TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT

In the early hours of the morning, I was caught up in a terrible nightmare.
I was being hunted. I was the prey, cowering and crawling on hands and knees through thick, leafy terrain. I could hear the Tiger panting, see blurred rich colours as it stalked me, watching me, hunting me. Merciless…..Terrifying.
I had to get up out of bed to break the dream.

The Wolf Pack and the Old Woman

…..a work in progress

Everything had been left in an orderly, organised way. Boxes packed with labels attached, leaving just the right thing, for each member of her family.
Much more given away….her precious books she knew no one close to her would value.
A mass of paperwork now ashes, cooling in the fireplace.
She was simply too tired to go on, yet her heart still beat strongly.
She yearned for release, but death by her own hand wasn’t an option.
She had no idea why, she just couldn’t do it…..not out of cowardice, or the difficulty of making a choice (there were so many); it was more a revulsion of leaving that legacy behind, for her children and grandchildren “life, after all, was intolerable.”
Yet is was….all the long lonely years, waiting for her mate.
She was bent down to the ground with it.
With her heartsickness.

She built one last fire for the night, and would sleep by it….after all, fire had been her comfort, her closest companion through many other nights like this….she knew there would be frost by morning….she could feel it.

When day dawned, she heaved her small bag over her shoulders, doused the fire, walked out the door and didn’t look back.

There was no clear plan, only to keep walking until she had to stop….light a fire, then lie down on the ground beside it, sleep, then walk again. She wore her clothes layered, with light warm weather garments against her skin, covered by thick cold weather clothing, topped by her long coat she’d worn for years (the one her son had worn before her, then given to her so long back she’d forgotten how many years it had served her), with its simple tie belt and deep pockets which now held several pairs of her favourite fingerless gloves, two extra pairs of socks, a warm woollen hat, and her glasses…..in her pack was one book she’d read time and time again and would read until the end, or when the spine broke and the pages fell around her feet. Perhaps then, she would know the story well enough to see it in her mind’s eye, and the precious story could be renewed as kindling for her fire. In her pack she carried an enamel plate and mug, sharp knife, fork and spoon, a small pack of tea, some hard cheese…a small loaf of bread, coffee, three apples, and 4 boxes of matches. And for blankets, three soft warm rugs, a gift from her daughter.
Light enough to wrap, layered round her hips, or a shawl on her shoulders.
At night she would lie down under a big dense tree and make a bed beneath of fallen leaves, wrap herself in her three soft blankets and watch the glow of her small fire until she fell asleep….and if she was attacked by animals, so much the better.
A quick bite to the throat with razor teeth, sharp pain, a fast bleed out, then blissful nothingness.
She hoped that wherever she went to after that, was a kinder…more hospitable place. She hoped she would meet her Grandmother.

In the morning when she woke, a crow was poking around the outskirts of the fire, looking for anything edible…saw her turn over and sit up and the crow turned too….silently observing each other. She knew the crow clan, felt a kinship with them, so she sat beneath the big old Tree contemplating crow, as he did, she.
Getting comfortable with each other.
Her body ached all over, but the sharp cold air woke her, regenerated her.
She was free now to stretch and groan, to ache and moan, to rise up off the ground slowly, reach into her bag for some bread and cheese and share it with her dark companion. They were in accord, there was no threat or fear.
Bread, cheese and one small apple….and breakfast was done, except for coffee.
The Crow, delighted with an offering of cheese, moved closer….nestled down in the leaf strewn ground beside the fire, and tilted its head, watching her with its wise dark eyes. She loosened up, the stiffness and aches from sleeping on the ground easing as she busied herself with brewing coffee, the intoxicating fragrance floating up and out on the cold morning air. Walking around the small fire, adding just enough sticks to heat her brew, the crow rose suddenly, preened it’s glossy black feathers for a bit, swivelled it’s head to gaze once more at her…and then it flew.
The old woman pushed a huge pile of fallen leaves into a good thick cushion, then sat down, her back against the tree, gaining strength from its huge trunk….listening to the sap stories as they made their way upward, all along the myriad branches and twigs….offering it silent thanks, for the thick shelter it had provided her with while she slept. Listening, looking upwards into its thick canopy and drinking strong coffee.
And then for a small while, she slept; and woke staring into the long grey muzzle, the golden eyes and sharp pricked ears of a grey wolf…so close by she could smell its carrion breath. Perched halfway along its spine was the crow.
And listening in the morning woodland silence, so filled with quiet noise….she heard it speak….into her mind.
Follow us, I have found your family….the meaning dripped like golden bells, the message ringing clearly….although she’d asked for nothing….the bird was offering her what? A family….what did that even mean?
The wolf panted softly, standing on her right, golden eyes observant, but friendly.
She listened to the inner dialogue….a soothing comfort, and gradually fell asleep once more, lying curled up tight against the morning cold upon the forest floor and woke, surrounded. A circle of seven wolves around the dying embers, and the crow nestled in against her body, seeking warmth.

Later she thought back to that new beginning….how completely normal it seemed.
Now, as the pack hunted, mostly led to meat by the crow family, she would stay behind, tending the fire and caring for the wolf cubs….a human grandmother.
The Alpha male always fed her, bringing the freshest meat to drop at her feet, then returning to the carcass and the pack, to gorge with the rest of them….then dragging left overs for the cubs, not quite weaned, but tearing at the kill with tiny razor teeth.
And she, free to forage when the pack returned, gathered edible fungus, wild onions, sorrel, lettuce, chicory…..everything cooked in her one small pot….the meat and onions with water from the nearby spring, then the mushrooms and greens when it was well cooked and almost ready. Afterwards she might have a handful of berries.
Then, replete with good fresh food, she would scour her pot with sand, fill it with water heated on the fire, and clean it again, and then, once more she would stretch to ease cramped muscles then lie back down upon the ground….the Cubs sleeping with her, covering her with the warmth of their small bodies…..as the Crow family roosted above her in the sheltering trees.

MargaretArlen ©️ 2021

Grandpa Jim

He came to me last night
And stood quietly by my bed
A tall man, broad shouldered
Straight back
Wearing a peaked wool cap
Long coat of finest
Harris Tweed
Just like the ones so many men wore
When I was but a child

A think it was my Grandfather
The Ship’s Engineer
His first name was Jim
And I remember him so vividly
When sitting on his knee
And looking at his hands
Especially the gold and sapphire ring
He brought home from his voyages
To India
And he would recite the alphabet for me
To learn Hindustani
I would look into his worn face
Teeth stained brown from Tobacco
And at the same time
Repeat the words I still recall
From long ago

He avoided company
Would quietly cross a room
Slide up the window
Climb out to retreat to
The dim, cool silence
Of his garden shed
I guess we all thought him ill mannered
But now with time and losses of my own
Remembering him sitting smoking
In his favourite chair
I think he really wasn’t there
But back aboard his ship
Feeling the constant rock and sway
Storms, or stillness, or salty spray
Upon his weathered face

He came to me last night
And stood quietly by my bed
Saying nothing, only breathing deep
While I in sleep
Recalled him….a solitary man
Heart torn apart with longing for the sea.

I think he wanted to tell me
He understood
For I too, am sick with it.

MargaretArlen ©️
For Jim, my Grandfather and for my children and their children……
Just now, from mind to fingers to IPad.

In Essence

And there are times
When
To simply hold you close
Be still
Breathe your breath
To know you live
To know you’re mine
To know you love me
As I do you…..

Deo Gratias
It is enough

♥️♥️♥️

MA©️
For Jamie and Claire

Southern Cross Station

Waiting……waiting for the Train

Sitting at Southern Cross station, amidst the dirt and din of trains roaring in and out again. Tramps, travellers, drunks, junkies, students, tourists, families, people from all nationalities pass through here, going somewhere, going nowhere…..
And all the while hardy little sparrows work their way around the platforms, living on our litter.

MA©️
March, 2013

A Historian’s Viewpoint

ROGER AND JAMIE……

I FELL IN LOVE WITH JAMES FRASER through Claire’s eyes; as the main narrator she describes him in such fine detail, I know the essence of the man….through Diana’s descriptive prose and my very keen sense of smell, I too could pick him out of a crowded room of men, simply by his smell……a mixture of coffee, whisky, gunpowder, horses and manure, his sweat…..the deep male smell of him. His long graceful bones, the way his mane of copper russet bronze and auburn hair, lifts in stray wisps about his face, because he is either fiercely animated, or like a lions mane, falling around his shoulders in the frenzied passion of love making.
The quirk of his mouth, his wry humour, courage, honour and accomplishments.
A unique talent for absorbing both people, learning and languages into his life.
A man of big passions, ferocious loyalties and all encompassing generosity.

I FELL IN LOVE WITH JAMIE through Claire’s eyes, until so deeply absorbed in the “more real than life” story, Claire fell away. I was Claire…..living, loving, breathing him in, waiting for him to return from battle, from hunting, from visits with neighbouring Cherokee or working alongside him, and healing him.

AND THEN I FELL IN LOVE AGAIN, through Roger’s eyes. Roger knows Jamie when he arrives at Frasers Ridge….Roger, the “dog with a bone” Historian, has been hearing Claire’s story, researching Jamie’s History…..Culloden, Ardsmuir, Helwater. He has already developed a relationship with Jamie, two hundred years before he meets him (Yes my mind gets tied in knots too)!!! Before Claire leaves Inverness for the second time, Roger finds her fast asleep in the Reverend Wakefield’s Study, clutching the Ardsmuir Prison Records to her breast, her heart….he has a deep affection for Claire, and says to her sleeping figure, and to the long dead Jamie, “I don’t know who you were mate”, he whispered to the unseen Scot, “but you must have been something, to deserve her.”

And then there follows the catastrophic mess, through Lizzie’s mistaking Roger for the monster who has violated Brianna…..we know what follows, and once the two men have come to terms with each other, something beautiful happens.

ROGER AS NARRATOR won me over in a completely new way. He sees Jamie from a very different perspective. There’s understandingly, in the beginning, lingering resentment, but that changes subtly to begin with, as the two men take the measure of each other. I’m often brought to unexpected tears, by Roger’s reference to Jamie as “the big Scot.”
Why should that make me cry??? I think it’s the knowledge of how much suffering that big body has gone through….and, for some reason those words are a trigger for tears.
Roger refers to Jamie’s “panther like grace”, he wants his approval, and can’t help the jealousy he experiences around Jamie. One vivid description is of Jamie standing back, eyeing Roger dispassionately, as though he were buying a bullock at the saleyards. This comes about when Roger asks him “Teach me to fight.” There’s some brilliantly witty dialogue that follows with Jamie telling Roger he had his first sword at five…..Roger had a toy train with a red engine at the same age. But Roger is equally stubborn, also a man of learning and finally a deal is made. He describes his first experience with “the art of the sword, with Jamie Fraser as his opponent, as like fighting a cloud.”
But Jamie develops a strong affection and respect for Roger, and during the Ritualised Ceremony of The Fiery Cross, when Jamie calls out to him, “Come stand by me, Roger Jeremiah, son of my house”, there is a fierce pride and a belonging, a love for his Warrior Father-in-Law.

There is too much to include here. Roger as Narrator, brings James Fraser to life, in vivid detail that naturally is completely different to Claire’s. A man’s observation that also at times is unemotionally clinical in his Historian’s viewpoint of Jamie.

I LOVED JAMIE FRASER EVEN MORE, viewing him through Roger’s descriptive narration.

MargaretArlen ©️. Wednesday Writings
Spring, Central Victoria, Australia 2019.

References from Diana Gabaldon
And thanks to the talented Vera Adxer for her fabulous Art.

Celebrity

“YOU DON’T KNOW ME”

AND WE DON’T……we can dream, adore, respect, applaud, long for…..but all we ever know of this beautiful young Man, is what he allows us to see. Fiercely, he looks into the lens….no sunny smile, no sexy smoulder. He is and always will be an enigma, to me.
A consummate performer.
I look.
I Love.
I turn away.
A friend once said to me “the biggest gift I could give a Celebrity is to walk right on by, to leave them be.”
I love this photo, it’s as real and true as the beautiful smiling face we’re all accustomed to.

MA©️

Best Friends

“They fight like cats and dogs”…..whoever first said that didn’t know much !!!

ELIAS & EERIN, chilling out together in the shade of the Fernery.
Elias, the Golden One, a creature of mystery, seduced his way into our lives 2 Summers ago when I was foster caring Little Cat. Every evening he would appear in my garden, rake thin, bold but tentative. Every night for a few short weeks, I would run him off the property, or if he appeared in my garden, shoo him away, waving my hands in the air, “go, go, I do not need another cat”, and he would run, then turn, pop his head up amongst the flowers in the garden, so charmingly, I would be at once annoyed and bewitched.
Cats !!! The final surrender happened one Evening while I was playing with Little Cat. Being a rather dour creature, who had come to me for Sanctuary, I was trying to bring playfulness back into her life.
Picking a long grass stem with a soft feathery seed end, I would wiggle it back and forth till she, unable to resist, would roll on her side, batting at the seed end….playing. And then Elias came, slinking low along the ground, he lined his body exactly behind her, like one long cat, and began to play. This tactic won me over completely, it was so clever, bold yet cautious, and on that night I gave in and fed him.
The rest is History. I don’t know where he lives. He comes and goes freely. I feed him twice daily, worm and flea treat him, and have tended his wounds when as a young inexperienced male, he was badly hurt by another Tom. He is still a full male, and of the 3 cats I now live with, the most affectionate. Sometimes he’s gone for days, and I fret and worry for him. Life on the streets, is fraught with danger, from people, cars, and especially other cats….and then, there he is, sitting neatly, a small pale golden Sphinx, waiting patiently for me.
Eerin shadows me night and day. If I move, she moves. Outside, inside and back again. But if Elias is here, hanging out on his favourite chair in the Fernery, Eerin will stay outside, just to hang out with him.
And at dusk, as we go walking, very often a pale golden streak will appear, trotting like a tiny pony, then mad dashes ahead and back, circling around Erin’s body, rubbing against her flanks, then side by side they run together, he hears a car, jumps a fence, disappears and I marvel at his beauty, his alert survival skills. The car passes, he rejoins us trilling, rubs his face against Eerin, I run my hands up the length of his golden tail, a jaunty flag, waving.

And here they are, Eerin fast asleep….Elias jumps down from his chair, drops beside her, stretches full length, his tail draped over hers.

Oh, how I love them 🧡🙏🧡

A MALCOLM

Series, A MALCOLM, Season 3

Reworking my way back from the beginning, waiting for this episode, as I just watched Jamie, “apparently betrayed by his sister Jenny” being hauled off in a wagon by the Redcoats, for his time in Arsdmuir Prison….

I’ll force myself to wait, as I’ve done so often before….making myself endure the pain of separation, because THEY had to….so, I must suffer with them.

A Malcom has some awkward moments when my inner critic was screaming “EDIT,” that simply didn’t work, and then there are other moments as Jamie and Claire rediscover their passion, their original bond, where I am held speechless, with the daring beauty of their joining….the two, now one.

The above was a scene of such tenderness, almost painful lovemaking (Jamie’s face, reveals all the agony and tumult of those lost years…passion, possessiveness…..jealousy)…..”You’re mine” etched into every line of his beautiful face. And she, Claire, open, vulnerable, holding him….knowing what he’s feeling.

These are the OUTLANDER moments, where I cannot look away, yet feel I should quietly turn, step aside, and close the door.
Caitriona and Sam have disappeared…..Claire and Jamie are alone, utterly embraced in their private cocoon of sexual joining, of coming home to each other.
Cameramen, Directors, Makeup and everyone else crowding that room, including millions of viewers, are gone….irrelevant, unheeded, forgotten.

THIS, IS THE MAGIC OF OUTLANDER.

Like an incurable addiction…….There will never be enough.

MA©️

Summer, 2021