Letter IX

Umbra

The day was about to darken when I went back to the Umbilicus’ edge, and so the scaly skin of the snake I’ve followed there. No night is blacker than the one waiting on the threshold of what you have escaped, and there is where I met it. I would have grabbed the day by its tail to keep its light on my path, but I gave up or I would have chocked it; and so the snake I saw veering from our common path and taking a centripetal direction he alone could see. In that gloomy time I stared, looking at his circles but I didn’t follow them, ignoring their aim. Nor I could have ever stopped the snake: you can’t hold the Snake without suffering his poison. So I let him go on and he went on and he wrapped and wrapped up, and just before he could come biting his tail, he disappeared in a naught I knew was not a naught, since into the Umbilicus the snake descended, following the pattern of his motion into the darkness of the submerged.

And where the snake had disappeared I sighted, standing still, the great black bird who had stolen the grain of gold from the depht of my soul. It was still in his beak, it was gleaming, tiny and glorious, and suspended as it was into the beak of the dark, he was mustering around its minute bulk the distant light of the infinite stars. The bird gazed me with his pitchy eye, glowing like the moon of the sun of my grain; he looked at me deeply and suddenly I realized how desperately I was desiring to snatch back that grain, as it was mine and he had stolen it. But I didn’t move nor I showed up my intention, sure that, suspecting my desire, the creature would have cruelly opened his beak, even by a little, and in the darkness below us he would have let fall and loose every hope. But the bird had already seen the desire into my eyes, more clearly than I hiding it. Yet cruel he was not, he was something else: he didn’t let my grain fall into the darkness but, spreading his wings, into the darkness he flew with my grain in his beak.

No revenge is there in the echo of the events but their meaning still unheard. From the Umbilicus’ depths I heard the submerged’s calling, hence in it I sunk, since what recurs is calling to be heard. Into the dark I looked for my grain’s golden light, yet I could feel nothing but the sound of the great black bird fluttering, particle of the darkness that tightened around me. I realized there is no way to aim at stars than making friends with the night, thus I made friends with mine: Umbra I called her, and so called she came; she glided lightly at my side and held out her beak for me caressing it. With my fingers I touched the grain of gold she’s wielding, I longed for it yet I didn’t snatch it off, for I would have offended her. Nor did she ever gave it back, nor did she take it away anymore.

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