COVES OF QUILLS
You know it’s funny, that every time I walk along the street of imagination I am visited by all manner of possibilities. For instance I left the footbridge from the real world today and entered my sacred place, and was greeted by a flood in my head.
The water was rising above the subconscious horizon, which allowed my entry into a cove surrounded by crazy trees that were flexing in differing directions.
On the trunk of each wizened tree was a literary face from poetry’s past
Though not recognising them from their faces I was startled by their words as they blew towards my ears in a draft of warm wind.
What are you doing here? You don’t belong among the literary gods of the Cove of Quills, be gone pretender for you are blighted by madness and your fate is unsure in this place where souls torment one another so adroitly.
Who are you? I said, to which the voice replied…’I am Percy Shelley and I have seen your type before, be gone I say’
I replied that I was just curious and would never compare myself to the work of such a poetic giant as he, but then another voice travelled along the wind at me…. James Henry Leigh Hunt is my name and I echo my good friend’s advice, for you are trespassing in hallowed territory
My mind began to wander to another place at this point as I could not stay among such intimidating company any longer, though I remained on the sandy beach, the trees now settled down in a quite ‘uneasy’ peace
I sat for a spell and drifted somewhere else only to be brought back by a lilt so rich of voice….’Hello my friend I am Clifton Redmond from County Carlow Ireland so pleased to meet you this fine morn’
I struggled to stand as my legs had gone to sleep (strange saying that) and I looked at this kind, yet rugged man in front of me. ‘It’s you Dave’ he said, what are you doing in my cove? You are most welcome.
I was very pleased to see my friend Clifton but I was puzzled as to why he thought it was a welcoming place, and so I asked him.
To which he replied, do you see that face on the tree to your left?
I turned slightly and gazed at the face he had pointed out.
He continued… That is the great Dylan Thomas and he is my mentor and inspiration through the ordinary existence we both left behind, you are welcome to read his works and escape as I do. Allow me to introduce you to him.
"Dylan this is Dave Ratcliffe a poet who is lost in the darkness and so wishes to break free like I did"
There was a pause that lasted an eerie few moments before the warm wind came toward me as before. You are a friend of Clifton, and therefore I welcome you to the cove. I would ask that you do not anger the grumpy old men of wood over there and allow your thoughts to drift far away.
My friend Clifton came to me when he was much younger and now he has the tools to create great works of literature and poetry. Take my advice and go back to your life and try it for yourself
The wind dropped and Clifton gave me a knowing look before we engaged in a man hug of mutual affection.
Farewell Crackers Redmond I said as I turned back towards the footbridge.
Something happened to me today. A change has occurred and I am happier that I could ever have imagined
I will return to that place very soon but for now I must face the control of normality that harbours under the description of my life.
Part Two of the Cove series…
COVE OF CONCERN
I was struggling to reach the ‘Bridge of Possibility’ as I walked along Imagination Street on a demanding afternoon that achieved little of significance in the scheme of life’s mundane routine behaviours
However this time there was something in my way, something denying my approach, it was just odd. I had never been blocked off by a barrier before, but was not going to allow this intervention to keep me from ‘The Cove’
I moved forward towards the obstruction taking slow, steady steps as I could not risk losing my way to where I could truly be myself
I was just about to’ nip under the barrier, when a guard stood in my way, in blue uniform and every detail indicated that this was a ‘reality intrusion’ all that is but for the face, he had none!
Sorry officer I said but I have to get to my lens place (a lens place is a place through the small end of a telescope; personal to the perceiver)
The voice that came back at me was not omitted from his mouth (he didn’t have one) but from all around me, "show me your papers" he said, to which I replied ‘papers’?
‘Yes papers’, he said, ‘that allow you to take leave from reality; show me your papers or remain in the corridor of torment forever’
I was horrified and stood passively in the ‘neutral terminal’ for a few moments, as the guard turned and walked away.
In my desperate attempt to gain entry I shouted ‘I was sent by the Dobsonnet Master’ at this, he stopped and turned around with a quizzical hunched stance (he had no face remember)
‘Stay where you are and I will get back to you’ the voice said in surround sound authority
I began thinking of ways to break free and enter the bridge without permission but thought better of this as the guard returned and stepped into the guard hut; releasing the barrier
Off I stepped, onto the bridge ‘that I had thought my own for so long’, however I stopped in the middle when the voice made me jump once more. ‘The Dobsonnet Master’ approves of your quest; but beware, that the Cove of Quills may not be as you expect to find it’
The water began to rise ‘as it had so many times previously’, and though it immersed my head space’; this time it was a troubled journey as I held my breath for longer than ever before. I was straining to cope with the pressure until finally the horizon brought me to the surface to find the Cove I had fought so desperately to return to
It was a stormy day in the cove and the ‘Trees of Torment’ were wailing as if in pain, in a unified howl, which pieced my ears, and a sudden change in temperature brought a chill to my back as my clothing stuck to it.
I wondered, what could have brought on such discord amongst the community here? As I shivered and crouched into a foetal state I covered my ears with my hands. Maybe the Cove was changing and my escape was disappearing from my life forever; no surely not, I would rather die before losing this dreamscape of possibilities and ultimate release it brings with it.
Seconds later there was a rumble of thunder, followed by flashes of electricity from way out beyond the Coves horizon. This trip may be my last; oh dear god no!
I was rocking in my torment and began another journey as the sand opened up under the weight of my movements. I was afraid of suffocating in the sand until I stopped sinking leaving only my head exposed.
I was relieved and thankful for my descent into the earth to have stopped but soon I was to have another thing to concern me.
You see; the sun broke out so hot that I immediately began to burn, as the cove rushed away from sight leaving me miles inland. ‘Now this was scary, and not what I came back for’
I looked around for help (within my limited field of vision) and called to the poets within the cove, to the ‘trees of torment’ to come to my aid; but they had turned into plain ‘ordinary trees’ before I was transported to this deserted place, and so I was caught in my own nightmare without any means of escape.
Just when I thought I was going to die from the heat and almighty thirst in my parched mouth, I looked along the sand and saw……’hundreds’; no ‘thousands’ of scorpions making their way towards me. ‘This is it’ I thought; I die in the cove, the death of a thousand stings, and I began to miss reality’s safeness as I waited for the first assault on my exposed head.
At the very moment of the first sting being readied (by the largest of the beasts) in front of my face, there was a mighty ‘flash’; followed by rains so hard, they washed away everything in sight, including my uninvited guests.
Phew! My nervous system was wrecked but I was still alive, though drained and somewhat puzzle, I could quench my mouth and erode the pain in my skull, as I closed my eyes in total relief.
In an instant I began to rise from the sand; first my shoulders emerged, ‘which allowed me to move my neck from side to side’ releasing tension, then my torso, and so on, until I was standing on the beach again as before, then as I opened my eyes. I was back in the cove and giving thanks to whoever could have ordered this intervention.
The rain continued its thunderous intensity, and a further blinding flash; so bright that it inflamed the Trees of Torment, resulted in returning the poets to their rightful positions on each trunk
The intense brightness took shape in the sky and fused to form the face of the ‘Dobsonnet Master’, as my ears began to ring with the surround sound voice booming out this message…..’You forced your way into the cove this time David, and therefore travelled along the dark corridor to your furthest lens place. This journey will stretch you and enrich your capabilities, but remember that it will also be uncomfortable, so you will need to be prepared to risk everything in the quest for fulfilment’
‘But why was there a barrier at the ‘Bridge of Possibility’ and why did I require papers for this trip’? I answered him without speaking (he must read minds)
The voice again; ‘on the occasions you approach the bridge without submission, you will have to provide a ‘Purpose Paper’, this is a ‘definition of intend’ in the form of a picture placed in your personal headspace. However you will have to haggle with the guardian at the bridge to gain access this way’
‘You are doing fine David keep growing and be brave when taking this path’
I was pretty much washed out mentally at this point as the sunshine instantly dried away the soggy trees and everything was returned to how I had longed to see it again
Looking around at my master poet friends of wood, I bid them farewell, and walked away with the weary thought, that I had taken a chance and I hoped that the results of my endeavours would result something worthwhile.
My return to reality was not as troubled as it had felt on the many other occasions I had tripped over my beloved bridge.
It seems that in digging deeper into my soul and fighting harder for the prize, I was creating more clarity in this world of troubles.
Part Three Of The Cove Series...
CAPSUAL IN THE COVE
The gloves were off in the work place among realities carnival of dysfunction, with adversaries clashing in their own attempt at some kind of personal end game. I won’t bore anyone with the details ‘I don’t even know that much myself, all I do know is that this is not for me, oh no!
So what to do when faced with the tedium of human behavioral self-seeking garbage?
That’s right ‘head for the bridge of possibilities’
My intentions on this trip were to ‘go with the flow’ to coin a phrase that is much over used, but fitting in this case none the less
No guards or barriers were barring my way ‘that’s good to see’ as I crossed the bridge, and then began my wander along Imagination Street to await the longed for flood to engulf my headspace. And it was not long before I heard the rush of water, followed by a refreshing, crashing of waves that made contact with every corner of my head, giving me the subconscious reflex to hold my breath (this was always the most uncomfortable stage of the escape for me) and so wait for the waters to subside.
After an uncomfortable passage of time, I finally began to see over the waters horizon ‘only this time’ I was out at sea around a mile from the Cove which lay ahead.
It was hot, sunny and comfortable for a moment that is until I realized that I must swim towards the cove or drown in my thoughts forever, ‘better get cracking then’.
I swam with economical strokes (so as to conserve energy) ‘judging by the distance required travelling to the shore’, and I could hear a beautiful sweet sound of lyrical harmonies coming from within the entrance to the cove.
The only other sound was coming from the ripples of water that I was displacing, on such a perfect, quiet and peaceful scene as I drew closer to my place of choice.
I was beginning to struggle to maintain a rhythm as my arms started to ache a little, and then suddenly, around one hundred meters from the Cove, I received a stabbing, stinging pain in my lower right leg. ‘What the hell was that’? I thought, as I stopped swimming and began to sink beneath the salty water.
Twisting to raise my leg, I could see blood beneath the clear turquoise warmth coming from what must have been a result of a jellyfish attack
‘I was just beneath the surface now’ as I held my breath and pulled on my arms to bring my head to some ‘much needed’ oxygen. ‘My leg by now was like a lead weight’
Although the cove was so close, I may as well be far out to sea, judging by my chances of reaching the shore, for I surely could not make the required effort, judging by all the lactic acid I have used in my longing to get to the cove.
I was struggling to remain afloat and began to panic even more as I sank beneath the water for a second time, only on this occasion; I opened my eyes and saw a terrifying sight. ‘A shark’ (with open jaws, and teeth as sharp as knives) that was menacingly circling my body and getting ever closer.
My bleeding leg was exciting the beast and so surely I must offer myself as a sacrifice, for there is no way out of this impossible situation.
I closed my eyes and sank further into the depths, and prayed for my soul as the shark came in for its attack!!
I didn’t really feel anything other than an almighty ‘nudge’ but felt down to inspect the damage done, expecting to find my leg to be severed or at least partly.
However, on opening my eyes I was overcome by great relief, to find I was in some kind of craft.
How could this be and what had saved me from certain death. It did not make any sense to me, although Imagination Street has no boundaries when pushed beyond its limits I suppose.
My leg was stinging and I was still in shock, breathing deeply to take in the mix of oxygen and perfume…………..wait a minute, ‘PERFUME’?
Where was I and why does it feel so familiar to me?
I began to look around at the soft furnishings and children’s toys that lay around the floor, and thought to myself ‘I know this place’
I began to feel much more relaxed as I limped around the room, and I came across a mirror on the wall, ‘Wow David you are so young’ ‘you handsome devil’
As I gazed at my former self I was joined in the reflection by a beautiful young woman who I had missed so much over the past twenty years or so.
"David" she said; "you are in The Capsule, where I have been coming for many years just waiting for you to pass by" I turned to see her and my eyes welled up with emotive tears of joy and regret
I played with her hair, and stroked her cheek at the same time, and started to speak, but she put her hand to my mouth and said; "there is no need for explanation here in the capsule as this is an omnipresent oasis of candor where we just feel"
She continued… "We share this space together and will always have access to it, though you chose the hardest route and I am grateful for your courage in making the journey here"
There were no more words just memories as we shared our experiences from days gone by, and there was a peace of mind that began to ease my pain until it was time to leave.
The Capsule began to open and the singing I had heard earlier was loud and clear, folk music, (my music) was being sung by three lovely ladies on the beach
The song was so familiar to me as Dalia, Mathilda and Adi (grass skirts and all) swayed with the words….. in the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty
I want to be in the warm hold of your loving' mind.
To feel you all around me and to take your hand
along the sand, ah but I may as well try and catch the wind.
When they had finished the beautiful song ‘that I have cherished all my life’, I thanked them and they smiled and waved, disappearing slowly from sight
In my moments spent listening to the song and weeping with tears of joy the Capsule had drifted away into the sea, but I knew that I would be returning to that craft very soon.
So there I was in my cove surrounded by the Trees of torment (with the face of a great poet fixed to each trunk), and found them all in fine spirits on this ‘most momentous of days’.
William Wordsworth smiled and said…."A poet he hath put his heart to school"
I smiled back and took this thought back with me as I trudged back along the bridge ‘still limping somewhat’ and a little dazed by the excursion into my deepest thoughts
I opened my eyes to see my boss ‘staring sternly’ at me; you have not been listening to a word I have said, have you Ratcliffe?
‘I surely had no knowledge of what he was referring to’ and so I prevaricate, "yes boss I agree with everything you have said" to which he replied "I knew it was you’re fault all along I will see you in my office after the meeting".
There I go again, ouch!!! My right lower leg had gone to sleep, so I lifted the trouser to rub the affected area and found there to be a small scar, that had not been there previously…..strange
I thought about the cove and my newly found capsule within the waves and smiled, and my boss seemed confused by my acceptance and continued with the blah, blah, blah
Maybe next time I will comply with the day to day, but the adventure I have had today has brought me a little closer to myself.
All writing material owned by David Ratcliffe© 2015 All Rights Reserved