Meditation on a Sigh
A sigh. One long breath in and one long breath out. Drawing in the air slowly, lungs filled but not nourished, the expulsion a release but not relief.
A sigh is not a gasp. A gasp draws air quickly in and holds it. Gasp with surprise. Gasp with fear. Gasp with glee. No one has ever sighed with surprise, with fear, with glee.
A sigh is not a yawn. A yawn is a slow and luxurious gift to the body, air reaching to the tips of toes and paws and claws, inflating the body, plumping the brain, a cozy intake of warmth and saturation, satisfaction, satiation.
A sigh is a Gloomacinth, a Drabby Rose; rising long and straight before bending over and drooping down with murk and dolour. A sigh has a bent and broken back, a neck unwilling to support a too large head, a weight too heavy, an unwanted burden.
A sigh is a hailstorm; sullen sheets of sleet against a too thin windowpane, barely containing the leaden threat, the sombre sky, the sober storm; a frozen torrent, too chilled to nourish, too slow to revive.
A sigh is a wet newspaper, thick and bloated, complete yet useless, disagreeable yet compelling to the touch, to the outstretched fingers that cannot help but poke and prod and explore the sodden pages, the cold mush.
A sigh is grey, neither black nor white, neither day nor night, just grey; a smudge. It is not the bejewelled carpet of a summer garden; it is, rather, the cold and crumbly cement used to cover that garden many years ago, now cracking from indifference. It is not the multicoloured rainbow brightening the sky; it is, rather, the heavy storm cloud, portent of tempest, obliterator of sunshine, moving in to reclaim the firmament. It is the grey of the bars of an iron cage, a cage without a key, without a door.
Just grey. Draining the colour, draining the light from its surroundings. Like smoke. Like ash. Like dust. Like an empty tomb. Like the Grey Faerie, whose sadness could envelope you in its storm cloud, as it has her.
A faerie, grey and drab, sits alone, shoulders heaving with a sigh her only movement; she is the sigh and the sigh is she. One long breath in and one long breath out. Air is slowly drawn in, filling without nourishing, the expulsion a release but not relief. The sigh invites and repels: you could approach to see if you could be of help, but it’s just as likely you will be rebuffed as welcomed. The faerie repels while she invites, sighing, draining the colour, draining the light from her surroundings.
She sits like a Gloomacinth, like a Drabby Rose. Back rising long and straight before bending forward at the neck, head drooping down into careless palms, seemingly unwilling to support a too burdensome head, a weight too heavy to support.
A hailstorm lurks behind the Grey Faerie’s eyes, sheets of sleet hint at a leaden storm, a threat of chill, a slushy assault waiting dim and dreary behind pale, drab eyes. A hailstorm is not rain; the tears are too cold to cry, they simply lurk and wait, hanging heavy behind eyes that are like foggy windowpanes; too thin to disguise the storm they hold back, too insubstantial to promise safety, shelter.
Her gown is as damp and as drab as a wet newspaper, worn through in places, as though poking fingers had not resisted rubbing away at bloated edges, exploring the fringes of the sadness found there. Sadness denied leads to regeneration and redemption. Sadness welcomed leads to the purification of tears. But sadness explored, merely teased at the edges, leads only to more sadness, to sighs, to grey.
She sighs. She sits in the iron-barred cage of her own creation, the cage without a key, the cage without a door, the opening she chooses to not pass through. She has accepted her dejection as a way of life: she has covered over the jewels of hope with the chalky, cold concrete of despair; she has blocked out the prismatic rays of faith with a heavy storm cloud of despondency. She never recognises the cage is of her own making, the concrete, the storm cloud, that these exist only in her own mind. She sighs.
The sigh invites and repels you. You approach with curiosity and ask the faerie’s name.
Her voice when it comes is like smoke, like dust, like ash; like what is left behind, to accumulate from neglect, after purposeful action has been dismissed. Her voice, like smoke like dust like ash, replies, “My name is lost. And with my name, my wings are lost. And with my name and with my wings, my powers are lost.” The faerie sighs and it falls like a mote in an empty tomb.
You gasp with surprise, drawing air in sharply, holding it briefly before quickly exhaling. Only now do you notice the clipped wings, like the bare and snapped stalks of a harvested field, and their starkness hints at screams, not sighs, violence received, and you gasp again at the horror of it all. “But,” you ask in a voice warm with wonder and concern, “is there no way to find your name?”
Another sigh, shoulders rising and falling in time to the long breath in and the long breath out, and the faerie extends her hands into an apathetic shrug. The sigh falls into her outstretched palm and then wafts to the ground, like the memory of a feather, a feather from a wing, shaven and shorn, a feather now dingy from long exposure; to sleet, to slush, to storms.
“The name is lost, and with the name my wings, and with the name and the wings, my powers. I have been lost. I will not be found.” The sigh that accompanies this statement, long practised, is not an active expression of anguish or desperation, nor is it a signal that the faerie is waiting for rescue. Rather, it is the passive voice of acceptance; a voice that speaks of despondency, melancholy and gloom. She seeks not salvation. Awaits not liberation. The sigh is acceptance. The sigh is concrete paving over a summer garden with finality, a storm cloud moving in to reclaim the sky from presumptuous rainbows, another iron bar in the cell without a key, without a door.
The Grey Faerie is the sigh and the sigh is she. She turns her eyes, pale and dirty windows revealing the leaden storm within, she turns these eyes and looks away. Some sighs invite and ask for rescue, but this faerie asks for none. Alone she sits in the cell of her own sadness, teasing at its edges, draining her surroundings of their colour, of their light. She places her head, once again, into careless palms, which accept the inevitable of the unwanted burden, and resumes her pose like a Gloomacinth, like a Drabby Rose curved and broken. You are not needed here. No more will you hear the voice like smoke like dust like ash, the voice that drops words to waft like dingy refuse to the ground, words that accumulate to bear witness to the acceptance of despair, the exile of hope and faith.
You turn and walk away, shaking your head with sad wonder, when you are suddenly gripped by a wave of exhaustion. Before you can stop it, a yawn overwhelms you and you open wide your mouth, drawing in the life-giving air, feeling it inflate your body to the tips of your toes and plump your heart, filling you with warmth and a luxurious sense of comfort and wholeness. Reenergized, fog cleared from your mind, you continue on your journey, with every step leaving the Grey Faerie further and further behind.
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