Slanting, pale-yellow layers of earth pressing immense one flat layer atop another form a magazine of stone. Its width penetrates deep into the terran base. Earth’s gravity pulls creatures at angle against its unyielding solidity. Millenia of precipitation and searing sunlight have pulverized its surface particle by particle. Stones the length of a man’s hand and arm, the size of one’s finger and the shape of one’s heart or lung lay beside and within the crevices that house countless creeping beasts. It is as if man were here scattered piecemeal, fragmented specs of moist organ ossified. Air is here thin and rare, as if it were a priceless tellurian commodity. Grist is as scarce. Steep declines spin vertigo in men’s heads, displaying a terrifying fall onto sharp igneous spearheads, fiery aflicker in tandem with Sol’s children. Though light finds its way here, the air is arid and cool, becoming cooler. Sinewy foliage lies flourishing beneath the arid weather where rain’s moisture finds its home in soil and dewy growth. Each range lies thus in verdant whiskers, as if a mount be barbiferous. Each sits defiant of element and careless of man. Shadows born of stone and sun stretch wide atop lengthy spaces of tree and stream. Whispy images of creatures’ birth and demise dance on stone so long as sunlight shine. Darkness forms curved lines in the sides of these behemoths as if to sculpt their faces or scar their countenance with cleft detail.
Sand-color-dirt pathways craft myriad inlets to this dry clime, like ancient bodies of long dead serpents entwining these hills with their final moment. Life thus abides near the bottom of each mount, enviously contemplating the peaks that jut hidden into the ancient blue and ubiquitous god, Ouranos. Black moss grows rocklike tumbled down onto the streams and ravines of the thin forests surrounding these heights. Every movement here lies dangerous, every sight a hazard. Yet the heights where the mind’s eye has not yet visited prove tantalizing. If some curious creature were able to survive this rarified ether and frigid transit, the taking of its peak would prove a triumph in itself, though man may see little and understand even less of his journey hither. And the sight of these ranges is beautiful where the sky god mates with his spouse, Gaia – where divine coitus begets life. A crisp blue sky meets green land. Yet the sky god lies now obscured by his foe, his grandson the thunderer, as he besets the clear sky with the soft white of small clouds growing darker, gathering together a menacing storm.
Now the crawling flurry of animals moves down into crevices where darkness proves warm comfort to miniscule bodies, onto the lows where warm air soothes the bodies of anxious creatures. Each inhabitant of this place now seeks home where shelter is the cover from the impending frost.
Fine specs – snowfall indiscernible at first - slink downward, the vanguard of wintry inclemency. The inhabitants of this beautiful and terrible place know the storm is near and they understand its danger. Singular does their motion press the mass of creature, as does the fleet of wintry cold bit by bit. Initially appears that rarified flake in scarce air while it flurries its descent onto the tawny-cold stone. Delightful is the sight as ever-more snow falls headway, obstructing the regal beauty of the range particle by particle and overcoming its magnificence with simple quantity. Thus this army of snow is capable of obscuring the colossus range but for a short time.
First the sight of its razor peaks becomes blurred as if a fine white dust had fallen onto its crisp clarity. The thin edge of rock seems no longer immediately lethal. As the crystal hardness of stone’s edge becomes less threatening, so does the downy comfort of cool air soothe the excited spirit and promote the easeful quiescence of rest. Silently, quietly Winter’s minions join the wild rush downward onto the pitiless rock. These flakes like kamikazee fall obscuring only vision, yet with purpose and in ever greater number. Soft creatures below accustomed to hardness see tiny ice collide with rock, then alter to water at last only adding to the moisture of the range. Yet these frontline soldiers accomplish their goal. The ground now more frigid becomes a bed for the mass of tiny ice that falls and lays on the range-rock, dampening the sound and stilling the motion of elements and beasts. These second and third lines pummel the ground with cold and moisture until the soil comes frigid and accepts oncoming soldiers of Winter onto its face and with each graceful, seemingly innocuous, fall of snow vision beholds less. Creatures make for their caves and succour their children knowing instinctively that this attack besieges sight and hampers movement, primary in the continuance of life.
Now the landscape of the range is become embossed with the spots of flakes descending. Black-moss and lofty mount with spindly tree and serpentine pathway are marbled with the white cold of descending specs. The barbiferous mounts are still visible, yet their now hazy clearness the snow further obstructs with descent. Here is the increase of the siege on sight and this is the beginning of the gathering of billions of cold-white specs upon the ground. Soon a frigid blanket of canescence will cover everything that lies open to rain or wind, but presently the siege continues as the sky now turned deep gray, then black allies itself with Winter. This heap of white envelopes every creature and the verdant beards of trees and masses of his troops settle upon the drooping leaves of unwilling oaks and Cyprus. The vivid colors of stone-green and crescent-red dull with cold. Winds blow the soldiers of Winter here then there in a wild descent back and forth. The spindly trees and the terran blades submit to the dynamic of the storm with a sway here and there. Brown smears of terra seem raised up onto the face of the sky and mingle earth with divinity. Here there is nothing distinct because of the turmoil except one obstinate tree defying the obscurity of white’s siege. The marbled serpentine pathways winding about the mounts pale and then gradually whiten. Even the spindly branches creeping upward from the base of trees’ trunks droop and lighten, though they never vanish in the manner that blades of grass or dark-large rocks meld with the landscape.
High atop the loftiest mount there is nothing any creature might see but the tumbling of Winter’s minions and the deep blanket of icy powder covering every thing below. Ground and tree and hole and shrub find no difference when covered with meters of snow. Each becomes not a singular thing, an entity in itself, but one homogenous mass of all, a true nothing. In fact even the sight of any thing lying hidden under the white is itself chalky with homogeneity. All difference melds. Sky becomes earth and rock becomes flesh and weight becomes buoyancy. Lines that configured a creature’s frame and produce the ends of each thing as it becomes, these themselves obscure themselves so that there is no indication that any thing is not anything else. The very unbreakable laws of physics unravel so that there is present no difference twixt here and there; now and soon; silence and din; thin and wide; down and up, even movement and stillness – heat and cold. Now the inhabitants of this mount find themselves buried within this divine mixture of element and frenzied motion, which one may not be able to determine is something or any thing at all. All attention is called to the storm and in this manner all sentience is one.
It is within this panorama of singularity that appears something distinct. It is not a man since man is incapable of residing here, or possibly this is where he really resides. No form of goat or feather of bird grown mountainous feet or airy wing over millennia appears here. No, here, if there be here where here is there, there is the sound of mashing snow and the hum of an ancient voice. It is a chant and a mantra; a choral lyric and an episode; the droning of complaint and the scream of murderous rage, an elegy. It is a didactic speech and the mind’s recitation of a novel to itself; the steady beat of Epic rhapsody and the sharp commands of generals defending their homes. It is the soothing voice of mothers and the disciplinary tones of fathers.
Each moment that passes brings about another crunch of snow as if each portion of the infinite segments of time could produce a footstep along an untrodden path. Thousands of steps become countless billions of footprints producing all paths and all dances of man. These steps cease suddenly and from the highest point of the uppermost peak – as if divinity touches this raging place – there appears one. He is dark-skinned with black hair, the definition of fine curls. He is pale-yellow skinned with hair fine and straight, long and flowing. He is pink-white skinned with short blond hair, cropped near his skull. His frame endures the cold easily – or is it heat? – though he possesses no habit. He is that which one is without adornment, pure. The singularity of the storm would astound another, but he understands well its presence, knows. He understands its singular plurality and its white siege makes him smile.
As yet he is unclothed, his garment nothing. He is not yet substantial, does not yet become anything. Slowly he descends from the chaos into concretion. Yet he does not become a man complete. He passes the heights of the mount still reveling in the singular disturbance of the snow. The storm abates by increments as he walks calm into the lives of men. He perceives hazy mounds of rock and bulk beneath the layers of snow still descending. He sees masses of trees gathered in bunches here and there around the base of the mount, crowds of living being awaiting the sound of his divine voice and on he sings while he performs his pas seul on his way down. His choreographed kinesis and melodious tongue roll like an enthralling drum beat the hymn of being.
Every creature fights its way upward onto the white-cold mass in order that they might witness him as he descends. If these creatures could smile, they would beam. If they could speak, they would seek his counsel. They know intuitively what he is since they are he. He calmly presses step upon step with a slow and jerky precision until grass stretches tall and Winter’s minions lose their hold upon mother Gaia. Green life glides past his feet; striped rodents and segmented wrigglers follow his steps; trees curl themselves with cool gusts. He ambles past beavers’ dams and bears’ dens. Clusters of Cyprus trees seem to raise themselves up until they overcome his meager now human form, their size and weight asserting themselves. Either the storm has calmed or he emerges a havoc, a singular harmony.
The fringe of the range is now as it was before the storm and One is present with them, in them. As he walks into the city of trees, he fades into the darkness of their covering. Night falls upon the rich gathering of color and calm surrounding the hill. While some animals find rest in trees and burrowed holes, others begin their regular habit. Some creatures will forage for victuals while others will become prey. One finds himself neither at rest nor at labor, but in some sense both while he communes with them. He is not completely, nor truly human this one last night.
Copyright 2005 Kirk Shellko (Lucian Whyte)
All rights reserved.