Westward Ho! (Notes taken a few Decembers ago)

ImageThis Summer, this evening, this dusty antipodean road… it comes when I am not expecting it: that haunting, silent song.

(I am driving, solitary, along a half-remembered route, past fields that make my heart weep for the memories I thought I’d forgotten. The road, it is a timeline; a linear memory. There the fields we horse-rode as children, there the paddock we all midnight stole as youths; there the emptiness of space where the house burned down years later, its absent chimneys an erased mark against the late sky.)

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It comes now, of a sudden. The Aslanic note. A clarion call. More like gravity than tune, it is at once a sound, a force, a quality of light.

I last heard it as a child.

It would call, inaudibly, across my father’s fields, and I would fix my curious gaze intently towards the setting sun. There was something beyond the western horizon (I couldn’t tell how far or near) which drew my heart: a silent lure.

I never found its source, and its golden memory faded like the sunset fades to dark.

Until tonight.

It is only now, as I approach this place in the afterglow of dusk, that I hear it, Doppler-like: an echo from so many years before. It crescendos as though it was kept waiting for now, for this moment as I draw unsuspecting near. And I recognise it with breath caught and unexhaled.

A heartbeat jerks and pauses like the kangaroos which lift their heads from their grazing in the startle of my approach. They wait, alert and listening, because their lives depend on the perceiving.

I should have known it was You.

But I’d never guessed it was him.

Now twenty years since the diamond pledge, You let me learn it.

The song of this man. I am driving right past the farm gate where he grew up.

It was him? All along?

That sound was his heart-home?

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Your soundless answer thrills me as it resonates in my core.

It was the call of our future.

It is the echo of Abode.

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