Saturday, 1 August 2015


The Emperor of China, or was it Japan?

Some Asian potentate - surfeit of pleasure - walked in his Garden under the harvest moon. Night-blooms of the most exotic hue bled and blended perfumes into the balmy air; winding paths led to silver pagodas, wherein waited pleasures that might delight, or spike to desire the Imperial ennui.

Poor, poor Emperor, lost to desire - lost to love; lost in the mire of too much treasure...

He waved away the sycophants offering jade rings, opium, twisted pleasure. He walked and he walked the meandering paths in his amber dragon robe, and in a cul-de-sac he caught sight of a Nightingale in the fluttering ecstasy of her nuptial flight.

Down she flew, proffering her heart. A frantic motion of advance and retreat, every wing flutter perfectly timed to a heartbeat.

Oh, the Emperor was riveted watching this; such aching need in a scrap of life! Such love - it was a while before he thought to look on the suitor of the tiny bird: a great Rose - not scarlet - but pure black.

It stood erect, the furled garland of his head drinking in the moonlight, his scent more subtle than any other; the spiraling maze of velvet petals drawing in the hapless explorer with hints of the treasure at its core.

“Come,” it hissed “Come unfurl one by one my scented secrets, and I swear I will reveal all. Oh enter, enter my embrace, and come into my last secret place: here at the very heart, I am gold…”

But the Emperor saw what the Nightingale did not: all around the velvet head sly muscular arms offered a thorned embrace. Still she fluttered closer, oh closer; and closer yet…until no closer could she get and not be impaled.

The first thorn-thrust caught her through the breast - and here was the Emperor blessed - for from her slight brown throat began to unfold the liquid yielding notes of her death song. Such beauty he had never thought to hear, and lifted urgent compassionate hands thinking to free - and perhaps heal - the fragile creature caught in the deadly embrace of the fierce warrior with a velvet face.

She refused! She struggled closer to the deadly spike impaling her heart; sobbed one last tender note, and pillowed her face on the black petals. He stood for while, watching how the moonlight silvered the stilling dust-brown feathers; saw the proud Rose shake free the dainty thing to flutter down to lie dead at its feet.

“And the moral, my dear friend,” muttered he to himself “There is nothing sadder than a Nightingale enamored of a Rose; unless it’s a woman who would propose to love an Emperor, but that I suppose - that is not so much sad, as silly...”

Humming to himself, he calmly returned to an enchanted pagoda on the curve of the sculpted river - where a girl of polished silver and scarlet lips waited his pleasure.

Manuela Cardiga

No comments:

Post a Comment