Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Black and White

An example of how laterally my brain works: last night, something outside sounded like a bullfrog ==> so I posted on FB that he might be called Jeremiah ==> Three Dog Night ==> my favourite song by them.

In fact, one of my favourite songs of all time.

It was decades after desegregation that I first heard this as a child, and even then, I felt its power: I stayed stock-still to listen - and cried, falling in love with it years past its heyday.

I sang it as I watched Nelson Mandela walk out of prison on television, wanting to ring it out over South Africa in joy and pride.

Today, after SCOTUS' Voting Rights Act decision of a few weeks ago, after Trayvon and George Zimmerman, even the furore around the biracial couple in the Cheerios advert, the sense of Martin Luther King's dream dying makes it even more powerful and poignant, especially as I learned today, whilst hunting it down, that the original 1954 version opened with this verse:

Their robes were black, Their heads were white,

The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight,
Nine judges all set down their names,
To end the years and years of shame.

The Warren Court. The Court I so desperately wish could have been immortal; and if not them, then the Burger Court that followed them, the Court of my childhood.

Three Dog Night dropped the verse - and why not? It was 18 years after Brown v Board of Education; 8 years after the Civil Rights Act. They thought we'd won. How wrong they were.

My heart hurt - I'm not sure how many more times it can break.

And just like that first time, the older me wept, for different reasons - for the hope in the song, the certainty we were going to be there soon, surely in the 28 years that would mark the millennium. They could never have imagined the SCOTUS decision in 2013 that would be so different from the 1954 one. 

The world is black, the world is white, with so many of us so many shades in between. And together we learn to...do everything.

Perchance to dream that one day, all the colour of one's skin will mean to anyone is how much melanin it contains.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

An eldritch night

It wasn't even a Luther or a Hannibal night; my most exciting watching, to my everlasting, now public, shame, was Gypsy Sisters. Nor am I reading anything that would have forewarned me of a difficult night. 

On coming to the end of Part 1 of William Boyd's Waiting for Sunrise halfway through the midnight hour, I decided it was time for bed, having dozed through the last few pages. Sleep should have come almost immediately...

...when suddenly, the night changed. I heard the sound of something or someone scrabbling on the roof above the bathroom; the sound of something or someone on the porch roof below me. Someone's key was rattling in the door, though everyone was home. Outside, loud voices, a sense of something in the air. The night felt ominous, danger everywhere.

Suddenly, as I lay in my usual falling asleep position on my left side, I felt a hand - and at one point saw a shadow one - trying to grab my right upper arm and pull me over, which then became a whole community of hands from my upper arms to my legs trying to roll me over and off the bed. I may have spoken and said 'Stop,' but it didn't. As I struggled, I sensed a thunderstorm breaking; lightning seemed to flash through my room and I heard an echo of thunder.

The owners of the disembodied hands spoke; claiming to be specific friends, saying that I should just let go. The voices wove themselves into a dream where I told them they couldn't fool me; I know my friends' touches and my parents' (!) touch. Suddenly, the dream shifted, retaining the eldritch urgency of the night: 

I was on a steep hill with three friends, all male: they were all sons of judges, mayors, etc., trying to help me: I was being chased for witchcraft. To be fair, I WAS a witch; I both Saw and used Magick; I think it was something I had Seen and spoken of that got me into trouble. The boys were further down the hill and slid into the surrounding bay. I dove from halfway up the hill, ending up near them. Though I was running to preserve my life, though the situation was urgent - I wasn't afraid; I was almost...exhilarated. My main concern was protecting the boys - who were members of the coven alongside me - and making sure they could remain members of the establishment, because their NOT doing so at this juncture meant a greater catastrophe than the one I'd spoken of to the community; the one that had led to this chase.

I saw the dream in double vision - one version where it just happened; the other version lucid, where I thought, 'Past life.' In THAT version, I turned as soon as I hit the water to see that one of the men was a real-life close friend, treading water, trapped into the holding position and prevented from swimming by his wet cotta. Our eyes held the other's, layered by the telepathic sending possible in the dream: his was full of...guilt for not doing more to help me and fear/loss as he thought, 'Oh my G-d, you're going away,' knowing he couldn't leave - not just yet anyway. 

My gaze, my Sending, was reassuring, understanding, as I thought at him, 'It's okay. We'll find each other - this time [life] or the next. You know where I'm going,' as I submerged, pulled out of the cotta and swam, like a mermaid, through the underwater cave under the hill that only he knew about; leaving my cotta behind as evidence for the pursuers to think - and the 3 men to 'confirm' - that I'd drowned.

I started into wakefulness, heart pounding, gasping for air and safety, disoriented, into a far darker (it had only been 45 minutes) and utterly - almost preternaturally - calm night; into the deep stillness that only appears once a storm has passed.

I twitched my curtain and looked out to see that the ground was bone dry.

I picked up my phone and emailed one of my closest friends with everything I could remember of the dream until then. Less than a minute after I hit send, my gchat icon popped up with "Shit, are you okay?" I wasn't, but 20 lines later, I was soothed enough to successfully drift off into a night with no further incident.

I woke to a normal world, though eldritch echoes remain: far too many birds flapping behind our office, with one, unusually, playing with the lock on the shed. Normally, all one hears is the occasional stone dropping from above, but today, it's like a roost back there. I can't help but wonder if they are ravens.

Then my officemate noted, several hours later, that today felt 'unnaturally quiet'.

Clearly, eldritch is not quite ready to evaporate just yet. Watch this space.