Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste
Section 5

Another shell, another bloom: was this Aphrodite? 
Sea-like essence, exotic perfume? 
Into the dusk he sailed, 
Face set toward the midnight sky, 
Choosing his course by heaven's eye. 
All night he stayed awake, alert, 
The winds blew fair: some fortune's quirk. 
Then darkest hour, before the dawn; 
He drowsed a little - heart did mourn 
For things half-known, half-seen, half-heard.

Thence, under the burning morning sun 

His hand touched on a gift, unseen before, 
Embossed, engraved; he picked it up 
With silent awe: shaped like a shell, 
Or the petal of a magnolia, 
It was filigree, 
Encrusted with gold, silver, blue and white. 
Its handle fitted the palm of his hand. 
He turned the metal to a mirror's strand: 
His face upon the waters he had seen: 
His visage now, like Narcissus', in a dream.

In wonderment, he studies the contours, 

His eyes, his nose, his lips -
What had he learned, what had been taught? 
Around the oceans still and calm, 
Clouds roseate and hued.
He passed the mirror side up, so he might have a view 

Of Heavens reflected, never old and never new. 
Thence, once more to his face he lifted it, 
It was filled with sea, sand, ice and rain, 
Diaphanous things which ever shifted.

Hypnotised, he stared - transfixed: 

Three stars he saw which changed and moved, 
And other faces became those things 
Which Earth rarely sees and hell often rings 
In disaccord with Heaven's cry. 
Then the winds, a gentle lullaby: 
A young girl's face came into view 
So dark of hair, in beauty fresh and new, 
All filled with mystery, with eyes of green 
That crossed the placid sea. 
Her lips moved, slow and grave; 
He listened, as though his life to save.

"I am Mahra, come to me: 

My island green you now shall see: 
Other wonders there might be, 
But song and dance I'll teach to thee." 
Suddenly, a mist descended, 
Then the sun broke forth: 
There, at its zenith 
The immortal Creator's face appeared. 
This was the Ancient of Days, 
The beginning of Time, 
And the ending of Years. 
His gaze, so steadfast, stern, aloof, 
His eyes were proof 
Of all things that were and were to be, 
But not a word did he speak to Meckelle 
On that calm, melodious sea.

Winds billowed in from the darkening North 

Then lifted, and changed its course. 
It was a Sybil now he saw, whose haggard features 
Caught him in fright, enthralled, 
Changing from beauty into the grossest form; 
Her voice was low above the storm: 
Her parchment visage cross-hatched with age
With jealousy, anger, venom, rage -

A blot of darkness divine: 
This face faded as dropped the wind, 
His course was set - between goodness and sin. 
He dropped the mirror, hand to his brow, 
His eyes clenched tight, his hair blown: 
With a trembling hand, his fingers he ran 
Through the darkness of hair. 
Suddenly, he looked toward the prow: 
There, misty but filled with form 
Was Aphrodite, Poseidon's daughter 
Beauty of the sea, in all its placidity 
And storm.

The sun set full into his eyes, 

Rainbow colours about her danced, 
He fell again into a fitful trance. 
His boat journeyed, crewed by invisible elite.

Anchors were cast, fore and aft, 

A hunger Meckelle felt, both spiritual and real; 
The charcoals burned: those fishes, 
Like some sacrifices to a sacred flame, 
Floating on the waters, mouthing silently his name. 
Replete with food. 
He saw it was by a cove he was near, 
The aroma of fresh fruit was sweet and clear, 
Such as he needed now, with nectar's dew.

He swam ashore, renewed, from trees he picked 

Oranges and lemons, bananas, mangoes, coconuts, 
Their milk the finest nectar. 
His footprints faded from the sands, 
But before the waters he did choose 
To test his muscles, hard and strong. 
Into the water he plunged again; 
Back upon his boat he paused and thought, 
Then with a dolphin he did talk: 
"Oh Gold, Oh Gold," the dolphin said, 
"Lies down upon the ocean bed.
Come now with me, and you shall see 
Some wonders of Eternity." 
Meckelle was feeling bold; the manhood he felt
Was that in which he was not young or old.

The dolphin dived into a space, and Meckelle followed; 

This challenge to find some trace 
Of antiquities and things so rare. 
His body naked, his soul innocent and bare. 
The dolphin led him to a spot six fathoms deep 
And there, from the ocean bed, 
A plate of gold he lifted so high above his head. 
The dolphin led him back 
To where sea meets sky, and looked at him 
With a merry yet doleful eye; 
Then as invisiable as the mist he became 
A fine shower of warm, summer rain.

Meckelle, with his prize, swam back to his craft; 

His face was joyous, but somehow grim, filled with wrath. 
With ease he clambered back again, 
Back to his womb, his home, his terrain. 
A cloth he found, and polished hard 
This disc of metal cold, 
Scarred with time's merciless encrustings 
Until, bright as the sun, this golden platter 
Revealed its patterns. 
He knew not if he was extractor or subtractor: 
He touched the edges gingerly. 
For this was a prize, from the clamouring sea.

His boat became becalmed and still, 

He studied the patterns that seemed to form a name 
Flowers and strange creatures embossed there, 
Strange writings, unknown to him, 
So quiet the ocean, so quiet and rare. 
He placed the dish by the mirror's side, 
And rose tentatively to test his stride of Manhood's growth. 
Hunger in him rose again; no food was there, 
The fruit decayed upon the islet's trees, 
That which he'd gathered came poisonous to his taste.

His mirror wafted to a glassy mere, wherein all  Narcissus' dreams 
Became a smear of faces - some bright, but never clear. 
A bell tolled from the ocean deep. 
A wind blew up, he could not sleep,
With mystical strength his anchor weighed 

And he was a stranger, feeling betrayed. 
Knots, he felt, his vessel took, 
Ever in circles but reaching nought. 
Suddenly, after the winds had blown against his will 
A gentle breeze carried him, to a harbour calm and still. 
Cautiously, he paced the prow and there a figure saw 
Who cast him a rope from off a harbour wall, 
With practised ease, he tied his vessel 
While a soft breeze blew and swayed. 
Unto some steps he trod, and there a girl 
With tresses black and emerald eyes 
Whom he had seen, but thickly disguised 
In the mirror previously. 
"Welcome," said she, "to my island home; 
I am Mahra, Daughter of the Emerald Isle, 
Daughter of things fertile and green, 
Daughter of the Earth's own Queen." 
She smiled, with a childlike dazzling brilliance, 
A gentle cadence to her voice, 
And stretching out her hands, she clasped Meckelle. 
About his legs a furry form did brush 
And, looking down he saw 
A small and welcoming feline, 
Black and white, with emerald eyes 
"Ah, this is Bahra" she said, 
"Who may yet you surprise; come, you are my guest now." 
Saying thus, she took him by the hand 
And led him from the harbour to her green and fertile land. 
Bahra, with meows and purring sounds, tail straight up, 
Led them with proud dignity 
Along paths, through woods, now far from sea.

"Welcome to my home" said Mahra,  

And, gesturing with her hand 
She led him to the mouth of her grotto dwelling. 
None such as this had he ever seen: 
Willow, holly, myrtle, mistletoe and ivy 
About the entrance hung. 
Within glowed Pluto's most precious rocks 
Green, russet, orange, gold and brown, 
A temperate warmth did there abound.
Rippling like stalactites, 

Long, luminous acacias draped 
From ceiling to floor; beneath his feet 
A carpet, springy, deep 
And soft as grass - with perfume enhanced. 
So sweet the flowers that round the borders grew, 
Meckelle entranced!

Cushions were scattered: velvets, satins, furs. 

With a prance to his tail, Bahra turned. 
"Perform for our new-found friend a dance." 
With a purr, this miraculous cat did a jig, 
An Irish reel; he spun and whirled. 
Leaping and stretching, ending his dance 
With a lordly sweep of the tail. 
Onto a fur cushion he leaped; 
With gentlemanly finesse, his whiskers he twirled; 
About his throat glittering diamonds, 
Emeralds and pearls. 
With courtesy Mahra spoke: 
"Please make yourself at ease; 
Refreshments I shall bring." 
After these words, he heard her sing
As she behind a creeper curtain moved.

Meckelle, in wonderment,  lay back 

Upon those cushions fine. 
But in her words, he wondered if she'd sung 
"Meckelle: You shall be mine." 
Her voice did rise and lilt, bell-like it rang, 
For this was Mahra, Mistress of the songs 
That men and women sang. 
Presently she re-emerged, carrying dishes 
Filled with meats, spices and herbs; 
Fruits in bowls were in her grotto placed, 
About her shoulders, a shawl of finest lace, 
A strange serenity about her face. 
With practised ease, she placed the bowls 
On flat-topped, glowing rocks; 
Two goblets and a pitcher she laid down, 
Then pouring Adam's ale she made a toast: "To Meckelle!"
With swift dexterity she placed the bowls before him, 
With dainty fingers morsels to his mouth, 
And then her hand about his face did trace 
A lover's heart, a lullabye; then he felt sleepy 
With a sigh, he nestled back in comfort's bower.

Then, with a sudden spring, Bahra, 

Balanced on his back pores, bore a lyre. 
Mahra placed this on her lap 
And then, with a gentle tap 
Began a melody so light and bright and clear. 
"Meckelle" she said, "do you like that you hear?" 
He, with a soporific smile, replied "I do." "
Then, if for a while with me you'll tarry 
I'll teach you melodious modes and strains 
Which ever more as a gift you'll carry."

Time passed, in delight and peaceful measure. 

But one night, as he lay entwined 
About her lovely form, a sudden storm 
Through his sleeping mind did rage: 
Visions of mountains. a tree, fair Aphrodite's visage. 
With trembling lids, his eyes fluttered, awake: 
"Oh Mahra! Oh Mahra! There is no hope: 
I must away!" 
And therefore, at the light of day, 
With great sadness, his eyes filled with tears, 
He said farewell to the girl 
Who to him and grown so dear.

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