She beckoned me to rise and I did so, following her outside. The city spread out before me, an aching mass of color. The piers I had so laboriously climbed were now at the water’s edge. Tied up to them were ships of all sizes and descriptions, others lying at anchor in the bay beyond, under which lay, or would lie, the jungle I had trod.
She turned to me and extended her hand, fingertips touching my forehead. “Welcome,” was the sound that echoed in my head with suggestions of a lark-bright voice. “We are pleased that you come.” Then she withdrew her fingers and spoke, watching my face intently as she did. I heard in my ears the lark voice that had been in my mind, but her words were a meaningless trilling – pleasant but unenlightening. She cocked her head.
Another of her race joined us, floating in on wings of fiery color. He landed lightly beside her, his wings making soft thunder in the morning air. He, too, was beautiful; like her he wore only a loin strap of chain, but supporting a lingam. His body was hairless and the hair on his head was white and tangled, but gave no impression of age. His eyes were varicolored, changing as he turned to speak to her. His voice too was lark-like and incomprehensible, but there was no trace of femininity about him. Fine muscles moved beneath his skin as he shifted his weight. They conversed in their own language for several minutes without attempting to translate for me, then he left, flexing his legs to bound into the air, spreading his moth-wings and catching the rising sun on the iridescent fur that covered them; he was gone with a muted rush.
Across the city I could see many like him fluttering here and there, making the morning bright with the colors of their wings. No two were alike and each was an intricate working of several colors, not all of which would have been considered appropriate by a terrestrial artist; yet here they were. I realized that I was looking at the original pattern from which the rugs on which I had lain were taken.
Not all the flying shapes were humanoid. The air was filled with the soft cries of tiny furry things singing out their unending paean: “dilwildi, dilwildi.”
Was she the presence? The instant I asked myself the question, I knew that she was not.
She motioned for me to follow her and, taking pity on my wingless condition, led the way walking. Apparently this was the same city I had seen in ruin, nor was my memory in any way damaged. This was either an intricate dream (which I did not believe) or I had somehow been transported spiritually or bodily to the time when it had been in full flower. And flowering it was, with such a profusion of plant life as to make my jungle seem a desert by comparison. It was like a giant park, with every tree, and shrub and ground hugging turf designed to please human or quasi-human senses.
My winged companion led me to a park where we sat beneath a tree that seemed to have ancestored the lal, although its fruit was larger and seemed more succulent. We sat in silence, she enjoying the beauty around us, while I tried to make sense of it all. more tomorrow