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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes

Sands Sifting Into Infinity
• Susan Dale
Sands upon sands stretched out before David, even as something inside of him was sounding warnings. ‘These sands stretch out as far as the eye can see, and beyond that. I can’t see the end of them. Where will they take me if I walk them? And if winds pick up, they will cover my tracks. I won’t be able to go back. Do I have enough water for such a journey?’    

He uncorked to look inside his canteen and see it full. He then dropped down in a hunker to further study the sands. He saw them curving into themselves; little circles of eternity much as currents of an ocean. ‘Time in a moment. A circular symbol rounding seasons and gravity. These are the circles of life … and so will I walk them,’ he decided.
Thus and so, he began his odyssey across the sands. He  thought,  ‘the sands are sifting into an hourglass of time.’
The afternoon falling quiet, his shadows falling long across curving sands; the sun embracing the sands to paint them purple and gold.

These same sands were surrounding a prostrate yogi. David came up on the yogi to see his head buried in the sands. His shoulders were visible and so too were his bare legs; his waist was covered with a loincloth.
David stepped back in astonishment, thinking, ‘low and behold, the yogi’s head is buried in the sand! He is controlling by will, his life forces of breathing.’
The yogi believed that his courageous act would erase the sins of a hundred births. Beside the yogi sat a plate for offerings from faithful Buddhists, should any should happen along the way.
And although the yogi’s ears were buried in the sand, in spoken words, David wished him the great good will of Buddha before he said- 'Because I am faithful only to life, I have nothing to drop in your
But with his head buried in the sands, the yogi heard only his own faith; sturdy and ringing in his ears with certainty.
David walked away from the yogi to prowl the sands of a world of chance; seas of sands wide-full and sun-deep. A hot, long day laid across the ochre grains; a day hanging heavy under the fat body of a merciless sun. Walking the sand spaces of nothingness to nothingness, to revelation before and unto death, David emptied himself of all but to exist. Dying to the past and to the future, he journeyed the wide spaces of sands to skies; both stretching out around him. Walking past new cactuses taking root, he came up on a batch of newly-hatched lizards. He looked at them quizzically, these hairless, pointed-face creatures wiggling to find their ways across the sands.
‘How do they know which way to go? I don’t.’
He passed piles of bones; scattered and shiny-white in the sands. Miles of sands afterwards when he saw the skull of a camel; bare-stripped clean. ‘The new lives of cacti and hatched lizards; bones and skulls too. The sands are neither the alpha nor the omega. They are the middle roads that lie in between.’    
It was time, and so he sat down in the sands to rest. He was lost in contemplation, and stretching his thoughts across the sands; thoughts of nothingness to nothingness when his eyes were suddenly drawn to a sand painting of a feather; the feather approximately a foot high and six inches across; bright plumages of reds and blacks. He walked over to study it. And when he hunkered down to examine it further, the feather painting sharpened into three dimensions and came to be before his incredulous eyes. But a moment to reflect on the sand painting bursting into being, before he picked up the feather and stuck it in the sweat band wrapped around his forehead.
'A feather for luck to protect me in the desert,’ he thought. 'I am in great need of good fortune when I travel across the sands of no end in sight.’
Up he stood, now with a feather in his headband. Up to walk the middle grounds of curves to sands, to sweeps of sands, to circles of sands. From sands passed to sands stretched to infinity, David was
walking the wonder and wander of his life. Behind, in front, and around him, sun-soaked, barren lands. He was leaving minutes to hours behind him; walking the alpha to the omega. In between he was, and walking a purgatory of nothingness to nothingness; magnification of sands sifting through the hour-glass of time. Plodding through the  sands, he felt emptied of all but to be. Curves of sands to circles of sand, and all the sands reflected in the clarity of an uncompromising sun of full day. The sands paring away his journey to its barest essentials; stripping it to going in no direction to arrive nowhere. And as he was plodding heavily and slowly through the sands, he heard whooshing sounds. He looked to see the sands in front of him swirling while rising to meet sand-colored skies; the skies were dropping before his disbelieving eyes. The sands rising to press against the skies; pressing until they disturbed the smooth edges that connected sands to skies. The edges of the skies were sharpening into jagged points to alter the nothingness of skies being one to the sands. The sands were struggling against the sun’s, suffocating blanket being laid across them. They would remain subdued no longer and swirled up towards the skies. The rebellion of sands and skies sent to shivery clouds. The clouds elongated from wispy spirals into black beasts that encompassed other clouds to broaden and widen. Below the cloudy skies, sands were gathering up other sands to dance choreographies of frenzied motions that rose to meet the warrior clouds a’ swirl in the skies.

David felt himself leave his body and skip across the sands to join the  whirlwinds. ‘Could it all be a mirage? But no; these sands swirling, these clouds dropping, are as real as the fear surging through my veins. My heart is thumping so loudly, it is ringing in my ears.’
Searching for shelter, ‘any shelter,’ his eyes darting this way; that, David saw, instead, a mouth in the mountain. He blinked, then looked with focused-eye intent. ‘Yes, a mouth in the mountain; it has gnashing teeth and they are expelling more winds.’
He wagged his head in shakes of disbelief. ‘My world of reason, my world of cause and effects; both are on hiatus. Or maybe, just maybe, gone forever. Taking the places of reasoning are the surrealistic tricks of spurious gods. Time is moving on a course that I can’t know.’
The winds were opening their mouths to scream commands to the skies. The skies heard, and darkened to black. ‘I must go back.' Frantically, he looked down and around to find his footsteps in the roiling sands. ‘Nothing, nowhere; not a trace. But could it have happened so soon?’
It did; all of his steps were covered in sand. He held his hands at the sides of his face and squinted to see. ‘Can it be so? Yes, I see it: the winds are sprouting wings to swoop and rise.
Then he felt the feather in his head band twitching. ‘Will my sand feather protect me in this upcoming sandstorm?’
He had no more time for thoughts; the sand were whistling in wild  portents. Quickly, he grabbed his lucky towel; it was draped around his shoulders. He held it close to his head to keep the rushing sands from his face. ‘Even more important, I must protect the sand feather; my talisman.’
Then from somewhere, maybe blown in with the winds, they were that powerful, a camel appeared in the distance. David squinted through the sands to see the dromedary fall to its knees and bury its head in the sands. ‘A camel? Where the hell am I? How far have I wandered?’

His wonder lost to fears so powerful that he trembled with their immensity. Mighty forces, the winds pulling, pushing him. He struggled to propel himself through the orbiting sands. One plodding, desperate, determined footstep after another. With winds beating his face and body in cutting shards, he headed for the came. Each footstep towards the ungulate a mighty effort. Ear-shattering winds whistled around him. He interchanged his hands from around his face to over his ears to lessen the deafening whistles. Sands blackening the air; sands dragging his feet; sands slowing his steps.

‘Each step seems an eternity of sand-shifting time.’  Heart racing, pulse throbbing, steps plodding, the feather in his band twitching. At last, by the camel’s side, he fell to huddle close beside the creature for protection.

Suddenly, the sky darkened black as night. ‘Black death it seems.’
The wind screeched to a sudden halt. In a fierce downpour, from out of the skies, the sand came raining down on him in sheets. New fears began. ‘Soon I will be buried in the sand.’
He felt the feather twitching as he struggled to climb up on the camel. With the sand raining down on him, up he climbed. He hunched over the camel’s back and buried his face in the creature’s neck. The sand was pelting him with stinging pain, like fierce slaps all over his body. Sand raining fast and furious to cover the camel’s feet. More, then more sand: sand raining in sheets to cover the camel’s legs; its body.

‘My feet too are covered in sand.’
The sands rose to the camel’s chest and kept rising. ‘My knees are buried in sand; the sand is rising higher: the end is near.‘
But all of a sudden, the sands halted. David, struck dumb, was too stunned to think. He sat numb in disbelief and wonderment. With heart thumping inside his chest with spurts of joy, he waited. Cautiously, slowly, he raised his head to see the winds, with wings, rapidly moving the sands ahead.
‘But what words can speak of winds?’
Watching the scenario of time changing courses, and while yet clinging to the camel’s back, David could scarce breathe. Knowing for certain now that the sandstorms were headed off, David was filled with relief, immense enough to stun him into motionless reverence. But now he was feeling the camel restless underneath him, and moving to stand. He took the creature’s cue and rolled off its back to stand shakily in the now-wavy, displaced sands: some sand was stacked as high as small hills. Up he stood and the mound underneath him moved with shakes to disperse of the sands. The camel, the color of sand, pulled to its legs to stand. Quickly then, the ship of the desert was off in a loping run towards a twilight being overtaken by the sandstorm. Without the ribbons of sunset and without a silvery twilight, the curtains of night fell quickly on the desert to sanctify the sands’ redemption. A full circle moon shone light across the vast horizons of fathomless sands sifting through an hourglass of infinity. A fearful, treacherous, journey for David had been a blip of eternity to the sands. Beneath his feet the sands of buried cities. At his feet the sand of shifting time. Around him, sand ghosts, buried bones of the desert, and sand-buried dreams.     
How long was it, he wondered, before he felt the sands beneath his feet thickening from sand into gravel. ‘Time between one star dying and another being born? Miles upon miles? Or simply soft-blue twilight, into deep, wide-tall darkness? Can it be? Am I, at last, escaping the desert?’
Onwards he walked in steps getting quicker, lighter; steps across sand thickening into gravel. On then through a night darkening blue-black. Step by step, leaving the desert behind to left behind. To his immense joy, he saw the outlines of trees coming into view. Now here, then there, and next he was passing them … cactuses, palm trees, underbrush, and as he was walking onwards, he felt grasses rustling under his feet.
© Susan Stacy   March 2012         
susan_stcy (at)

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