The way to the Isle of Ancestors was laid out before
me, in a way that I could follow, but knew
not where it would lead. None of it made sense,
over the water to the isle, in another time,
another place. I was robed in red, safe
and protected, purposeful and expectant.
When I reached the guide she said nothing,
unusually quiet. I glanced in question, not
knowing why I was here — none of the thoughts
I had found answers in the mist that smelled
of ancient incense and sounded like a sea of small
bells. I felt a discontent, a sense of needless hardship
inside, a heaviness that mildly aggravated.
“Long ago,” came a voice, “This was how it was.”
A guide pointed to a patch of ground, stubbornly held
by womenfolk in dark clothing, proud but worn by it.
At first I didn’t understand. “They are so sombre,
clothed in dark up to their necks, yet handsome and
intelligent…” And they seemed to have something to
say, as the guide indicated toward them again.
“You want colours,” they said. “Yes,” I said, facing
them with respect and kindness.
“Well it’s no good asking us. We come from long ago and
far away. We don’t remember when the sea was alive
with the sound of small bells.”
Confused, I sat on a mound of simple earth, bare of
life and song. I saw them, bound as they were in manner,
as surely as if they had been tied up by an absent
captor. Inside me there was a vague sense of aggravation.
“Why did you come here? You know we are set in our
ways, as surely as if we were made of stone.”
“I thought to…” I said, part of me knowing it was unnecessary
to go on.
As I spoke with them, clear as a bell, some curled up and went
to sleep in their dark robes, a deep and peaceful slumber.
“Our time was lived. We were made for the dark. We were
made that way…” the elder said. In a corner of her
eyes there was a tear that sparkled like a diamond. A hint
of the bell sea? I thought.
“Be at peace,” I said aloud, “I have nothing to admonish you with…you are the
foundation that was. I accept you. I accept your strengths as
part of the whole, and bid you rest now.”
“Well and good,” said the elder, proud and regal looking, her
hair tied back in an ancient design, dark and lovely. “Then
we, no I, shall give you something, something from us…”
I looked down to see an ancient sepia dragon sitting serenely
in my lap, important against my red robe.
“I feared you would not…” I said, looking from the ancient art
back to my elder, whose regal countenance had always
made my sentences fall away.
“Understand? We know the patterns of the earth, and we were
one of them. Each pattern is different, and we lived our pattern. Now
you may add the colour that we need, in your own pattern.”
I smiled then, finally understanding the disorganisation of
organisation. The thread lingered, yet was forever separate,
forever joined, but different. It was meant to be different. This
was the truth of the elders, to whom I had sworn absolute loyalty.
My elder opened her robe a little, and beneath the dark was
a range of colour, that had always been there, yet was always
obscured. I was moved by the sight. “You knew it was there,” I
Always,” she said, “Yet not, if you understand me.”
Expecting her to sleep, like the others, in their calm state,
like wind-formed rocks that seem to lean of a need for the earth,
and the grateful peace of support.
“You would want to rest now, too,” I said, rolling the ancient art into
a scroll to take with me, and rising from the mound of earth.
“Not yet,” she said, with a slight smile. “I am your guardian, as
strong as any you will find. My name is as you know it, and
will always be…”
The heaviness lifted from inside me, and I knew it was impossible,
and unnecessary, she would think, to thank her. She had always
done as was expected, and knew the hard roads. I told her I was glad she
was here, glad she was there to watch that I would remain,
forever the same, yet forever different. She said that
was the way of the ancestors.
copyright Monika Roleff 2006.