A thing of sable light, black as crown; the crow – wings beating as he soars above the white lighthouse east of the gift, and comes to settle on the banks of the temesh river. He knows he must find the telling stone and drag it through mud like obsidian. The clockmaker desires it, the final stone for his automaton star. But crow has other plans. Crow bleeds wolf-blood, and can roar like lion when needed. Across the river the white lamp sits in mirage, awaiting Ish. Place of the crossed gate, where Xashi stood against the first falling, and the last. Made kings and legends of him, named the city for his brother. A temple on his mother’s back. Black-as-crown remembers as he dives, resurfaces and dives again. Finally, at long last, he drags the telling stone from ageless depths, to the edge of temesh waters. Trembling, exhuasted, afraid. But there is more to come. The airs seem to shimmer. The stone begins to speak.
Things have changed, crow. Things have changed in the city since I was a boy. A fallen city now, to my mind. Perhaps in my grief I overuse the term, winged one. But it is apt, I assure you. We were once so bright and capable, and the temples sang as we did. All manner of infinite light in the gates and mirrors; poem and prophecy. Gliding on considered perception as you do upon currents of air. Until something happened, beyond articulation. It sickened the sorcerers – the very guardians of star and living flame. Like a plague, a holocaust. Not just one fall, my beloved black-as-crown. We have fallen several times. Corralled, wiped, reassigned, as our cities and temples and gardens fall with us. History? Only the most recent reimagining. The hideous clockmaker knows this, and is more than complicit. Christos lacquered and misremembered, gifted as empty trinkets now. Children sold like chattel. Guardians bled and slaughtered. Dreamwalkers bent backwards, made alien to themselves, moving like grotesques with twisted limbs. A mockery of human and spider on the edge of the radiant.
A race of dancers with only the faintest memory of dance. You know this already, don't you, feathers of ink? You dance on eddies and nameless winds. You need not temesh stones to tell you. Still, I am a sunken thing, and desire to speak. But speech feels alien on this tongue. My skin thrills strangely at this cold air above the surface.
Now the human vessels dwell on the most ruthless arc of dreaming, engineered, and you can pass across this holy river on a bridge of a thousand years to reach the old house on the hill. Thing of betwixt, hear me. In my youth there were no bridges. We were still building them, invocation by invocation. Flesh of our flesh, dream of our dream. Those modern bridges of stone in the distance are beautiful, but they pale in comparison.
Crow, come closer. You needn’t fear me, howling one. I shall not clip your wings nor blunt your teeth or paws. That house across the river, that lantern on the hallowed hill, that is our parents’ house. That is our house. There was a greater house there once, and before that even greater. Before the wars, before the fires, before the city began to fold and fall. We who were there recall a staggering hush settling like white of the fire. Before the entire city began to plummet through itself, dragged through its own centre. Sky changing places with the earth. Flesh become stone, stone become darkened dream. We were all but torn in half.
Temesh still keeps us though. The rivers always remember. In their depths, in mysteries of light glinting on liquid flesh. Brother to maiden, and back again. Still, she is me. I am she. No chain can bind me. No grave can lull me. But the river keeps me, always. I shall not abandon the night-flight of flesh. I will not turn my back on human dreaming. I refuse this slyly transfigured fate. Tell the clockmaker and his hordes that I shall not be the stygian keystone in their gate of corrupted chronology. I defy their altar. Crow, you have dragged me into light once more. Through mud and rot and silence. I thank you. I say these words for all my beloved ones. My kind and passionate ones who know what it is to speak truth to undeserved power. Speaking with art as well as tongues. Speaking with souls and bodies. Take this message to them, winged one.
"Sister, brother…I trace you and cheer you in every attempt to remember. Every anxious, terrifying dance of sacral flesh. Writhe and fold and open, my beloved, as you negotiate. The rivers run with our blood, with our clay and ash. We shine, especially in darkness. Flesh is dance, poised to dance again. The very promise of Christos, of parity, of light by any name. Show me a place where rhythm and danger and passion is not – whether explicit or covert – and I shall begin again. Until then, hear me. Your flesh is a thing of occulted radiance. Your secrets move and rest and move once more, beloved. I watch them now, glinting like holy fire upon the face of the waters."
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