The breath was different that day. It rode in from the East to the West with a cackle from its underbelly. Mischief was palpable and Earth felt, somehow, askew.
Then news came tumbling over the hills, the land. Boats had blown across the great ocean. Trees no longer stood. Crow, blackbird and starling had all fled their nests. Life had been turned asunder. Again. It was for certain, the fall before the dawn.
She did not know this when she woke. Or so it was believed. Hair wild to her waist, knees pink, goose-bumps running from shoulder to shoulder. She traversed her daily landscape from mattress to doorway out into the World and shuddered deeply. A gust from the North swept dust into her eyes and she blinked awkwardly in a bid to re-instate her vision.
The storm had been like no other. Or so it was understood. Shock ran its tremulous way through the village, turning refuge to rubble and inhabitants to stone. Silence was forecast for weeks to come.
She clambered her way through the small holding, forlorn and grey, no playmates waiting gleefully in fields ready to gallivant and explore. The brows of her neighbours fell downwards as their hearts dragged despair around the dirt-tracks and beaten alleyways in the age that followed. She longed for words of wisdom to find their way towards her, to glean what had twisted Life so fervently upside down and searched for a gaze of comfort to catch and anchor within. But no one met her beautiful brown saucers of light in those splintering hours.
Loneliness echoed its inaudible way into the curve of evening’s song in the time that ensued. She lay in bed with chest beating furiously and mind wandering curiously. Solace for the day’s events chose not to be found. There was no being to offer guidance. Nor gifts or pearls to be in receipt of. Only baggage was claimed that night. Yes. For the first time, at the ripe fiery homecoming of eleven years, she had touched the ravines of a heart collapsing and upon waking the next morning, felt the brittleness of cold running through her formerly-radiant, though still gallant veins.
As the hurricane tore its way through the hillsides the following autumn, she was awoken by a mighty jolt inside her pelvis. It galloped from tail along the keyboard of her vertebrae, past each rib and towards her crown to make its presence felt beyond the summoning of daybreak’s pulsating dreamscape. Shaking herself from bedclothes, she made way through the village, calling for fellows and companions as before. Yet this time, whilst searching for the eyes of others, something extraordinary shifted within. Unbeknownst to this young one, the mournful beating of an erstwhile drum allowed the morning’s rumblings to snake and steel their way to her tear-ducts. And yes. A solitary drop of saltwater started to tiptoe gently down the rosy scarlet of her luminous left cheek.
Don’t worry Child, an elderly grandmother swiftly urged. Do not fret. Dry those eyes. All will be well. She passed the girl a small square of embroidered cloth to wipe the tear whilst a distant faraway choir promptly hailed, CEASE!
And without question, for she had yet not known otherwise, she duly did. Hastily, the small droplet crawled up her cheek and found its way back somewhere safe inside to hide. Sanctuary and exile inhaled unwittingly as one.
That night in bed once more, do you know what happened within her heart?
Indeed. It grew heavier, as if a rock sinking deep, deep down into the river. Her limbs lay more densely on the bed, her breath laboured its way through her torso. Life struggled to oxygenate her soul. Her being. Being didn’t feel quite as easeful or as resplendent as she had so relished in younger days.
The years spun as the world flew past and it was not until many moons more when she woke to a judder in her bones. It were ginormous. It was spectacular. Her whole body drank in the vibration like nectar to a marrow. She jumped from bed to tell her brethren what had happened but as she made passage through the village that morning, she discovered heads sullen and a deathly blanket of desolation hovering in the sky upward. The tornado had taken dwellings, farmsteads, old birch trees and cattle in its wake. And just as before, a lonely teardrop emerged from the corner of her left eye.
Child, STOP! The chorus sang. NO! They bellowed. Go back from whence you came!
And as before, for she loved her peoples dearly, the tear steadily found its way back into the haven of its trusted abode.
Yes. As a weary moon crept high in the chilling midnight awning, she tossed and turned in bed that night with body held tight. Her mind running, her utterance in chains. She had not known trouble such as this. No words of it were spoken in the books. No language of known tongue could bring it to life. Only invisibility lent itself to these quarters and woefully, the unsaid began to reside within. Its name, no-voice, she came to learn also courted shame.
Local newspapers rang out the headlines the next time. Young Woman Seen Crying at Catastrophic Events. Halt! They demanded. Stay AWAY! Such unruly and disquieting behaviour even made national television in later years. By now her brown locks were starting to lose their colour and the globe had changed many times over. She had lost loved ones and witnessed trauma that no being would wish to imagine. And despite knowing somewhere in her heart she felt something for those around, she was torn between loyalties. For as time wound itself ever more ferociously, she watched crippling conditioning transfigure the heart-fullness of being human into something other. And, whilst the vestiges of attunement lost purpose in fear-filled contraction, she quietly untethered her soul from this known, familiar-less community.
As you may well imagine, the weight of such lament grew almost too arduous to bare. She had befriended the moss and lichen, sought company of four-legged ones, learnt the rhythm of the shoreline and found harbour with the bees in the honeysuckle. Yet beyond these affairs of kinship and wonder, exhaustion found its way into her bones too readily on most days. Bed became a common ground. As did the far crevices of her mind. She found solitude here, most days. But on those she did not, Rage swept through her defiant and truth-hungry somatic ecology. Belonging knew her yet, in the unversed times she inhabited, she did not know quite where she belonged.
The following morning, as if an electric shock shook her awake, her limbs sprang out of bed. Heart was beating faster than she had known for many a while and her blood was charged with something of Old. Her cells sang a dance as she drew herself in form and made way out of the front door.
The earthquake had shattered many homes. Many lives had been lost and broken. Many animals no longer. Woodlands destroyed, birdsong simply a ghost. Joy was only to be found in yesterday.
But today was the day. Today was when Courage ignited her heart and came to dream her, dream her anew.
She strode through the village. Salt and pepper hip-length locks, fire fronds and ocean ripples as one, fell into the shadows behind her. Sun ablaze, within and without, riding the wing tips of everything she had ever felt. They came, these city-folk, as she long knew, to tell her to refrain. NO! They implored once again. But as wisdom married with daring and made love to her fury, do you know what happened?
The little lost tear made its way down her cheek. And, as it ran past her chin and along the arc of her neck, she felt the earth quake within. With an inner-squall that blew cobwebs out of her ribs, a small trickle of tears began to heave their magnificent way from her lungs and, as if a parade of merry elephants, charted the pathway of their comrade before.
The headlines turned global. It was declared an International State of Emergency. Police officers from all corners of all regions were summoned. The army stood poised on standby. It was predicted the wide world web would crash as satellites across the lifeless cloudscape above could not cope with the influx on social media.
SHE MUST STOP! READ ME. OVER. WE HAVE TO STOP HER.
Anyone would have imagined The Third World War would have started. That Ecosphere’s Central Nervous System was heading for a breakdown. But what do YOU imagine dear reader? Do you think she might retract?
You’re absolutely right. Yes! Her spirit soared as this once stream, now river, soon to be waterfall, ran from neck to breasts to belly to hips to buttocks to thighs to old croaky knees to shins to feet and her fucking glorious, beatific toes. Hallelujah! Exhaled Earth. At last! Land rejoiced.
And with it, she melted a little. I think I actually mean she melted A LOT. She could feel the soil beneath her soles moistening and softening as Heart finally broke open. She could feel her torso, pelvis and treasured sacrum yield into the gravitas beneath her and, as she inclined downwards, the muddied floor beneath her rose upwards to meet her buoyant, jubilant flesh.
She did not notice the noise around her. She did not notice the searchlight shining down on her. The TV crews, photographers, reporters. She did not notice the cacophony of mobile phones ringing, the endless flurry of messages pinging back and forth from one apprehensive onlooker to another. No.
All she noticed was the tiny thirsty seedling below sucking her tears into the roots of it’s being. She felt the sun shining into her from the South and stood transfixed, in awe at the sacred majesty of minute buds in their infancy forming beneath her.
Whilst the World worried and fretted. Whilst court orders were drawn up and other planets within the galaxy notified of this disaster, no one noticed the forests that grew around her. No one noticed how the crops were beginning to bloom as the soil found its replenishment. No one noticed how the winds eased howling, the seas stopped flooding and the tsunamis withdrew their descent. For attention was elsewhere. It was consumed with a media’s obsession of a woman who’s avalanche of tears never ceased flowing. Her tumultuous deluge bore no relation to the graven flawlessness they had long worshipped. These refugees of grief refused to be edited. Yes, without reservation. And the newshounds and Twitter-feeds quaked at her volcanic nature. They tremored at her fearlessness and still they forgot to see the flowers at her feet.
Long ago, there was a little girl. She knew well how cold toes feel in the rain. She knew well how legs stiffen when they have forgotten how to run. She knew well how caged ribs feel when the air around is stultified. She knew well how spines and jaws and hips lock when there are no keys in sight to release their play. And she knew well how eyes become drawn when there is no light to mirror them.
But many moons have passed since then. Many days have broken in these years as have many hearts. And as joy has birthed adventure in abundance for many, sorrow has birthed bountiful rivers of grief. This woman-child has learned the seeds that are plucked in the rainbow of her inner-scape by the wind are not hers for the harvesting. Rather they move through and past her, some for the fertilising and growing, some for the tending and nurturing and others simply to watch and let drift as the weather currents wish. Such rich sense-abilities, as the seasons have blessed upon her well, are not for her custody or possession but here to feel, honour, love and express.
In days from now this woman will be sat beside her daughter and her daughter’s daughter. News will soon just be in of another storm ascending on the horizon. Her grandchild’s wild screams are transmuting ecstatically into tears. The woman sweeps her snow-white ankle-length hair around the darling girl, cloak-like and bejewelled with freshly wept teardrops and, peeking out from the spider-web of tattooed lines on her face, reaches inside her chest pocket. Something is burning. Something is aflame. She pulls out an old buried piece of tattered cloth. It is time, she knows, to unfold this long-forgotten keepsake, for the embroidered words have before now not yet been seen.
Then, within a whisper that comes from the hail beyond, she sees before her a seismic wave ricocheting across the room, landing itself between her small valiant frame and the two she cherishes aside her. She holds them in the pools of her splendid brown eyes as breath comes to breathe her one last time.
Yes. With a cascade of tears erupting and a thunderous gut-curdling howl, the daughter cups her beloved mother’s hands in her own. And, as vastness weaves benevolence amidst this ancient earth-shattering intimacy, you and I remind her to go ahead. She tenderly gathers her trembling heart and opens the square of cotton. In the colours of sunlight kissing rain, it reads,
This Child, is yours for the undoing.
Image: Kathleen Lolley, A Spell to See Beauty in Life