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

Sacred Verses (18): Coming Forth By Day

Coming Forth By Day

I have left my body behind
in the earth that hungers for flesh and bone;
flesh of my mother’s keeping, transfigured into an effigy;
bone of my father’s shaping, silent as a stone by the wayside.
Am I now a cold lamp guttering as eventide clothes the mountains?
Am I spirited from my skin and blood to become a dusky shadow
of those mountains my eyes have always seen from a distance?

There is no distance now between I and the mountains, brooding;
between I and the wayside, littered with stones;
between I and the black soil, cold without life’s footfall;
between I and the cavernous hallows where the Sun-God is swallowed.
Now I am swallowed beyond the joys of the earthly banks
where life does not tarry.

I come to the gap in the silent earth
where the fragile body of the Sun-God is swallowed by his starry mother;
the ebony plaits of her hair swinging low as the net of the naked sky.
Her fecund breasts hang down to meet my parched lips;
these wanderers in the darkness with my tongue taking suck,
fed by the luminescence of constellations in her net.
Drink!  Drink!  These dancing fires say to me.
Fill your mouth with memory,
that you may know where you have been!

But my body has long since departed;
or is it what was within my body that has departed
to become a spectral light wandering?
It is the Sun-God who wanders with me into the Mother’s celestial hallow;
his aged and shaggy body like that of an old ram.
Ba!  Ba!  Sing the stars in their net as he passes;
glinting as silver, his creaking bones through his skin;
flashing as copper and gold through the dust of the ages, his flesh;
brittle yet vivid to my downturned eyes, his locks of lapis lazuli.

“You have at last found your father”, the Sun-God said to me;
“who is received in the west when twilight comes
to kiss the Two Banks with her starry lips;
and you have found your Mother.
You enter the mouth of your Mother who receives you,
who swallows you whole as she swallows the bodies of memory,
past and present;
who swallows all that is spoken, in the past and what is yet to come;
whose hunger encircles the earth and knows no limits;
whose body is time and whose stars are the future courses
of the earth;
whose constellations unveil the seeds of distant ages;
whose ages are the roots of a great tree where the Sun goes to die.
But he is reborn from the crown of its branches,
which pierce the flank of the Sky and draw forth Her lights.
She is the Sky of the First Beginning, this Mother into whom I descend;
she who gulps down the stars and the swollen moon,
all dancing for her in their orbits around the vault.
She is the Mother who gave me my true and secret name;
the name that contains every memory since time began”.

The Sun-God was swallowed before my very eyes;
naked and bereft of all light, naked of flesh and sensual blood.
I found the crocodile in his place, whose jaws spanning miles
held the quivering light of the moon.
“I swallow the Moon-God when he has grown bloated”,
crocodile said to me;
“when he has grown fat with memory,
and competes with the stars for their light.
I devour innocence as the fresh flowers on the bank;
the wind which comes from the promise of harvest;
the black earth from which green shoots spring;
the pregnant soil of the Two Banks which know the memory of life;
the sycamore whose leaves foretell the future and whose roots
cling to the past;
youth and its seasons of dalliance and pleasure;
experience, which itself is fragile as the shell of an egg.
All of these I devour at will, like I devour the Moon-God
and grow swollen upon his luster”.

To greedy old crocodile I said:
“I shall plant myself in the black mud of my Father’s body,
and during the twilight hours I shall transform into a lotus;
a lotus of the primordial blue of the Ancient Waters,
where are found all the things that endure the ages;
for you are the hunger of age and time,
which are never sated and can never be veiled.
There are nightfall and eclipse which hunger for the sun;
drought and famine which hunger for the earth;
locust and rat which hunger for the corn;
fire and flood which hunger for the verdant fields;
barrenness and impotence which hunger for the generations;
loneliness and despair which hunger for the heart;
and you are death and putrefaction,
which ever hunger for the substance of life and form.

“But I have been given memory from the milk of my Mother;
and I have been given knowledge from the seed of my Father;
these things which are passed down and inherited
within the keep of the Mysteries.
The sky keeps them according to the courses of the stars,
who spell out in their journeys the language in which memory speaks;
and this language is unknown to death and dissolution,
which cannot unveil the uncreated nor devour the formless.
I become that sky-blue lotus clad in the Ancient Waters
before time, age, and form came into being;
thus the Sun-God is conceived in my belly,
and disperses his light to scatter the crocodiles of the abyss”.

Crocodile is eaten by the first golden beams of the eastern sky,
piercing the iron scales of his body like gilded barbs.
What death and extinction fear most is memory;
the intangible language of the ages,
which twitters in the ears of time as do swallows in the eaves by sundown.
Come little swallow, hearty and vociferous,
and give your memory to become the language of my new lips;
to pronounce the secret name of the Sun-God hidden
within the keep of the stars.

What swallow whispers in my wet ears is the conversation
of the abyss which was first heard by the Gods;
that in darkness we find our beginning,
secreted from the life of forms;
forms that dissipate and know time, and age, and death,
as all that becomes form shall know.
But the created shall migrate into the uncreated,
which is light before is passes over into the seen world;
which is seed before it bursts into the green shoots of the field;
which is sound before it is received by the ears;
which is the wind before it stirs the waters;
which is the sky after dusk and before the sun rises;
which is gold, untarnished and not birthed by the hand of man;
which is language before it is written or spoken;
which is thus memory, transferred from form to form to form;
outside time, and age, and death.

Swallow has become a falcon of gold absorbed by the sky,
whose wings now taste the courses stars have traveled.
To become as He I must look to the patterns that dance through my fingers;
illumination that plays upon the earth at our feet,
and above our heads spells out that secret name of the uncreated Sun-God.

With darkness as my womb and light as my guide,
I pass down through my many ages where the uncreated hide.
Reaching far back before the birth of my form,
to recover the pattern of language from which memory is born.

All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa