Monday, May 23, 2011
There is a cathedral on California St. in San Francisco, positioned in the district known as Nob Hill. Within that Cathedral there is a labyrinth wherein I met and became acquainted with the infamous Morgana Le Fay.
I had seen her first during the 6:15 yoga sessions held on Tuesday mornings each week, a dark haired woman with penetrating green eyes concentrating on her perfect contortions and slow steady breath. Her gear, a Gaiam mat and matching aluminum bottle, caught my attention because it was the same design I had admired online a week before. As my eye traveled up from the mat I took stock of her Shakti capris and vest tank top in the orange network pattern. It looked like a web of electric nerve endings spread across her back, striking and beautiful, making me overly self conscious of my own well worn T-shirt.
I admired her obvious strength and flexibility, her complexion and the minimal signs of age written in shallow lines at the creases of her eyes. It is disturbing to confess that after attending three classes with her and never finding a way to speak to her, I tried to follow her from the Cathedral. She crossed the street and vanished. Into thin air. Absolutely, undeniably dematerialized. She was absent from class ever after.
There is a cathedral on California St. in San Francisco positioned in the district known as Nob hill. Within that Cathedral there is a labyrinth wherein I met and became acquainted with the infamous Morgana Le Fay.
I had come to walk the labyrinth alone on a Wednesday morning, months after watching her disappear on the sidewalk before my eyes. Entering the quiet chamber, my footsteps echoing, I saw her standing in the center of the labyrinth and froze. I felt the urge to flee, to quietly leave the building, an overwhelming sense of embarrassment tugging at my gut.
Who was I to intrude upon the meditations of this enigmatic woman who possessed the ability to evaporate from the corner of California and Taylor? I could not even muster the courage to initiate a conversation with a presumably ordinary person. Nevertheless I took a deep breath and stepped into the labyrinth.
I walked it as I always did, concentrating on each footstep, pacing myself, remembering myself. At the flower-like center she was waiting for me, green eyes boring into my soul. I offered her my hand.
“My name’s Emma.” I told her. Her grip was firm, almost crushing.
“Morgana.” She released my hand and said, “Wait a moment and we’ll talk.”
I felt very dizzy and my vision was going blurry. It started so gradually that I didn’t take notice until I felt that my legs were about to fold under me. Then I blacked out.
It was only a moment it seemed, but when I opened my eyes I was laying on the ground, my cheek pressed against the cold stone floor. I could see a pair of feet moving through the outer rings of the labyrinth, feet clad in black combat boots, squeaking as they went.
Pushing myself off the ground and into a sitting position I watched groggily as the owner of the boots, a disheveled clown, worked his way to the center.
He wore cutoff pants and a black T-shirt with many white arrows radiating out from a common point of convergence painted over its surface. His hair was limp and curly and mostly neon green. The face paint was smeared grotesquely. As he entered the center he licked the corner of his mouth and twitched slightly.
“Hello Morgana.” He said in a nasal voice. Nodding towards me, he asked, “Fresh meat for the beast?”
I’m ashamed to say that I could only stare, mouth agape.
“Well,” Morgana said, “Now that we’re all here, what shall we discuss?”
“I have always been interested in the sociopolitical structure of insect colonies, that and the reading of animal entrails, including human, for the purposes of divination, or possibly even just as leisurely reading, during a long BART commute for example.”
His tongue darted lizard-like out the corner of his mouth once more. I noticed that beneath the distorting make up, his mouth was actually deformed. Apparently he noticed my staring, because he lunged for me. He grabbed me by the hair and pulled my face close to his own, crying mockingly,
“Give us a kiss darling?”
“Ow, ow, ow!” I whined, too preoccupied with the pain inflicted on my scalp, possibly too shocked to feel an appropriate measure of fear.
“No, no.” Morgana said coming to sit with us. “We always talk about your interests. Emma is new, let her pick a topic.”
The clown released my hair and cozied up to me, patting my thigh.
“Oh, excellent idea Morgana. Go ahead Emma, what would you like to talk about?” He encouraged in tones oozing with sugary sweetness.
They both stared at me and waited. The clowns eyes were blue. Silence echoed through the cathedral.
“Uh.” I said at last, “I haven’t seen you in Yoga lately.” They continued to stare so I added, “I also caught your vanishing act.”
“Hmm. That.” Morgana said, “Well, I am a sorceress. And I felt the class was getting too crowded.”
I nodded and another strained silence followed. The clown pulled a long knife from a sheath that had been tucked into his cutoffs, concealed under the T-shirt.
“You know how good it feels to let the warm water run over your hands on a cold day?” he asked, turning it so that the candlelight from the altar was reflected on its surface. “Well it’s like that with entrails. Very warm and pleasant, but they cool quickly, so you’ve got to get em’ while they’re hot.” He chuckled, licking at the corners of his mouth.
“Not today J.” Morgana said firmly, “Now Emma, you were just dying to talk to me. So let me repeat, I am a sorceress, Morgana Le Fay. I’ve been around since before King Arthur cut his baby teeth. While Merlin’s older, women are always wiser, so why don’t you think of something you’d like to know and ask me about it?”
There is a cathedral on California St. in San Francisco positioned in the district known as Nob Hill. Within that Cathedral there is a labyrinth wherein I met and became acquainted with the infamous Morgana Le Fay.
Whatever you have heard about her, I won’t deny it. I asked her about death while we sat together, she and I and the insane clown. This is what she said:
“Whatever you are doing now, that is what you will do with death. If you cannot now face the REAL you will not be able to then. Eternity is not a very long time. Eternity exists beyond time. We can access it in this moment if we choose to recognize it. You have already died a thousand small deaths, undergone a thousand tiny transformations through the course of this lifetime. You will undergo thousands more. You know perfectly well about death, you are simply in denial. You exist in denial of the eternal and that experience is what you call life. It takes no effort to awaken to eternity, you must simply stop making efforts to deny it.”
As she spoke the clown ran the flat surface of the knife over my cheek and under my chin, just barely avoiding pressing the cutting edge against my throat. When she fell silent he said,
“Do you understand?”
Wide eyed, I nodded.
“Good!” he exclaimed, tongue flicking, “Now we can do something I’ve been wanting to do!”
He drew a line in the air, just millimeters from my flesh with the tip of the knife, a line from my chin to my bellybutton, grinning savagely. Then, with the other hand he slid something from behind his back along the smooth floor making a scraping sound.
It was a gorgeous chocolate cake. Brutally he plunged the knife into its center and cut three slices, laughing hysterically all the while. Morgana produced plates and forks and napkins and bottles of cold seltzer water.
“For his stomach.” she explained as he served the cake, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes with the back of his hand. “He’s really quite sensitive, and the chocolate does him no good at all.”