Photo by Janet Baxter

The bird cried – and her cry called to me over the waters, the cold mere, the flowing brooks, the banks of willows green against the silver-grey of the lake, the iron-grey of the sky.

Would I follow? My bird-self would, went willingly, winging over the waters with feathered arms splayed out, beating slowly. A fine mist of rain drifted on the air, resolved to other-air, brought me silently there into the other-element of water and air: a mist world that made everything within it glow transparently, suffused with a light that flows like water, like mist, like clouded thistledown – crystallised earthlight, waterlight under a crystal sky.

Here in this self I can be still, stare in a quiet quest for wisdom distilled out of the glassy depths of water, mirror-like until you learn to look through the glinting face of it, behind the reflected eyes of a bird’s stare, the beak’s wand of interrogation pointing out resolving images below. So they come, slowly but surely in the depths of the mirror reflecting what is within from what is without, deep into the crystal caverns where the stillness is, where colours drain to their essence : the white light of absence calling to the other pole of being : the many colours of the world.

Far away from me now, but there, unrealised in this crystal whiteness, seen through it : the world of sense, voluptuous in its variety from the starkness of here – the tang of salt dissolving to the sweetness of sugar only to resolve back again to this. I am salt-blind as I stare, but seeing nonetheless.

Quick as a flash! I’m turning back, wings beating out through the mist, bright sun on water as I glide to the willows, walk on dry land, stepping out of feathers, wings ; back to arms and legs, slowly finding my feet; back to familiarity.