From a seed of stone
mountains sprouted.
No one knew.
We were busy, and, anyway,
there was the sky.

Time passed, as it has
the habit of doing.
We passed away, others came.
Under their feet, very slowly,
the landscape was changing.
They didn’t notice:
they moved more quickly,
their moments were flushed
with vivid colours,
and these colours
caught their attention:
the rest
they demoted to background,
especially the grey
of rocks, even
the chrysalis hidden by dazzle
in the first winter snow.

We kicked pebbles, or put them
in glass vases, as ballast,
and to set off
the flowers we cut and placed in our rooms
for beauty, or perhaps,
more obscurely,
to remind us we were mortal.

As we changed, the sky changed,
we didn’t notice.
We had love, and grief, and our bodies
bleating in the dark
asking for milk or for a tender hand
to reach out, and be for us,
to soothe, to slip us
from our clothes,
to offset our pain.

And then, one day,
somehow there were mountains.
What could we do with them?
We lived with them, but
they weren’t very useful.
Did they remind us of flowers?
Of fathers we had lost,
of the dying of years,
of lovers?
Or of towns, out on the plains,
we had left, long ago,
places we’d only ever
meant to pass through?

Perhaps. Still, we couldn’t
rearrange the slopes, the peaks
and the divides,
wash them, keep them clean,
ask them to explain,
or take them with us:
but they altered the earth’s
relation to the sky,
and they lingered
changing the way
clouds behaved,
and in our rooms
in the warm, still
moonlight of summer
the dust motes
trembled, turned
to face the summits,
and, vibrating as we slept,
floated,
already far along
into their journey

to be mountains.


 

Please explore…

Volume 1 | The Sentinels

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Dustless | Volume 1 is approximately 20 pp./a5

status | published 11 02 2013

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Dustless | Volume 7 | Flowing House
It is RoMayZine to understand: battle is endless.

Men and women struggle in the act of love, they battle: and in the act of birth, women struggle with their child: they battle. Born, a child struggles with the first blazing of the light: the battle of sight begins, and of all the senses.

Decision is battle: life is fought by decision.

Having won the first light, children battle to see and to grow. Men and women battle to keep their children safe. Death battles to take all the living prisoner, to subdue all armies of life, to grow still greater the already vast armies of dust.

In a remote province of the Desolate Cantons, two exiles meet, and speak of decisions, speak of war.

One describes a duel with the King of Swords. The other describes life by the sword, in a place humanity may be cast off: the Place of No Footsteps.

To each, battle brings a kind of liberty, freedom from a world of laws, a victory for intense life.

Yet, when their battles are over, have they not drawn closer, after all, to joining the ranks of the armies of dust?

 

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Dustless | Volume 6 | Fire House
New worlds are being born all the time. These are young worlds, and young worlds, like young children, grow.

Old worlds await them. Into the old worlds, these young worlds rise.

If worlds are made of dust alone, like people they must age and die, and their dust blow into the wind, and fall away.

Must all growing be dying? Must all the young age, and all youth only fall away?

If there was something more than dust — greater than the dust, higher than the dust — would that mean a life that could keep growing, and not die? An ageless life, forever open, never closed?

Is there a life beyond the dust?


Into an old world, a young child travels, further and further, from the edge of a great empire slowly towards the centre.

And the edge, abandoned by the centre, withers in the freezing depths of a northern winter.

Dereliction and negligence: immense distances, isolated settlements where people survive or flee, and little more.

The law has retreated, the teachings of the book become confused, His Majesty no longer shelters and protects his subjects, no great clan orders and guards the struggling villagers of the Endless Plains.

To a dying world, what can a growing child bring?

From a world of dust, may a Dustless vision rise?

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Dustless | Volume 5 | The Dwellings [ii]

The sun is hot, and the fields are wide.
I walk, head bowed, towards my village.
The path is hard, the earth is dry.
There is dust on the road, but no horses.
I am thirsty, but the well is far away.
The plains stretch on towards the horizon,
where my way goes.
This is all there is –
and all there is, they say,
fits in a hawk’s eye.

All places, it is said among the Pure, are places of TanZo. Yet, if you are not Pure, what might you think of a place?

For a civilised person, the Endless Plains are famously empty. The air is polluted, the climate extreme – ferociously hot in summer, gnawingly cold in winter.

A civilised person, in a civilised place, may enjoy many aspects of life, but for those condemned for a time to dwell in the Endless Plains, life may well dwindle down to one master wish, a single, essential aim: survival.

A RoMayZine general once looked down at the pitiful remnants of a barbarian force, taken prisoner near the BisMarian Mountains. “They have survived – but what has survived?” he said.

“A human being plots a course between the animals and the angels”, an old ZirCong philosopher once said. And in a SurGaKu amendment: “A human being is a contract between an animal and an angel”.

What might happen, should that ‘contract’ be broken? What might a human being then become?

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Dustless | Volume 4 | The Dwellings [i]
It is natural, when embarked upon an arduous journey, to wish for shelter, to seek dwellings. And it is also natural, when circumstances within a particular dwelling place prove too much to bear, to wish to move on, to embark upon a journey, even if that journey should prove to be an arduous one.

The land wants nothing of us, it is only the land. Rocks seek no destiny, thorn trees ask no future, but simply adhere to the natural laws of thorns and earth, winds and water.

Upon a barren road, in the north and east of the empire, three travellers face the challenge of the wintry land. Here, shelter is hard to come by. The tanzo is unyielding. This is a place where space and time have settled, where space eats up the days, and the years dine on the endless plain.

For a poor human being, there seems no escape: it is a place the body must be, and suffer.

What does it avail a traveller upon such a road, to wish and to dream and to question? Is it that, faced with the bitter cold and the hostile earth, the delicate things of dreams and wishes and questions might give some form of shelter? And that questions and dreams and wishes may be the very things to help the traveller survive? Or do they merely lead further into delusion, back to the bones of the hands and the feet and the skull?

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When they finally get here — if there is a “they”, and if there is a “here” —

But I’m not in the mood for graves today.

%e2%80%a2dustless-fin11

 

Cradle, hearth and towers gone,
the road will be our home for now,
for now, tomorrow, the years to come,
the years to come our lives to pass,
to pass bearing our heavy load

TANZO-VACCARA • TANZO-VACCARA
we are born and die upon the road
our whole lives upon the road

So, traveller, as you ride the road,
ride the road, look down and see,
see the work that we have done,
have done to make your journey free:
free, we lay down our bodies’ load

TANZO-VACCARA • TANZO-VACCARA
we are born and die upon the road
our whole lives upon the road

We worked that you could travel free.
Your road is made of our bodies.
TANZO-VACCARA
Look down as you ride on home.
Your way is made from our bones.
TANZO-VACCARA
From ourselves is your road made.
All people are people of the Way.
All people are people of the Way…

The tanzo-vaccara road gangs hold a special place in the culture of O. Roads — tanzo — are seen as physical manifestations of TanZo, the pure Way. The empire is vast, and keeping the way open — often in remote regions, with hostile climate and terrain — is considered a task that combines sacred duty with harsh, unremitting, physical labour.

Over the centuries, the members of the tanzo-vaccara have become an enclosed, semi-religious group of people — predominantly men, but with a sprinkling of women, too. Their numbers include ex-convicts, returned from exile, who consider their sentences insufficient penalty for the crimes they’ve committed. They see in the hard work and difficult conditions of the life of the vaccara a form of expiation. Sometimes, too, people following the Way join the vaccara for a certain set period, and use the time in the community to train their bodies and spirits to respect and transcend the world of matter: for these people, the vaccara is a kind of endless pilgrimage.

The core of the vaccara is formed by people who devote their entire life to the repair and maintenance of the empire’s roads. In come cases, they literally work themselves to death.

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Dustless | Volume 3 | Stories in the Falling Snow
The purpose of a road is to connect one thing with another, and to enable travellers to traverse the landscape with greater ease. Yet, what happens when the land seems too great for the road? and when the road seems endless, connecting the traveller to nothing? What becomes of a journey once it appears to have no destination?

Is this not TanZo? Is this not the Way?

Through remote cantons, on humble beasts, a great lord for a guide, the travellers must follow the road, and endure the land – because there is no other road, and there is no other land.

It is said, among the SurGaKu: “For us, all things, eventually, turn into stories | and only by following the story | do we ever come to know of things”.

The SurGaKu teach: “And all stories, of course, come from the past; and to the past, of course, most stories return”.

And some among the SurGaKu add: “The past is a lost place. Do not go there”.

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Dustless | Volume 2 | The Tower
At the heart of all things, there are moments; and at the heart of each moment, there is change [Dust Sutra]

It is said, among the ZirCong, that “each thing is complete | yet each thing is also incomplete | and it is us, poor human beings, who bring our incompleteness to all things | with our yearning for power or with our yearning for | the resignation of power”.

Even a world that seems entire to itself, contained within its own boundaries, may neighbour another world. Is not the world of the seen forever at the mercy of the world of the unseen? And the known world, fragile before the jaws of the world of the unknown?

Change is inscribed in the heart of the atoms. The young grow older. The innocent grow corrupt. Those who have homes, lose them. Those who have lost homes, seek them.

Although yearning is a great power, sometimes, even in a vast land, protected by the emptiness of a continent, it is not enough.

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It was like building a great ship in a land where there was no sea.

To labour over many years, in a dry country — but seeking to make the ship magnificent, to ensure it was sound, and beautiful, to build it alone.

Now, towards the end, the ship is done. It stands, towering over the mean wooden buildings on the outskirts of a lacklustre town, prow pointed into the desert, and the desert stretching away for hundreds of miles, until it reaches the mountains, and enters vanishing.

Townspeople sometimes lean out of their windows, or, while watering flowers up on the their roof-gardens, pause, and stare at the vessel, and the huge curved pool of shadow it casts over derelict shacks, broken fencing and stony wasteground. The hull gleams, the masts strike up into the blank, heated blue of the sky: the propellers’ massive petals are frozen, and the rudder steers motionless through the sand.

A wonderful vessel: as elegant as it is gigantic, as graceful as it is imposing — perfectly suited for the ocean, sculpted for the waves, honed down in design by necessity for sailing: anything superfluous, any feature that would have added weight without purpose, or increased resistance and impaired passage through the water, all was removed, until the finished form was reduced to pure, essential nautical lines.

Yes, yes — a miraculous vessel.

And the people wonder. Living here, weeks’ driving from the nearest coast, they have only ever known dry land — for centuries, for millennia, all the inhabitants of this town, all they have ever known is dry land. A bare earth, rock, a few trees, and then the desert, the creep of dunes, the shifting dream the wind makes in its sleep: dry, dry, hard, ungiving — land forever.

And so they wonder. Why?

The years begin to pass.

For decades, perhaps, they were sceptical: but the ship was so great, and so beautiful, built to last. The houses came and went, the fires, the famines, the years of plenty, governments changed and rebels marched, the economy collapsed and revived, the town thrived and declined, and through it all the ship was still there, and the people couldn’t deny its presence. And eventually, they began to feel that, by some obscure process of identity, they belonged to the ship, or it belonged to them; and, eventually, they felt themselves drawn closer to it, as if it offered a kind of home; and then, eventually, they began to believe.

And with the belief came understanding; and with the understanding came deeper belief.

At dusk, at sunrise, at noon, in odd moments of the day and night, they peer over at the ship, silent and enduring, poised on the desert rock, prow pointed into the dunes: sometimes they stare at the black rows of portholes, sometimes they crane their necks and look up at the rail: sometimes, they admire the anchors, visible at the bow; sometimes they glance in passing at the towering masts glinting in the moonlight.

And they no longer wonder, Why? They understand.

And so they settle themselves down, and wait for the sea to come.