Part 2: The Valley
To be broken is no guarantee of wisdom,
But there is no way to be wise without first being broken.
“I do not own the true beginning, but I will give you this. It is as close to the beginning as I know. Let me make it like a picture for you.
The house is small, not like this. There is the hearth-room, the wash room and the food room. When you climb the wooden stair ladder you reach a sleeping loft. One side is Mam-Dadda, the other side is where I have my bed.
I am small. When I sit at the table where we eat in the hearth room my feet swing like careless days in the early springtime when the families all do this, do that, not sure, come and go. Small feet. My slippers, blue slippers, come and go.
I have taken this piece out to look at many times, held it, searched with my eyes and my listening. It is worn, like a pebble in the river, not like new.
Mam and Dadda. I can see their faces in the lamp light. We eat our soup. Dadda drops chunks of bread in his bowl and fishes them out. It is a game. We laugh when he catches one, brings it up on his spoon soaking like a swim dog.
In this piece there is lamp light on our faces, the sound of wooden spoons against our bowls. Good soup. Shelled beans and potatoes. Sweet salt from the sea. I did not know, then, where the salt came from. Then quiet. We finish our food. Dadda says
“Tonight, Sapphiri, come sit and listen”.
He carries me to the cushions by the fire and we sit together.
“Come, Riga-love, leave the bowls in their water. They will not be drowning in there.”
Mam comes. Her hands are wet and she wipes them on a cloth. When we are all sitting together, hearth fire small because the cold is still young. Dadda holds me and this is his saying:
“Little one, if a day comes and you are alone, if Mam-Dadda do not wake with you in the sunrise, who will you go to for your shelter?”
I say, “Auntie Loaf can be my shelter till you come home.”
“And what will you do, little one, while Auntie Loaf is your shelter?”
I say, “I will be sunshine for her and help her even if I am tired.”
“You have learnt well,” my Dadda said, and I feel the rough start of his beard on my cheek and there is sadness heavy as honey and tears for the days to come, but that may be my making from what has been.
This stone I give to you. The beginning stone. The first stone in my heart.
There are many pieces that have nowhere to fit. They wait for the reaching tendrils to touch and curl and hold, blindly knowing the piece that belongs, binding to another, joining together so the music can begin again.
Here I see what is broken. In the valley, only beauty. Here are things I have no word to say. Faces that cannot find their beauty, words that cut and punch and leave bruises. All this I must learn. To walk in the broken, with my broken. Make the new beauty in a strange land.”
“ Are you saying,” Dale asked, “that in the Valley there is nothing ugly?”
“What is ugly?” Sapphire asked in turn.
“When something is not beautiful, we call it ugly.”
“Ugly means broken?”
“No, ugly means horrible to look at.”
“Bad. Not happy to look at. If a house is not beautiful it can be ugly, or horrible.”
“Maybe still becoming. Not finished.”
“When the man attacked Moss, his face was ugly. Twisted, mean, hurtful, angry.
“This is broken. In the valley we do not have this. Only beauty, or broken.
“What happens to the broken things?” Jas asked.
“Things are not broken, things are unfinished. Only people can be broken. If people are broken, they leave the valley.”
Manfred shifted, sat up straighter on the couch. “How do you know if someone is broken?”
“The Keff come.”
This is mostly Sapphire’s story, with input from Moss, explaining their exile and describing life in the valley.
Sequence is provisional – much may change. I’m still working with first drafts, planning to complete this section by November.