August 07, 2008

Let the Word Take Me p.7

utters simian calls while a dark box in her lap – O save me! – speaks. Imagine it: to hear the living Word issue from a dead box! My heart quails when I think of it, and I hide my face in atonement for whatever misdeed might have brought me to this test of faith.

It is not that I have never blasphemed myself. Every child has done so.

My first memories are of the gathering in the House of Leaves; of the sun glowing through the roof-leaves layered like scales; of us children sitting curl-tailed in awe while the Word flowed through the people with the inexorable power of water; of learning the Great Tales of our people, questioning and understanding them.

"But why the Great Tales?" I blurted out once, by the granite basin in our kitchen.

"Allayo!" my mother cried. She turned her great-pupilled eyes away, and gestured holy cleansing.

So I asked again in the proper place, amidst the gathering, in that sacred hall before the Mouth of Singing Crystal.

"The sacred Word is life, or death," she told me. "It binds, it brings bliss or misery. It is the blood of the People, that flows freely in its heart, in the House of Leaves, and the Great Tales like flesh grow from it; outside, the blood and flesh are clothed in small images that give understanding without unleashing the full might of the Word, like scales over the skin."

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