The dance of the unicorns
“There is a place,” I said, my voice growing young with the anticipation of the words, “a magic place, where you can stand against all Time and call a unicorn.”
“Where is this place? Is it far?” asked my granddaughter.
“Unicorns do not worry about great distances. They know before hand that they will be summoned, and so they are always close by.”
“Did you ever call them, grandmother?”
I sighed heavily, “Yes, my child. Once when I was very young, about the same age as you are now.”
“Tell me, please, tell me what happened.”
“Well, I was walking alone in the woods. Ahead of me, in the center of a glen, lay a pool of complete blackness. It was as dark as a disk of obsidian, a rough circle, impenetrable to light. It held no sheen of starlight, no reflection of any kind. I could sense inside of me that this was a place of power that had welled up from the depths of the Earth. I saw hoof-prints all around, and asked myself, 'Who would drink here?'
"Who indeed. The answer was quite obvious. So I closed my eyes and called them . . .
“At first, nothing happened. And then I heard a distant gait clattering like the bones of the Earth. There were two, a mare and a stallion, pure white like snow-capped mountains. They trotted toward the glen eagerly, ears pricked forward, breath snorting in their nostrils. My knees trembled as they hastened to the tarn beside me and plunged their muzzles into the unrelieved dark and drank deeply.
"Then they exploded away from the waters and began to thunder around the dell in a frenzy. Never had I witnessed such galloping. They were filled with the power of the Earth and blurred away, indistinct as hallucinations. They seemed to be submerged in the gathering darkness, barely perceptible.
“I realized they were holding back: that they had tremendous strength in reserve, and had not yet called forth their true power. Again they pounded past, circling the valley with frenzy and fervor glaring in their eyes; the passion of beasts that could not beseech. In my mind I could feel them calling me to join them.
“Stooping without hesitation, I lowered myself to the pool and drank.
“The touch of the water on my lips and tongue were as cold as fire. It burned within me like a blaze of absolute ice. I surged upright and began to run with the unicorns, run and run frantically, flinging myself like ecstasy or abjection around the dell as if I had gone out of my mind.
“When the sun rose, I awoke in a green meadow; it was filled with the buzzing of insects and the ancient songs of birds. My forehead hurt and as I probed it with my fingers, I felt a hard nodule, just there," I said, pointing to the middle of my forehead, "like a keratin point. And then I remembered . . . I had danced with unicorns.”