Monday, August 07, 2006

 

The Forest Aflame




Place and pulse. Night.
Deep in this forest of signs, in a clearing,
Beneath a fruit-laden fig tree
Surrounded by the lattice of its aerial roots
Formed like time and earth's trails,
Is laid a lotus blossom: the Forest Queen's blessing.

Gathered here, a strange assembly:

A serpent, black, a mongoose, in two colours,
Both weary,
And a duckling, woebegone.
Having journeyed long and far on their own
And heard the tale of the egg and the chrysalis made of gold,
They made their way, separately, alone,
To this sacred grove
Propelled -- they know not how --
There to await -- they know not what --
But assembled nonetheless
In shared silence and deep obeisance
Before the magic blossom.

The golden egg: laid by the Hen of Sustenance,

A shell-bound realm of astonishing distraction,
From which would break forth
A Rooster of dazzling plumage
To herald the dawn of awakening.
The golden chrysalis: woven by the Worm of Being
Out of the fabric of the universe and sewn with the thread of time,
From which would take wing
A divinely-hued Butterfly
To multiply the Garden of Life.

Suddenly, a ray of the new morn pierces the foliage

And a shaft of gold descends upon this gathering.
Strange transformations then ensue.
A ruby of deepest red appears on the crown of the serpent
As she waits, coiled, beneath the tree, head raised to light.
The mongoose, awash in rays of red and gold, looks at himself
To find a fully gilded coat to protect him from the deepest cold.
And the duckling too gets his due of amazing grace
As his wings spread with majestic ease to reveal a celestial swan.

The light of the new dawn now bathes the grove in flames of gold and red

As the serpent, the mongoose and the swan embrace, rapt in joy.
Bidding farewell to one another, they depart,
To make their way through water, land and sky
To the four corners of the earth
To tell their tale to eternity.

But there's a post-script, or a further twist to this curious tale.

At the very moment of the optical elusion
Two other wanderers reached, separately,
An edge of the forest clearing
And were witness to the whole episode.A
flea-bitten mongrel, a raggedy bag of skin and bone,
And an adolescent youth, lean and gaunt, humbly clad, in tattered garb.
Why were they here, what brought them there -- is not really known.

Stunned, entranced, they watched, boy and dog

In paralysed stupefaction.
Before they knew it the moment was over, the spell was cast.
The serpent, the mongoose and the swan had gone their separate ways
And simply vanished without a trace.
Back to real life, enraptured by it all, bewildered by what they saw,
Joyous beyond words and grieving for having missed some boat
But empowered even by remembrance,
They too dispersed.

Having been companion in witness

To what could possibly never bloom again,
Or even be believed by anybody else,
A bond was formed between boy and dog.
Both had sensed, even if they could not communicate in words,
The import of what they saw, and what life was all about.
Besides, the boy had found one true friend.
And as for the hapless beast, he knew he had found his master at last.

Now whether there were any further witnesses to all this --

Observing, comprehending, communicating --
Any person or animal, bird or bee, insect or tree,
Or any invisible sprite, or a flying unicorn just passing by --
Who would know?
And if there were, would one know?

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