International Writers Magazine: Lifestory
She was, in a very
real sense, a vessel. In her, all things were possible. Suddenly you were
okay with the idea of burning bushes. You accepted the unknown. Magic
OF VERNON 1993-2007
The Lion of Judah shall break every chain. - Rastafarian
She was regal.
Not in any preordained, systemic, lordly manner, but there was a
distinct nobility to her that was able to transform you. Somehow
in her presence you possessed the capacity to escape the parameters
of the mundane, shed your worldly ignorance, and witness, if only
of that infinitesimal moment, what the religious describe as the
reward of salvation, a glimpse of heaven, a visceral peace with
the injustices of shuffling coldly across this spinning sphere.
It was in her walk, proudly distant but informal, a passionate
gait. You could lose your breath to watch it, especially when it was coming
toward you. You could brace for it, but it did not matter. You were always
stunned by its infectious rhythm, an unsettling balance of silences.
It was also in the whisper of her voice, forever seducing
a response. In the daytime, with its meandering din, it would be lost,
muffled, ignored. She opened her tiny mouth and it would seem as if nothing
was coming. She was miming, passing air futilely. But at night, the dead
quiet of its suspended middle, it was a clarion, a broken but furious
It reminded you that listening meant more than hearing. It meant receiving
the message unfettered by distraction. It meant respecting her presence.
But it was always in the eyes where she would ultimately
steal your soul. Your will was hers, and although she knew it, she let
you think it was your doing, your entire purpose for being around. One
peer into those pools of infinite emerald beacons, bizarre portals into
Neverland, would paralyze you. And when you were captured there, dumbstruck
by this abduction of your senses, you half expected seraphim to begin
battering your skull with deafening arias from La Bohème.
Not sure where any of this came from, I only know it was
there. Everyone I knew who visited with her would feel it. None of us
could explain it in any sane way, but they would tell me, and I would
not argue. I was its willing victim again and again. I sympathized with
them all. Whoever they were at whatever age, they would chase her down.
Ask where she was hiding. Try and win her attention. But she would never
give of it liberally, just the opposite. You had to win it. You had to
And that's the nut, really. The rarity of her. And not in
the sense that she would make herself scarce, she was attainable by merely
looking. She was there, as beauty and grace is there daily for us to grasp
if we would just take the time to see it. She was a reminder that whatever
redemption exists, it does so in repose, not wild abandon. Wait for it.
In between the cracks, through the mist and noise and over
the grinding hours of our advancing age, it will always be there. You
simply have to see it. It waits for you. She would wait for you.
I would watch her wait. She waited on people, on nature,
on the morning, the weather, and the passageways to the next best thing.
I watched her wait all the time. It calmed me. Humbled me. She would sit
for hours, silent, frozen, staring. Sometimes it was into the woods. Other
times it was into the abyss. Many times it was both; like when she was
young, sitting on the main chair at The Desk and staring into the black
screen, hoping for a spark in there. I would embarrassingly tell I was
the one who had to make the words dance. I could not on most days and
begged her forgiveness.
But still she would wait.
If you were ready, when you were ready, she was ready, and
not a moment before. It's true, she would avoid most contact, and when
forced, give of herself grudgingly, but oh, when you won her patience
and received her audience, it was as if the pilot light provided you to
figure things kicked on, and the gears began working again. And somewhere
in the little pinholes that the toughest parts of this life leaves you,
a tiny space was filled.
No matter how many times this would happen, it would be
like the first time.
My first time was ten years ago in a little hamlet on the
banks of the Hudson River. There was an inclined walkway, a cluster of
trees, and a slightest hint of sunlight peaking through the clouds. I
was descending a crude stone staircase when I saw her. She was waiting,
again, at the bottom. She startled me at first, but I did not back away.
I bent down to stare. You had to bend down to really get into it with
her, dive in. No fear. Open. Naked.
She stared back. There was nothing said.
Transfixed, nearly hypnotized, I began to lose my grip.
I could hear traffic and birds chirping, but it sounded as if submerged.
All things faded. It was, for that moment, just us. Then she blinked,
and went about her way, showing me the walk that launched a thousand melodies.
I was visiting that day with the woman who would be my wife.
We were younger then, well, she was younger, I was always old, a festering
crank, a bitching creep of a man. She was then as she is today, an immovable
phalanx of emotion. Her compassion for the vessels of the unknown remains
impenetrable. And amid talk of poetry and art and dreams and nightmares,
we broached what I had begun to describe as "the moment". She
had felt it too. She knew where I had been, for she was there only months
before when she found the vessel caged. She knew instinctively that she
had to free her, which is why, among many intriguing things, I married
My wife knows a good entranceway into the beyond when she
sees it. After all, it is in the waiting.
So they lived together for awhile, my wife and the vessel,
but the vessel had to go away, ten or twelve days, and my wife was not
sure she would ever see her again. But of course she did. She merely had
to wait. She had to collect the time. She needed to show patience.
Soon the vessel came to live with the rest of us sloppy,
boisterous, strutting boys, and the two of them taught us the ways of
the fairer sex. We traveled together from one outpost to the other; the
Putnam Bunker, Fort Vernon, the Clemens Estate, each stop the girls put
us straight; taking the high ground, gathering the hours, offering glimpses
of the unknown.
On the way, the vessel was anointed the Queen of Vernon,
the mountain princess of the gateway west. It was her prime, the days
of the hunt. Then she embraced the vagaries of the Compound, where she
seduced another, a cherished friend named ironically after a monarch of
distinction, Elizabeth, who was to share her final hours. It is here,
on the hill, where she rests now.
Her name was Mazzy.
She was our lady feline.
She died on Christmas Eve.
Long Live the Queen.
© James Campion Jan 2008
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