Mysteries in the Swamp

Bayou_DeView_Arkansas_in_the_Cache_River_National_Wildlife_Refuge

Memories, dreams and the mystical combine…

I arrive for the ball, feeling Cinderella-like
immediately pulled into the arms of a prince
spun around the floor like an elegant top
yet no words are said, there is only the music
I stumble and see the reason for silence
he is  paper-like, a one dimensional prince
the music becomes tinny, garbled and untrue

Spun around once again, I find myself in a garden,
elaborate and sweetly scented, overlooking a swamp
standing on the manicured cliff, I look down
only to be gently pushed over the garden edge
landing just shy of the rippling, green water
dressed in ragged clothes, bare feet covered in mud.

In glides a flat bottom skiff, with a silent demand
in a step hesitantly, with more curiosity than fear
only to land in a heap as the boat reverses direction
a moon-lit ferryman looks back at me, silently laughing
seated, I watch him, listening as the swamp glides by
music of animal and water draped in mist and trees
watching the ferryman disappear as we pass into shadows

The next patch of moonlight shows no ferryman
only the skiff sliding onto a marshy bank, waiting
I step out, watching the skiff sink out of sight
watching the water quickly dissolve the wide shore
my scrambling feet seek purchase on the island
eager to avoid the murky waters where hunger lurks

As the land shrinks in length, the center grows tall
to form a stool-like mound the only safety to be had
I vault onto that mound gazing into the dark unknown
I settle in to begin to get a feel for the muggy night
only to have blue-green scaled arms wrap my torso
trapping me and my arms against a muscular chest
protected by this other, I am pulled through the swamp

Set down by some cypress knees, vaguely shaped in a throne
before I am sure of what my eyes see, a small movement
draws my eyes to a weathered old man suddenly there
Up he stands and moves away from a chair that isn’t
for all I see is a ragged stump surrounded by cypress knees
“Follow me ge’l” says he in thickly covered southern tones.

So I follow this nimble old man, a plodding child to his grace
up to a three-sided shack on stilts, roughly made but homey
my elderly guide waves me to sit at the raw wood table
I wonder who or what he is and why I am sitting here
he hands me a bowl of food, I start to eat out of courtesy,
knowing that food, no matter the contents, is a precious gift
I start to thank him for his hospitality only to freeze mid-word

You never thank the Fey and you don’t eat their food
he laughs says, “Eat. It will not harm yer delicate tumtum…”
as he continues to speak, I hear but cannot understand
frustration must of shown upon my face,
because at once the old man disappeared and
the shack became a dirty wreck reclaimed by the swamp

“Wait” I frantically call. “It is my inability to clear my head
because of delusional fears!  No insult is meant toward you!”
The shack then returned to is former state including owner
the old man looks at me steadily in contemplation
All at once I know, “Why, my Lord, why the charade?”
He laughs, seemingly pleased that I saw the farce

As he pulls me into his lap as his feature regain their youth
he never answered that question or the many others I asked
he just pulled me close with a sigh, tucked under his chin,
“Talk to me often, keep me close in your heart
Bring me into your every moment.
She is your guide, your teacher, but I,
I am your center, your love and joy.”

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