heiko rudolph

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wings of the lady of sorrows

The moon shone through the rifts in the clouds revealing a choppy sea of steel gray waves as far as the eye could reach.

On a high cliff overlooking the sea, stood a Lady. Her eyes dark pools, looking out towards the line where sky and sea met. Her form was small and graceful, almost fragile yet imbued with a quiet strength. Her bearing was of one who knew how to command and also how to obey.
There was in her manner a strange aloofness and disregard for the elements. She was oblivious to the wind ruffling her coat of feathers. Her hair flew about her face yet her eyes remained focussed on a great sadness in the distance. Tears made their way down her cheeks unheeded. No hand came up to wipe them away or smooth their path. She seemed barely aware of them.

Night after night he observed her watching the horizon, buffeted by the wind, silent tears in the pale moonlight.
Once she made as if to step off the cliff but then she drew back in hesitation.

For many years he watched her there in the same place.

The night of the first new moon of the year, he watched her and he felt a great sympathy for her. Her sadness had touched his heart. For an instant she looked about searching for something. Then she stepped to the edge and spread her wings. He let out a gasp. What he had taken as her coat of feathers were in truth her wings wrapped tightly about her body. The inside was a soft down of rose pink the outside cool gray to silver tones. Wings spread wide, the wind pulling her she stood for some time, lifted off the ground just a little. She folded her wings and her gaze went once more into the distance. Not knowing why, he felt disappointed.

In his dreams and at times in his inward eye during waking moments he would see her and gradually grew to know her better. One evening as he was reading a book of Irish mythology, it was shortly after the summer solstice, at sundown, strange feelings reached him in waves of delicate longing from another far away world. They had in them the perfume of 'her' essence. It was as if a dream half remembered. He felt her presence and her eyes upon him. For the first time he saw that she looked at him, from her world to his. Her gaze searched for him and was looking at him past the horizon to meet his eyes, seeing him across many worlds and great distances, speaking to him yet without words.
Her gaze was clear and powerful yet he could not put it into words. Ever so gentle, quiet, sad.
He put down his book. She was calling to him with her eyes, eyes that he now saw had no whites at all, only pools of deep black. It gave her a strange alien air.
Closing his own eyes he looked for the gray sea, the high cliff where he had seen her so many times. She stood with wings outstretched letting the breeze lift her a little off the cliff surface. Hovering thus he watched her and wanted to shout, to urge her to fly - but a warning flashed across his mind "let HER decide !"
So he watched and waited. He saw her dark eyes, glistening like black shiny pearls speaking a language he could only guess at.

From this time on he would look for her in the evenings, after sundown. He learnt to speak to her eyes, across the many worlds that separated them.
He learnt to 'see' her eyes at any time in any place. He would look for her and she answered.

It was the night following the equinox. He saw her standing on the cliff, her wings spread wide, then she quietly stepped off the edge. She flew with strong calm beats over the moonlit sea.


The above is the absolute bare bones of the story. In fact its really only one image. There is no real ending. One possible 'silver clasp ending' is to have him meet the lady in his own world, recognizing her only by her eyes. See the story of 'O-Tei' set in Nagano, Japan, (in the book: "Kwaidan" by Lafcadio Hearn, Publ. Tuttle & Co.) for a similar theme, similar meeting and re-recognition.

This series of images came to me in the north of Laos, Bounthai town, 23May01,while on a field trip. I was inspired by reading George MacDonald's story "Phantastes" at the time - this story is influenced by MacDonald's images.

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2003 heiko rudolph

'dance me to the children that are asking to be born....'    Leonard Cohen