Sacred Verses (31): I Know the Language of Swallows

I Know the Language of Swallows(2)

The sky is my mother who summons me from the west,
her net of gods shining over her body of stellar metal;
they who appear upon her mantle of lapis lazuli,
glimmering over the horizon as dust of fine gold.
I came forth from her when the fresh east yawned,
passing the morning beetle of iridescent shell and wing;
how I made my youthful appearance over these lands,
bolstered by the north wind whose voice knows my name.

This wind-god says to me:
“My Sky-Goddess calls you in the west;
she holds the gate of the hidden land in her mouth of the Unwearying Stars,
where fly the bird-souls who converse with the sun.
Behold their ruddy faces and wings of burnished metal,
going round the limits of the sky who speaks their tongue;
the language of the east which howls with the dawn,
which declares life and denies slumber.

“I soar beneath the bellies of the clouds that uplift swallows,
who in their beaks carry the words of the Sun-God when he sails.
They rise by me to declare what they know, and you rise by me;
what you know is that eastern tongue which reckons the dawn,
its light-rays and heron of dazzling white crest.
My eyes are open and rise as the heron rises;
you too with open eyes shall rise as the heron rises,
with crest of curd white and mantle of blinding electrum.

“You enter the west as a ram of the earth with aged skin,
with dusky gold as your flesh and silver as your bones.
When the swallows titter to my clouds, they tell of your sleep;
what all men come to when they walk in the east and veer west,
when they draw the breath of sky and eat from the earth;
but the west knows the east as south foretells north,
and your feet of these directions follows your breath of the sky”.

My breath is my mother who embraces me in the north;
she appears to set me upright between her rosy-gold thighs,
the ladder where souls burst forth to herald eternity.
I am fashioned from their same metal, from their mirror of electrum;
when I appear it is with the face of the untarnished sun,
rising as the Wind-God said I would, cognizant of the language of swallows.

Do living men know the language of swallows?
We see them weave to and fro in the boughs of the sycamore,
our eyes of earth blind against the train of spirits rising with them;
for their eyes are of spirit while their wings alight on earth,
unlike the eyes of men which see only earth and know only skin.
But I who know the Sun-God take up his colors on my flesh,
and when I go into the west it is with the wings of a dawn-knowing swallow.

You swallows of the Sun-God bear his holy marks on face and breast;
red is the Sun-God’s color when he rises with your sanguine wings,
when he captures the eastern sky from its nighttime coils.
My face glows red and my breast is dappled with jasper,
having gazed upon your sycamores and made my flight between them.
Your wings know my arms, you swallows, and your red cowl becomes me;
it brightens the pre-dawn horizon with the blood of my enemies;
sleep in the west and bleariness in my eyes.
These eyes of mine are open with the eyes of swallows,
never bleary, and sharp with the lance of first light.

These swallows say to me:
“Look!  Open your eyes to see the thighs of your mother, opening.
She is the lamp of the nether sky uplifting the lamps of the stars to her breasts;
these gods of the primordial sea who light the way for spirits traveling.
Travel then, when your time for entering the west comes!
Travel with our wings upon you so that your feet do not tarry on the earth;
but they mix with the Unwearying Stars that sweep the east,
that drive forward the clouds and herald the day.

“Our enchantments are the east which meets birth;
the earth that meets sky;
the gap of the west that meets bird-souls;
the breath that meets the north;
the flood that meets the south;
the turquoise that meets the desert;
the date palm that meets the arid country;
the acacia that meets the rain;
the lotus which meets the nose of the sun;
the sun who meets the horizon;
the horizon which meets the nether sky;
the nether sky which meets the earth above.

“These are the enchantments, the words, the language the Sun-God tells us,
and only the ears that hear his colors may know his speech;
they who know his colors and thus know his speech will know the lives he lives.
His colors are these Gods upon him, which see his lives as theirs in the sky;
so know his colors and thus his lives, and live as he lives in the eternal sky!”

The sky is my mother who raises me in the east,
her skin of brilliant fabric woven from the stars;
they whose unwearying eyes see spirits rise
as swallows of the ruddy dawn.
I came forth from her with their language on my lips,
open with the lance of daybreak by which the earth lives.
This is how I live again, once the west has summoned,
when my tread follows birds of iridescent crest and wing.
How I make my youthful appearance over these lands,
uplifted by the north wind whose voice knows my name.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

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