Once, in other times, I was called “He Who Outwalks The Night”. Now the story behind that name is forgotten, even by myself, and I answer to whatever names the wind blows my way. Today, in Monterey, someone shouted “Watch Out!” and I turned to see an elderly man struck down by a speeding automobile. My name, I knew, would not be a warning, uttered in alarmed shock. Maybe when I was younger. I refused that name, therefore, and continued on my way – which delivered me in pouring rain to this inn, this room, this page. Just as your way also, whatever it may have been, delivered you to this page. And here for a flicker of time our respective ways intersect. I am looking, perhaps, for a name. Only you know what, if anything, you are in search of.
I dreamed last night that a bird, luminously blue, sang my name from atop a skyscraping tree. A warm and golden light bathed the scene in amber. I awoke to a jay, shrieking and blue amid the white blossoms trailing the veranda. The bird looked right at me and then fluttered off, wake-up call delivered. I had no recollection of placing a request for a wake-up call, but there it was. The position of The Sun (creator of shadows) told me it was mid-morning. Ah, how good to wake up still alive, all possibilities imminent! Gazing through the windows, bright with day, each leaf on every plant and tree became a luminous parchment upon which was writ the poetry of infinity.
I believe it was a crow who first told me about the dark side of Love. I wish I could recall his name, but as I have indicated, I have trouble with my own most days. I do recall, more or less, that birds words:
Brightest light maketh
“Just so, MO,” (not my name but this was how this particular crow called me), “you have seen, indeed been blinded by, the brightest of Love’s lights. You have scaled heavenly heights to be so dazzled! But, among other things I hope, you have learned to wear shades the next time you ascend such heights. For, blinded as you were by The Glory of Love most high, the face of the one who is many, you stumbled and fell. Indeed, you plummeted. Down, down, down you went, the after image of Glory burning your eyes, into the blackness at the back of Love.”
He went on from there, longer than I care to revisit here (crows, of course, being notoriously garrulous). At the time, I could not separate the subjectivity of my circumstances (to which the bird referred) from the objectivity of that crow’s words. Hindsight, as the saying goes, is 20/20. In any case, that long ago crow and his words of wisdom were brought to mind this afternoon by another crow I met at Nepenthe. He said his name was Arunaal, which struck me as resonant somehow. Momentarily, I realized why. The woman with whom I had so long ago scaled the heights of Love’s Splendor was one Lydia Aruna! Ah, poor lovely, Lydia! To think that she suffered more than I in our fall from Love withers my heart. That it was a crow who reminded me of you, dear lost Lydia, is either a revelation subtle and profound or one of the perverse jokes of which the universe is so fond. Time, time, time I suppose will tell.
Today I went to the shore, where land and sea meet, and thought that I heard my name in the roll and crash of waves. White sea foam seemed to spell it out in short sharply focused moments as it splashed through the air and then was gone. Too quick! I missed it. Wine tonight was bitter – or maybe it was just me.
Early this morning, early, I was awakened by the sound of music. The sky shone a pale blue. Lights were on, and the days business begun at the big house, but the music I heard came not from there. Indeed, though it contained hints and echoes of various earthly melodies (recalling to my mind at once madrigals such as I might have heard in the Courts of Elizabeth, had I not been unconscious for most of her reign, the traditional tunes of the northern countries and fanciful jigs and reels of The Scots and Irish) I am sure it came from no human source. I was familiar with this music, having heard it once before in a dream. My ears enchanted, I stumbled still in my bedclothes and unshod down the stairs, beneath the white bars and up into the dark and the green of the canyon behind this chateau.
I woke up there many hours later, wreathes of wildflowers wrapped around my ankles and wrists, above my head a halo of bumblebees buzzing away, and happier than I have been in a lifetime or two.
-Transcribed by Richard Cody, 2006 -