Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Silence of Love

There was once a cricket named Sulie. He spent his days doing all the things that crickets do. He munched leaves, hopped around, climbed things, slept, and munched more leaves. At night, he sang. Crickets don’t sing with their mouths, of course. Sulie, along with all other cricket boys, sang with his legs. He had an especially lovely song.

One warm summer evening as Sulie sang, he heard a strange sound. It was another cricket singing, which in itself was not so strange. But the song he heard was in perfect harmony with his own! He stopped singing to better hear it, but the other song stopped too. Sulie began to sing again, and the other song immediately joined in, again in perfect harmony. He played on, listening carefully, and realized the other cricket was not just harmonizing. Occasionally he would add a trill or glissando, once even an arpeggio. More embellishments came, and Sulie decided to join in. He added triplets and swung notes, shifting meter, changing key, until he was utterly lost in the music. The two crickets played their concerto all through the night, and when dawn broke Sulie reluctantly broke off playing and went to his tiny little cricket bed.

The following evening Sulie eagerly began his song, and was immediately joined by the strange cricket. This time they played in counterpoint, performing a fugue that lasted through the dark until the sun again returned to the sky. This pattern continued for several more nights. Each night the music grew more complex and daring. Sulie began to feel that he knew the other cricket, knew him as lovers can only dream of knowing each other. His daytime thoughts filled with questions and fantasies about the strange cricket. He decided to find this wildly creative being. Surely this great soul bridge would survive the light of day.

For many days Sulie searched for the strange cricket, while at night they continued to thrill the nocturnal world with their improvised symphonies. He was confident he would recognize his partner in song, for their very beings were intertwined one with the other each night. With every evenings song, Sulie knew he was closer, as the sound grew in volume. Soon the night arrived when Sulie heard the other cricket in a small grove of ash trees at the very edge of the forest, not more than an hour’s hopping away. So Sulie hopped and sang and sang and hopped, and if his song suffered for it none could have known, for the hoping produced a staccato effect which the unknown singer complimented quite beautifully with an allegro melody line. At last Sulie reach the clearing’s edge and stopped, wanting to see without being seen. He looked all through the clearing but saw no sign of the other cricket. He began to sing again, hoping in that way to find the mysterious singer. The perfect accompaniment came from what seemed to be at least a mile away. “Brother!” he shouted, “Why do you flee from me?” But of course a cricket’s shouting voice does not carry very far at all. Sulie poured all his sadness and frustration into his song the rest of the evening, and the enigmatic accompanist filled in the gaps with a sweet music that suggested adventure and undreamed of treasures just over the horizon.

The search and escape became as much a part of the pair’s nightly rituals as the song was. Every few nights Sulie came close enough to catch a glimpse of his partner in song, only to find he was long gone. Sulie’s focus became needle sharp. The song and the singer were his world, and every means served the end of ending the chase. Finally, as red and brown leaves drifted lazily down, Sulie gave up. This night there would be no chance, no song. Only rest, for his resolve had run out and his strength had proven insufficient.

As shadows covered the sky and the stars began to appear, Sulie heard music. The singer was the same who had borne him aloft and flung him to the ground, but the song was unlike any Sulie had yet heard. It was calm, stately, welcoming, and yet also festive. It was the sort of song one would sing at the homecoming of a prince who had travelled long and far and was now welcomed home. So Sulie came, though he was no prince. The source was a few minutes hopping away, and Sulie was surprised to see that it was the very same ash grove where he had first sought to find his song’s perfect mate.

Quietly, reverently, Sulie entered the grove, and this time the song continued. And there stood the singer, regal and proud, and somehow quite sad. Sulie’s emotions were less easy to describe, for the singer, he discovered, was a bird.

The bird was not overly large as birds go, but still large enough to eat a cricket in one swift bite. As Sulie watched, stunned, the bird ended its song with an elegant trill and looked down at him.

For a moment, Sulie’s thoughts raced. He imagined how he could escape, he wondered what had ever made him think the singer with the daring, lovely voice was a cricket, he regretted having not stayed in one place and found a mate. But then a strange peace washed over him, and he simply sang. Overwhelmed with gratitude that the bird had shared this wondrous gift with him, he sang as he had never sung before. The bird accompanied, and the forest and fields for many miles were silent as the wedding song rang and echoed, each crystalline note as pure and resonant and impassioned as a marriage’s first kiss at the altar. The last notes rang out, not coming to a resolution but simply stopping, and then silence. Sulie whispered, and now he was close enough to be heard, “Thank you.” And he leapt into the birds open beak.

1 comment:

  1. Your prose is so delicious, you make the journey so wonderful. . . .

    And what an apt analogy of love: the thing that lures and tempts and eventually devours. And makes us crave that devouring.

    What a melancholy, beautiful piece. And you anthropomorphized animals and the piece lost none of its potency. May have, in fact, gained some.

    Fantastic work :-)