Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The cloth of heaven
We are living in a waterworld, where the land reflects the sky and boats are suspended between the two.
All day I have concentrated again on painting the star patterns of north and south and summer and winter skies. Now it is time to sleep, but before I do I walk around the small hamlet that I call home. Outside it is still, but for the running of streams like water-music boxes. Across the moor of Treleddyd a fox argues with an owl. Above the sky has been washed clean and clear by so much rain and a bowl of stars shine down.
When I was a child I remember the disappointment in not being able to see the lions and bears and dragons and winged horses, the great dog and the small and Orion the hunter. There were no pictures in the sky, just random patterns that could add up to anything. But tonight, having traced the patterns in gold paint on blue all day, there they are, waiting for me, and so rich and beautiful. The stars of the constellations are clearer for the first time and I see the lines of the dragon, the swan, other patterns whose names escape me, but it is as if I can see the lines that join them, bind them in the ancient stories of man. And between each more stars, a dense carpet, tapestry, thrown over my head and oh so very beautiful. Just then a bright light streaks across the sky. A shooting star. A wish. I realise that I am so so very much a lucky woman to live in a dark place.
Learning to read the sky is like learning a language, like learning music, like learning to draw. It takes time and patience.
Do I see the stars any different for knowing the names of a mere handful? Maybe not, but there is a powerful old magic in the naming of things.
Now I see not just Orion's belt, but his very cloak of stars and great bow, so many stars even in just this one space. Now I see more of the depth of the sky and it makes me feel so wonderfully small and insignificant. Joy.