Outland

It seems to have happened in previous life.

The trains beat off their rhythm on tracks and stopped at their destinations. The way was left behind. Thick fog was hiding the Outland. Butterflies were dancing in the light of the lantern, the bonfire was burning and She was sitting by the fire. The eye of the moon rose above us – it kept disappearing behind the clouds and reappearing again.

We came here a few days ago and time stopped here. I could never believe it, but it happened in the Outland. The air smelled of wormwood and wildflowers. The wood crackled, embers went up.

She is my Zen teacher.

“Do you know how time stops? No? I’ll tell you…”

“There are four basic rules in the Obyrok farm: if it is dirty – clean it, if it is open – close it, if they are hungry – feed them, if they are sad – hug them.”

And we don’t need any more than that.

We slept under the starry sky, heard the wings of bats fluttering in the space of night, and, the muffled voice of an owl was heard from the tall, perhaps century-old cedars: hoot! hoot! hoot! It was well past midnight, and she, my Zen teacher, was talking about the city and music, about seagulls and the sea freezing in the second half of winter. And I saw her breath coming out of her mouths. “This is the fog in essence,” she said. We were warming up by the fire, and when it was out – we were warming each other with our breath and words. Breath and words. Until the morning. It is so good that there are no more people here, outside the Obyrok farm.

She is wearing a white dress, stands like a nymph in the middle of the yellow sandy immortelle blossom and collects morning dew in her palm. Strands of her hair touch the corners of her lips. She smiles. I wanted to save this moment forever then (at least in memory). And we ran to a wet asphalt road to dance barefoot at dawn, dance to the rustle of leaves and pine needles.

We danced…

“Remember?” she whispers.

“Remember!” I answer.

The music was playing in Obyrok, the series To the Atlantic Ocean with a Stool was shown in the cinema barn. Leonid Kanter was chopping wood. Storks were flying in the sky. And the street theatre of the wild tribe was approaching us on stilts. And we were fleeing to our Outland…

The land of dreams.

“Remember?” she whispers.

“Remember!” I answer.

We could stay in the Outland forever: preparing for winter, warming the house with clay and straw, chopping wood for the furnace, drying fruit and berries.

We could still manage to collect a generous harvest of wheat, make bread with our own hands and divide it equally…

She, my Zen teacher, would have been waiting for me to bring the oak bark and viburnum berries for medicinal compote at the beginning of winter.

She, my Zen teacher, would have been reading letters and books, and then looking at the fire in the open stove, listening to the poems about ocean catchers from the vintage radio, and the snow would have bestrewn all our ways and tracks.

We could have met spring here, but there was still a month of summer and autumn and winter with its icy Black Sea to come.

We watched the crane keys fly away and they called us to follow them.

“The two of us, here, forever.”

“Do you hear it?”

And the snow was melting in the pot full of oak bark and viburnum.

Valeriy Puzik

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