Rite of Passage

Two figures strode together
A small child and a man
With thoughtful, steady steps
They journeyed hand in hand

The landscape embraced the two
And the shadows that stretched ahead
Their silhouettes converging
Upon the path where they were led

They trod through fanciful woods
Wafting music, colors of every shade
Yet with every stride they took
All of these began to fade

They gazed on their surroundings
And talked in hushed tones
With sudden springs of laughter 
Interspersed within their prose

I was carried along behind them 
By a wind of gentle kind 
That veiled me to observe
The travelers speak their mind

“We’re almost there”, one voice said
“I can feel it in the wind!”
“Where are we going?”, replied the other
“Where does this pathway end?”

The first sang, “You’ll see for yourself!”
“You’ll find out soon enough!” 
After the echo of these chuckled words
Came a deep and reverent hush

The travelers turned ’round a bend
And stood a moment still
They stared, pointed, shared a glance
And approached a rising hill

At its base the child turned
And raised his hands up to the man
Who seated the boy upon his shoulders
And the upward climb began

Their steps fell heavy upon the slope
A grassy distance to the peak
And halfway to the top
One of them began to speak

One voice said, “I’ve always loved it here!”
“Yet why does it now fade?
For this is a different kind of night
Than what usually precedes the day”

To this there was no reply
And they climbed on in quiet thought
The boy squeezed round the man’s neck
Then both turned their heads aloft

Diamond stars glinted above
And grew steadily in their size
Within them shone colored things
That at last were clarified

The sky danced with these colored vessels
That shone with people and places
Living picture frames that gathered in number
Until they filled the heavenly spaces

The travelers pointed and laughed
And I joined in joyful revery
For every star that shone in the sky
Was, to me, a distant memory

Some of the faces smiled and cried
While I did just the same
For I felt all that which was forgotten
For what remembrance could not tame

The celestial dance continued
As we again turned to the road
For where our path ended
Stood a mystery to behold

A door fixed in place
With no wall to lead through
Nothing behind could be observed 
Save an expanse of darkened hue

The moving lights glittered
In cascades across the door
The man lifted the boy 
And on his feet he stood once more

The voices, breathless, now began
To speak in softer ways
The man kneeling by the boy
The door, the master of their gaze

“Do you know now where we are?
Where the wind has brought us to?
This is where the journey continues
There is so much ahead for you!”

The second voice halted
And struggled with it’s speech,
“I am afraid I do not know
What am I here to meet?”

Then came the reply, “You are afraid
But you now well know,
The only one who can go through this door
Is you and you alone!”

“You must not stay
For you are only passing through
But the memories that dance above
You can take from here with you”

With this the stars began to shrink
And streak away from their place
With long-tailed flight through the door
The frame with their light enlaced

“You are not unprepared
For the road that lies beyond
For the wind that I have followed
Will tell you what path to tread upon”

“I have so often dreamed of what you will be
Beyond these borders here
And now that is for you to know
But not for you to fear”

The second voice gave reply,
“Now I understand 
That this door is for me
To pass through without you in hand”

“But one more thing before I do
Embrace me before we part
For of all the memories I take with me
You will stay forever in my heart”

The first voice spoke again
In a way curious to the listener
For with every passing word
It slowly softened to a whisper

“In a moment you will see me no more
But this, of course I will do
For no matter how distant time parts us,
I will always love you”

Then the boy reached with eager hands
As the man picked him up again
They twirled ’round in the embrace
Known only by the greatest of friends

The air chorused with laughter
A pure and child-like sound
Then the twirling figure slowly stilled
And the man stood alone upon the ground

The light swelled around the door
The gentle wind grew fierce
The stoic door swung open
And all darkness around was pierced

The light spilled forth
And shone upon the man in his place
As he looked up and turned towards the door
Upon him I saw my face

With every step he took
I felt myself do the same
Until I passed from the top of the hill
Through the shimmering door frame

_____

I woke to the sound of the wind in the leaves
As they played upon the hill
And I heard the sound of the child’s laughter
Indeed, I hear him still
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