Saturday, October 10, 2009
Dust and White Smoke
We looked behind us, more sky. We couldn't follow the sky. It circled back on us wherever we went.
We followed the smoke single file, one behind the other, the one behind stepping in the footprints
of the one before so we wouldn't know we were lost. When night came
we stopped and squatted where we stood to protect our imprint in the dust.
After two days of this the smoke dispersed. After that we knew not in which direction we travelled. They were all the same, across the dust.
On the third day a cloud passed. We were by now walking so slowly we moved as one,
one shifting mound of dust.
On the fourth day a drop of rain fell from the third day's cloud. It caused not one ripple in the dust.
We waited. Not another drop fell.
On the fifth day we were possessed by a whirlwind, a dervish.
It disturbed our footprints but kept us moving through the dust.
On the sixth day a wall rose before us. We went no farther.
On the seventh day we circled the wall until the footprints of the one behind became
the footprints of the one before, a hoop. We stopped where we stood.
All that flowed was our blood. There was no white smoke.
On the eighth day we raised our eyes to the sky and stomped our feet on the ground.
The wall crumbled into dust.
On the ninth day someone called out, "A gate opens, a gate opens, a gate opens!" three times.
We entered the gate, eyes to the sky, watching for smoke. Our footsteps were unruly.
The one before left no footprints for the one behind to follow.
On the tenth day we saw it, the river of white smoke, and followed it with our eyes
back down to the inner city where we now stood.
On the eleventh day we walked in circles toward the source of the smoke towards the center of the city, towards a mound of black earth.
On the twelfth day we stopped where we stood and sat - nine circles, nine times nine deep - around
the mound of black earth.
On the thirteenth day we saw on the mound of black earth, a pile of grey ashes.
Atop it, one red burning coal. Upon the red burning coal, one tiny twig.
"The last burning twig!" Nine times nine voices fell - nine ripples deep - in the dust
around the mound of black earth. Still rising, the river of white smoke.
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