Dropping slow

This is a tale told by splashes dripping from stone fingers and echoes from a deep well . . .

The Pilgrim told this tale on a cold and rainy night. Few listeners came, and they were mostly young. She opened her travel bag and let the boy with the wavy smile pick a small treasure. He held out a shard of quartz, sparkling like ice and as smooth as glass.

‘Ah,’ said the Pilgrim.’This comes from a well in the Northern Lands where I was born. Hear, if you will, the voice of its waters speaking . . .’

‘Come see the Stone Ladies’ Grotto!’ calls a lad still growing into his livery. Double stitched with gold, the velvet cuffs flap around his eager hands. Young eyes, reflecting green-coated wonders, widen as you give your generous fee to see my statues.

You follow the dark trod into the forest. Breezes repeat theirsels among the pines swaying above you. River pebbles glisten and squeak with damp grit underfoot. Resin scents the air like incense.

Down you go to the chasm, negotiating old steps irregular as beggars’ teeth.  A halo of fern-tinted light shows ahead. Long-filtered wellwater and the breath of moss sweeten the cool air. Drips fall, small wet shooting stars from a sky of ribbed tufa.

And there they dance a sarabande; the crystalline nymphs. Clothed in folded rock, sparkling from each slippery facet, elegant in their dangling choreography. See their magnesium felted fingers, knuckles and wrists encased, gestures rock-locked into expected attitudes.

You are enchanted, moved to delicate tears. A halt in your promenade, a sigh, the graceful touches of a handkerchief – these are acceptable offerings. Your feet pad softly away: another attraction attended.

It would not suit your composure to stay longer. To see the lad lock up, shivering, so fearful to be gone afore the sun is hidden behind the gill’s brink. You would not wish to hear the stone ladies crack apart, or to see their cloven skins reveal carnelian scars of rage. You would not be edified by the standing water stench of their unsaid hurts, nor the touch of their time-eroded skin.

Do not be concerned. You may return to the ravine with companions wishing for a glimpse of the sublime. The broken women resume their suitable costumes of grief afore the lad comes to loose the lock from the gates. He will say naught.

Anyone’s pennies will prevent them falling into my petrifying depths. Again the curtaining film will cover their eyes  – and yours.



Image adapted by K. M. Lockwood from original by Dessy Dimcheva on Unsplash

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