Tag Archives: ghosts

Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

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Talking to Noone

       [a short story]

It was dark.  Night actually.  Sometime in the night.  I heard a voice, best described as spectral.  I am dreaming, I thought as I tried to wake up but I was already awake, obviously, or I was dead.  Deep in the silent night it’s often difficult to know if one is alive or dead.  Especially when in your mind you have become convinced that “death” is just another form of life, one you’re not quite yet comfortable with. 

So let’s say I was alive then, as you would understand that to mean, that I was in a body, and that body was actually functioning.  I could move with it, or make it move things.  That kind of being alive.  For the record.

The voice trembled some.  It was difficult to place in terms of gender, or age. It was the voice of an old male child who never quite gained its adult voice.  The voice of someone who had done a lot of smoking, perhaps died from it.  Again, what does that mean… nothing.  And I was dead wrong in my evaluation so let’s not spend more time on that. 

“I would tell you of things you should know ere this night ends.”  Said the voice.

“Who are you?” I had to ask, you understand.  It’s simple human curiosity.  We always want to know whom we’re addressing (or undressing, but that’s another topic.)   

“I am Noone” the voice said.  It pronounced it “Noo Nee”

“What sort of language is that?”  I asked.

“It isn’t a language, it’s a statement.  I am a statement.  I am supposed to be read, not heard.  This is terribly inconvenient.”

“You’re telling me!” I exclaimed, somewhat exasperated.

“Yes, indeed I am telling you.  That’s why I’m here, to tell you.  But I’d rather be read.  Can you read me?”   

“No, I can’t.  You’re a being, (and I thought, I sure hope so!) not a book, or a parchment or scroll.  You can’t be read.  Spell your name for me, I’m confused by it.”

“No one.”

“Ah well, there you see, you got it wrong in the pronunciation.  It is no one.  That’s not a name, it means you don’t exist.  You are no one.”

“I know.  That’s why I keep telling you I’m meant to be read.  I can articulate only what I can read.  I don’t have a spoken language, only a written one.  I am from a written world.  We are not a language, or even languages.  We are words, we exist only in words, sentences, paragraphs, and of course the more advanced of us exist in stories.  I’m just a word construct.” 

“So how can you make a voice, then?  How can I hear you audibly?  How can you articulate, as you put it?”

“How could I answer that?  Perhaps putting words together creates certain images and looking at those images, sound emanates in the mind of certain beings?  Perhaps… wait… perhaps when I’m near you I’m no longer Noone, I mean no one, but actually someone, or some one?”

“You mean like a living ghost?  A “for real” ghost?” 

“I cannot read ghost.  I do not relate.  Perhaps we word beings do not know of your ghost concept.  If I were a ghost, what could I do?”

“Well, not much.  You could haunt places, make ghoulish sounds and scare the bejeesus out of credulous people.  Come to think of it, this would be a good time to try it out.”

“A-good-time.  You want me to be happy?”

“Oh, don’t be so literal.  No, I mean it’s Halloween.  It’s believed that ghosts come out on Halloween and do all sort of mischief, or scare non-ghost types.  Ghosts are spirits of the dead, some long ago, some recent.  Some ghosts are demons from fire worlds.  It is believed they can be nasty.  They can even rob you of your soul and when you die to have to become one of them.”

“Not a good time, then.  Not a good time at all.  I don’t think I want to be a ghost.  I think I would scare myself and that would be very inconvenient.”

“Speaking of inconvenient, what was so important that you had to wake me up for, and we had to go through this whole mishmash of weird introduction?”

“Oh, yes.  I almost forgot, but I can’t forget, I’m words after all.  I’ll read myself to you.  You are Anson Jones.  You are going to be thirty three years old on October 31.  You have made your living from words, having written several novels and three books of poetry.  All your income has derived from the use of words.  You are a very fortunate man.  On midnight of October 31 this year you have qualified, from your life-long use of words, to become a word being.  You will be translated into a book.  But not just any book.  You will become the most important book on Word World.  You will, in fact be so important, you will be published as a trilogy. You will enjoy a long shelf life in every library on Word World. 

That has never happened on Word World and the anticipation is heating up, a river of ink needed to maintain written word speculation on what your entry will do to our social life, our economics, our very encyclopaedic space.  Some articulate it as a revolution.  Some write that it is an apocalyptic event.  A few crazy word splitters even write that you are he who was predicted to come; that you will bring us into a third dimensional state of consciousness.

So, Mr. Anson Jones of Earth, we shall all await your arrival with bated breath – as a figure of speech of course, we do not breathe as such, we write it.  Thank you.”

“What can I say to that?  Nothing.  I went back to sleep thinking it was a silly dream after all.  Was I surprised when I woke up this morning and realized I could not speak, that I could only write my thoughts down?  Not really.  I just know I used the word “inevitable” a few too many times in my novels.  It was sure to turn and bite me in the ass sooner or later. 

Speak to me of Love – a poem

Sometimes ‘it’ happens: my mind fills up with a memory, a dream, a feeling and images translate into free-flowing words.  Sometimes that becomes a string of free verse, as in the following.  Like riding a wild horse, I just go with the flow; let it take me where it chooses.

        [a poem by Sha’Tara]

Please speak no more to me
of the terrible things inhabiting your old dreams
for I have been too much a child of woe
My life, my dear life but a heartbeat
and then to die and not know why
except it is the way of things so
I’m told and must believe for yesterday
I saw a dead child on the seashore.

Please speak from a sea of promise then
for that is what I need today to drown in
and the feelings engendered in my heart
by honeyed words from guileless lips
these I wish to know in desire of sorrow and joy
For while I’m loved I do not think of death
but live in peace, rocked in a coracle
whose hull is weaved in strands of hope.

Do not speak to me of aging and passing
not today, for I am young and just got here
and barely do I know this world
I’ve not seen what there is to be seen
My senses are as those of a virgin
innocent even of the taste of a first kiss
full of wonder, stepping forth hesitant
as a kitten on a freshly watered lawn.

Let me taste the water in the fountain
at the center of the park and soaking wet
walk barefoot in the grass
stain my fingers with a dandelion stem
smile at a baby on a blanket
tugging on its mother’s jet-black hair, laughing
silly, pure, trusting, fragile, brittle.

Love me, love me, love – oh! love me
it’s all I want, all I need, all I’ll ever need
Let Occam’s Razor shave off the space
that lies discomfortingly between us
Don’t explain, don’t think about it for love
is crazier than I am, so easily lost
in kaleidoscopic images of
what could be, should be, would be
yet may so easily never be, lost
among layers of phantasmal fears
confused desires, twisted urges.

Live with me, in me, as I in you
though we seem so far apart in time
for love’s thorns have pierced my heart today
when you smiled and laughed a promise
A breeze stirred lambent honeysuckle
and having satisfied my hungry longing
with soothing words from reddened lips
in your masterful confidence now speak to me
skillfully, playfully, artfully of death, love

Then to the home you have readied for me
where I will, where I must (for do I not love?)
wait eternally, ethereal in endless labyrinths
among your silent catacombs tending ghosts.