We stop at the top of the small hill, and look down at the road meandering away from us. The bikes lie on the short grass, next to tall poles that remind us that, here, the snow can erase everything, and level the landscape, but we are too early for it. The air is cold, the pale rays of the winter sun lit the distant crags. Soon the night will fall. We set the tent not far from here, and lit a fire. Tomorrow is another day.
The world is born anew. The air is clean, the path is untrodden. The sky is empty. There is no sound, no cloud. There is nothing. Is this the end?
Voices resonate here, voices from the present, but also voices from the past, maybe from a long gone past. Those who erected these pillars knew how to build, to last. Their footsteps, perhaps even the sound of their tools, chiselling the stone, can still be heard.
A little further, the sun shines in the courtyard. Did they hold councils here, did the walls hear judgements, or laughter, or even the sound of water rising? Where did they go? Did they leave their work behind, did they travel far, did they leave our world? Were they time-travellers?
The old mill stands still, in the frozen landscape; there, they worked, had fun, sometime loved. Now, there is only emptiness, silent stones, pale ghosts recounting long forgotten stories. All round lived once a multitude, poor but hopeful. Children were born, iron was cast, dreams were woven. Why they all left, what was their fate, did they lose faith? We dare not ask the ravens, and shall never know.
Weekly Writing Challenge #150
We lie on the meadow, a mid-summer dream,
High above the woods, a large bird soars to the deep blue sky:
we have seen the mark, the proof that she was there,
among us, our dearest ghost…
Photo: Medway valley, ©2014 Honoré Dupuis
The shallow, clear water runs lazily between the rocks,
and the little islands of green life.
Oft we crossed the old bridge,
On our many walks, through this blessed land,
Observing, and being observed,
by creatures far more ancient, and wiser, than us.
Oft, we looked at our reflections in the mirror below.
Only, now, we only see the light of the sky,
for our images have been erased.
We love the long walks, along the shore, the closeness of the sea, the flying birds, the wet land and the immense skies. I watch your steps, the wind blowing your hair, I see you as one with the earth, the waves, the clouds.
I know we will be tired at the end of the day, and yet, we stop and watch: the reeds spelling their ancient story, the cries of seagulls, the bright colours of sand poppies.
For we know: once, long ago, we came from the sea, and our footprints in the wet sand just remind us of that long love story.
For centuries the great abbaye had stood, in its majesty and glory, in the peaceful landscape. It was then a centre of faith and science, where wise men worked, and kept the flame of civilisation burning. They were frugal, up in the frosty mornings before dawn, ploughing the fields and teaching the children; their chants filled the vales and forests, rising to the sky.
Then the heretics had come, plundering, burning, torturing the faithful. A dark veil had fallen on the earth, the Dark Lord’s reign had begun.
But today, in the faint light of dawn, I can hear the monks’s voices, the soft footsteps of their sandals. I sense their presence, their curiosity, even, about this strange creature, this human being who survived the fall. Their anthem is but a light breeze through the icy air.
The arch stands, witness to a millennium of folly. And there, on the cold stones, I kneel, praying to the true God, in submission and piety, the last, shivering survivor of the war, that ended the evil empire.
Dedicated to the builders of the great abbayes of Yorkshire, and their defenders.
It was a wonderful day, walking along the ancient path, through the beloved hills. Closer to the village, a helpful farmer had left the way clear, in the middle of the fields of colza. The scent of the crop was strong in the cool air. They stopped, looking at each other.
“We will remember this instant of peace,” she said slowly, “when winter is back, and the ground is frozen…”
He smiled, and took her hand. “Not that long ago, I remember climbing that hill in the snow… And it must have been with you!” They laughed.
We have known each other for a long time. In the garden of the small house, some distance from here, she used to perch in the old tree, just in the corner, and was able to follow my progress in the morning, making coffee, in the kitchen. Often the Crow and I looked at each other, appreciating each other’s company, and the morning peace.
When we moved here she gave me a recommendation for her jackdaw cousins (large birds with streaks of white on their bellies), who inhabit this neighbourhood, and, to tell the truth, most of the city’s parks and streets.
I think she has a beneficial influence on us, and I have concluded she’s in fact a guardian angel. Her speech is always to the point, sober, if not melodious. I trust her judgement, and whenever she’s unhappy, so am I.
In the little garden we had hilarious moments, for example when she, and her sisters, kept a watch on the local heron… For she’s a good fighter, she looks after her partner and family, and don’t bother her neighbours.
I wish all humans were like her.
Photo: the Crow and the Heron © Honoré Dupuis, 2012