Sunday, August 29, 2010

XXXIX. In orchards rough-handled by hope

In the hooded gyre of the Age of Eichenblon's Crater:

Descendants of Azargalatzin, known as the Pryoglau,
Court, love and marry like the native bees
Who overwinter in hollow stems of bamboo,
And house their families behind walls of mud
In orchards rough-handled by the hopes of spring.

A compass wall separates the northernmost hotels
From the city divided into schools and embassies,
Where nomenclature and mansions are never remade.
A boundary tower is a major landmark of atonement.

A nation of faith is slow to regenerate after plague and fire;
Treaties are secret and documents of science are censored.
A polyglot violation of sentiment and status brings upheaval.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Name of God

Ga-ukogomen asked me, while I was drawing the markings above, "What do you think they are?"

"I don't know," I replied.

"Ignorance never stopped one of your kind from thinking." That sounds like he was sneering, but I don't think he was. Ga-ukogomen has an ego, which is very evident, but I do not assume I am able to understand how his ego works.

I paused and looked at my paper for a moment, but I really did not need time to consider it. "I think they are the names of God," I said.

"You don't believe in God, you are an atheist," said Ga-ukogomen.

I know it does not make sense, but that's what I feel when I am drawing these things. Like I am writing the name of God. "Maybe I'm a bad atheist, or a lapsed atheist," I told Ga-ukogomen. "It is not an easy thing to be."

I had been eating peanuts earlier; there were a few scattered shells on the table. I watched Ga-ukogomen peck at them and wondered why he needed to feign a bird's inquisitiveness. "They might not be the names of God, but they are names, right?" I asked him.

"All names are the names of God," he said.

I tried to hide my frustration. "That does not actually answer my question."

"All names are the names of God," he repeated.

"How can you say that? You are a far better atheist than I can ever hope to be." Ga-ukogomen, Nihr Avna-attu and Tsitao-utna have lived and died untold number of times, and have never encountered God. All three angels are convinced atheists.

"When all names are the names of God, it is easy to be an atheist." Ga-ukogomen abandoned the peanut shells and pretended to be interested in the sugar bowl. "You can hope."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drawing angels

This is a portrait of the three angels of the Lorwolm.

Ga-ukogomen is the largest figure in the center. Nihr Avna-attu is the figure on the right, Tsitao-utna is on the left, and on the far left is a fourth angel, an entity named Yohrdith Eondhel. He is a faint presence in this picture because I have met him only once.

I met the new angel in the grocercy store. I was in the pasta aisle, gazing at jars of Newman's Own spaghetti sauce, when I became aware of someone standing close beside me, at least a foot taller than me. I turned and looked up into a face that bore a smooth porcelain resemblance to a young Paul Newman, as Nathan Hale perhaps, or Billy the Kid from The Left Handed Gun. A Paul Newman with long hair in greenish brown Pre-Raphaelite curls, more green than brown. He was the biggest, most solid, most human-looking angel I had ever seen, with the round limbs of angels in Italian Renaissance paintings, best described by the word "comely". He was dressed in a dull red t-shirt and worn-out jeans, and for a moment I thought, no, this cannot be an angel, this must be another shopper. Then I noticed he was barefoot, and his feet were clean and pale. I looked back at his face and I no longer saw anything like Paul Newman because that face was composed in a serenity I am sure no living human can achieve.

A feeling like terror clutches my heart when the Lorwolm appear, but it is not terror. It is a physical clenching; it is my body's recognition of an angel's presence. I felt this signal while standing in the grocery store beside this angel who seemed to be studying a dead man's face on spaghetti sauce jars.

"He wears a different hat," the angel spoke. It sounded like a solemn pronouncement of great significance.

"Who wears a different hat?" I asked.

He lifted the index finger of his left hand in answer and pointed to a label on one of the jars. His finger stopped an inch short of touching the jar, but the jar jerked and rattled against the other jars. The angel lowered his hand. The jars became still.

"Who are you?" I asked.

The angel turned his eyes to me. They seemed to be perfectly normal eyes, I was glad to see. They were clear and beautiful, gray-blue in color.

"I am your death beyond hell," said the angel.

That was a nasty shock. "You are my death beyond hell? What are you talking about? There is no hell, right?" Ga-ukogomen had told me there is no hell. It is not needed. Human souls manage to punish themselves more than adequately.

"I am not your death. I am..." he began to speak slowly and with empahasis, "...your...death...eyond...hell."

"I don't get it. You are not my death, but you are my death beyond hell?"

"No. No. My name is not "my death". My name is Your Death Eyond Hell." He peered at me with a look of bemused anxiety that made him seem quite human.

"Your name is Your Death--wait a minute." It finally occured to me why we were misunderstanding each other. "Spell it. Spell your name in English, can you do that?"

"Surely. I can spell my name in thirty-three languages and fourteen alphabets." His smile was beatific, his tone was supercilious. Until I met one, I never realized how much angels like to brag about themselves.

That was my introduction to Yohrdith Eondhel, three months ago. I have not seen him since.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Fourth Day

I "forgot" to put away Tsitao-utna's pencil. The next morning (on the fourth day), in the middle of eating my oatmeal, I picked up the pencil and doodled this on the back of an envelope:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Six Gackles, One Robin, Twelve Blue Feathers

I walk two miles to the post office every weekday and nearly every Saturday, to pick up my mail. Approximately every week, usually on a Wednesday, I walk the same distance (but in a different direction) to the library. On most Sundays I walk to a Catholic church a mile and a half away, but I do not go to mass, I just walk back, sometimes stopping for a bagel on the way home. That is my excercise program in its entirety. Last Wednesday I returned from my walk to the library and opened my front door to find Tsitao-utna strongly present in the house. Even though I stood only in the front hallway, I felt like she filled every room. Her presence oppressed me with urgency as I hurried to the kitchen, and I was so awkward in my haste I almost dropped her blue blowl as I removed it from the cupboard. As soon as I set her bowl and pencil on the table, she spoke. Her voice was harsh, hurried, and full of metallic clicks. She said a single phrase: "Siksga kelzwun rahben." And then she was gone, and the house was clear of all sense of her occupation.

Her abrupt departure left me a little shaken and I sat down in a chair, plopped like a sack of potatoes. I sat there for a while, staring at her bowl, thinking of nothing much. Eventually I heard a tick-tick-tick at the window and I looked up. A tiny gray bird was pecking at the window frame. It was Ga-ukogomen in his kinglet smallform. I hastened to my feet and opened the window. It is a peculiar thing to hear words of unmistakable clarity spoken from the beak of a bird. You almost feel you should look for a puppeteer or a ventriloquist. Ga-ukogomen spoke only five words before he flicked away through the Tecomaria vines that crowd the light from that window. He said, "You need paper and coffee."

After I made coffee, I sat down at the table with my mug and a piece of typing paper. I stared at Tsitao-utna's bowl and pencil, drinking my coffee, trying not to think about what I was going to draw. Messages from the Lorwolm are not meant for me, and I believe I might damage the conduit of transmission if I try to interpret them while I am in the process of writing them down for the first time. After I have written them down, clear and complete, a certain order might suggest itself, and only then do I allow myself to edit.

This is what I wrote:

I left the bowl, pencil and paper on the table. The next day, I added this to the first drawing:

On the third day, I added this:

I was staring at the page, wondering if I was finished, wondering if there was another line or squiggle I needed to draw, when a flicker at the edge of my eyesight made me look up. Ga-ukogomen was perched on the back of the chair opposite me, snapping his wings as birds do when they are setting their feathers into order.

He repeated Tsitao-utna's phrase, "Siksga kelzwun rahben." Except this time I heard, "Six gackles, one robin." And Ga-ukogomen extended it, so the whole sentence became "Six gackles, one robin, twelve blue feathers."

"It will be the name of the last Mesiok, " Ga-ukogomen added. "She will not leave this planet until the second gyre of the Four Wandering Moons."

When the Lorwolm use the term "leave this planet", I think they are talking about death, but I am not sure. They might be referring to a journey. To the Lorwolm, death and life are part of the same journey. They do not think of death as an absence of life, since they have died and lived many times. They regard death as a process of life, and fear it no more than we fear things like sleeping and digestion.

"Will she be an important person?" I asked Ga-ukogomen, but as soon as I spoke I realized it was an unnecessary question. Everything the Lorwolm tell me will have significance, some day in the future.

"She will be the last Mesiok," Ga-ukogomen repeated. "Her name will be a key to a locked book and a doom to a continent."