The End of Days

The End of Days
Katherine Randall

When my Beloved rises at night to the moon, he leaves no footprints, but he comes away covered in dust. You can see it as sparks in the sky as he makes his descent. He once lived on the moon, alone and filled with longing for his love. His love abounded as roses of Attar and he returns every night to be with the all-permeating scent of her for whom he yearns.

I look at the moon from the safety of my kitchen. I look at the moon through the closed window, above the pots and the pans and the chipped mugs. I say to myself I am a coward if I never dare climb the clouds to the moon. The luminous sphere has turned a blood red and the peoples of Earth are talking of a final catastrophe.

Far from here another woman stands on the roof of her mud, sun-baked dwelling and sees the moon splitting in two above the Mountain of Light. She takes up her flute when she sees this miracle of the moon. The song wails across the dunes, it echoes the wailing of a distressed child. The wailing ceases. The flute lays half buried in the sand, ploughing through its sunken heat. The woman looks at the moon and then joins the gathering of those sitting tightly around the last of days.

My Beloved whispers in my ear. We mount my white horse and it neighs and pounds against the crispness of dead leaves on the old oak. They fall and shatter the cracking earth with tiny, sharp, wounds. I give thanks for the damp and clammy smells of the animal beneath us. My beloved reigns in the horse and we ride towards the dying of the western sun. Just a few moments suffice to suffuse us with the last drops of an ancient blood and I taste its sweetness.

We pass the half hidden flute and I stretch down and draw it from the sand. Its tired tones of exile and longing announce our passing through the dunes. As we come upon the gathering our pace diminishes and the woman of the flute calls to us, ‘Keep going. We know your story of love and the yearning for union, but take him with you’. She holds up a child and I recognize him as the child who the flute had calmed. We take the child and bid farewell and gallop at breakneck speed. Winged and roseate we gallop to the slit in the horizon where the sun will rise on its own sweet death.

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