Toteninsel

Inspired by an evening, roaming through the second floor of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin

 

DSC_0517

In the morning I went to the gym and trained as usual, carefully.  I felt relaxed, the dizziness was gone. Back home, the most important person had gone to her own class. We would meet later, and I had time to prepare breakfast. First I sorted the gym clothes, making sure the wet towel and T-shirt were hung out to dry. The air was still cold but the sun was shining. The clear new bright sun of February. I closed the door of the balcony. Suddenly the dizziness had come back, like a small cloud out of nowhere. I laid out the breakfast table, poured a cup of coffee. The pain in my left arm was now sharper. I was used to it. The price for keeping fit was to be in permanent pain, or so I had told myself, long ago. I sat down, breathed deeply. The apartment was silent, I could only hear the deep growl of traffic, down on the avenue, and the crows exchanging gossips, up there on the roof. I had time. The most important person would not be back for another hour. I decided to write a short note: “Feeling a little tired, if I am asleep when you come back, just wake me up, softly! Xx”

I decided to lie down on the sofa, pulled the light blanket over the pain, smiling. The crows had gone silent. The traffic noise seemed to recede. The pain had moved from the arm to somewhere  between the shoulder and the middle of the chest. All at once it grew even sharper. There was no surprise, I had long expected this: not a question of if, merely when. My vision had gone vague, all sounds had receded. I felt a great calm, just the pain, invasive, and I knew I was going. Soon it was dark. A last thought was how simple this was.

The separation came later. How much time had gone by then, I could not even imagine. The pain had gone, only remained utter lightness. The light was dimmed. The room and the surface where I had rested were gone. Moving felt easy. Was it really moving? Exploring without motion, rather. Was this still me? These questions felt unimportant. I sensed, rather than looked, around. There was a shore, an expanse of water. No sound.

Then I saw him. I knew immediately who he was, although he looked much younger than I had expected. Charon’s eyes betrayed his apparent youthfulness. He was deaf, but his benevolent words came clear to my mind. “I was expecting you earlier, and I am pleased to see you.” Then a little later – but what did that mean now? – “Take place when you are ready, there is plenty of time.”

I stood at the front of the boat, exactly as in the painting. Standing, I was aware of the long white robe, of the hood. I felt somehow very dignified, at peace. Charon sat at the back, his muscular arms in evidence under the medieval shirt. Without moving I could see his calm face, the kindness of his eyes, and yet the absence of smile. The boat was now moving effortlessly, or rather gliding on the surface of the water. I could see the rudders cutting through in silence. The light was now brighter, under a cloudless but rather dark sky. I had the feeling we were immobile and that it was  the water that was flowing under our boat. 

Then the island was there, at first a small icon, and then the cypresses came into view. The sight of them was a sheer pleasure, a feeling of fulfilment. The dark green contrasted with the pale face of the high walls and rocks at the water edge. A faint mist surrounded the vision. “We have arrived,” said Charon without a word, “don’t worry about your luggage, it will be taken care of.” I only then notice the ancient coffer at my feet. I looked up, saw the small windows on the face of the cliff. Scents: the trees, sea water, salt in the air. I knew there was a cell for me, somewhere deep in the immensity of the island. Lightheaded I turned to the sea: Charon and his boat had gone. Small waves were crushing on the narrow shore. Did I hear sea birds in the sky?

“Wake up lazy bones!” said the most important person, her crystal laugh resonating in the room. The crows were back, and so was the traffic. Why did those legs feel so heavy?

Photo: Arnold Böcklin, die Toteninsel, Alte Nationalgalerie

Die Toteninsel, in Deutsche Wikipedia

Arnold Böcklin, Artikel in Deutsche Wikipedia

Das Gästebuch ist noch immer ein beliebter Weg für Museumsbesucher, sich selbst zu Ausstellungen oder Werken zu äußern.”

Timeless #writephoto

Thursday photo prompt

 

derbyshire-lambs-hawk-kestrel-crone-stone-tideswell-lillingstone-025

 

We stood silent, and felt the temperature rise a little, as morning light reflected on the monolith. We moved a little closer, you held my hand tighter. Was that a shimmer on the surface of the rock?

“It’s alive, and it has sensed us”, you said very low. “It knows we are here, perhaps even who we are.” The ground was still frozen, except for a circle around the stone. “See the markings: it’s a sentinel…”

More stones were buried deep, all over the moor. Was this an ancient ritual site, or the remnants of an even older battlefield? If this was a sentinel, was it still signalling to anyone? And who were they?

Was it still talking to its masters? And if it were alive, then… was it alone?

 

 

Watcher #writephoto

Watcher

waiting

 

The moor already wears its autumn veil, and, soon, we will be home. I know what you will say, when we walk up the hill, towards the place we have chosen for our retreat.

“Look! He’s waiting for us, he’s there, can you see him?”

But I know that only you can see him, that he ever appears only for you, through the ancient mist of long gone times.

For you are his beloved, the one he lost, when the Earth was young, and I, poor mortal, was but dust in a distant star.

And, as always, I will say:

“Yes, I can see him, bless our guardian, the watcher over our fragile spirits…”

Circle #writephoto

Circle

circle-of-stones

 

They were six of them, and their leader may have been Galahad. There, they fought, back to back, from one dawn to the next, for days and nights, against the armies of Evil.

There they died, for, then, knights never surrendered. And there, the circle of stones remind us: the battle continues, and they watch us, puzzled, at times amused, more often annoyed. So much effort, for such so small people…

Wishes #writephoto

Wishes

wishing-tree

 

They danced around the old stone, young and old, to the sound of pipes and drums, evoking ancient spirits, and secret deities. Then the elders had let the villagers hang the colours of their wishes, and he had waited a little while.

He wanted the spirits to grant him one favour. As he carefully bound the piece of red and white ribbon to the branch, he thought of Her, of the calm dark eyes that had held him in awe, of the unreal grace of Her face: he was only asking to see Her again, to speak to Her, to beg Her to accept him in Her kingdom.

Fallen #writephoto

Fallen

fallen

 

For millennia they stood, tall and proud guardians of the hills. Humans, and smaller animals, sought refuge at their feet. Much later, villagers danced around them, and celebrated sunrise, touching the smooth stone for luck and prosperity. No-one knew what spirits, or forces of nature, had erected them, long, long ago, when the earth was young.

Then the floods came, washing away much of the ancestral soil, and the ground had given under their weight: tired after all, they’d fallen slowly to the ground, as if punished by the gods for their pride.

Now, the sleeping giants lay, silent, surrounded by ferns and the quiet voices of young trees. The earth is again at peace, humans, and smaller animals, still come here to rest at their feet.

Blue #writephoto

Blue

light

 

So far away… Yet this is now home, the shelter where we can repair, rebuild our strength. 

Here they won’t find us, such a small planet, and a pale star, insignificant: on the edge of the known world, and the sea…

The blue ocean will hide us, we will build a village on these shores, our children will learn here, they will learn about Earth, and the Republic.

Then, one day, perhaps in generations, they will take again to the stars, and leave this world.

But, for now, the blue planet is our home.

 

Inspired by Sue Vincent’s last photo prompt of 2017, and a viewing of The Last Jedi.