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Third Hymn
Mountains of Grim Witness
© 2023 James LaFond
“The writer having lost his way in a gloom of forest,
Being hindered from ascending a mountain by wild beasts,
Encounters Virgil, accepting the guidance of the Roman Poet.”
-Canto 1, JH [0]
Concluding Notes to Lynn Jamison’s Ascension Hymn
-1. Dante’s Disciples regard Canto 1 as the most important and quotable portion of Inferno, that is to say, aside from Dante’s discourse with Ulysses. The reason is that potential converts to the Christian Order have doubts, woes, trials and tribulations that they might be experiencing, well couched by the poet like an Old World knight’s lance skewering a Moorish foe, but rather the reader’s heart. Thus, Lynn’s Hymn, as an expression of her spiritual ascent as well as her physical ascent up The Divide, is prefaced by selections, for the most part, taken from Canto 1 of Inferno, this being her prized possession, which was left behind at her cowshed shrine, but not having slipped from her mind—her memory being uncanny keen.
-2. Lynn’s record of the Hellbox Crusade is told in the couplet, Knight, which shall be informed by Dante’s Purgatory, as that book in full came into her possession during that crusade.
-3. The triplet novel, Lady…, a record of the Hell’s Door Crusade, was thus suggested by Providence by the curator of Lynn’s ‘Savage Comedy,’ she has quipped, by the three means of ascendance experienced in her flight from dastard, bestial and holy betrothal, upward, northward and heavenward, and will justly be accented with selections from Dante’s Paradise.
-Jest Hayward, Under Deacon, Curator of the Word, Whitefish Cathedral, March, Sunday First, In The Year of Our Lord, 2032
Up a Wicked Rock Slide
“How savage wild that forest,
How robust and daunting its depth,
I shall remember in bitterness,
How upon that path I crept.”
-Canto 1, JH
Soaked and sodden, from sweat and mist, Lynn threaded the game trail beaten into the thick piney duff among the firs, spruce, pitch pine and great juts of rock. This mountain spine brought to mind an ancient giant boar, the skeleton, teeth and tusks of stone, its hair, hackles and bristles of such varied tree.
‘Save me great boar of mountain and I shall forever sing your praise like a throaty fountain.’
She had the urge to run flat out, but there was little flat, and to the left there was a yawning out. She went the way that the elk and the bison had beaten up here, roughly along the crest. But when great rocks and broad spreads of pine boughs, great dead falls, sometimes crossed, reared up out of the mist, like the animals did, picking their way, she did not break through but went around. These rounds were the same ways chosen by water, in the form of rain and snow melt, to find its way down the mountain. Thus she was ever in a panic about getting pushed down off the crest where there would be no place to hurl her unviolated body.
‘No, no, no, no more down and arounds,’ she groaned inwardly in despair as a great rock, larger than the cowshed, dictated that she go down another round.
And here, in the mist, she found herself among aspen. These were baby aspen, no larger than her, through which she ran as through a field, her feet numb and not getting worse near to lame, due to the soft ashen floor.
‘Love to you aspen young, so sorry your mothers had to burn for you to be upsprung.’
‘I am in the burn, where the lightning struck in July three years ago.’
She knew that the feed in this burn, where wild yellow roses, being the first and fairest thing to rise to colonize the scorch fed the elk and deer she immitated. Toothless Ted—dear Ted—foraged up here this past summer. This made for elk herding through.
Lost in love for the mountain, she idiot grinned as she through mist ran.
The thought of sustenance wagged by with a swaying of red rose hips waving on the thorny stalks that clutched at her dress, the thorns screaming, “You stray,” and the fruity hips swaying and whispering, “Stay, taste our song of May!”
‘No, I ate porridge all yesterday!’ hissed Lynn in her fierce mind, and ran along the pebble and leafy ashen duff, past scorched pitch pine standing dead, the dread round taking her further down.
Furious at this downward development in her ascent she searched among the hanging clouds for a greater view and saw none. Continuing along that downward looping elk path she recalled Father’s reminder that elk were creatures of grass and came up here mostly to hide, that they looked for to hide like she did and that she could trust their wiles.
‘Elk cows lead me true,’ she prayed as she hurdled a dead fallen yellow pine of great size, its bark burned away to make it seem a great ancient god bone.
With a horror she heard a great tearing, and it was her dress, caught on a sharp, fire-hardened spike, tearing like the dress stitchers of Hither Knell [1] in their workhouse. With a moan she kept running as the indigo dress clear tore from her, reeling out in a madness of sound that waxed persistent at her wild run, as if a coven of crones where all together tearing the single bed sheet of her hopes.
A howl went up from above and only slightly behind, marking the men as having reached the outcrop that sent her down on this round.
‘And my petticoat, I clear forget whatever I did with it. Mountain, to you I gift t, my dress too.’
‘Oh God, Jesus and Mary!’ she cried inside as she slowed and undid her apron, walking a twirl out of the remains of the dress.
‘A true-bred peasant girl, forgets her petticoat yet can’t lose her apron.’
‘Her shift of white might not betray her in this mist so white.’
‘Was that a mountain sprite?’ mused Lynn , confused that a song rang with in in the third person.
She returned the apron to her front and used it to tie down her breasts. In her hand she placed the flat little knife. It felt so right there.
The beastly men above were howling, yipping, grunting and growling, and, the height of disgust, gurgle-like sniffing!
Lynn followed the game trail and ran, understanding in her mind that she was headed for the shoulder of this mountain she had her pact with, where the aspen could be seen from the valley floor below to be round and large on the other end of this burn, that below to her right was a wicked rock slide.
‘Might Mountain strong, may I cry on your shoulder er long.’
According to her long hours viewing this mountain from below, once she exited that stand of old aspen, among their white trunks thicker then her waist, that she would be headed into dark timber, crowded pine, spruce and fir, and then up a steep and even more wicked rock slide to regain the crest that the bastion of rock above had pushed her down off of, like a sentinel that ordained for her to be caught.
Lynn ran, lighter without the dress, into the clinging mist, as she heard a crashing from behind and above left as one of those pursuing her charged down through scrub oak and stunted maple, jumped it seemed, and even giggled with glee as he knocked rocks ascance and plunged down the mountain with the ferocity of a king grizzly.
‘He has taken half my lead. Please, God, may that this mountain take him, I plead.’
Lynn ran hard through the baby aspen, giving way to young aspen as the trail did loop upward once again. She saw ahead to her right an ash tree looming with its rosy fruit, offering shade and refreshment and whispering, “Why run, it merely deepens their terrible fun.”
Lynn snarled as a rock bit at her right heel a little too deeply, the down right foot taking most of her weight destined to be battered. Picking through the gathering stones, head to torso size, through which the trail wended, she noted among the roses here, where the aspen gave way to the yawning canyon of boulders down right about the ash, and the mountain steeped to the left, where loomed monstrous dark spruce and fir that had been untouched by the fire, or merely scorched about the trunk, that there was various signs she was near one of Hell’s dread doors:
A curious black squirrel espied her and chattered a warning severe.
The trail was now clear and marked and well packed of dirt, showing that bison even by the herd had long marked this as home.
The mist was giving way, revealing the lower rock slide to her right side.
To left and up steep, the tree roots wound like serpents at the base of their great trunks, with the visible roots as thick as the young aspen below, where that wicked ash tree of temptation beckoned her with its fruit.
‘I am so glad Granny Darla made me eat yesterday—thank you, Granny.’
And, with that thought, she saw what she trusted least of these the stunted rose plants in the half shade between the last licked tongue of the burn and the great piney trees, what it was that had warned her of Tarnation’s quickening closeness.
These certain rose hips, from which the yellow flowers of this mountain did bloom and their once pretty remains were now mere brittle brown, had tiny, glassy thorns [2] of their own all along the fruit, that would make them painful to deadly to eat and perhaps saved them from the attentions of such monsters that browsed here.
Lynn shivered in dread as she slow-like ran by these terrible little fruits. Then started as a crash and snap and cry down below and behind, not far enough behind, told of a mishap—or perhaps an answered prayer. A mumbled gurgle of a cry came from a mere bow shot back.
Another cry came from up and behind, a gurgling snort. and the voice of their leader called from furthest behind, the sound carrying more clearly now as the cloaking mist blew off the mountain in ghostly wisps, “We commin’ Casty, ye ‘orny clown!”
The noise behind her, the tramping and sounding, she sensed, would cloak her run. Off she was, and the first and last sign of Hell’s Nears [3] on this mountain, the lean, evil, black squirrel, screamed, and followed her, acting as a tracker for her hunters. Back behind, she heard a gurgle and mumble as she knew her dress had been found and then the leader’s voice assured, “Afer ‘er den, Sniffy. I gotz Casty—Jeeze Cast, my Hell…”
And their voices were lost in the rustle of her hair, winging like a soggy, shredded blanket from her head, as she ran up the rising trail with that terrible little squirrel of hell behind her, marking her passage in concord with them that hunted her.
‘Mother Mary, I think God took one, yet come the worse one. Please, give me strength.’
The Great Lady singing in the tower at the back of her mind, heard, and the dame with the organ like voice wept from in far. Lynn heard rosary beads click and then rattle and the Lady, who sang music beyond the mere measure of words, her silvered song, that seemed eternal long, it ceased, stopped with a thump, like a heavy spring house hatch had been shut. Then her heart thumped stronger, and she surged stronger in her stride and knew, that the Lady had come down from her tower to fill her with desperate power.
‘Thank you, Lady!’
Then a snort of gurgling sort sounded behind her, an acre down, back were her dress would be, and Lynn, all of fifteen, whimpered and cried like the milkmaid she was, and ran, up the trail to the rocky steep.
-1. Hither Knell is a workhouse said by the Disciples of Dante to be occupied by disobedient and runaway maids, who must stitch upon Eternity’s Brazen loom in deep gloom, until such time as they weave towards Redemption. Traditional theologians regard this as a merchant connived convention and find it specious. However, the maids of Lower Awes West are renown as the hardest workers of their kind.
-2. The alternative Lost Earth of Kamas and Samak, Utah, where I have found two rock slides at the head of Seymore’s canyon and The Upper Setting, that are shaded and have stunted roses with large hips, have each a patch of spiked hips. I seem to be the only human to have discovered this, with the locals having no such knowledge. I have walked the actual trails across which Lynn was hunted in another reality. I was here harassed and followed by a wicked lean black squirrel. -JL
-3. Hell’s Nears are portals to damnation out of which such creatures of fable as Skinwalkers and Big John Hide are said to pass. These are often marked by hot and vaporous springs, caves, stone towers and such. In Awes West and South, and New Spain such places as we of lost earth know as Eureka Springs, Glenwood Springs, Bryce’s Canyon, Yellow Stone and Devil’s Tower and beyond to Mount Shasta and Snowqualamie Falls, are actual portals to Hell, just as the Founding Fathers of New England, such as Increase Mather, theologized upon. -JL
Into Dark and Untrue Timber
Up with Big John Hide
solo boxing
the fighting edge
z-pill forever
the first boxers
advent america
song of the secret gardener
menthol rampage
thriving in bad places
logic of steel
when you're food
the sunset saga complete
fiction anthology one
on the overton railroad
the greatest boxer
let the world fend for itself
by the wine dark sea
son of a lesser god
your trojan whorse
the year the world took the z-pill
honor among men
the combat space
america the brutal
orphan nation
songs of aryas
broken dance
the greatest lie ever sold
the gods of boxing
night city
blue eyed daughter of zeus
book of nightmares
dark, distant futures
winter of a fighting life
taboo you
into leviathan’s maw
barbarism versus civilization
time & cosmos
under the god of things
masculine axis
on combat
the lesser angels of our nature
logic of force
within leviathan’s craw
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