Bird, Dragonfly, and Soft Blonde (Waiting for the Divine Mother) by Brian Michael Barbeito

The city is filled with red and white. It’s the country’s birthday. One hundred and forty six years old...

Back home, north of the metropolis, I'd been watching a bird in the Mulberry Tree. It had no use for me nor the small water fountain, preferring the berries now blossomed dark red. Fat. I thought it was fat. Sometimes it would turn its head my way, the way a lizard had to so that the eyes can see and know. Mechanical. Mechanically fat but not obtuse. Hello, bird. I wished the bird was interested in me, and thought queerly for an instant that I desired to be a berry. That way it would look back at me with wantonness and try and gobble me. On a bright summer morning that way, I, a darkly colored berry plucked from a tree, would go to the belly of the creature. What would it be like in the moment of plucking? What would it feel like as I was digested and the bird flew over stained fences and yards full of the things the world makes mixed with the things already in the world? Sheds and shovels and stones and water and dirt from the ground and flecks of paint white or blue or green or yellow and the sun giving life to the bird and now I, giving life to the bird also. At the night it becomes spacious and holy, but I would not live to see the night, not in the normal way anyhow. And the bird would have flown and flown, to the friendships it had, to the verdant fields of grasses beyond the tree line, and to other more wilder berries, my cousins in life, and then death, and then onwards, onwards.

I was really biding by time through the days and weeks, and waiting until August Sixth at two p.m., when I would see the real Divine Mother, Mother Meera. I had asked for her help twenty years before, as she had said that one should help and that the help would go ‘Without miles counting.’ And soon there really would be no miles, as he would gaze into the eyes if all went right. Maybe the desire for the bird to look upon me was a substitute for the Mother’s eyes, her glance and cosmic knowing, and some process to be uncovered, for some way, any way, to begin again. No, not a way out of the world, the way is further into the world but with the sacred armor of the divine, of the heart that hopefully surrounds all and everything but cannot be seen. Yes, the city is filled with red and white. Lee and I sit on a patio in the urban light. He goes away for a time and a woman in the periphery says, What are your plans for tonight? But taken aback I quickly muster that these are the plans, these here and now. She says there are fireworks in across the way in the city square that will take off after dark. She begins to talk about herself and her life.Jobs, schools, interests, families, books, ideas. She is blonde, lithe, and what people would normally like in any place in the world. But the day is not an apogee, and she is not the Divine Mother. The day is a valley, a valley day, and though surely a child of nothing less than God, she is a girl from the valley on this valley day- worldly, secular, regular, nice enough, but not by any means a destiny or even minor inspiration.

As she is talking, something queer happens. The spaces around her become fuzzy, muddled and clouded; I look out now as if in at an opaque film that keeps looping and looping. I have to squint to see her, and I am aware of this, I am aware of the world slipping away. I try to focus, but to no avail really; she's still talking, but she isn't the one I love, I think, and now there's no other than the one I love, though I do not know where the one I love might be. I try to stay looking in her direction.

Maybe, she will think, that though I am not able to look directly at her, that I am wrapped in pensive solitude in order to consider all that she has said. Indeed she aims to be profound. She is a soft blonde, with brown eyes. But she is not the beloved.

I can hear her, and then I can’t even hear her. The sound is mute. I am like a mute as well. But what of the inner life of people who function differently? Is it richer? Maybe not. I try to refocus, she's wearing black. Isn’t unfair to have to wear black in the sun? Do they make her wear black? Bright she is, with life. But only with her drama, dilemma, and dream. Only really with that...

In an instant I am in another space, and though physically there, may as well not be. I am in a reverie, and thinking about a dragonfly. Hello dragonfly. I saw the dragonfly come past and he was above many things. He came by the side of tomato plants there in pots, guided up to the sun by inner seed knowledge and the aid of heavy rains that persisted on summer nights. He was above the interlocking stones, pavers as they are often called, and the terra cotta retaining wall proud in morning light. Yes, Hello, dragonfly. He was there against the impossible bluest blue, a blue more like the sea of some tropic bay or else a dream than an actual sky, or a blue like an astral destination where spectres talk and sing; know. A straight line he made, by the sounds of the water coming out of the stone fountain. Then he turned and went off. Off, off, off, his gnosis and his wings going away. Oh, dragonfly.

He's now away from summer crowds and the ubiquitous trouble of cities. He had dodged the staid and at root lazy populace of the earth. Dragonfly was purple and once got caught in a piece of mesh. Surely seeing him there he appeared dull and sullen and still, slumbered and dormant and perhaps even dead. But I poked him and out he flew, towards cumulus castles and further away from the vestiges of the world. Now, as time and the wind and the cloud cover and all would have it, he has returned, perhaps to say hello and then bid adieu once more. No headache or toe trouble or soul problem does he harbor. There are green valleys of shade beyond, and tall summits too. There are sparkles of deva dust, and old barn doors decayed. Shadows of cats searching prey by the morn, and noodles or rice, on the stoves of wrinkled witches removed. Dragonfly knows. So dragonfly goes. But I saw him first. I saw him there again in the sky that was like a sea. Goodbye dragonfly, goodbye...

Soon I click in, gather myself and produce an excuse to leave. Some people see the seeker as a romantic figure, but it should be remembered that, though hopefully not irresponsible, there is a certain amount of sadness because the seeker is always leaving something. Neti Neti, not this and not that... I find my way through the crowds adorned in red and white. Somewhere in Germany is Mother Meera. I am in a crowd in Canada, trying to get through, not a part of festivities or politics, not a part of culture or the world of the arts, not even really a part of patios in the sun of quick cool libations and rest and joviality. Just apart.

And in the north somewhere, my bird takes a berry and flies flies flies. Fly birdie, as my grandfather, long buried, might say.

Fly birdie fly.

Brian Michael Barbeito is a novelist, short story writer, and poet. A resident of Ontario Canada, he is a Pushcart Nominee for the story The Motel by the Stereo Sea (Mungbeing Magazine, 2012), and for the story The One Single Note, (Lunatics Folly Magazine, 2011). Some venues where his work appear include NFTU Notes from the Underground, Whisperings Magazine from Mountain Tales Press, Otis Nebula, and Kurungabaa: A Journal of Literature, History, and Ideas from the Sea. His most recent work, Chalk Lines, a book of short fiction and poems, was published by Fowlpox Press in 2013. He has writing forthcoming at Birkensnake Magazine and is at work on the novel Pockets Full of Memory.