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Neal Shanncappo Neal Shanncappo
Recommendations: 3

The Desert Edge


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The desert edge lies on the fringe of three worlds
And under this one sun I sit alone with one crow for company
Behind my worn down shack of lacklustre dreams
Rises to the horizon a jungle of Heaven’s Gate a lush and verdant wonder
To the right hand of my chair thunders the Blue Divide
Chill blue seas like the unrelenting hammer of a Dwarven God
It beats the rocks beneath the cliff with a lulling weary rhythm
That echo of the searing fire baking the earth on the left of my smile
Where the rocks steam in pain and crack beneath the weight they carry
Where the sands burn like coal in that desert forge


I tilted my head to the bright blue sky with its rising pastel hues
Listening to the murmurs across my back of Heaven’s Gate and her leaves
Sighing of the Blue Divide with her sweet breath rolling in with her thunder
Feeling the wafting of warmth billow over me from the desert forge
I sat as I have from the death of my youth to this the twilight of my days
It was a hot and sundering day, chill like no other before it thought my friend the crow
And he was right for it was a day of change, a day of foreshadows deep


On came a wanderer from lands that I have not travelled only visited
Bringing with him memories of the trails I have wrought through my own life
In brief glimpses I did sojourn into the emerald vault of Heaven’s Gate
Barely through the vines that choke the border of that world I strove in my search
And there beyond the wall I fell upon a path of soft grass damp with life
But I was not alone under the shadowy sunlight filtering down through the leaves
I could hear them moving all around me in the gloomy depths of the jungle
What they were I never knew, never caught sight of them completely
I only heard in horrified rapture their howling, their cackling echoes in the trees
They knew I was there though I could not see them they knew I was there
A stranger in their world, perhaps they thought me an invader, an interloper
So it was they chased me with screams and wailing cries like a thousand jackals
Ran me down biting the shadow of my heels as I ran blindly back, back, back to the edge
Stumbling I found myself broken down having past beyond the great barrier of vines
Those silent and vigilant protectors holding within their grasp a promise


On comes a traveller from lands that I have not wandered only visited
Bringing with him memories of the pains I have borne through my life
Like the desert whose dunes I dared only once to climb when youth held me fast
A fleeting grasp, a tentative hold that was as it must be for us all I have come to see
In those valleys of sand where the sun drank from my body ravenously to crack my skin
I saw only once the whispering vision of life in the distance
Shimmering in the heat of the burning sands stood an oasis many miles deeper
So I set out with that vision hardly in my mind across the desert
Over mountainous dunes and into abyssal valleys with the sun raking my back
I walked and then I crawled when my feet became blistered stumps rubbed raw
I crawled until my hands and knees bled
I crawled until I held my head high no longer
Still I wandered, still I moved despite the sand choking my eyes closed
I crawled my body burned and my eyes blinded by sun and sand
Only to find my way back to this shack on the Desert’s edge
My journey had betrayed me I believed
My journey had twisted me all around I thought
Until today when came a wanderer through the desert forge
To sit down and rest with heavy sigh and cloud of slowly settling sands


On his shoulder sat a grey old owl watching me silently with eyes of tired wisdom
In his arms the man carried his second friend a satyr with ivory pipes to match his horns
I nodded in quiet solitude rocking back and forth in my old wooden chair


So it was that we listened to the gentle creaking of the wood
Listened to thunder rolling in off the great Blue Divide
Listened to wind shushing through the leaves of Heaven’s Gate
Felt the heat wafting over us from the Desert’s edge


Neither of we two speaking, only listening until at long last with the sun beginning to set
The satyr stirred just enough to lift the pipes to his lips and then to play
A hauntingly sweet song of blissful sorrow like age-old memories of lost youth
And we listened to him play his song long into the night
Until the stars failed to shine and the curtain of day touched the veil of dreams


“Time to leave, time to go, time to say farewell
For there are roads still to travel and I have yet much to see
And so long a way to go,” he said with a quiet voice of strength


Looking at him I wondered why he wanted to leave, to go on
I knew the hardships of the desert and its forge
I knew the horrors of the jungle beyond the great wall of silent vines
I could see the deep pits and smashing waves of the chill blue sea
Even as I saw this I saw too the weary lines and wrinkles on his face and eyes
He was tired from his long walk through the desert a walk of many years
Perhaps it had been a walk of a lifetime; a life spent struggling for one more step


“Why not stray awhile,” my voice cracked for all the years I had not used it
“The roads before you are just as hard as the desert you left behind”


He smiled but not unkindly and his satyr friend ceased to play instead he to looked upon me
And the owl turned her head and those wisdom filled eyes my way and the wanderer spoke


“It is true I have walked a lifetime through the desert and now I am weary of the road
I could sit here and forsake before me putting off forever
The choice of where to step in wonder next, putting off forever the choice
But the desert, nay the road, has taught me a devious secret I will share with you
You see I too once sat where you sit never walking down the long road, never choosing
In the years to follow I found that I was moving down another road, I had made a choice
I had chosen to walk without moving, to walk without wonder, without wonder I walked”


He left me then in silence and no look over his shoulder did he spare me
I watched as the jungle of Heaven’s Gate swallowed him up and for a time I listened
Listened to the song of the satyr’s pan pipes playing a hauntingly sweet song
A day passed or maybe it was a month or a year and I heard it no more


I find myself in this day standing on the bluff overlooking the great sea, the Blue Divide
Its waters crashing across the rocks many feet below and the waves seem to boil
Farther still I see them thrashing and undulating into forever over the horizon
I see a swim before me like none other, I see a road I have not taken, a road untested
There beneath those deep blue waves is darkness vast and empty, full of life
All I have to do is step off this cliff and fall, fall into my future full of struggle
It is cold out there in that sea; I will be alone and yet like the wanderer from the desert
Perhaps I will hold a friend, maybe carry one, and wonder with one through the sea
My heartbeats swiftly in my chest, my stomach twitches for I do not know
I only . . . I have learned to wonder what lies down this road, beyond the sea


Walk in wonder he told me
I will wonder and learn


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Next: Beneath the Noonlight Sky