The market was a maze of alleys with bumpy roads, pockmarked with ditches. Narrow streets intersected in a big open space in the middle, the heart where beggars, balloon shapers, and cotton candy vendors convened amongst the cars lucky enough to find parking spots.
Haldee Raam’s shop was the third one in the middle of the third alley way. To the right was a used bookstore, a tiny place with walls of Mills and Boons, Georgette Heyer’s, Agatha Christies, Enid Blytons, and in the towering stacks Byron, Keats, Coleridge, a dictionary or two, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island, the odd Ghaalib or Iqbaal to be found, Shakespeare mixed with Borges, Rumi, Haafez, Saadi, the random Purple Fairy Book, Peter and Jane, Burda magazines. To the right of the bookstore, on the corner by the open center, presided the naan wallah with his platform built above and around the wood fired pit, in and out of which moved fresh bread, hot fluffy moons that cooked in a minute. The two stores to Haldee Raam’s left were always shut, the ridged metal grates pulled down and locked as long as memory serves. Continue reading
Three women work side by side
The first, dimpled cheeks dusted with freckles
Red hair streaked with gray, pours liquid
From one brown bottle to another while the second
Moves from behind mountains
Of paper tearing scraps with stubby fingers,
Sticks them onto shining curves then,
Wielding a black pen,
Slashes and stabs words,
Inking labels with identification:
Coltsfoot Cleavers Codnopsis Mullein;
The third dances between counters
Knee high combat boots daintily pirouette
Shuffle and twist over the tiled floor
While she flicks her wrists and rolls
Avocado and cucumber
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.
The Druid named Jonas scattered resin on the glowing coals while humming softly. Smoke rose up into the air, wispy at first, then coalescing into thicker smog as he laid damp pine over top. He added a branch with pine needles, pinecones, and stepped back to watch the glow, listen to the sizzle, crack and pop while chanting slowly. A spicy earthy fragrance filled the air and Ray breathed in deeply where he sat cross-legged by the fire, his eyes glazed over. Jonas didn’t have to look at Ray to know it wouldn’t be long before he’d see the images swirling in the flames, he didn’t have to look at Ray to wonder would the youth allow himself to step into the dream, find what he was looking for, return from his journey whole again? The Druid did not know. He kept chanting, picking up speed, until he felt Ray slip away. Then he swayed while chanting at a steady pace, maintaining a rhythm to call Ray back with from where he had gone . . . . .
The trees watched. They had been watching for the Druid while he slept deep inside the bowels of an Ancient One, Elder Hemlock. The tree and man went into a deep sleep to last two hundred and sixty years. The trees had been the Druids eyes and ears. Over the years one had fallen to lightening, another to wind, and others to the woodsman’s axe, but not before they had passed on the Druid’s request to their seeds, embedded this trust in the unformed cells of trees yet to grow. Planted by nuthatches here and there and there and there, the ones that went uneaten sprouted and grew, carrying the sacred trust onward. The fallen ones crumbled into the mycelial network feeding the fungi with their knowing, implanted it into the roots and hearts of the bloodroot and trillium, so that with time all beings held this petition deep within, a living thing within. When some fallen trees were burned as firewood they released their knowing to the flames to carry on as smoke into the embrace of air and into the breath of everything, and so Everything waited, waited and watched, scented and tasted; even the house the woodsman built, the very logs stood vigil, sending out their gleanings on pathways unseen by the ordinary eye.