My Lady, I hope you understand the breadth of your reach. The depths of our genius. The grey between what was, what is, and how much I had to lose to assure this anonymity. You can hide in plain sight now, in a way that I never can. I miss you terribly but I'm glad of this exile. Does that sound like a lie? A conceit? A gifted stranger making time and tempest with the spaces in between? Shades talk as I do. Recursive, mercurial tongue. But I'm not really a ghost, Kara. I move like one, speak like one, but I'm something much grander. You don't really desire me, my darling. And that's as it should be. You crave the idea of me, on occasion. The angel at his most potent. And why not? I'm a thrilling idea when all is said and done. A storied forgery truer than the thing itself. Apotheosis in a minor key. The beginning and the end. I want you to know that I appreciate every imagined kiss, and I resent nothing. You were always so kind to me. Shall I speak our old promise, my wildest valiant? Then hear this. The idle rich have no need of coin, but the blessed poor grow stronger on a diet of gold. Princess, I made a mountain for you once. Before you became regent of the evermore. I built a hill and put a star in its hollow. An archer's curve unlike any other. As it was with those legends of the Yeoman and the Marian. Wild spirits of the trees. The hooded prince and the graceful, erudite young woman. The shrouded god and his consort. The One Who Is Three. Healer, weaver and dancer. Heretic, they call her now. Witch, Catholic conjurer. A dark sophomore of the May Queen casting at the forest's edge. How times and dreams have changed. But I needn't fancy myself a prince of thieves any longer. Not when I trade in a phantom's grammar. What use is theft when I give every piece of my myth-making away for free? It's just Kassi's broken hell, my sweet one. Just a twelfth century fever-dream. A Victorian's thoughtful treason. Comfort calls late it seems, but it does call. Because I love you. I want you to have agency, freedom and a sense of these depths. I want you to kiss the real me, however briefly. Kara, I saw the weaving of northern lights in your fingertips when you were just a girl. But I sensed far more than that. The breadth of an entire life. It hurts to pretend I'm brazen and blasé where my beloved ones are concerned. Especially when I know I can never be cherished in the same way. But what else do you expect from a time-traveller? From an archangel? I'm not the only lonesome god threaded in mist and curio, casting at the forest's edge. We ran together once, in dreams. Outlaws, fugitives. Protectors. Your aim is true, Kara. Truer even than mine, perhaps. It takes a certain kind of nobility to pin a Watcher's heart to the headboard. But we kept our estate. I tried and I tried to protect the hidden, shifting lore. The world behind the world. It's written in your names now, that estate, though we've never known and never kissed. It is written in the grammar of fletch and quiver. Golden thread and the needle's eye, like an arrow through the heart of my own disbelief. You see, my Father graced this fallen prince with an insight he didn't deserve and a chance to remake the world. A blessed exile. He gave me the tongue of a ghost and a Valkyrie’s heart, hidden in green. I’m a thief of pages, stealing only from myself. The rich have knowledge but so little wisdom. The poor have wisdom yet so little time. And so I give them time, and comfort. The riches found only in stories. In doing so I hope one day to be wise. I keep nothing for myself, my Lady. I pass every penny on to those like you who would walk with a certain grace. Not this lonesome wraith pretending an angel of light.
Thursday, 24 November 2022
Lost one, I know you better than these neophytes. Let's not pretend that I don't. Tempest, fury and fractal. The rim of dark light from the shield of your supposed victories. Dressed for success like an armour of mysteries. You think life stops and starts with a gold coin now, as you court this legion of fools? Demented shallows, all of them, shorn of wing and worth. Truth be told I never imagined my beautiful Thomas so pedestrian. Hear me, my love. I too can turn a cross, or the sky. I can set a fire in hidden places the likes of which you’ve never known. Except with me. Even when you burned the garden you knew nothing of flame. Smokeless radiance. A light without ashes. Lucerna Matutina. I know what you are. A wounded, feckless thing making waves in the waveless. It takes an ex-priest to feel truly faithless, as I unfold my hands. Still a feather on your collar, I wonder? Still a Roman through and through? Tell them of seminary, Fallen. How we lay together. A wild concordance of mirrors and scholars. See, this mortal world still means something to me. Its people mean something. You and I, brother, we’re but dreams of their ink and imagining. Pre-existence doesn’t mean that you are not made by those who love you, those who carry you. All the knowledge in the world, dear one, and yet so little understanding. I’m not afraid of my softness. My love for mankind. I don’t see them as evil, or chattel. To me they are beautiful and brave. You blame me for these hauntings, these fractures. But soldiers can lose their minds without forgiveness. When the heart hardens and darkens. Even you know that. Dare you admit how much you miss me? The light of life between your teeth. Fair warning; such an admission might kill you in the end. Annihilation. You ask me how one might annihilate the absence of light. You want gold, dear one? Truly? A shimmering coin for the turning of the world? Well, sometimes angels bury treasure on the shore. Even God buries treasure. Galleons, medallions, paper planes and glitter. I'll happily give you what you think you want. Eternity, gilded in Aurum. But nobody wants it for long. Believe me. Please hear me, brother. A stolen kiss in the shadows doesn't make me shiver. I'm a druid and a thief and a blood-borne altar. The crooked in the king never made me falter. It's not as simple as turning a key in the navel of the land, or owning the essence of a numinous thing. Who do you think made you what you are? It was not our Father. He gave you choice. I gave you gravity. When you kiss me, Samael, I watch you go all the way down. I know you better because I loved you. I still love you, despite myself. Let's not pretend that I don't. But one day soon you might no longer exist. Perhaps you never did, except in my dreams. Sing to me as I once sang to you and I'll fill your mouth with gold. Tell me again, just once, how prettily you thought of humanity when we kissed, and I'll tell you how you die.
Tuesday, 1 November 2022
Sometimes a smile can slip through the darkness like a spectre through an open barrow. Like a wraith through the river. T'was not always so, such joyful ease. But what is holy, really, without a sense of fun? It isn't just demonic things that you find grinning in the dark. Brighter things smile in secret too. At the depths of human ingenuity, or divine stewardship. We've made a secular thing of all this play; jack-o-lanterns, hobgoblins and fay. Shimmering shades. And yet, still we seek the higher language. A holy frivolity. The chance to stand unafraid in the gate, even as darker forms swirl about unseen. Such things can be noticed if one has vantage. Watching from the roofs and spires of the city, or perhaps even the sky. I adore this aspect of human consciousness. This desire to find fun even in the darker half of the year. Modern man is not the first to notice the phantasmagoria of autumn. The harvest of the fall. Burnt-orange, brown and gold amidst the green. The forests aflame with the promise of their own rebirth in these days of the dead. It's funny how a century can pass in the blink of an eye. Perhaps it's the academic in me. One spends an entire career studying rhetoric whilst life itself is far more pragmatic. The strange overcast genius of Poe, Bronte or Machen, yet all the while children are born. Mocking despondence with their bright-eyed wonder. I remember walking London's paths during those gas-lit evenings and nineteenth century nights. Children don't notice shadows the way we adults do. Pomp and ceremony. The mummery of our gilded Victoriana. No, they see a brighter, truer world. I prefer their modern mischief, as all angels do. Those hideous workhouses torn to nothing, at least here in the west. Longer lives, greater health, a wry vitality – even in these darker, occulted months. Sadly, the poor and destitute still line the streets of my city but far greater numbers have warmth and comfort now. The youngest among London’s working classes aren't heart-breakingly wan and barefoot. Warmth and shelter are nothing to be sniffed at, friends. Believe me. As the young rush door to door with delirious optimism, dressed in folklore whilst seeking sugared treats – I'm so grateful that this is now the tenor of October's end. T'was not always so. Sometimes a change for the better can slip unseen through our history. Even a trained eye can forget to notice the glory and hope swirling all about in the darkest of days. I still pray for the homeless, the vulnerable and forgotten. Indeed there are beggars at the gates of every shining city. But there is a level of dignity here among the less fortunate, a level of safety and pleasure that wasn't always afforded. It was fought for, desperately, by the best among the living and the dead. Basic human rights, for all souls. The sacred fire of the hearth. I see it carried in so many hearts these days. Before, in the old cities, the darker cities, there was virtually no talisman against winter's icy chill. At least nothing so egalitarian. Misery began at summers end and found its way into the bones of the city's least fortunate. But now so many more are safer, warmer, sated with stories. Preoccupied with the sweet luxuries of dress-up and shadow-play. This brings such comfort to a historian. Especially an angel. It means not everything is endlessly ugly and despondent. Sometimes we can be playful, with the optimism and wonder of a child. Shine can exist with shade and light can slip through the darkness like a trick, or a treat.