August 17, 2018 >

August 17, 2018 >


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St. Baume

by Yanara Friedland


Mary Magdalene was a Palestinian refugee who was given a boat by angels. Is the Mediterranean an open sea? My requests do not bear sense but saints listen to questions.

Mary deliberate and alone on the road. Mary stepping off her boat. Mary in cloak, in repose. From whom he had driven seven evil spirits. And driven seven planets to their name, and seven limbs nailed. Seven, the loveliest of all numbers. She puts a topaz to its crossing.

Why are you crying?

“Mary” was most likely a title. In southern France you can visit a small grotto to which Louis the XIV crawled on his knees, in humility, surrounded by faunas extraordinaire, equidistant between Alps and sea. The taxi driver drops me off at the edge of the forest and points up to the cave. “You will walk through the forest, once inhabited by Celtic druids. Before you enter the cave become quiet.” I turn around and wave back at him twice. He calls after me: “Madame, a good journey.”

You know the art of being alone so fully you are no longer alone? The pleasure of ravens to circle and gawk. The stones in coughs move from under the earth. Her cloak comes to me through broken soil. Calm blending of the Marys, of their feet and hair. Mary, who pours me tea in the morning, who holds such vigilance such rancor. To be here, you must also not be here.

Once alone on a road, a road as old as cherry blossoms. Once stripped of the ability to think of it as resolution, there is a vague thread: remembering a story given before time. Before the history of our enemy.

The needle of the world suddenly still. The fragile spaces, in which we breathe, make, accomplish. A glass pearl throwing lights against the wall. Can you feel your planet turning and not go crazy? The doubt that keeps us from feeling peril. When you contemplate the sun and move closely to it, there is not heat not differentiation. Earth here a duty. The sun beholds us. The roses kiss without touching. In this stillness mandates are given, and without knowing their conditions, their cadence, find what is still alive here.

 

Yanara Friedland is a German-American writer, translator, and teacher. Her first book Uncountry: A Mythology was the winner of the 2015 Noemi Press Fiction award. Recent work has appeared in FENCE, Asymptote, and Harriet the blog. She is the recipient of research grants from the DAAD and Arizona Commission on the Arts, supporting her current book project Groundswell, a chorography of border regions in the Germany-Polish and Sonoran borderlands. She teaches at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies.