A Journey With Blackbirdowl

Sunday, November 01, 2009

26 The fallen warriors

Saturday October 31, 2009:

“Veiled by clouds, the moon shines down.
Across the undulating belly of the earth,
A snake of silent people move.
Connect, remember, honour
Our fallen warriors; our dear beloved dead.”

“It’s an ash tree not a lime”, Declares one of my companions as we stride across the tussocky heath. The sky fizzes with fireworks. The moon peeps out from behind hazy clouds.

We circle the tree, make sacred space and call our ancestors.
We light candles and place them at the bottom of the tree. The smell of the wax reminds me of the smell of the air of Trafalgar Square last night and the hundreds of candles burning at the foot of an impromptu stage. Another gay man has been murdered. The community gathers to say “no more, enough is enough!”

I call the spirits of our fallen warriors, my brothers and sisters in struggle from all communities. AS we stand in circle around the tree, I feel them walking across the heath towards us, streaming in from all directions, from all communities.

The snake of silent walkers swings round the tree, moves through the veil (a piece of blackpaterned net swinging from a branch of the tree. Foot in front of foot, we move, connected with silvery ribbons, we move as one behind the drummer.

The grass hisses on either side of me. I feel the presence of many feet. Without speech, connected heart to heart, they tell me their stories. I learn of their lives and how they were ended.

At first they tell me, it was the names, solo initially and then a hail of hate. Of course it was never to end there. A blow, a blade, , a brick, a boot, a blaze of searing light; shit covered nails, arching through the air, smashing into flesh. In the moment before oblivion, the inconsequential thought and then the heart-stopping spasm of fear. Disbelief turns into certainty back into disbelief again.

My flesh shrinks as though it receives the blows; I feel my anger rise and the tears come. “Why” I say to myself, “how can we be so hated?”

“It’s because we are different”, the dead ones whisper. “It’s our very existence which challenges the status quo, the acceptance of normality”, they say. And of course I know this and know too that it has been so since the beginning of time.

”Say no to hate crimes” I hear the dead whisper. And I know that this is what I must do. I must use words to fight the hatred, to change it, stop it.

The walkers swing round and through the veil, circle the tree, hold hands and connect. Behind its sheltering branches, the dead of my community stand and wait until it is time to go.

Silently, we bid farewell to our dear beloved dead. I turn and bow towards my brothers and sisters in struggle, still standing silently watching, beyond the tree’s shelter. They turn and move away, walking in all directions. Long grass swishes beneath their feat as they move back into the night.

25 … And the feathery nest …

Tuesday October 27, 2009:

On top of one Tree Hill, we stand and face the curving river. The sky is mackerel, according to my companion, who with nerves of steel has just made it up the deeply cambered steep path in her electric wheel chair. But One Tree Hill is not the place for us we decide.

With relief I lie down on the grass on top of a burial mound on the other side of the park. I raise my face to the sun. The sky is now a clear blue. Only the caw of the crows can be heard on top of the whispering trees in front of the deeper hum of the traffic beyond.

“Goodness!” I say to no one in particular, as something seizes my feet and swings me up in the air. Above me, the down draft of huge beating wings ruffles my hair. Grasped in sharp curving claws. I see her dark wings against the pale sky as she soars towards the sun.

It seems like I am drifting. Gently, I am laid down on a bed of the softest, silkiest feathers. I sigh, sinking deep into them and am content. Time moves on.

“Oh” I gasp as I am swung up into the air again. The claws, the great dark body, the same pale sky rotates as we rise. She lies me down again on the curving bank of a meadow and I relax back until once more I am swung into the air.

Now I lie under the sheltering branches of a stout chestnut tree. All is quiet. The tree leans over me as though watching. The sky changes. I am returned to the bed of soft feathers until removed once more to the grassy bank.

The trees lose their leaves, become skeletal and then begin to bud. The sky thins and whitens until with the sharp winds of winter’s end, I hear the blackbird sing. All winter I sit still in nature or lie cocooned in feathers.

Last week, I remember as I become conscious of the burial mound upon which I am lying, I was encouraged to dance in nature to get me through the winter. Now the birds invite me to sit in solitude and stillness in silence. Perhaps I’ll do both, I think, rolling over, preparatory to getting up.

“I’m going to buy a duvet”, I say as I get slowly to my feet. I stretch and yawn, raise my face to the warm sun. “This is the life”, I think, bowing to the birds and the sky and the undulating land.