As old men sink into their silence, words
Become entangled in the memories
And moments that are like a flock of birds
So dense in time and space they start to freeze
The meanings that an old man means to say,
Or be, or clarify to those who’d listen
As if he still had thoughts that might convey
Some sense beyond the silence of his person.
Inside the living room I watch his eyes.
I feel inside myself and try to hear
The silence as its heaviness denies
Old age’s bucketful of pains and fear —
And as I watch I know the old men in their silence,
Their frozen faces and their look of patience.
Waves rolled with curving lines into the shore.
Lake Michigan horizoned into sky.
They watched a dark brown, white crowned osprey soar
Above the waves and heard its hunting cry.
Inside pinched spirits chained by slavery
And endless hours of suffocating fear,
Bonds loosened as the dream and fantasy
Of freedom suddenly seemed real, so near
To where they stood above the giant lake
They were not sure they had not reached a future
Aware of who they were, the earth awake
To spirits that had passed through deadly danger.
Inside the distant swamp they’d been but slaves.
They stood upon a hill and listened to the waves. Note: I have been working on a novel about a black fisherman community founded on Washington Island prior to the Civil War in the wilderness of Wisconsin. This is the eleventh sonnet published here that heads chapters in the novel. I have made slow progress, but the novel keeps expanding, so we’ll see if I have the energy and capability of finishing it. I am less than half way through at this point.
As Sshruunak and his followers began
To flee the village, Mmirrimann sent out
A panicked plea to stop. Ssruaanne had swerved
To miss the ground near where Ruanne was chanting
Her power song and started following
The beaten dragon horde toward the chaos
That swirled its void around the village walls.
“Join with the witches’ singing!” Mmirrimann
Demanded. “Find a balance for the world!”
The realms of death swept over cottages
And sang their chaos deep in sentient minds.
Ssruaanne wheeled in the sky and linked her mind
Into the song Ruanne was singing, coldness
Numbed deep beneath her scales into her hearts.
She felt the power flowing from the singing Wei
Who’s linked into the words Ruanne was chanting.
She felt the search that Wei was making, lost
Inside the storm of nothingness, the flotsam
Of spirits, once alive, a ghostly dance
That swirled into the living universe
And started disassembling the order
That made time’s arrow flow, its winging gluing
Together possibilities of sentient life.
As Mmirrimann’s strong spirit joined the song
And other dragons found the stream of beauty
Entwined into the magic Ruanne made,
The cording of the music found the fear
In human, dragon hearts and grew until
The silent sound formed bubbles that surrounded
The village and the forest and the lives
That gave the earth its meaning laced in time.
Reality, assaulted by the winds
Of death, rose out of humans, dragons, trees,
And shimmered as another war erupted,
The chaos trembling over all of life
As life fought back with sentient hearts and song.
Below the floors where children hid from dragons,
Their mothers held their small ones close and tried
To ward away the chilling cold with love.
Inside the caves where guardians hovered over
The clutches of the dragon eggs, stunned dragons
Reached out to find the song Ruanne had started
And tried to use the warmth inside the song
To keep the eggs from crumbling to mist
So fierce it penetrated stone-deep walls
Protecting caves and cliffs and dragon life.
Ruarther tried to move his legs toward
The cottage wall he’d almost reached when mist
Descended over him and took away
Reality from eyes and touch and smell.
He felt the Spirit Bear, still whole, beside
Him, looking for a way into his physicality,
But, like he’d done inside the weirding wood,
He drove into himself until he felt
The song Ruanne was in his life and started
The process of building who he was from scratch,
His burning core alive inside the deadness.
He could not feel his movement through the mist,
But still he struggled, pushing out from deep
Inside himself into the world he knew existed.
Then, like a hint of morning light before
Light filtered dusk into a cloud cloaked sky,
He thought he heard Ruanne, her sweet, strong voice,
Outside his head, but still inside his mind.
He reached for her and fell into abyss
As dragon minds and human minds were linked
And drummed as loud as any symphony
Had ever been at any human time.
The power of the mind-song slammed his heart.
He even felt the song sung by the stones
That only moved inside eternal time.
He moved inside the sound until he found
The chanting of Ruanne’s sweet voice and joined
His voice to hers and wove a melody
Of two inside the strands of music weaving
Defense against the terror of the void.
There needs to be some certainty in life,
He thought. Inside the certainty is love.
To listen to this passage, click on
Note: This is the forty eighth passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Living Inside Chaos to read the passage before this one.