Thursday, November 6, 2014

I rarely write prose, but this was in 'Fankle', a Scottish poetry and prose sheet.

A Fable for a Late Hour

It happened in the bloom of my youth, that as I made my way
through a forest the path became overgrown and I could not
go on. Then there was one who came from a shady grove, a
lovely woman in a white garment, and I was dazzled by the
brightness of it. Yet though she was beautiful she had a
white bandage round her forehead. And her laugh tinkled
through the forest and she said ‘I will show you the way.’

And I said ‘How can you show me the way since your eyes are
covered with a bandage?’ and she only laughed the louder
and her laugh rippled and trilled and echoed among the
trees and the rocks. And she took my hand and said only
‘Come’ and I followed her, higher and higher, among crags
and cliffs. And at last I came to a cliff where I could not
follow while she climbed higher to rocks where there was no
hold and it seemed to me that she took wings and vanished
from my sight.

And I trudged slowly and sadly back down the path and the
sun had moved across the sky, and now I was in the middle
of my years. Then a figure came to meet me, a woman wearing
a black cloak, whose visage was dark also. Her voice was
hollow, like the echos of a tomb. ‘You came with my sister,
Faith,’ she said. ‘Many go with her to the cliffs but none
can follow her there, she flies so high. Now you must come
with me.’

And she took another path, and it led into a swamp. Now she
tested the ground with a stick, and she gave me a stick
also, and we had to try the ground every step of the way.
Slower and slower we went, and the sun went further and
further across the sky, and at last overcome by fatigue I
fell to the ground, and there I slept.

And now it was night, and it was late in my years, and I
heard light footsteps, and I saw one who came carrying a
lantern. In the flickering light she could have been young
or old, handsome or plain, and her clothes were hard to
make out in the light of the lantern, now seeming like
rags, now like rich finery.

‘You came with my sister, Doubt,’ she said. ‘She lives in
the swamp, but few who enter ever leave.’ And she held up
her lantern to show a path and she said: ‘You may come with
me or you may not, and if you come you may live with me or
not, and if you live with me you may fare well or not.’

And I went with her, and it was as she said. For she is
joyful and sorrowful, complaisant and contrary, prudent and
fantastical. She is the voice of wisdom and unreason, the
picture of softness, the image of obduracy.

In the evenings there will be bitter words and angry
silences and in the mornings she will be loving, melting,
yielding. And so shall I be, for I have become as she is,
and she is part of me, and her name is Hope. I have chosen
her as she has chosen me, and I shall be with her in the
hours or years that are left to us.

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