He does not know what year it might be, the woven skein of time being
no longer something he counts nor considers.
Somehow, when the season has danced from puff-clouded spring to
clear-sky'd summer, days moving the sun in almost sullen cadence,
somehow, he feels disquieted, the dull stab of a sorrow either buried
or not as yet perceived worrying the edges of his dreams.
Only colour, they were, colour, or the horrified lack thereof, as if
all the world had fallen to a void wherein nothing might live.
Sound. A thin keening that he did not remember upon waking, an
echo of grief balanced upon the very edge of hearing.
He told no one, for what, indeed, had he to tell? That dreams of nothing, dreams he could not even
recall, brought him to frighted
tears, brought him, running, to where waves laced and foamed against
black rock, walking, walking.......
walking, so that he might not dream.
And in the walking, in the wheeling of the stars and the sun, in the
rain that fell without warning, joining its grey life to that of the
Sea, he knows, of a sudden, the year-day it must be, and a cloud of
feeling claims him, joy and muted pain striving equally within.
And he sees it, sees Home, sees the Harvest, all brought in and settled
away, neat, as would be a Gardner's wont, sees the journals, final
pages writ with a large, square, careful hand and placed upon a
dustless shelf, sees the familiar pack and stick and the pony waiting
beyond the door.
There is a lad there, a lad he does not know, a lad weeping and
fastening a soft-woven grey cloak about aged (yet unbent!) shoulders.
And he sees (yet does not hear) the lad's name fall from lips
struggling with a smile, fast-followed by an embrace whose ferocity he
And the stars and the sun wheel by again, mere glancing light upon the
Overcome by all he has seen, felt,
heard in the seeming space of a
moment, he falls to sleep upon the salt-laced strand, empty crab-cases
and bits of gem’d sea-weed lying close about him, retreating tide
weaving half-circles in the drying sand.
Again, he dreams.
And remembers, upon the waking:
He remembers, and the confusion of images straightens itself, clears to
curved clarity, moment cascading to moment, like the visions he saw
long ago within the Lady’s mirror.
A garden, the scent of the Sea mingled with roses, and a lass, gold
hair threaded by grey. Another farewell, a crimson book passing
hand-to-hand, smiles leavened by salt.
The sharp-soft clip of hooves, the silver’d half-moon of the harbour,
guardian cliff-walls and horizon rose-gold with sunset.
The tide, running swift and cold and green-grey along a near-empty
Unsteady feet upon an upward-climbing plank (and he can feel them, now,
feel them, as if they were his own, feel the uncertainty and a heart
divided, even at the last).
A final glance behind, then a roughened hand upon a roughened rope, and
mistrusting toes gripping a gently rising deck.
And he had not recalled, til now, just how this journey might be, not
recalled the wind, strong and sweet, filling hearts and sails with
studied ease, nor the Song growing as orange-pink sky gives way to
sheeted night, a single star (the Mariner’s star, he tell
himself) lightening the darkness.
He had not recalled, either, the great silence which fell, sudden, yet
not fearful, (as such silences might be), but full of misted waiting,
like the moment between the birthing of a babe and its first knowing
And he bows his head, listening as the Song creeps back into the
silence, weaving itself within the gaps and spaces there, pausing and
starting and pausing again, notes and phrases and silences turning with
and upon each other, and ending with a quiet which still bespeaks them
Soon, he knows (though “soon” in this place is only a word he uses to
hold separate that which has not happened from that which has), soon,
there will be a sail, dipping white upon the bright blue diamond of the