by jan-u-wine


He does not know what year it might be, the woven skein of time being no longer something he counts nor considers. 
And yet.
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.
The 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 knows well.
And the stars and the sun wheel by again, mere glancing light upon the great time-river.

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 quay.

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 cry.

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 all.

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 Sea.