From “An Ogham Wood”, by Cliff Seruntine, published by Avalonia Esoterica Press:
Published by Avalonia Esoterica Press.
It seemed, when he stepped across the threshold, the night held its breath. The crickets ceased their chorus, the night birds their symphony. For an instant, only a single instant, the leaves did not even rustle with the new breeze just beginning to build in the south. The only sound there was in that moment came low from the north, where a grove of aged apple trees descended from the Cottage right down to the crumbling wooden fence that demarcated the boundary between grounds and woods. It was the sound of steps lightly taken. He turned slowly, expecting perhaps a deer mincing beneath the boughs. What met his eyes was a pale figure wearing a gown of white. Half concealed in shadow, the form was unmistakably feminine even though it was illuminated only by the light of spring stars. The woman passed beneath aged apple trees budding tender new leaves. She ghosted from trunk to trunk, flowing as she went in the liquid way of a dancer. And then she began to sing as she went, the notes sounding as if they spilled from a flute of crystal. His ears caught the lyrics:
In green glens where flower
herbs of bluebell and shrubs of rose,
the Lady in her summer bower
suffers ne’er when the cold wind blows.
The Lady in her summer bower,
where a wildwood of black oak grows,
conducts from her vasty tower
the land no chill zephyr knows.
So luminous is her estival dower
many a courting laird comes from afar,
but Ellidurydd in her summer bower
bides but summer breath and summer star.
The notes fit no scale of Western music, some seeming to land just beneath where C should be, and some well beyond A, yet others fell precisely into place, familiar Bs and Gs and bittersweet Fs. The melody was the most beautiful he had ever heard, and it made his heart ache to hear it, though the girl was distant, the strains of her song coming to him like pollen drifting on a summer’s breath. But the music called to him and he took a single step off the path, only to hear her better. All he could see of her in the starlight was a gauzy gown of white contrasting hair black as the night itself, spilling over a willowy frame.
And then she too seemed to become aware of his presence, for she froze like a doe caught in a spill of light. And he swore he saw her eyes glow, just as a doe’s might have. Then she turned and fled into the darkness of the trees, gliding over the ground as smoothly as a boat slips over glassy water, with no other sound but the brief rustle of fabric over leaf fall.
And then she was gone.
And it was dark.
And the crickets fiddled and the night birds composed, and he stood alone and lonely, a shattered man in the many shades of twilight, with the moment of perfect stillness ended. The tune echoed in his mind, bits of pieces, scintillating like dust of shattered diamond, but with the damsel’s passing he could not wrap his mind around the whole of it. Only fragments of the lyrics remained, emblazoned in his memory, a small salve for bittersweet recollections.