Tag Archives: resolve

How does a Thing Become “a” Precious?

            [thoughts from  ~burning woman~  ]

…  and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:
as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious
—Lisel Mueller, from “In Passing,” Alive Together: New and Selected Poems. (LSU Press; First Edition edition October 1, 1996)

          A thing can be longed for, can be thought of as precious, but until it is lived for; deeply sacrificed for; even bled for (or killed for) and finally apparently hopelessly lost, that thing can never be accurately described as truly precious: it remains an illusion, a story in a book of fiction.  However good the fiction is, it is still fiction.  The book isn’t purchased, it isn’t owned, it is merely borrowed from a library. It hasn’t cost anything that is irreplaceable: I think that’s the key here.  

          In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and continuing in “The Lord of the Ring” there appears a character called Gollum.  Gollum possesses a ring which he calls his “Precious” and is driven mad by it.  Gollum’s ring was indeed his precious because he had paid a great and terrible price to attain it.  Back in the ancient days when he was still a normal being he was called Smeagol and he had an inseparable friend, Deagol.  It was Deagol who found the ring at the bottom of the river Anduin, but when Smeagol saw the ring his desire to possess it exceeded all bounds.  Deagol wouldn’t give up the ring, so Smeagol killed him for it.  Many long years later, the outcast Smeagol, now known as Gollum, lost his “Precious” to Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit.  Then did the ring truly become Gollum’s precious – he dedicated his life to finding the ring and getting his revenge on “the nasty Hobbit Baggins.”  In the end as we know, Gollum died with the ring: they both fell in the fire of Mount Doom. 

    How many of life’s offerings can we call precious?  Of all the obvious: air, water and land from which we draw our sustenance and cannot live without: precious?  Not according to my observations of how man treats his natural environment – definitely not his “Precious” is it. What about people relationships?  I suppose for the few, some relationships become precious as they are engaged, then irretrievably and inconsolably lost.  But for most?  Generally speaking relationships come and go, most easily replaceable.  The gregarious Earthian prefers its creature comforts of body and mind to the pining and the dying for, that puts the meaning of precious in a relationship. This is especially true of today’s consumer “throw away” society.  Most relationships are cheap and easily replaced. 

    I’m obviously fishing in deep waters here: what comes up from the deep?  I’ll tell you: the unexpected; the frightening; the dreadful and also the ineffable that literally takes our breath away so that when it disappears we long for its return to the point that we are willing to die to find it again.  I’m talking about the things that lurk in the depths of the Cosmos; that sing and dance and call beyond our memories, our experiences, our survival instincts and all our paraphernalia of security or ecstatic expectation.  Beyond the symbolism of religion, the greatest works of the mystics and even the best efforts of the poets.

    Nothing can keep us safe from what shows up to become something truly precious.  For to be precious it must be of a nature capable of taking over both mind and heart, all of one’s life, and can never be owned or controlled.  Once one has engaged one’s Precious, one’s life is forfeit.  It belongs to its Precious. 

    According to ancient wisdom, there can only be one Precious in one’s life. “No-one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  After many long years of thinking it was irretrievably lost to me, I found my Precious, or rather it found me.  Well, perhaps to be fair to both, we met half-way and recognized each other.  Following that meeting, there was a test of my commitment: it called for my life and I in a gesture of genuine forfeiture, gave it.  That it gave me my life back, if for a time, only lengthened the period of testing – it did not conclude it.  It will be my “master” until I die, and beyond, for my Precious is of a nature that does not die and it is now as much a part of me as I am of it. We are inseparable.  Just to make sure I am not misunderstood here, I am not talking about another human being, or other “being” such as a god or “saviour” in a romantic or agape-love type of relationship.  Nothing so common: this isn’t about love.  Repeat: this has nothing to do with love.

    As I was writing this and thinking about the truth of it, I was wondering how many people have a working relationship with their Precious; how many are even aware that such a state of mind is desirable for life to make sense; how many are aware that without a commitment to one’s Precious, one is left helplessly open to being consumed by some force or other with which it has the relationship of a slave; of a believer in wizardry. 

    The force or forces one responds to when not committed to one life-linked “Master” or “Precious” would say in so many words, “The purpose of our relationship is on a need to know basis, and you don’t need to know.  Just follow any of the approved paths the rest are on.  Believe and don’t step out of those paths.  The outcome isn’t for you to know, just to worry about.” 

    And that worry becomes fear, fear becomes anger, anger becomes hate and the rest is history, or as some like to say, His story.

{Your head’s like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune’s all we are.” — Grant Morrison, The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution. (Vertigo June 1, 1996) }

 

Thanya of Norda

While Roger at Woebegone but Hopeful (https://heroicallybadwriters.com/2016/09/05/a-true-history-of-the-isles-part-12-the-vikings-arrive-a-aaa-a-ha-a-eeya-a-ha/#respond)

is entertaining us with his hilarious history of the British Isles, his 12th part with the arrival of the Vikings reminded me of this story I wrote some time back, based on a past life remembrance.  Unlike Roger’s stories however, this one is not humorous.
____________________________________________

Thanya of Norda
          a short story – by Sha’Tara

My name is Thanya.  I live on the coast of Norda, in a poorly fortified village.  My people are woodsmen, fisherfolk and farmers.  We constitute one of the main centers on the coast and my father and mother are considered to be the Chiefs.  I have an older brother who is a great hunter and whom I admire.

This part of my story begins when I am fourteen years, according to the Christian calendar.  In the late Summer the feared and hated Norsemen raid our village.  Our men are overwhelmed and put to the sword.  I see by father and brother die.  I pick up a sword to defend myself but I cannot handle the weight of it.  I’m quickly disarmed and brought to the leader of the raiders.  I can hear the cries of the women and the children, some being raped and killed, others rounded up, tied and put aboard the boats to be sold as slaves down the coast.  I can see and smell the smoke as our homes are systematically destroyed and burned.

A tall, red-haired and red-faced man stands in front of me.  He tears my clothes off and has me put to my knees, my wrists pulled back and tied to my ankles.  He straddles me and lifts his sword.  Laughing, he brings it down as if to cut me in half but swings it aside.  I curse him for letting me live.  He rapes me.  I scream a “prophecy” at him:  “I will have your son and when you return here he will kill you!”  He laughs again, has me untied and held away from him.  He says to me: “For that I will let you live and go free.  If indeed you have my son and if indeed he lives to defeat me in battle, I shall freely confer my title and properties to him.  I am King Garthul.  If you survive, remember that name, wench.”

They rowed off the shore, then sailed away with their spoils.  I found some rags to cover myself and tried to cover the bodies of the dead.  I covered my father and brother.  I found no trace of my mother so assumed she had been taken prisoner.   I did not have the strength to drag them onto a pyre and burn them, so I left and entered the forest.  I found shelter in a cave made from a hollow windfall and survived my first winter on nuts, roots and dried husks of fruit hanging from branches or lying in clumps of grass.  I gave birth to a healthy son in the Spring and took him deep into the forest, not knowing what to do.  I found other survivors and eventually convinced most of them to return to the coast, to my village.  We gathered the bones of the dead and burned them, then performed the ritual of cleansing for the land.  Then began the task of re-building.

Throughout the years I directed the re-construction based on villages and strongholds I studied during inland wanderings.  First an inner fort made of stone, not of material that could burn.  Then an outer palisade made of strong timbers and deadly stakes.  Finally, near the beach another fence made of non-burnable materials, whatever we could find.  I trained the people, young and old, male and female, to bear and use arms of all kinds.  I designed new weapons, especially for the females.  Shoes were basic wooden sandals equipped with a sharp spearhead at the front and sometimes at the back.  Armbands made of wood were equipped with a deadly dagger that could be flipped and locked in a forward position, the tip of the blade extending past the hand.  We made bows that were longer than hunting bows and much more accurate, using longer arrows.  I made them leave crenellations in the walls, and holes that looked natural but through which arrows could be shot.  And I trained the tallest men to use long spears that could be thrust through cracks deliberately left in the walls but concealed from anyone looking from the outside.

As more and more survivors and disgruntled serfs from other parts joined us our village grew and surpassed the numbers and strength of the past.  My son became a fearsome warrior, I made sure of that.  He was tall and had red hair.  There was no doubt who his father was.

Among those who joined us came two Christian monks.  They claimed they had special knowledge they wished to impart to certain chosen people among the village.  I asked them to share their knowledge with all of us, offered to give them a special place at our regular meeting day, but they insisted their knowledge was only for the chosen.  They also insisted that we give up worshipping our gods and learned of their one god and accept him as our only god.  This I refused to do.  I gave them a hut and made the people aware of their offer.  Anyone who chose the Christian god over the land’s gods was free to do so.  Some did but it did not matter.  Christians made good warriors too, there was no conflict among us.

In time my prophecy was fulfilled.  The raiders returned and an older Garthul still led them.  As soon as the alarm was given all the people who could not fight and all the younger children with as many goats and fowl as could be taken, were sent deep into the woods in preselected hiding places.  Then we waited.  My son was then eighteen years of the Christian calendar, and eager to fight this Garthul.  I had not told him this was his father, just what he had done to his family.

Yelling their taunts, the raiders rushed our first slender defenses.  We killed several of them before we retreated to the next defensive position.  The raiders crashed through our first wall only to encounter a much more effective defense.  They had no place to hide and we defeated them there.  Garthul gave the signal for surrender and my son jumped forward to put a sword to his throat.  I ran behind him and stopped him:  “Well Garthul, we meet again.  Remember the prophecy of the young girl whose parents and brother you killed.  Remember her taunt, “I will have your son and he will kill you!”  Well here I am, and here is he, your son, Garth.”

He remembered, and believing he was about to die, he called his second and swore that his title and lands were now the property of his son, this son, my son, Garth of Norda.

And this is where my life turned.  For Garth said, “He is my father, and I cannot kill him.  Therefore, since he has so grievously harmed you, mother, here is my sword.  You must avenge your parents and your village.  This is not for me to do.”

I took the sword and held it aloft unflinchingly.  I could have easily cut his head off, but instead I laid the sword on his shoulder and said, “Life has taught me this, Garthul: That there comes a point where it becomes necessary to let go of the past and to forgive.  For as heavy as the burden of loss is, the burden of vengeance is twice as heavy.  I have reached that point.  Today I have redeemed what was lost.  I have defeated you and I am your master, I, a mere woman.  Furthermore, I have something of yours that I know is more precious to you than your own life: your son.  So here’s my proposal – listen to me well.  I wish that you should take Garth with you.  Make him into a sailor and take him back to your own land and train him in the arts of being a King there, as you are.  When the time comes, I wish for you to pass your power on to him.  Further, I wish that your country should enter into a  permanent peace with us.  We have much to trade with you, especially of hardwoods.

And it came to pass.  Garth became ruler of both Norda and his father’s land.  There were no more raids on our coasts.  We remained at peace until a new trouble began to brew from the hinterlands.  But that is a story attached to a future that is not mine nor Garth’s.

 

Do Sound Waves Speak?

[poem by   ~burning woman~   ]

Sharp footsteps clack evenly
Down the old faded-gold hallway
With blistered hardwood floor.
Rain beats the window pane,
As wind blusters, impersonal, cold.

The front door like a thunder clap
At two thirty five in the morning
Slams so hard it fails to latch
Creeps back slowly on dried hinges
That creak like skeletal bones
Rattled from a dusty sleep.

Now you know, now it tells you
Even the ghost of her is gone.
All you can feel, all you can hear
Is the slap you gave her in the night
When she asked why you lied.

(“Now I predict the future / merely by listening to echoes. A slamming door / can tell you everything you need to know. It’s not a trick / only a simple matter of wisdom, an obsessive attention / to dreams.” — Mary Jo Bang)

Where Hope Fails Despair will Serve

[a poem by   ~burning woman~   ]

There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see?
Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable,
To me?

She looks upon her foe
As he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned
As tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end
She reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled,
Lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children
And find a way of escape:
I cannot go further.
I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says to his face,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end,
This is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here
But know this:
Where hope fails, as it must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then
If that’s how it must be.
But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

 

No to Endless Pain

a poem by  [  ~burning woman~  ]

I was born for happiness
But happiness you denied
Let it be so then
That it be proper
I deny you access
To my endless pain
And slowly
Carefully
Deliberately
She
Cuts through
The soft white skin
Opens her vein
And sleeps