I trudged through the mud - the clinging mud,
the sloppy and heavy dung-coloured mess.
Plodding along the well worn path,
the terrain anomalous yet familiar;
a path back to antiquity
and the Prophet's youth -
during the mildest and wettest March on record:
a two mile trek through utter quagmire.
I came to the Hermit's Cell
in the heavily wooded twilight.
Just enough filtered light
to make out the doorway, to enter
and experience the atmosphere.
I touched the crumbling stone walls.
They felt strangely warm beneath their covering of moss.
They exuded the mustiness
of the era I sought. This place was
secluded, alive with the very essence of my past and future
spiritual heritage - the inner Sisterhood:
old, earthy, Elemental Beings in flowing
hooded robes, with bright all-seeing eyes.
I sat on a fallen corner stone
and took out my flask, my sandwiches.
But I couldn't eat or drink - it felt too sacrilegious.
I was here for a much more profound reason than to picnic -
my re-dedication to the Path.
I took out my Runes
and laid out seven of them chosen at random on a stone.
But I couldn't interpret their message. Concentration
deserted me amid that rustling dead bracken,
where the cold wind chilled me to the bone.
So I wandered through the ruin. Did He know, I wonder,
how intently I listened to His absence -
this ghostly intruder with her unorthodox notions,
beside the bat-infested fireplace, in a sudden downpour?
So precise and prophetic an omen that it gave her goosebumps.
The tiny annex, His study room,
with it's fallen-in window and sound of the waterfall,
and the sheer drop beneath that He loved to explore,
and the river in the valley below where He once tickled trout.
All had been patiently awaiting my arrival. I could feel it.
And the broken steps leading down
to a cavern of Dark Age echoes
I'd inadvertently stirred up by my presence.
Listening there, at the bottom of the steps,
to the gentle murmuring of the wind
was like listening to the wild utterances of Merlin himself
during His maddest and most prophetic phase.
This ruinous monument, all the more precious to me
for His formative years spent there in embryonic omnipotence,
imbued me with a mental clarity
immutable as a history set in stone.
I was reborn in that February sunset.
And, shuttered by skeletal boughs,
the fallen stones emitted an eerie glow -
as if the sun had set there, inside the cavern.
I devoured the experience as I began to retrace my steps
(dreading the lethal mud in darkness).
I peered into the gloom as if into the past:
into His world, protected and magical,
of which (although totally ignorant of it at the time)
I had eternally been a part.