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When Lions Dream of Eden
One thing was remembered about that night, and in its simple grander, it would remain in its essence, an essence of mortality. It was stifling hot, more so than was expected, even by me, a foreigner to a land, in which untamed and professed by its beauty, unscathed and untouched by a promiscuous hand, that was true to its nature, as was mine, but the thing remembered most fondly that night was the Cosmic Dance, innocence of twilight. I had cancer, I believe, and with it came realization of fragility, a sense that came too late to be fully enjoyed, in which salvation and success seemed unnecessary, and it was in this I sought a world devout to its own passions, and it is thus I discovered the untamed salvation, which no man can attain, that is, the man that came with Cupid’s dull arrows. I was considered dead in a matter of months, and oh, what long months those frightful days, living in the shadow of inconceivable death, were. Being a widower of a wife dead of a stroke, and bearing no children, I was considered fodder at the hand of the Eternal Sickle.
I spent the days after knowing of my future end in utter denial. I remember weeks spent inside of my room, not eating, not drinking, starving and scathing an already decaying body. I forgot the rays of the sun, and the innocence of the moon, sailing with her Armada of the night, the very Armada in which man has built his own home and desires. I was making up for that here. Life was keen to irony, so it seemed, in that it led me to the eternal shores I had at a time never conceived.
Down the path I looked, if it was considered a path at all, covered by dense foliage and towering spires. The only light was that of the moon and the stars, and though dim, produced a greater innocence than the mid-noon sun. To that fact, the sun was for the heroin, the moon, for the lover. The twilight was the daring border between the two, a drunken, incoherent border, reminiscent of Cupid and Empires. I believed to have seen rustling in between the trees, there probably was, but my frail mind was ignoring it. Life, at least mine, was increasingly too short to waste sleeping, regardless of the fact that dreams bring about a better reality. I, therefore, sought endeavors in which I would desire to find the motives of within allotted time. For now, I just walked, a vagabond with even less of a purpose on exotic shores, and exotic dreams to ones such as myself, in which the silent prayers of the night echoed at noon.
I had departed from a small fishing village about ten miles north of Mtwara a few days ago. There I treaded unpaved paths. There, in that small village, though probably more populous, I had encountered three men. One bore a crucifix and a bible. The other bore a weathered but gold inscribed Koran. The other, a fishing net. The latter man was kind enough to share his meager rations of fish and grain with me. Though I denied, as he looked quite starved, he could not deny the man who sought Himself upon his shores. He lived on the shore. A small hut, a knife, a bowl, a near dead candle, and fishing nets were his possessions in their greatest description. He spoke English, but it was rather broken and difficult. I remember, sitting near a dying fire, he uttered a few indistinguishable words that sounded more-or-less like “Joe DiMaggio”. I paid very little attention to it, less than I should have. The sunset silhouetted the hut against the sandy and stony shores. As twilight came to pass and the night encroached, the man fell asleep, and he bid me to rest under his roof for the night. He probably would had offered more, but he knew more than I would have known. He had already found the question I had sought, and that question uttered his very presence.
“If I do not house a wandering man, The God of mine and yours will not house me when I wander into death.”
His words, before wander himself into sleep, bid me to sit on the shore, my ears void of anything other than the lull of the waves. The sky was a deep, royal blue, fulfilling its fleshy love with purple and orange. It was a beautiful art, a breathing art of passion, of sorrow, and of epic tales of the common man. Fishermen were lovers of the twilight, and as it was shown. There were several boats out on the water. They slowly drifted away beyond sight, and the moon was left to console the fire and me, Prometheus’ gift left unworshiped and unpraised, a gift which sacrificed the favor of a god, which was left to die.
“You do not fish at dusk, Rahidi?” I questioned him before he fell into the realm of dreams.
Rahidi was his name. An elderly man he was, more elderly than I was. An overused tan hide covered his dying skeleton. A frail man, he was, but wisdom and omnipotence came with a hefty tax of its own accord, its own reason, and of its own determination.
“I do, my friend, but it is best, under some console, to bestow several nights to the sky and not the sea.”
The twilight soon faded into night, as did I soon fade into sleep, not under the roof of the old man Rahidi, but on the shores of the beach, on promethean shores and warm sand, where the waves over the course of the night barely reached my knees.
I had a dream of lions. Lions on the beach, they were, and inasmuch I felt a sense of déjà vu. They left paw prints in the sand, and the waves washed them away into memory. They were innocent, of course, and the stars guided that innocence. A symphony was alive with the African shores, but when the finale was at its peak, I awoke to the relentless sun, the dream and song was lost from memory.
I offered to pay the old man, but he refused. He put his hand on my shoulder, thanked me for my company, and spoke one word, one word, only spoken.
I set out north, possibly east, most likely both. Under the rising sun I traveled beyond where paths and eyes desired to travel. Perhaps I, subconsciously of course, desired to contract some unknown disease, and die a hero in Africa, an easy but unfinished end, but an end nonetheless. I had never been much of a traveler, nor of a sightseer. I do not know when that had changed. Perhaps when Death, with his fiery, promiscuous, and screaming eyes, allowed me to fall asleep in the gentle gaze.
The sun was unforgiving; it envied the passions of the moon, and sought an iron rule over the land that bowed to its will. When in Morocco, I was offered a traditional garb by a native man of Oujda. It served its due purpose here. It was most likely noon, and the sun reigned with a plump composition.
And as quickly as the day had come, the sun, vengeful and dying, disappeared on the back of Apollo. The faint presence of the stars was seen above, but the moon, sightless. It was somewhere veiled by clouds or the misted horizons. Soon the thick patches of unknown jungle had ended.
And I stared at the vast plains ahead, marked only by rolling, green hills of Africa and the occasional acacia and baobab tree, wherein apples did not grow. Mountains pierced the horizons, which beyond lay a world unknown, possibly a world in which my unknowing answers would lie. The only way to attain it was to reach them. Perhaps I would catch a glimpse of the ill-fated snow leopard in the snowy and stony peaks.
But I could not move. Before me stood untamed existence. Here a man’s eye had never laid claim before mine. Here, drunken fancies and the dull arrows of Cupid would not interfere. Here laid the world that possessed no affairs with the world itself, but, in fact, its affairs transcended beyond desire, here, in the land of Peace, of Innocence, and of Promethean Twilight. A land untouched by commonly spilled blood.
“Beyond here lies the House of Our Almighty,” said the omniscient Rahidi as we ate the bland grain.
And it was indeed so that the mountains were soon incomprehensible, unattainable, lost from narrow sight, and the moon slowly made its way beyond the limits of the irreprehensible horizon. Would I go on? Leave this place, this solace, this haven, for undetermined horizons? I presented myself with a paradoxical situation. I could have made the wrong decision by staying, but if it was, it was not of my own accord, but the accord of the sirenesque lull of the grass and wind. Perhaps my real answer lay beyond the black veil of African night. The question was, did I believe in a destiny? Did I believe I was Man?
The lull, there was no lull that lingered. It had escaped past the threshold of my ears, perhaps still there, but unattainable. The rhythm of serenity, and nothing more, remained on this stage. I carried with me, in case of occasions such as this, a makeshift tent. I went down into the grassland, leaving the humid jungles and entering a still humid, but pleasing, Realm of Twilight. And it was so, hidden behind the fragility and comedy of a rolling hill, a river laid claim to the foundations of this land. Oh, this river was not a river of flesh but of spirit and of mind. The river’s waters flowed beyond the physical realm, in it mirrored the cosmos, but the cosmos itself was mirrored, in all their complexity and agility, in this river. The river flowed at a still pace, frozen in transfixed time, crystal water, sparkling water, and innocent water. That was the blood of Men, the blood of long dead and long forgotten Men. Men of the night and Men of the twilight shores. A cool wind blew in from the east, adding contrast to the colors of this wind.
Here I went down into the field, into the untamed, into the house of the old man once more, and it was here, I was welcomed. It was within this land, transfixed in atmosphere of life, the Sickle, with an eternally powerful and ethereal hand, could not reach, nor could his fiery death lull me to a sleep. I pitched the tent in a matter of meager minutes. I lay not before a shore of sand but of grass and wind, and here, I dazed into the Eyes of the Cosmos. I considered the stars dancing, and it was possibly my age, or my weariness that deceived me, but the stars danced to the cosmic choir, even less unattainable than the escaped lull. Here, the Cosmic Dance, I watched, and the Cosmic Symphony, I listened. And what an ancient and everlasting mantra it was, produced by the hand of the God of Many People. The stars produced a light, dimmer than the sun, and aided by the moon, and engaging the grass and wind in the fabled Battle of the Lovers, consumed the land in a cleansing fire of dark passion.
I remained in the beauty of truth, painted upon an Urn of ancient lore, only this, and nothing more. I slowly, speaking to myself of matters and affairs that I had pleasingly forgotten in the morning, fell into the realm of sleep, only to dream of the Cosmic Symphony played above. A Portal to Eden unblocked by a flaming sword and ambition.
And it was in this realm that LopLop came to me. He was taunting me, in some form, and we danced around the crying skies of fire and brimstone, joyful and playful, and after being consumed by darkness we lay under the green skies on a field of purple grass and watched the gazelle roam in their freedom. He taunted me, he questioned my freedom, as did I question his.
“Qim Tim Tum?” He questioned.
It made perfect sense then.
“Yours is mine, my fellow.” He would later add.
He offered me a red apple, shimmering in the light of the falling sky. I did not accept it. Later, he handed to me a golden egg. Out of it sprouted a chick with a piece of paper in its beak.
“Heed the sought”
The chick was gone, as was the shell, but the message was mine. I eyed it, and with a quick glance, saw it.
The sun was nagging. I awoke rather late, my face ripe. I had pitched a tent I did not bother to use, and quickly I packed it back up while preparing a small breakfast of grain, given of course, with due omnipotence, by Rahidi. The mountains looked daunting, not only did looks suffice their title, but also as did their very nature, contraire to the previous night, and the optimism it so appealed. The sun was still young in the sky, closer to noon than to dawn, but nonetheless, still day. It was time. I stared the sun in the face.
In Hoc Signo Vinces.
The wind whispered. Before departing I decided to leave a mark of presence, though probably a foolish choice, to disturb the untouched of course, but so in due course, it would linger. I am a man, as am I of the house of Flesh and Blood. It is my nature to conquer that which I cannot be. I took out a withered knife, ah yes, such a beautiful knife. I had found it in an old shoebox in my attic, back a while ago presumably, a history erased, a history deserving erase. I carved into the flesh-like and innocent acacia tree a small phrase.
I made my way through the grasses, over insignificantly sloping hills, crushing the grass my feet tread. There I made my way, to the east, to the east of this self-proclaimed Eden. The jungle air was gone, gone by last night. It was a different air in Eden, an air of a freer nature, an air untouched by so many generations. That was soon gone. Soon gone, gone to the mountain air that would claim my lungs. Through hills and grass, past breathing and sleeping trees and the forgotten lull of the sirens, I tread.
There was no means for I, a weak man and, by the size of these archaic halls, a humbled man, to scale the monolithic beasts. There was, with a mixed sense of remorse and sickening relief, a path that led up through the unspoken peaks. I had nothing to loose, only that of which, so precious and so vulnerable, so succulent and hankered, that of the unknown of which I sought in which I would find my fulfillment, not as a historian, nor a sickly fool, but as a human.
The path was not a manmade path, eliminating my disappointment. It was a various assortment of rocks and boulders, and a crude path at that, but it was only a display of nature’s reign, her reign over the House of Flesh and Blood, in which we claim to tame, but subtly, cannot. Passing over loose collections of steep rock and stone, I climbed, pausing to stare above and see the wall before me, a dead, inanimate wall of breathing stone. Not too far ahead of my short and pathetic climb lay an outcrop, which overlooked the grasslands I had forever departed, and their, upon the miles of memory and serenity, where glory laid true claim, and man had been purged, I remembered I departed, hesitating, considering going back to Eden to die in the presence of innocence, an Eden void of a serpent and of an illogically placed deceptive tree of life. I could not. It was time. My answers still lay beyond the mountains, an answer waiting for the Sickle, an answer unattainable in the flesh.
Slowly I crept, and crept I did slowly. Through the silent halls of dead memories, I passed. The sun cast a hateful shadow on the breathing halls. Several times, while climbing the unreliable path, I fell, luckily able to continue with minor aches and pains. With frail old limbs, scaling cold walls of stone and rock, I climbed, climbing for glory, for ambition, for an echo of humanity’s eternal quest and question. It was bound to occur; I was claimed insane to come here at such an age and so close to the breast of Death herself. They were the fools. They were the ones who would die, the ones who would become a part of the soil and not a part of the wind. They would fade to dust, while I faded into lost memory.
And it was here the relentless lived. I made my way up the slopes, continuously, only one path available to me, here, I could not dissuade from my unfolding scripts. The path led to an end in sight, another outcrop possibly, yes, it was an end, and end of some means. I staggered between the lumbering crags, steadily becoming harder and harder to ascend and less and less of a path to rely on, and it was these lumbering crags and boulders, a scar upon this land, but a scar of the land nonetheless, and therefore, for that, it was holy land. The end came closer to me slowly, and as the path became harder, steeper, deadlier, the path grew increasingly distant. But it was here humanity made its stand, in the windswept halls of oppression and calamity, and it was here man decided his fall or his ascension to the visage of knowledge that would remain. And it was here I fell. My hand lost its grip, and I slipped, only merely, but enough to cause my memory to flood back stereotypically, and my long forgotten strength reclaimed itself. I grabbed a better hold, and staggered my way to the top. There, I ascended, hands bleeding and eyes burnt. A minimum taxation, I paid.
The mountains were behind me, Eden was a distant memory, loathing its distance, but I looked ahead. There was an outcrop, higher, much higher than before, and another path that lead easily downward, and rather steeply. And out over I looked, a king of the rock, I stared upon the fragile and lashed earth, over what was not Eden.
In the distance, another vista of distanced mountains blotted the horizon, but these were of a much more radical scale, as was its distance away. The Unreachable. The Forever Unknown. There, in sight, it was. And below me the Valley of Jehosaphat stood, and to the east laid the moderately distanced shoreline, the sound of crashing waves came slowly into knowledge and perception, and even further, though delayed by my eyes, there appeared to be a fisherman out on the sea. To the west, there lay a small series of abodes, upon which, seeing a family run about the premises, I questioned the innocence of this land.
I made my way down the steep descent, surprisingly easier than the ascension, and stood on the hard, dry earth. The shoreline was no longer visible, and perhaps with its disappearance from sight, it disappeared from existence. I remember, and why I remember, I do not know, a saying from a magazine advertisement.
If a tree falls in the woods, and none are around to hear it, does it make a sound?
The answer was both. As in Eden, several acacia and baobab trees clustered here and there, but the grass was gone, as was the twilight. I walked along the edge of the mountains wall, and rubbed my hand against its surface, its cold, archaic surface. And my touch was interrupted from the sight of the mouth of a cave, of which, I did not desire to enter, but there it stood, a portal into question, and risen from the ashes and embers of that very question comes the answer. But men are consumed by fire, as are their desires.
Then it came. Voices. Voices of the family, in the distance, it was. I wondered if they had seen me. No. No, they did not see my. I pondered, whether or not to disturb their routine, to leave, and part for other lands, with no interaction. Apparently, it was too late. A young boy had seen me. There he stood, perplexed, transfixed, awed, a child. After a few awkward seconds of eye contact, he ran away from sight.
Would I run? I contemplated the notion, however, I did not see any motive in such a fact. A pillar of smoke rose into the sky from a campfire around the settlement. The people, at least from what I had seen, were dressed in form of some native dress. The rays of the sun caused me to squint for a manner of time, as they had been hidden reclusively by a spell of clouds for an undetermined period of time. The boy returned.
In his hand he held a wooden doll, painted and dressed in some sort of cloth. He held it tightly in his hand, and in his other, he held the hand of an older male, from what I saw, appeared to be an older brother. Soon behind trailed a sister older than the two and what appeared to be a mother and a father, in which the mother held a tightly wrapped bundle, a newborn child. Here in the Valley of Jehosaphat, a child was born.
And there we stood, forced to stare at each other under an awkward ambiance, in which I would not make the first motion. This was not my home. My home was not here, nor anywhere I have been. And that, my friend, is possibly what I have been searching for. And yet, I did not take the notion full-heartedly, the seeking of a home, and therefore, I dispelled the idea.
The embers of the fire cracked, and they were distinctly heard in the silence. A clash of civilizations, I was presented. The sunrays glanced against the black skin of the huddled group, displaying their sweaty form. The boy, the eldest one, walked forward slowly.
“What is your name?” The child spoke, in accented English, but regardless, English.
I stood, there, unable to answer. Thoughts of Rahidi came back. The child turned his head towards his father, who, with an emotionless face, made gestures towards the child. He held a piece of fruit in his hand. It looked more-or-less like an apple.
“Who are you?” the boy whispered in heavily broken English.
I remembered now, Rahidi’s weathered face, comical at times, but graced by tender age. I wondered if he was dead by now, no, a man like that never dies, not entirely. And on the wind there carried a whisper of distant pasts.
The smell of the smoke was abundant, but not before the smell of the distant, impossibly carried sea breeze.
The boy, the youngest, held is doll even tighter.
“I am who I am.”
The boy turned to his father, and in doing so, spoke in his native tongue, which spiraled into a storm of babble. The bundle erupted itself, into a storm of cries. Soon it died down. The father had the last word. The boy turned back towards me.
“My father does not understand your riddles, traveler.”
A native griot sounded in the distance, or at least, an imagined distance. She sang of dead heroes and dead lovers, of ancient bloodshed and broken bonds. The cloth of the doll rustled under the scrawny arm of the child, and its lips began to sing with the incomprehensible griot.
In Hoc Signo Vinces.
And with that last utterance of the boy I departed from the family. It was neither my right nor my duty to disturb them. No. The White Man’s burden was not mine. I left, casually and coolly. I was not to know if they had seen another like me before, but it was not for my path to walk. Where now, I questioned? Where do my answers lay? That was the question I still sought, and the answer, I still desired. In Janus’ ear, the answer was whispered. I found the shade of an acacia tree, far away from the family. Their hearts were unsettled. Behind the cloak of the mountains, a proud acacia tree stood, and there, I lay.
Crying gulls, bloodthirsty, as hungry as I for redemption and acceptance. They would find theirs, they’re friend was the fisherman. And their foe as well. Out to the shore, I looked, it was not in sight, but it was a shore of unknown partings. It was there that the gulls cried. Out there, where the sea and sand met intimately, caressed under both sun and moon, locked in the eternal battle, forever, for centuries, for now, for man, the gulls cried for their answers. They battled, and the gulls lamented. I stood up, taking a drink from a small canteen that I had filled from the morning, and departed from the second tree, the burning bush, unforgiving hatred from the sun, the tree felt.
Down rolling hills, through parched grass and dead soils, down through miles of denser jungle, the shoreline laid claim. I stared at the edge of the clearing and the jungle, just I had done before. On the wind I heard whispers of ‘Homer’. I entered the forest, back into the humidity, back into the concealment and exotic botany, I climbed and treaded. Treaded through archaic plants and nature’s skin, I did. And soon, the shoreline met her eyes with mine, and they were envious eyes that met under the sun.
Envious as my eyes were, it was not satisfactory, for it is with the satisfaction of that envy that another burning passion leads to the next envious strand. The gulls, peculiarly, had vanished, as had their lamenting so heard before. The sea was, apparently, calm. It carried a lull, the lull of the ocean, the song of the sirens whispered on the waves. The sand was soft, clean, uncorrupted. I sat down, taking my shoes and socks of, and sat intimately in the bosom of the shore. There I sat, and waited. Waiting for what? I wish I knew that as well, my friend. Twilight was coming, the domain of Eden, encroaching closer. Twilight, it was here.
In dances of purple and blue and orange, in vivid chorals of joy and lament, in the battle of the sun and moon and the peacekeeping stars, I was present. Under the cosmic shores, I lay, and there, there was peace. I cannot attain it. It cannot be attained. I am a man, and a man, a mere man, cannot attain such knowledge, such beauty, and such completion. And it is such that man, a figure in the shadows, must live and mourn.
But oh, so calm and tender were the fingertips of the wind, caressing coolly. The twilight imprisoned the moon, the beast imprisoned within the Abyss, and the eternal years of peace were among the nations of the world. And it was here, the sirens of the night overtook the sirens of the sea, which were long laid to rest, and it was here the ocean of the stars caressed me, in long eternal poetic struggles of compassion and envy. A cleaning burning envy, such mine was. And it was so that truth was beauty, and beauty, eternal. And I stared out upon the void of blackness that was the ocean, out into the unknown and unseen that would forever haunt a man’s will to survive. Out in the emptiness, where the beasts stir and the fish lay in haunting silence, there lay an uncertainty, for no man sails in the dark unattainable, for he has no hope of reaching again the shores of Tripoli or Home. That is, except for the man who has no salvation but his own demise, and the man who himself sought to destroy himself would seek the answer, possibly finding it, become consumed by it, and drown in the darkness that was the void of the sea. I was soon arrested by sleep, and it was upon enticing my dreams, I allocated to a more intimate, even intimate still, twilight.
And it was to be that the dawn should soon come. The dawn was always a sign of hope, but here, it was not. Not in these lands. It was dusk that brought the salvation, and dawn, the fears of uncertainty. The shore was laid to rest, and the ocean, struggling for compassion, array with hatred and uneasiness. To the north lay a mountain range, yes; far off in the distance I could see it. Vague at best, but it was there I would make my search. The clock was turning, slowly, nonexistent, but turning nonetheless. It was time.
Yes, and it was here I continued my journey. My dreams did not entail much. Only the soothing lull of the singing stars, under the mystifying grasp of Eden and her forbidden fruit, which, by grace, was not forbidden at all, but indulged, were allowed my mind. The distant mountains were daunting, and compared to the breathing halls of which led the gate into Fate, they were the gates to the throne of a God, where somewhere, he would allow man to find solace. Somewhere, beyond the gats of abandoned hope and no return, there would still be solace.
Waves crashed upon the shore at a violent pace. Clouds from the East, this way came. A storm, a violent curse from Zeus came this way, and my Odyssey would be at an incumbent end. But it would not be. Perhaps predestination held some affairs in this land. Now I remember my times, back in Casablanca. Yes, that is where I was given my Djellaba. I stayed in some form of a hotel, a rather touristic fasion, but it provided me with interaction with a variety of people. Yes, they came from many backgrounds. I encountered a Jewish man. He left me with a saying and a prayer, which we chanted.
In that matter, I ran into an Arabic man as well. Quereshi was his name, a native of Morocco. We smoked merrily at the hookah lounge, which he had treated me to. When the adhan came, he enticed me to pray with him. And I did. And with it, after sharing a number of drinks, he gave me his traditional garb. It was in due respect that I supplied him with my only hat. I think it was made in Arizona, I already forget what it looked like. He too did leave a sublime taste in the sands.
“To what end is our salvation?”
Then I met the Indian man. His name was Avanish. He gave to me an ivory elephant, which he acquired from his trip to the Ivory Coast, a beautiful place, he so claimed. Perhaps if there was still time, after seeking what I sought, I would go visit there. Perhaps I would run into him again. I do not know.
And as I reminisced and rambled to those with deaf ears, the mountains in the distance grew closer, ever closer to me. They were less vague, clearer in sight, truer to their nature as defiant titans. Did I recognize this place? Surely, such towering beasts could not have gone unforgotten to history. And they were not. I stared at the peaks of the highest summit, which grew slowly, barely noticeable, but ever closer. It was harder to attain clarity, so, I moved inland, away from the defiant crash of the waves. I had to go through no veil of jungle and greenery. No. Before me lay a dead land, a land void of the rolling grasses and even remotely alive soil. I stared into the eyes of Gehenna herself. Cracked soil, scarred, screaming echoes from long dead torment still rung in the halls of this place. And it struck me as amazing, that such plague and destruction could survive in one small point. But it is such, a taxation must be paid, and even beauty and humanity have their taxes.
Through Gehenna I tread, into unknown territory, and it stretch out for miles, and all the while, the sun crawled higher into the sky. The natives were but a fragment of my memory, and of the memory of everyone else. Miles before me Gehenna stretched. I pondered, I questioned, that if salvation came, even to those who truly earned it, even without punishment or realization, what was the need for such a trial? What was the need for the blazing had of a cruel and scarred plague to stand in the way of man and his salvation. That is, because, it is man who is that very plague, the very plague upon which he is fighting, and it is that plague which consumes him, and it is that plague which he becomes, and, maybe, attains his salvation through it. Men often die at the hands of the dark sea, never to be seen again.
Hot and tempered, the sun seared, and every few miles, a sign would be scorched into the cracked and hated earth.
Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.
However, the mountains grew closer, closer, closer still into sight. Their details, and their towering defiance to humanity, were strikingly more attainable. Yes, now it was seen. The highest peak, the one barely visible, still though barely visible, was visible. The grandeur of their snowy peaks, so eloquent, so prouncoed and so loved. And it was in that snow that the lovers enticed and the lord of ice and cold gives solace to the parched and cold earth, and it was there that man defined the limits of his own ambitions, to where he went beyond, and sailed into the Unknown. It was to be never, forever more. A once proud sentinel and poetic lover, drowned in the envy of the sun and of humanity, the peak of Kilomanjaro was. The once proud and invincible Titan of Africa was but a mere obstacle, easily denounced, tortured, and succumbed. The Snowy Peaks of Kilomanjaro, their beauty and defiance, was to be no more. The snow was gone. The sun had laid claim to the innocence that lied past Gehenna. Now, what was there to do? Of course, my answer still lay beyond the mountains. Surely, these mountains, sentinels, though mortal still, but sentinels, guarded and kept the gates to my salvation. And mere rock, though towering above a mortal man, would not keep me from attainable humanity.
Gehenna stretched on infinitely. Yes, the mountains came, but it soon came apparent that the base of the mountain herself was a part of the nation of Gehenna. They were always traitors, the mountains I claimed would hold the gate, but it could be, in fact, the sun that has tamed the mountains, who holds my salvation. No, not the sun. It was not the sun. it was far from the sun, the sun, the orb of my salvation was not in the shimmering orb of heavenly grace. Gehenna had tamed me, yes that was for certain. Man was very tamable, I do not need history to account for such a fact, but neither Gehenna nor the sun, nor the sea, nor the stony sentinels would take away the ambition of humanity. That is what I possessed, and all though many will not embrace it, it is reliable, and it is a tenderly vivacious maiden, Lady Ambition.
I made my way back to the shore, which was no more than a mile away. The cracked land was bringing back old memories, yes, painful memories. Upon leaving Morocco, I crossed part, possibly the more timid part of the Sahara, the slayer of Eden, the abode of the Snake and Apple. Day and night the windswept sand and dirt pounded my face, luckily, for me, I was not alone. The natives of Morocco were on a trade route south, upon which I was entailed to join them. And I did.
Reminiscing again, and somehow time passing very quickly, the shoreline appeared more innocently, the wind was dead, the lull of the Natural Order was sleeping early, and the ocean sang with the sirens breath on the waves. Here I was, one day ago, closer to my destination, yes, but to what avail? That was not a question I should ask myself, I recounted that I had no avail from the start, but it is with the urge to seek that which I do not know that I must find avail in my endeavors. And I did.
Twilight came all too quickly, but it was with that speed that I was soothed. It was not yet twilight, however. The sun still made a hearty attempt to scorch the earth from afar, and it was working, but dusk soon came. I sat on the beach, just as I had done before. And there, I looked out at the ocean, the unattainable, and sought the stars to come out, and sing to me. I ran my fingers through the delicate sand, yes; it was fine, soft, delicate. It was intimately attuned with the sea of Janus, which was so calm and soft at this hour. And it was here I prayed. I prayed for an Endless Night, yes, I prayed for that Endless Night, though, in a different mindset, I would find, hopefully, my avail for salvation. And soon, it was to come.
Twilight approached. Slowly, but it was enjoyable, savored, cleansing the palate. Then, though lulled by the rhythmic trance of the sirens and the sea, I heard it broken. Broken by soft treads. Soft treads in the sand, it was, ad it was soft, very soft. However, it became louder with each passing second, slowly, gradually, but louder. It was enticing, exciting, my human instinct was taking over. Yes. Prey. No. I was more than a mere primate. Granted, some are not, but I chose to be. The soft padding in the sand became louder. A small, indistinguishable sound too emitted and came closer. Yes, breathing. Soon more. Rustling. No sight was attained, it was too dark, twilight had already taken the throne of ambiance. However, eventually, it did come.
And here upon the treaded beaches by few and by vagabonds, there came two small lions. Yes, two small lion cubs they were, following in each other’s footsteps. The one in back swatted at the other one’s tail, and the one in front, occasionally, would swing behind, miss, and the two would become enticed in a fierce, but innocent, battle. Here, lions played. Yes, lions played on an African beach, and it was here, unknown and undetermined, I was allowed sight into the midst of the sight.
There they played, in all their glory, all their innocence, and all their pleasure, the lions played, and they too were a part of the cosmic chorus, they too were a part of the lull of the sirens, and they too guarded the gates into serenity. The lions stirred, rustled, breathed with vigor, with life, with innocence.
And as soon as they came, they were gone. Disappeared into the now utter darkness of the Endless Night. Yes. It was not utter darkness, however, for the stars and the crescent moon provided their essence. And the lions left behind them a trail of paw prints. However, and probably due to my bad eyes or the loving but failed light of the stars and universe, there was one set of paw prints visible and existing.
And soon, while barely recognizing it, sleep took my hand once more, the timid sister of death, she was, and quit a siren herself, she was. And there, in the halls of my mind, I dreamed of these very lions, yes, the lions on the beach, and in their entire splendor, they played among the grace that was the affair of shore and sea, and among the glorious chorus that was the universe of twilight. These lions, they painted the purple and orange and blue of the twilight sky.
I awoke. The sun, the sun was much less relenting then ever before. Yes. The sun was forgiving, today, the sun was agreeable. Granted, several clouds blocked its path, but it was still harmonious. And the memories came back, yes; it all was coming back to me now. Lions. Yes, lions. I sought the paw prints that I had believed to see last night, but they were gone. The sea, the sirens, stole them from me, washed them away from memory.
I sat on the beach for some time, thinking, discerning. The mountains stood to my left, sentinels to the unknown, and to my left, Eden bore its mark eons, miles away. I stood, gathered my now faltering possessions, and headed down the shoreline. I followed the shore, north; I would go past the mountains. Perhaps there I would seek what I was bound to know. Somewhere, beyond the unknown, I would find my salvation.
Then after some discourse and closure and passage, I found a distant mark of memory. Yes. The sea was an incomplete lover. There in the sand there was the single trail of footprints, and the trailed off, off into the loose patches of jungle. Would I follow them? Would I follow the steps into the abode of innocence? I would.
I followed the prints, small, soft, echoes of the past, there they trailed into the jungles. Then I saw it. The lions were there, sleeping, nestled next to each other. Their tails swung occasionally in a rhythmic pattern, and their legs twitched, and their faces, squinted, as if staring into the face of the sun that was blocked by shade. They were lions, lost on the course of their dreams. Lions, they were, and they were dreaming. And the lions were whispering, yes, they were whispering things of the past and of things to come. Whispers of their dream and of their kingdom.
In Hoc Signo Vinces.
Ad Vitam Paramus.
And with that, I left them, making sure not to disturb their peace, for they definitely had not disturbed mine.
I took my things, and left them under the boughs of the jungle. Needed them, I no longer did. I looked to the mountains, sentinels to the unattainable. I looked back to Eden, and it was upon her path I would follow under the Twilight stars, it was her salvation I would take and her knowledge I would drink. In their washed away, dissolved, and forgotten paw prints, I walked. And it was under the twilight stars and waves of the tender sea and shore, under echoes of a cosmic dance, under the sirenic songs, where stars remained uncounted and the sun rose on the western horizon, and the ivory Coast laid in a dream, the lions dreamed of Eden.