He reached down to pick the chestnut from the ground; holding its green and spiky roundness in his hand. Transported back to the schoolyard of short trousers bruised knees and conkers. Vinegar soaked and the pain at loosing a sixer to Jones. He cracked the shell and marvelled at the smooth and shiny surface. He eased it from the tender flesh and held it to his eye. Such perfection and mint as the first garden. He smelled matron and armpits, polish and carbolic, shoe parade before school, chalk, Parker pens and Quink. It flooded back into the tide of his life. Tears held and distant hillsides waiting for his parents who never came. Table tennis and essays, letters on a Sunday and prep before “lock up”. His pride at the first hair and the confusion of his body. Boyhood fondlings and the first time, the first time that he was silent for the sake of another. Visions of bushmen caves and arrows and hidden skulls. Of buried treasure and lost parchments. How could he know that they would call him a liar for what he saw? He learned to pull back that tongue.
He let it go once and he didn’t know why. He spoke of the dream, in the dream and he touched their hearts.
He ran it through his fingers. Every finger, like silver balls chiming with the rhythmic motion of his life. He weighed and he measured. In that conker he felt. He saw it as the tree it would become. He saw it dangling on a thread. He saw it on the mantelpiece and in a jar. He saw it baked in the oven to make it hard; the conker to conquer. He saw the tricks of the trade. He saw it in the light. And he remembered Mariabronn.
He stepped forward and into the glen. The cold dawn light matched the colour of his vision. Grey blue, grey blue. And the Son lifting the will o’ the wisp mist. Rising and swirling, seaming the world and steaming. On the edge of the clearing he saw the lone Wolf. Watching. Watching him and he thought he saw it wink. There was a lush knowing in its eyes. It watched him a little longer and in a cough of recognition it turned and left. He went further into the clearing and lay down his sack. He sat down by the sycamore and sighed. He closed his eyes and summoned the dream. He called it to him, asking for the vision of the way ahead. He stilled his breath, closed his eyes and called into the void. He muttered the words the wizard had taught him. And it came.
He saw the lengthening shadows of summer sunsets, long and longer, stretching into the gap between the worlds, the ephemera of a dusk and the in between. The sense of connectedness and the burning in his hands. The feeling of the surge of power in him and his eyes beginning to shine, the pregnancy of the moment and the movement all around. Hush! Hush….Hush.
Oak tree stump, with clothes of linen white. Pierced by the sword. Sangraal. On the caw the clearing shifted to the marble Temple floor. The oaken altar like pulsing veins and heart, in the clarity of the incense filled room, alive in the rock. The two visions overlapped the clearing and the Temple. How? He felt himself standing and his coarse peaty robes became at once light and delicate. He looked at his hands dirty and fine. He held them out and felt the rainbow between them. He played with it a while, balancing and measuring the flow.
He walked and the moss floor of the Temple moved the marble. Footstep, echoed in hall and in wood, dew and holiness at the same. He moved to the altar and knelt. He felt the dampness of the grass on his knees and then he crossed himself. He bowed his head and the chain-mail rustled. He reached to his temples feeling his hair and the crown. He clasped his hands together in prayer and the Monks began to sing. He stood and bent his fingers in doubt. Why? Slowly he reached out his hand then brought it back. He turned and looked back into the clearing it seemed far away. Caught on the song he turned again. As he reached the sleeve fell back. Each hair on his arm was like ocean footsteps, with electrifying eels of exquisite tension. He spread his fingers and turned his hand to cup. As he touched the golden circle exploded in his eyes, the lighting force surged through his feet and welded him to the ground. A circle of light bonded him. The earth and the heavens flowed within him and he knew. He knew more.
Now trembling he willed his hand to move and as he lifted the Angels called. The fabric of the world was rent and he knew. He moved his hand towards his mouth and inhaled the scent, figs and fenugreek, cardamom and lace, roses and blood, lavender and lemon, corpse and cadaver, butterfly and mint, harpsichord and thunder, seagull and spray, virgins and devils, priests and parchment. Quivering now he brought it to his lips. He raised it and began to sip…
The raindrop landed on his nose, wetting his marrow within. Quenching like blacksmiths and calming like cobwebs, strung in the mist. He heard the deer approach and bow its head and the robin at his feet. He felt the worms in the earth and the doves in the sky. He felt kangaroo and penguin, polar bear and ant. He felt ivy and hawthorn, mushroom and milk. He saw candle and cavern, river and stream. He knew all that there is and all that has been. And he wept and he laughed.
He looked to his hand and ran it through his fingers, soft and waxy, precious, perfect and Heaven scent.