A midnight fit, it was. A touch of early-spring fatigue salted with a good deal of extrasensory indulgence sent me straight to a well-attended grief ritual for this, our most beloved world. Here, I came upon an ominous spirit with black-mirror eyes and much to say about the watery fate of this planet. I refused her at first, curling into a mewling ball beside the slow-lapping waves on a stony shore, cupping my ears lest I hear a nightmarish prophecy that spirals me deeper into the mouth of madness, but there was something so graceful about her long-limbed gestures and gentle manner that I was spellbound in love.
Even as she said, “Best teach your babes to swim and swim well,” her voice was a soothing swaddle in some otherworldly shadow-rhythm that hugged my heart just so, that dripped with a certain enchantment with which I was not familiar, that seemed like the only poetry that mattered or would ever matter.
I couldn’t protest, you see. I had no words of objection, and we two began weaving a raft out of gull-bones and hair. So soon we were surrounded by changeling children made of lightning and old gods whose names have been forgotten by even the most scholarly pagan storytellers. Curious these ancient earth protectors were, befuddled by this strange partnership and wondering whether they should bless or curse a union built on that holy fault-line between hope and apathy, birthed in that liminal place where wounded land meets swelling sea meets pending storm, where an aching dream meets a telling augury.
Signaled by a western wind, it seemed, the lightning children began wailing, an ancient keening that bathed us all in the wildest sounds of pure, blood-deep mourning. The seals slipped from their rocks and swam to join us on shore, and black red-eyed dogs lined the cliffside above us, backed by a slow-swirling sky and howling with the old magick. Even the mist grieved. Even the scent of brine was an invisible death shroud cloaking us all in the great letting-go.
We were death harmony. We were potent lament. Ours was a living story of bewailed longing for a future that would never be.
Still, my thin-bodied co-creator and I kept weaving, kept stitching and sucking the blood from our pricked fingers, kept stubbornly crafting that humble raft while the sea crept closer and more otherlings gathered to become part of this unraveling secret I hoped I might live to tell. Those shrill and sad sounds hummed forth by the lightning babes were met by rough-voiced battle hymns that were more spoken than sung, growled into the wind by the old gods with painted faces and the hooded giantesses who now stood on the horizon, waist-deep in the surging sea.
The shadows grew sharper on the ground, and a pitiful sun edged out from behind the thickest layer of clouds. My inhuman friend whispered some words of comfort, though I cannot recall her intonation, and the epic gathering turned into a wake for all winters. The lightning children rode atop seals, squealing and singing songs of pirates and sea hags, while the old gods beat rebel drums and danced the way those knowing mourners dance, the way those who know the merit of a soul returned celebrate even the most fearsome of changes. We reveled well into the night, if I remember, and I snuggled to sleep on my friend’s lap, nested on a raft and lulled by the pulse of new ocean currents beneath me, cheeks stained with tears for the colder world I was born to and skin cracked from compassion for the coming of the waters, for the stronger webs woven in these dire times, for the resilience of the soft human animal, and for the companionship of the wild unseen.