Mountains can be mystical and holy places. I used to travel through a forest of ferns, spy spirits, and escape flame on my journey to their tops. Their trails, coiling like a serpent, wound through a thousand battles and hid countless enemies.
I recall strange beauty too. Behind laurel branches I spied some vanishing Shangri-La. Crystal fountains carved secret gardens of desire that made my soul ache.
But the mountain’s enchantment ebbed with the years. Perhaps my soul grew small, my third eye dim? Maybe the Gates of Eden shrank west, while I wandered east? I try to recall the terrible magic of the seraph’s sword. I strain to hear the voice of garden Thunder.
The mountain’s trail coils like a serpent because there’s a Dragon in the wood. A malicious flame, he gazes from the cave’s fire pit. Once bitten, your soul will burn with his tang until the day you die.
But by some fearful grace the Mountain bleeds wine and drops healing leaves of bread on the trail. When I feast from the Rock, the Serpent’s flame dwindles enough to fit into a brass votive for the service of the sanctuary.
I knew those mountains well. Even so, something more beckoned at the top of every rock and just beyond every creek, or so it seemed. It was like the memory of an ancient, hidden well that offered renewal. Or maybe it was a dim, damp echo from before the Fall, floating on autumn leaves.
Then snow fell. The wars ceased and the snakes disappeared. A holy silence covered them all white. I can’t express the wonderful sadness I felt. It was like the haunting past or future made present for a moment. It was like the real mountain appearing through a dream’s door.
That one weeping rock always summoned me up laurel tunnels through knee-high snow. His ice sickle tears pierced my mind like crystal spears. Or now that I think about it, maybe they were seraph swords. They wounded with a sense of lost beauty while echoing future glory. But the dreamscape always faded in the sun.
The mountain’s tears thawed in spring and washed sediment down its rocky creeks. My brother and I made skulls from the mud. We were gods without the power to breathe spirit into our grim creations. But the Spirit spoke, nonetheless, from their finger-formed mouths, “From mud you are and to mud you shall return.”
The skulls’ silent prophecy rings truer with time. Farther east with venom in my blood, I still glimpse the mountain’s holy mystery behind its leaves, in fractured light bathing the path.
My faith and hope stumble toward the whisper on the trail, “Dreams can dance in the daylight.” My love takes the laurel tunnel’s ascent, with longing for the face behind the face of the weeping Ice King.