I found my way down to the fourth level beneath the Great Hall of Union Station. Here, far far below the tumult, far below, in slow murmuring depths, I stood in the vat room, half-filled with steam. A barely conceived commotion of beings animated the blue and golden shadows. The vaults were tiled in aureate and aquamarine, though faded then, long faded, long unrepaired; these, the ancient thermae founded upon which the city started; over the aeons faded and fashionably forgotten; there yet though, plain and wet, the marble floor eroded, the spring yet still replenished, still flowing from some secret subterranean plexus.
My clothes come off. Some selky’s cowl fallen, or some herpeton’s cast. Have seen a kelpie? Hazard the mazard. The peril’s being born. Would be a pair of ragged claws? How should I presume then? To state merely: Steams laocooned my limbs, flexed, luxuriously permeated my dark dermis. I stretched, my hide shuddering as a horse’s. Rub a rub a rub!
Dowse me to the lip.
Massive rectangular vats of steamy mud project flat slabs into the crypts where we like embalmed queens and kings lie flat and stare skyward ’neath tons and tons of rock, stone blocks and pillars piled in layers above; the sky is far off. Here beneath the earth found we Abydos long past. Here the patient wait and watch.
Naked I’m led to the steam-bath. Lie and rest I am instructed, and left.
Some other-self’s been sloughed. See me new; B C NU; Draconis; (some say Mu); others claim for mother camel what we call moose (or is it muse?). A waft of sleep so stretched supine and indolent I slumber nude. Some other creatures creep similarly about the room, recline; they breathe once a minute and doze with opened eyes.
I nap, wake, nap.
When at last I somehow passed into an adjacent bath I hardly noticed the tingle of the freezing spray that polished my shining scales. My horns were sharpened. They plaited my tail with silver. Ecdysis had now vested me aqueous, stronger than any spider’s gossamer. My eyes gleamed from the bottom of a well.
What’s the dust we’re made of?
Fry, funnelled from out the fruitful Marmara, run their course through the Dardanelles, succumb, and in their pollinic millions slosh about in pungent mats of flotsam. Gulls gorge, dipping remiges in foam, or flopping upon the jetsam-smothered shores. On the one hand … on the other … the odoriferous multitudes heat up beneath the sun, and the flat skies swell from the miasma salted with the sea, dried, the silvery scales dulled, and the close heavy breath of mother breathes.
There is an esotericism about the east. A pinkness dark as lust. An abiding argentum wherein’s set the aureole. Prepare ye now. Prepare.
Shshshh… whisper it
From the Aegean, looking inland east, one can see the secret hills. Shadows gather under cliffs somewhere there within them. No one says where. There a column long-hidden. No, not a column. An ancient weathered image sculptured of many-breasted Cybele. She a remnant saved from the Artemision; sequestered where, on cryptic dates, as the sky above is paling through transparence, acolytes congregate. Their muffled forms flit along the roadedges. Out the darkness floats the tread of soles. Eyes gleam. Women and men are circled in a dell where a flame flickers red against overhanging boughs. As an invisible moon falls, they disrobe their flesh, flushed copper in the fireglow. Limbs flow barbarically. Shadows gigantesque carouse upon the slopes behind. There come cries like rabbits barking, or the squeal of foxes. And as the starfields darken, a chant, ragged at first, then growing, growing …
Get back to where you once belonged.