Sacred Verses (19): Return to the Waters of Life

Return to the Waters of Life

And I found myself confronting the great abyss,
those raging waters that have existed
before the presence of living men;
churning between the lofty banks of the sky,
yet without form or bottom.
I could no longer see the earth and its mountains;
hard spires of stone rising to pierce the delicate flank
of the venerated sky;
her face and naked form now lost to me as I entered the deep.

Am I a child again, lonely and crestfallen beneath the void,
my bare toes finding fear in the taste of water;
where wait all the things I have left behind me.
Mother, Sky, once spread out like a sapphire loom above my brow;
your dazzling fabric with its constellations for thread
has been unraveled before my eyes, no longer seeing your path of light.
Father, Earth, the seed of mountains and the caverns lurking
beneath the tempestuous waves;
I have lost my foothold in your ancient skin, my comfort in your keep.

Having seen the Sun-God swallowed by his mother,
I searched for his trail of fire upon the waters;
seeking the past, security in what has been;
seeking the present, security in what one knows;
seeking the future, security in what one expects will be;
but there is no lamp and no flame, no gilt promise spilling over these waters.
These waters we face alone when our moment comes,
without Mother or Father to guide us;
we are naked in the preeminent abyss where time itself is devoured.

My sparrow found me from his secret nest
hidden in the folds of the clouds;
these I could not see, and yet his little wings brought him to me.
What do you carry with you, he chirped in the ears of my heart;
my heart leaped into my mouth and overcame the prudence of my lips.
I carry with me fear, judgment, and guile.
Sparrow heard these three raptors call out their names
from the echoing jar of my heart;
I heard my transgressions afresh, all waiting to peck and tear at my flesh.
You are a jade, I heard the sky call,
though I could not see the sky’s watery countenance.
You are a broken vessel, I heard the earth murmur,
though I could not see the earth beneath the angry tide.
You have swallowed your heart, I heard the mountains grumble,
though I could not see their indomitable towers rising to meet the sky.
You have let your heart be carried away by other hands,
sparrow said to me as his gentle wings enfolded my heart’s vessels.

But my impetuous heart carried me in its boat
across waters that swam with the serpents of the deep.
Their iron scales broke the surface of the abyss
to send the thunder of their names tearing through the wind.
Void, negligence, and destruction turned through the waters of despair;
who could not allow a single piece of land to rise peacefully in their midst.
How I had tasted them throughout my many travels;
drinking their vigor, I felt myself immune to their inebriation,
and their beds I visited with relish in my loins.

The Sun-God came here at the First Occasion, sparrow said to me.
Bursting through the wet fist of that burgeoning lotus,
his eager member formed a body of golden light;
its radiant beams dividing the waters strangled by serpent’s coils.
Sky was heralded; who parted the dusky veil of her lips
to proclaim the first dawn growing ruddy on the new horizon.
Her pangs of birth shuddered the wind into motion;
the infant earth responded by lifting up into manhood to meet her;
a fresh and new earth hailing a sky in motion with the dancing of stars.

I want to be one of those unsullied and whirling stars,
to make love to a virgin sky;
to find that lotus of the First Occasion as a bud yet unbroken;
to float on water unencumbered by the anchor of the past;
to cut the ties of jaded experience weighing down my naked toes;
to open my eyes with the sun to find the years of my life stretching ahead;
not to have discarded a single moment chasing regret, indecision, or waste.
These are the droplets of sorrow that have filled
the jug of my heart to brimming;
it has no room for hope or conviction or abundance.

Heron with eyes blazing sought me out upon the abyss;
known for wise contemplation and dispelling the shroud of darkness.
His feathers still bore the wet tidings of the flood;
the First Occasion of beginnings when the earth met the sky
in frantic abandon.
I remove you to the Mound
where the history of the world began;
its innocence pushing up from the black soil of Flood’s keep.
This is the Flood who was summoned by the movements
of Sun-God’s hand; his body enthused by the pang of golden loins.
Here lies the secret of the First Beginning,
where spouted the Gods from the language of that sky-blue lotus;
Memory being its name when it first touched the unclad sky
with its petals of sound and word.
Know the Mound and you will know the Waters of Life
which defeat the footfall of death.

After an age I reached the place of the Mound,
cutting up through the twisting abyss;
with flank and lofty crown of gold its beauty dressed my eyes.
Dark water did not know the Mound nor how to pronounce its name;
thus the Mound could push its way through the torrent and remain.
For it is sound that frightens the chaotic abyss which seeks only to strangle;
it finds its hold on any kernel of light to choke out its fragile life.
It is from voice and word that language forms to divide its jealous fingers;
creation flowering from the bud that grows within the gap the waters leave.

Now seen by the Mound and the Gods that stand upon it,
I climb to the place where heron has his gilded nest;
where the reflection of Mother Sky shines across the waters;
where beams of turquoise light strike down through the jagged rocks below;
where water with his wet lips reaches up to kiss the florid cheek of Sky;
where my disassembled form finds consolation in the body of the Sun.

You have carried in your hands the filth a heart swallows,
say the Twin Gods to me;
and I know that filth has names like jaded, ignorance, and forgetfulness.
The first of Twin Gods whose head was a golden falcon declared:
I take from you the weighty drops of scorn that have choked your heart;
I make room for the water of nobility, which floats to the top above rancor
.
From a vessel of fine gold he poured over my sky-clad shoulder
the water he had called forth from the Flood.
The second of Twin Gods whose head was a turquoise wading bird declared:
I take from you the stupefying drops of forgetfulness
that have nullified your heart;
I make room for the water of intelligence, which rises to the top
above ignorance
.
From a vessel of burnished silver he poured over my moon-clad shoulder
the water he had called forth from the flood.

I brought with me the cup of sorrow;
I fill it with joy.
I brought with me the cup of tears;
I fill it with laughter.
I brought with me the cup of spite;
I fill it with tenderness.
I brought with me the cup of hatred;
I fill it with love.
I brought with me the cup of jealousy;
I fill it with compassion.
I brought with me the cup of possession;
I fill it with generosity.
I brought with me the cup of exclusion;
I fill it with openness.
I brought with me the cup of persecution;
I fill it with acceptance.
I brought with me the cup of ignorance;
I fill it with knowledge.
I brought with me the cup of inexperience;
I fill it with wisdom.
I brought with me the cup of silence;
I fill it with language.
I brought with me the cup of indifference;
I fill it with memory.

Having been filthy for ages with the ignorance of the veil,
my unclad eyes saw my glistening new skin with wonder;
so like the skin I inherited from my Mother
when she gave me to the world;
so like the form I received from my Father
when his hands urged me forward.

How purity finds us even after we fall by the wayside;
the dirt of the heart refusing to be shed;
and how we go to the grave long before our body dies.
It is forgetfulness that weaves the warp and the weft of suffering;
we peer at the world through the opaque shroud of our making,
placing at the doorsteps of others the loom our life gave us.
But we are the weavers carrying the hands our Gods made us;
who spoke for us the language of a soul,
and the immortality of memory traveling down through the ages.

It is I who return my body to the Flood from which it came;
shrinking back the small mind from which ignorance is made.
It is I who place the sightless veil over eyes in my own keeping;
and I who wash away the veil from eyes of memory sleeping.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

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