old man of the sea 0Cold hand pulls and tugs at the tendrils of my anger. My anger. Cherished child with twisted feet, bound upon Darkness Mountain. Shepherd of the flocks, I took you in.

Unbinding, the twisted feet will never grow straight. Gnarled roots, ageing the young body above. Ice blue eyes pierce my soul, but he does not speak.

Walking he cannot do. For many years I carry him on my back. The Old Man of the Sea chokes my voice. I cannot put him down. Always I walk the path his feet guide me, heels choking my throat so I must turn his way. Walking the shoreline in the warm water. Tongue swollen, yearning for the sweetness. Finally he sleeps. I see the rock and fling myself against its rusty knives. Enough of him is shattered, I can walk free. I leave the carcass swilling pinkly in the gentle surf.

Walking into the curtaining fall I rinse off the sea-salt years. Soft water brings life to my throat. Out of the sun’s burning rays I turn, into the cave. Green and dappled darkness nourishes me. In the depths, He is there. The Shining One takes me in his arms, sliding silkily into the soft places, licking my throat alive with his tongue. I am come home at last. I spend my time, growing in the fecund darkness of the cave, the Earth-Heart. Always he is there, living me to life again.

Awakening one day, he is not there. Warily I find my way towards the light and see again the sun curtained by the falling water. Breathing high and deep I pass through the Fall. The path stretches downward from Darkness Mountain. Foot by twisted foot, I make my way into the valley. Shadows stretch out their arms to touch me coolly, shielding me from the burning rays of the sun. There is a familiar sound, a thudding and a pulsing, like some great animal purring as it washes birth-slime from its young. Walking forward between the shadows, I recall its name. It is the Sea.

The path divines my way between the rocks until it bellies out into a tidal pool. Something washes to and fro, to and fro, in the pinkish foam. A cold hand seems to enter the wound in my side, pulling tendrils of pain. I do not want to see his face. Not her, like this. But the hand is like a spear blade, twisting, turning, within. My feet carry me forward.

I can see his face, silvered with the sweat of pain. Limbs twisted, flesh broken on the jagged knives of rock, the whiteness of bone. I take the draggled carcass in my arms, a dead weight, and retrace my steps towards the Fall. I cannot find it. Crying now, frustration, I would drop this deadly weight, but the cracked lips murmur, the eyelids flutter. I cannot abandon life. We struggle on. The red sun sinks towards the hungry earth. Shadows lengthen, gathering in the light. I cannot go on. I turn aside.

Stumbling, I catch my balance. The rosy light glimmers on a hidden pool. My numb feet are nourished by the living grass. I set my burden down beside the tree, barely alive. I scoop up water, part the burning lips and drip it into the blackened mouth. The eyes open, smiling now, at last. The tree hangs fruit among the leaves and flowers over our heads. Turning away, I stretch out beside the pool, pushing my head below the mirror surface. Water flows through ears and hair. Somehow the skull expands, thoughts and images dance clearly. I shake my head, a Kraken rising from the depths, shattering the still surface with flying drops. I watch the calm return.

A hand upon my shoulder brings my sight again to now. Looking in the Mirror-Mere I see two images, one face. Our lips move together, mouthing our name. The Ugly One takes me in his arms, sliding silkily into the soft places. I lick his throat alive with my tongue.

smaug eye