Vespers he choreographed many a play. Even today as they recited the long remembered prayers she had seen his dark eyes sparkling as he noted how her dress, how her very presence electrified what should have been a dark and Holy room. Alexandra had been tightly laced into her finest frock of emerald green. Created from a soft delicate fabric found only the spice lands. A weave so fine it shimmered with every breath in the very the faintest of light. The low cut bodice trimmed with black lace at her décolletage allowed the snow like whiteness of her plump firm breasts to glow magnificently in all their splendor against the darker fabric. An eye drawing outline if she must say so herself. Brother Andreas had not missed it either. She had passed close to him as she left the vestibule where the simple daily prayers were recited. She had noted the beads of sweat upon the darkening growth of a midday beard across his upper lip. His dark eyes may have held firm in the solemnity of the moment but deep inside them she could see the flicker of a flame, the caged passion of a lion roaring to be free. Alexandra always wondered what tortured demons lay so deep in the soul of such man that he had pursued the way of the cloth. Too many times she had found herself adrift in his smoldering black eyes, felt her blood run hot when she passed close to him and smelled his musky male scent, he was coarse and vital is so many hidden ways. She paused a moment on her climb to lift her thick honey covered locks off her back and allow the sweet air drifting down the stairwell to cool her. It was brisk and refreshing allowing her once again to feel the full vigor of her womanhood, the subtle yet all-encompassing power of a life giver in her most powerful time.

A few more minutes of climbing the spiraled steps and she would be almost to the Tower’s top which hosted her secret room, her look out and her shrine. Oh the rotund and fretful Brother Barnanbus had riled against it, such isolation was not proper for a lady of breeding and shouldn’t she be in the nursery learning the ways of her kind. But her Father had overruled him and allowed her this concession knowing in cases of the spirit they were much more alike than further apart, and he himself was a thinker a brooder, a solace seeker. So thus Alexandria had her sanctuary.

Suddenly she was upon it, her priceless perch from high above the castle walls where one could look out at the mountain valleys, weave her fantasies and craft her dreams Oh the room, round with a large window overlooking all that she could not touch and lands where she could only dwell in the wild regions of her mind. It seemed lighter this time than upon her normal entry and she noted that the thick candle was already lit in its cradle upon the wall. Had she left it glowing the previous day? Surely not for it would have long since melted away. Quite possibly a member of the garrison had come to the Armory next door and entered her abode instead. She thought of the missive from Outremer. Although she knew not what it had said, she was truly hopeful her father would be returning from his service to the lands of his rule.

She fluffed the overstuffed goose down pillows as she positioned them next to the window. A steady rain was cascading down from skies and glazing the expertly set stones that formed her immediate world. It was a candle glow day she thought as the mists crept down from the mountain peaks and settled in around her tower top obscuring her view but the burning candle flames gave the room a dim golden quality with only light issuing from the burning candle on the wall. She lit a taper and gently moved around lighting her myriad of assorted candlesticks adding more of a golden glow to her eyrie. The brillaint jewel toned pillows she had fluffed combined with the earthy scent of rosemary branches and pines boughs gave an exotic quality to her surroundings. If Brother Barnabus were to see her now stretched out languorously on her pillows amongst her softly glowing candles he might have felt cause to burn her as witch. She smiled at the thought as she kicked off her slippers letting her feet be bare and removed the cumbersome petticoat to allow the silken emerald material of her dress to caress her now slick shaved legs. She untied her long hair letting it cascade around her head and loosened her restrictive bodice so her tightly bound breasts had some freedom of movement. She was catlike, she was raw. She radiated the unbridled femininity of a girl rising to the precipice her power and she was certain that mages throughout the land could feel her vibrant glow emanating from her tower to theirs. Alexandria settled back to dream.

She was not long on the pillows in the lands of her imagination when the door to her sanctuary opened, a figure entered turning to face the door as he pressed it shut, and yes it was a male. The identity of the being was less than discernable as he simply leaned face forward, back to her upon the large oaken door and stilled. Hands above his head, a simple piece of paper in his right as he took breaths of such depth she dared not announce her presence. She simply watched, feeling no danger and waited for him to turn. Oh but when he did. Alexandria felt her heart leap, Brother Andreas. But not as she had known him. The restrictive collared garments of the priesthood gone. Tight chamois leggings defined his thighs, a sweat stained linen shirt cut low at the neck showed a swath of dark curly hair that adorned his chest. Although sometimes given to heft, too many cakes she thought, and the animal power of his being pulsed from his very skin. Dark eyes appraised her, they were not solemn, and they were all at once those of a predator and then again those deep dark eyes that sparkled as a lover. Aware that her bodice was open at the top and her breasts all but visible, Alexandria shifted on her cushions in a fashion so her long golden hair would at least cover her somewhat. Her brilliant blues eyes locked with his dark ones as she did, but he was not man who needed glimpses. He was man that could take in the whole picture, at this very moment still waters rose as they drowned in each other’s gaze. Time ceased to exist between the two, a million thoughts one or the other had in the deep hours of the night passed through their minds  In the end Brother Andreas broke the silence. He simply raised the parchment in his hand and said “Outremer, your father has requested a Knight, a Templar. I am to serve”

The rains on the castle walls could surely have reversed themselves and poured through her window overlook upon her for the icy chill that ran down her spine. The large dark eyes of Andreas besieged her, and brought to light a fact she had denied for many months. Albeit untouchable, a Priest, one committed body and soul to their God, she loved him. She took in his visage, tawny skin, night black hair, a boyish charm when he laughed and a dark brooding look when he was lost deep in thought. Templar she thought? For a man such as this given to overindulgence of cakes and hours of study this was a death sentence. But she also knew quite possibly she was missing her mark in her assessment. The man held the fire of genius in his eyes and an indomitable spirit. She felt herself go slack, “Andreas” was all she could say as she stared into the mesmerizing darkness of his eyes.

The man she’d loved through times turbulent and testing stood at the door to her eyrie. The reality of the missive hung between them and was cast away. Brother Andreas was no more, he was simply Andreas as he moved across the room, grasped her close and buried his face in her golden mane. It was the power she felt within him as he was upon her, a masculine heat long held at bay, the rippling muscles of his arms as she ran her fingers down them, curious inquisitors, yet finding their grasp and holding on he was all and then he was not. She had never known the male body, only renderings, depictions, and stories passed by scullery maids in the night. Yet his lips found hers, both salty and sweet. The course hairs of his cheek caused a bit of discomfort, yet she felt her body submit as he arched above her, the weight of his loins upon hers, the scent of man and the power of desire. The mists rolled and the sweat poured, the hardness of his manhood pushed against the untried regions of her womanhood, and she succumbed to the weakness of submission, the two became one. So they united there overlooking the valley deep. A woman bred to the Throne and a Priest resonating with all the power of the dark lands. She tasted the salt of his sweat as he arched above her and he felt the sweet succulence of her surrender as she took his member time and time again as the sun sank over the valley. They were what they were meant to be, neither Princess nor Priest just lovers embraced in the ecstasy of what had been preordained for a millennia and they had no clue, just joy and a love that would outlive the world.

Ash Denton sat on his Jet, the results were back. Darn he open the folder? He had come miles, made millions and yet his true birth right remained a mystery. So now the Church had released the age old documents. Ash Denton the mogul, the billionaire was about to know exactly who “HE” was…

Maria of Amatrice

I guess I would remiss in saying that sleep did not come easy in the night. It was so very clear. A beam of light trickling in from either a crack in wall or a distant window, from my point this was not be discerned. Yet the beam was of golden rays, dust motes like gilded fairies danced and shimmered in the light. This was her view, interpreted as a simple “I have not forgotten you” as night closed in again on the stillness. What caught my attention first, to my drifting soul as wanderer, a practice I had honed throughout my years. Was the table top. A simple wooden desk, more of a catch all as one entered the home, steps right past it in the the entry way, now crumbled and inaccessible with rubble. It was there on the wall her to where her eyes guided me , the old lady crumpled on the floor. A simple ancient tile, the frame a turquoise plaster with chipped edges. A rendering of a lovely woman hair piled high upon her head in the fashion of her time. On the table a simple tray, brass? In the tray a Rosary of dark cut glass. Yes, she wanted it, she needed it for solace. Yet again our focus went to the framed ancient tile upon the wall. A cock crowed in the background, an evening cry by a distressed creature who had felt the earth shake, seen his world crumble. The lady so skillfully painted long, long ago on the tile seemed to be watching as well. She was thirsty, the one on the floor. While the tiles were cool, she could not rise, nor would water be the first on her mind, the old Rosary would be the item of her most immediate need. Let it be said, I can influence neither I am simply a guide. A traveler in the night. But I can relate the tale.

There was not a breeze,only the sound of the crowing cock and muted sirens in the distance. But a still silence of stopped humanity and a cloying darkness as if the world had been put to sleep encompassed all. She had awakened in the wee dawn hours by the ever restless housecat. Incessant cries and scratching to be let out had brought her from her bed to the entryway, no sooner was the cat released and the door closed then it happened. A roar, a rumble and a swaying from the bottom up as though the once solid earth was rolling like waves on the sea. She slipped. Grabbed for the desk, the Rosary, felt the cool glass beads touch her fingers,a reassuring surge of energy before she fell. As she went down she locked eyes with the oft ignored decorative tile above the desk, it did not move upon its hook, hung fast to the rocking wall. A family heirloom, an ancestor, yet it also gave instant solace for those eyes depicted in such detail centuries ago, were her eyes. They were the eyes of her parents and the eyes of her children. Old bones and tired muscles gave way to the lurching of the floor. Her hip gave with a crunching sound, her eyes locked on the ancient ones of the rendering, she a saw a resignation, a strength ,a fire, and an acceptance in those eyes of the woman on the tile coming at her like a  lightening flash across the years, it simply was.

She was a young woman alive under a glorious sun. The warm sand was soft beneath her bare feet and the water had been warm in the stream where she had washed off the dust of the day, unnaturally warm. She did not consider that, a young mother in a hurry to cleanse herself and return to her babe. She had tossed back her long dark hair luxuriating in its thickness, feeling refreshed from the water and high spirited for the night ahead. She felt her breasts pulse full at the sound of her child on the bank calling for sustenance. She was so vibrantly alive with every sinew tingling with hope, every breath was an elixir of pure energy. The bath, the sun, the babe, the world was truly glorious and she drank in this moment. Her eyes on the skies, her heart full and the future oh so very bright. She happily admired the painting a wandering Shepard had done of her earlier in the day, her husband would be joyous to receive the gift for his travels took him away for long periods of time. She tucked  the simple tile tightly next to the babe for the journey home.  It all came  about with a crack, a thunderous roar, like the very sky split apart. A deafening guttural scream from the very core of the earth. Surly the Gods guided her feet as she removed herself from the present world and ran to the child. She grabbed the soft blanketed babe and ran. She ran with all the strength she could find and years of chasing stray sheep in her father’s fields, gave her speed. The babe screamed only when she had snatched him from beneath the tree, and had become knowingly silent as the two raced across the rocky field towards home. Razor sharp rocks tore her feet as she ran, but the great female spirit that was mother, that was Lioness in human form, pushed her on. She could hear the roaring sky, feel the quaking earth, sense the darkness growing behind her as ran. It was Sulphur and it was ash. Her breath became short as she reached the road, her heart broke as she realized she did not have the speed to outrun the darkness billowing up and deepening behind her. He appeared through the yellow haze of ash and smoke, whipping his horse to a high rate of speed. Yet he must have seen her in the ever fading light. He reined up fast, reaching down to get her. But upon reaching a complete halt saw the babe. The horse already lathered, had what looked to be miles to go to escape the death rolling across the landscape. They could not do it. He saw a resignation, a strength, a fire, and an acceptance in her eyes. She simply handed the blanket wrapped babe to him, turned and faced Vesuvius for Pompeii was dying. He did as any noble man would, took the babe in front of him, challenged not her decision and allowed her progeny to live, her line to go on.

I guess he kept it for the babe, a noble man who knew the importance of history to the soul. But in any case, line after line, the simple girl so brilliantly captured upon a simple tile had been kept. Now my eyes, my wandering spirit did what I do. I breached the realm. The dark girl haired girl from Pompeii was with me. I could feel her essence, the older one on the cool tiled floor was scared, but watching us both. I guess we were spirits in the darkness as we came through, vague outlines or shapes. I have no idea how one appears when they come over from the other side. I could feel the deep ache in the hip of the one on the floor, hunger long gone now simply overcome with fear and indescribable thirst. But I could also feel a deep abiding peace as like met like and gentle eyes of the same locked gazes.

Yes, my dear, I can smell the bread you baked the night before, even through the musty smell of the rubble. But I have brought your people through. Your ancient one is now here to escort you back to the bosom of what was and what is to be, a Grandmother so great only the ancient codes can tell the story. There  was a moment of nothing, like all the energy is sucked out of a room, the tingling, and then the music. And yes, it is music. Joy is not even word enough to describe the unification of souls. I still could feel her trepidation as my gentle connection from her past ran a calming hand across her brow. I was of her time and I guess easier. “Gentle one, we are done here it is time to go.” I imparted. The music increased in its intensity. I can only say that it is the sound of every molecule of everything that is on this earth,every being, sun, wind and sky singing Hallelujah. Everything. And it is glorious. The earth rumbled and shook once again, the table rocked and fell this time, the Rosary slipping to the floor into the weak, yet outstretched   work calloused  hand, which closed  gently around its care worn beads. At that moment the tile on the wall swayed on its hook and then fell to the floor shattering into a million shards. I saw a resignation, a strength, a fire, and an acceptance in both the eyes of the woman  from the rendering and the woman on the floor. So Lyrica of Pompeii took Maria of Amatrice home that night. Oh the vistas, the cathedral glinting in the valley below as the land rolls out to the sparkling ocean, I can see it now in mind’s eye, yet so far outside of my grasp. Go home Maria. You called me and I found you. I have served my calling.

 

 

Larkspur -Prelude to a dance

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Sunday mornings are the best time for reflection. The world seems gentler, almost passive as we take solace in the gentle dawn hours and catch our breath for the week ahead. I guess the ghosts of my history are calling to me at this point. Wanting to be heard, to have their stories saved. Maybe they have a valid justification for that, because such history seems so very sweet as I look back this soft Sunday morning. Maybe my fear is that I will not do them justice, the sagas of the lives we lived not all that long ago. But as I’ve told myself through the years, if not you? Who? So I shall refill my coffee, let my mind roam free through the rolling fields of times past and prepare to save the spirits of the life we lived long gone, but which never should be forgotten. Taking the good with the bad, excoriating my soul and weaving tales of a time that so many hold so very dear.

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Horse traders and car dealers it was simple as that. Or was that simple at all? I remember coffee was on the sun porch every morning at 7am, good, strong ,hot coffee, made in a percolator, an item I’m sure has long since been forgotten. The sun porch looked out over the upper pastures as they rolled down to the creek, the landscape always changing colors and appearances with the seasons. We discussed the weather, the horses, and who did what when. It was South Carolina in the early 90s, situated close to the North Carolina line and the rapidly growing city of Charlotte. I was young then, as I look back on it all today. Half of me wanted the city life with the bright lights and fast pace. The other half wanted what was simply written into my DNA. A love for farms, fields and horses glistening in the sun. The latter overcame the former in the years to follow and I survived that dissection of my soul. Or as I was told one sweltering July day as I slaked my thirst with a long draught of well water from the hose at the end of the barn, “You’ve done drunk the water now this will always be home” .

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I traveled a lot of miles from that day to this. In my darkest times I found succor in the memories I built on that big patch of red Carolina earth that holds swamps, ponds, dark forests and wide open pastures. The people, the horses, the journeys and the history need not lie fallow awaiting a wordsmiths till. For we lived, we laughed, we rode and we cried. So to all that lived that history with me then and still do today for that Carolina ranch still stands. I will try and do man, earth, and beast justice for we all made these stories together. A myriad of intertwining moments. My only hope is that sometime off far in the  future, be it our progeny or simply a seeker’s curious soul, one can look back and say, “ That’s what it was like then” and see that it was good.

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This Sunday Carolina morning I’ll finish my coffee as we always did on the by 8am. Wonder what the view is like from the sun porch, think about the weather, the horses and who did what when. I will ask the memories to come strong and clear, savor every detail and begin a journey not truly forward, but a meandering back in time. May the voices of our history ring out strong and clear like the church bells we’d hear from the hillside on a crystal, clear fall morning’s ride. Simply put “what was lost, must be found”and the restless ghosts of my history are taking me there.