Tales in the beginning didn’t begin
in the telling – they would have started
no doubt, but not without a concrete
bearing, a causal opening and a beckoning
ending (at least tacitly implied), otherwise
devout listeners would have opted out.
A tale can’t begin with no point of origin,
no sequencing and no denouement in sight,
is a journey nowhere, and nowhere is death
to storytelling. Selling the fiction is as fabled
as voyaging and we have travelled far in a
continuing tale, its essence is ‘we’ as a company
of choice and its charter free travel where,
though our journeys may be separate, may
roam quantum distances in intuitive places,
invade the reaches of stellar space, they are
never journeys we’ve taken alone.
So what is a beginning the beginning of?
The clichéd expression ‘let there be light’ and
there was; no sudden burst of it, at least
not at first, just a pleasant shimmer on an
intellectually indistinct horison that grew into
a glimmer of realisation, an awareness of
continuity agreed, a contiguity between this
moment and the next because we needed it
sustained, and in the barest consummation
a shouted recognition, We Are Here!
Whether it was on the shores of an inland
sea in Africa many millennia in the past, or
in a burst of melodramatic light that was
good and has lasted, We Are Still Here.
In the beginning that was all there was,
a new forged social unity of the self aware
in a community of need, a bare structure
to belie the complexities to come, but it
was where all tales must have begun.
When sister Faye read us pencilled lines
from her exercise book and the sound
was no different to that of real tales being
told in the firelight, and when we were
absorbed in the parables and fictions
which emerged and found they were
Just Like Us, and as we overcame our
prejudices we were bound in the same
ancient fabric our ancestors of the sea
and lake wove, to wear the same clothes
in our shared histories, and there in the fable
and the firelight we discovered ourselves.
I return to those ways when I invoke
the power of words, of listening open-mouthed
and wide-eyed to hypnotic reading, of being
bound up in breathtaking storytelling, of
breathing hushed and constrained for fear
of missing a nuance, a whisper; it is there
where it would have begun,
with the tales in the beginning.
© I.D. Carswell
For sister Faye who may have unwittingly
started it all.