friday 03 march 2000

A vast white desert stretching across the land, covering mountains and valleys and river beds and plains. A lonely place, not much could withstand the heat and the wind and the sand.

A woman neither young nor old lived alone in the dunes.

Every day the woman of the dunes walked out into the desert to collect food. Tiny brown lizards, grasses, a delicate pink cactus growing under the sands.

Her loneliness was as vast as the desert yet she was not unhappy.

Sometimes a bird would fly over the desert and her spirit would follow it for a few miles. One day a black bird larger than any she had ever seen before swooped down and picked her up with its sharp beak. Its feet dug into her shoulders causing them to bleed.

The woman was frightened, tears streamed down her face.

She had never cried before and it was sweet and terrible.

They flew for hours, her blood and tears raining on the desert. Finally she could see familiar dunes in the distance. The bird released her and she fell onto a soft bed of white sand.

The woman of the dunes slept for seven days and seven nights.

She awoke to a blaze of reds and oranges and yellows. The desert was covered with poppies, sown from the seeds of blood and tears.

She never saw the black bird again. But some nights it would visit her dreams, brushing her face with its wings, pecking at her breasts until they shed tears of milk.