Twelve

There is a place at the edge of the curve of a magnolia leaf where it is told there is a door between the living and the dead. There are some whose blood and bone, knit together with purple bells tingling lilac and ruby throated hummingbird song, is the key. They simply pass between worlds with no trace. There is no door too rusty for them to glide through, their entrance welcomed by the guardians; though they require of others who find this door a key before granting passage.

Once upon a time a man found this door. He gazed upon it where silken strands, adhered to its edges, made it visible. Fine threads stood out announcing themselves in the morning dew, bearing diamond light droplets, with a sleeping spider in the middle. The man examined it from all directions, treading gently on damp grasses beneath his feet where it had caught his eye on an early morning walk out to greet the day. He moved quietly and marveled at its beauty. Then he went away into the toil and moil and turmoil of his day.

The world whirled by. He heard drills hammering at the earth, plundering and tearing, uncaring. He watched pipes of metal, buried deep, burst open and spoil the soil, poison the waters, sicken the sons and daughters of all beings. He learned of detritus and debris amidst the stars, cluttering, sputtering, blocking. He absorbed the anguish of whales whose wave paths for communication were obstructed by vessels out at sea where they had no business to be. He was flooded by the cries of children, their souls silenced by crude socialization that prescribes cruder medication, caged as the lions and tigers in boxes behind bars, shut away from the stars.

He sang songs, he cried, he laughed, he spoke with all about all that he cared for. He held signs, marched in active protest, stood infront of tanks and bulldozers, wrote letters to the editors. He travelled, he served, he taught, he cooked, he planted, he shared.  But nothing changed. Then one night he sat beside the fires glow and a spider came along and her face she did show. And he remembered the door at the edge of the curves of a magnolia leaf.

“Spider, spider, tell me, do you know how I may gain passage to what’s beyond?” He asked her.

“A key,” she replied lazily.

“What kind of key and how do I find it?” he queried.

“The key is within sight, it must match what you seek beyond to spark light. Beware the Guardians. Should the key not be right, they will claim your life and leave you as blight.” She stated, then climbed up a singular strand, pulling it up behind her.

He pondered this late into the night. He mused on this late into many nights and through many days, fasting and praying. And it came to him what he must do. He prepared himself carefully.

One morning he awoke and began by visiting all the people he loved, the ones who loved him. Those who had taught him and held him in his broken hours. Those who had listened to him and held him in fields of flowers. He sweetened their mouths with plump red strawberries, their ears with music, their cheeks with salty kisses.

He visited the river where he scrubbed his body with mud and grit, sloughed away dead skin with stones, while rainbow fish nibbled at his feet and a stag drank water from the opposite bank. He floated in the gurgling water and bathed, watching the zig zag clouds streak through the blue sky above.

In the evening, cleansed and naked, he climbed up to the topmost reaches of an ancient Magnolia; her waxy leaves shining around tight buds whose creamy petals and sticky sweet scent had yet to come. He sat there with Hawk on his shoulder watching the sky; waiting. Squirrel sat across from them and at the base, around Magnolia’s weathered trunk, a serpent of mighty length and width was coiled in ring upon ring of coils, great head resting on top of the rings, eyes wide open.

He gazed over houses and lawns at the kaleidoscope moving 360 degrees around him. Over meadows where yellow mustard bloomed in early spring cradled by mountains on one side and river on the other. Where Heron fished, standing one legged on Dragon’s spine jutting out from under water; the beast lay sleeping in the earth, undisturbed by liquid flowing over him onward to the sea. These meadows, he knew, would wave green in the heat of summer sun’s rays, shimmering in the absence of a breeze, growing taller and sturdier until one day they would bear corn on their stalks. The mountains, he knew, would glow pink, orange, red, and gold reflecting the setting sun on fire, ignited under blue for as far as his green eyes could see.

He gazed until Heron’s outline in the sky flew North. His heart was full. Venus was out, crescent moon not far, and the blue above was melting into plum, with peach and strawberry swirls.

He stood then, in the dying away of day, on the topmost branch of his ancient friend, Magnolia. He nodded to Squirrel, who scampered down to where Serpent was coiled, waiting. He stood with Hawk and waited for Serpent to come.

Come he did, a moving rope climbing the weathered trunk of this tree; Serpent knew Magnolia well. Knew her grooves and curves, hugged and caressed her on his ascent to where the man stood beholding the closing sky, the fading away of light into night. The first fireflies had flown out of the grasses now and circled his head, a living flickering crown and he breathed deeply filling with delight. The buds had opened, their sweet fragrance rising; rising up and into him. And now, Serpent was fully stretched. His tail was wrapped tightly around Magnolia’s bottom. Anchored where Fireflies danced on its tip.

The man stood still, inhaling, gazing at the final rays of the sun descending behind distant mountains; he was full. Hawk gave a screech, Serpent zig zagged around him lightning fast, Squirrel bit his toe, and he fell where he hung; swung from his snapped neck held tight by a great serpentine coil. The door on the edge of a waxy Magnolia leaf shone, opened, allowed the hanged man passage and in a flash, he was gone leaving behind his still, hanging form.

The squirrel disappeared into a hole in the tree, the serpent became dull and lifeless, and the magnolia blossoms continued opening late into the night. The hawk screeched and soared into the sky, disappearing from sight. In the blue-black inkiness the sound of a lone Owl hooting broke the silence, while the fireflies danced under stars until dawn.

The Watchman walks the edges now; he is The Twelfth Knight and he walks with peace at the edges around the curves of a magnolia leaf.

He is there; slipping in through the cracks where men drill the earth, sweat dripping from their brows, filling them with questions about what it is they spoil and soil for. They walk away; leave their drills and shovels, to find answers.

He is there; gliding in through the chinks where men plunder down under the seas, filling them with questions about what they toil and boil for. They sail away; dock their vessels at harbors and go in search of answers.

He is there; sliding in through the fissures where men engineer devices to wage wars that clutter and splutter with detritus and debris that litters from earth to sea to stars. They get up and leave their desks with unfinished plans, walking toward answers.

He is there; on the curves of magnolia leaves gathered by children at play while they sing and skip and climb trees, shining bright as the stars twinkling in milky streaks across inky skies, swinging with blue monkeys and laughing at the wondrous world they see. He holds space for them to be, shields them from hard conditioned eyes that they may grow; live whole and free into who they are here to be.

He is there; on the glittering strands in the morning dew, where diamond droplets outline the web woven by Spider waiting to beheld and remembered by those who stand on damp green grasses facing the dawning day.

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