10 08 2006

When Belenus and I awoke, it was still.  We had memory of being in Baba’s house, but now it was all gone.  A green grove sheltered us from the fine rain settling on the leaves above, damping down the charred remains of a fire nearby, formed in a circle on the earth.  “Oh, look, everything’s gone,” I said, disheartened and disoriented, getting up to look around.  Belenus was stiff and sore, from sleeping on the hard ground, and I tried to ignore my dirt covered robe as I felt in my pockets for I knew not what.  Perhaps I was hoping for a map?  There was no trace of string around my wrist and Belenus’ hooves were clear of it.  “What’s going on?” he said, bewildered.  “I feel out of sorts.  As if I were not myself…my stomach hurts.” he said, and I replied, “I think Baba found us too impatient?  Did she trick us?  Leaving us out here in the middle of nowhere, without a guide?  I am in a void, a void.”  “You’re in a void??  I must be clear under the earth, the way I feel, as if I’m invisible.”  We looked at each other, through foggy eyes.  Sophia, the little doll in my pocket, was jumping around, as I was fishing for the map and neither of us heeded her small cries.  “I’m tired of this,” I said.  “Tired of this road!”  said Belenus, kicking up mud with his little hooves.  “Sick of having four legs, and no hands…I’ve always been so jealous of you!” he said, huffing and puffing at me as if he were going to explode.  “Stress!” I said.  The doll kept trying to jump into my hand, and annoyed, I finally got her out.  “What is it?” I said.  “It’s the stress of individuation…” said the small voice, wise and dark, in her small cloak.  “We thought as much,” I said, not thinking it was much help, Sophia telling me what I already knew, and Belenus kicking up clumps of mud.  “No, in your pocket!  Look in your other pocket!” said Sophia, the small voice we hadn’t heard so loudly before.  So I did.

“Belenus, stop it! Stop it now.  Look, we haven’t been abandoned after all!” I said, “Put your glasses on, quick.”  Snapped out of his frenzy, he immediately collected himself, and looked quite respectable again, once his glasses were on.  Mine showed me what Baba had left us, a shining, fiery row of red hot pokers to stir our own fires with, and we were both so pleased we danced around in a mad circle in the rain, oddly enough around the old spent fire.  And this made sense.  Then all the while, we were changing, Belenus was changing, I was changing, until all of a sudden we knew who we really were, and where we were going.  Cyberia, near the Mouseion, and the famous City of Ladies…



 (copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)



Earth Honour Roll – Baba’s House

5 08 2006

Bugs, beetles and gnats surrounded the house and the darkness was pitch coloured, like Baba’s hair.  Belenus and I were peering through the glowing window, like we had when we were small.  It was quiet, and she was stirring her cauldron, singing a melancholy tune about things that were falsely labelled.  Her shelves were full of old jars and tins, and every now and then her wise eyes moved from her attention to the boiling cauldron, to the false labels on the shelf items.  “It never works,” we heard her say under her breath, lamenting in a fine howl “…the parade never stops.  The novelty never stops, the hurrying never stops.  Did I breed a child to make it wild, a world child running amok.”  And suddenly then, she cocked her head, instinct driven as she was, we knew she had sensed us at the window.  “You better own up and say we’re back,” I said to Belenus.  “Why me?  And face her wrath?  You do it, all your talk of circles and seeing things anew.”  Piercing him with my eyes in the darkness, I said, “How would you feel if every word you ever said went unheeded?  You don’t know about that because you are always at one with society.  And people say yes to you, but no to her.  If the situation were reversed, you would be feeling just like that.”  Belenus looked shocked, and shuffled his small hoofs in the dirt.

Baba’s voice called to us, a low dissatisfied query, to show ourselves or risk being eaten by her ill mood, and the creatures in the shadows.  Baba never liked folks messing around, you had to be to the point, and know why you were there.  I felt a bit sad for Belenus, and his pain hurt me, so I decided to move into the house and declare our presence there.  We sat in lame retreat on two wooden stools near a roaring fire.  Baba’s eyes glowed and speared us, not unkindly.  Belenus was shaking a little, and I sighed. 

“We haven’t been able to do what you asked,” I said, making a gesture of impotence with my hands.  “…er…and very little has come to pass.”  Baba sighed, and said:  “What do you mean?  Since you last came you are grown, indeed, much has come to pass.”  In her shelves there was a tiny globe of the world, lit up, suddenly growing larger, and she put down her stirring spoon and reached for the globe, placing it on the table before us.  She eyed the string that accompanied us, wrapped around my hand securely and Belenus’ left hoof, and smiled:  “I see also your navigating methods have changed, also, improved.  But you are still impatient, which is your greatest fault.”  “Blame him,” I said, in a knee jerk reaction, “He is the one who wants things done yesterday and wants to know everything without feeling it.”  Belenus looked crushed.  Baba ignored us, and bade us look at the globe, and spun it in her strong, earth/seed/root-like hands. 

“So many rushing, so many lights burning, but not many in the bodies I see rushing to and fro, too fast to read my signposts, my labels, my directions.  My jars and tins are labelled differently to those in the world, and I was gifted some, for research, as you can see.  Last visitor brought them, there have been many come lately, to be certain.”  I read them, and Belenus did so eagerly, saying the names aloud, “Win now,” “Grow thin”, “Eat this”, “Do this”, “Don’t think”, and “Do that without thinking, and you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams”.  Baba made a face.  That last one was a long one, but Belenus could see it was on dozens of cans.  And as he read them out, his voice became quieter and quieter.  Then he remembered reading something about the Grail, and how its wisdom was paraded before the seeking knight hundreds of times before he became wise.  “So people are looking at the wrong labels after all.  And they sound good, indeed, there is nothing unsound about the words, except a certain lack of something.  A lack of substance.”

“Well done,” said Baba. “Will you both give me your labels of impatience and I will give you a little fire, to stir up your better memory?”  The fire roared suddenly, and we realised compared to it, ours had been all stifled by rules and labels, sticky notes and being called wrong names.  I looked at the shelf of earthly jars and tins, and noticed one labelled ubiquitously “Spam”.  This has become one of the most widely known labels, and everyone knew what it meant, whether it was for their greater good or not, I could not say.  And it actually really didn’t mean anything.  “Yes, yes of course we will,” we both said, our eyes being mesmerised, made heavy by the spinning globe.  She picked up our gifts and held them to the fire light, well pleased by those, but wasn’t very happy about how she had been drawn in the book of fairy tales, but said she would overlook it, as we weren’t the artists that drew them.  Belenus looked relieved.

“Sleep now, but mind, surrender those labels to the fire.  Both of you, curl up by the fire and sleep…just while I tend the cauldron of change, stir things up a little.”  We hesitantly did as asked, and nodded into a strange, but restful sleep as the smoke drifted out of the chimney, and into the dark night. 

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

Baba Search

1 08 2006

Belenus agreed to take me to Baba’s, clip clopping through the woods, and constantly reminding me we hadn’t yet solved the mystery of the locked Dead Man’s Chest.  I sighed and told him to stop being so linear, as is his art.  He didn’t like the way to Baba’s, all winding and circular.  “I know I’ve seen these parts before,” he said, glasses on.  “I nearly didn’t invite you on this journey, you know, so stop complaining.  Can’t you feel the beat of the universe?  If you have seen that tree or that river before, how about rejoicing?  Offended by nature’s signposts, you being a donkey and all…” Tutting away at him like a grandmother, I loosened the line of fine string we had, guiding us through the nether parts.  It was dark, and he was right, but not so dark we couldn’t see.  Our glasses again made us see things, once familiar, a little newer, this time.  In truth we had been here before, as children, enticed by the sugar house, the cotton candy smoke coming out of the chimney made of ginger cake.  We knew this place because it was in our psyche.  So was fear.  Built in, sitting alongside.  When we had come this way before, it was much different.  Bigger, somehow, because we were smaller, then.  The shadows were bigger.  And we saw things we didn’t understand. 

Passing through a door, we realised it had a fairy tale written on the pages, one of my old books.  “The Tinder Box” by Hans Christian Anderson, the dog with the HUGE eyes, and not one, but three, each one bigger than the last.  A child’s story, come to life.  We saw a city, with tiny winking lights, under the grip of this tale and it’s circle.  Belenus had an awakening moment and shuddered.  “How do fairy tales…?” he said, shaking his wise head as we plodded on through the pages of the book and on to Baba’s.  “There is no intellect for that, is there?” I said.  Belenus made no answer, clopping along the dark earth path.

A tree bent down its branches, rustling in the dark, to show us the way.  When we were small the trees had scratched and scorned at our skin, clawing at our eyes.  Not so now, but still we were both anxious.  Or had we imagined it?  In this world, on the way to Baba’s, things were not always as they seemed, and one could quickly be stirred to fearfulness, and then not.  I made sure the thread was still unravelling properly, careful not to use breadcrumbs as we had when we were younger, allowing the birds to eat them up, which was a big mistake.  We lost our way and our understanding.  That was a frightening memory.  An owl hooted mournfully, glass eyed and feline like.

We passed a tree where old souls moaned, to announce we were nearing Baba’s.  “Sometimes I think they sing, and sometimes they moan,” I said to Belenus, who remembered that things could be like that.  “The tree shelters them.  Have you ever thought about how accommodating trees are?”  Belenus was thoughtful.  “Now that’s intellectual.  When you think of shelter, immediately there is a tree in mind,” he said.  “That makes intelligent sense.”

I had a few black Victoriana lizards I had embroidered onto a red felt cloth, to take to Baba.  These lizards were my favourite gripes, and my little three inch rubber doll called “Sophia”, that I kept in my pocket, said she would like them.  They were gripes about the history of the world, and I hoped she would accept these as true enough.  Belenus had a story for her, an old copy of “The Tinder Box” he knew she would like.  We saw a feint light through the trees and smelled candlewax.  “We are almost there,” I said, anxious, full of anticipation.  The cottage looked different than I remembered, not sugary, but now with bones and decorated with all kinds of skulls…

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)