Pain and dissolution all around me; relationships crumbling; the whole world locked in a grip of fear.
“What’s happening??” I cry.
Through the chaos – spinning, whirling shapes, dissolving into figures of terrifying intensity which then melt away like a mist – through this, I glimpse a solid figure, dancing, furiously dancing.
“It’s you,” I say.
He flashes me a beautifully wicked grin, flinging his wild locks around his head as he continues his dance.
“Why?” I ask him, “why all this betrayal? Why all the fear?”
“Why?” he repeats, looking at me disbelievingly, as he begins to pound his drum; “you mean you don’t know?”
The beat is hypnotic and very catchy. I am hurt, I am afraid, but I find my feet beginning to move.
“I…” I stop, feeling this is some kind of trick question.
Spinning round and round, he takes one of his many hands and points it at his throat.
“You know why my throat is this colour?” he asks. It is a rich, deep indigo; the colour of the night, when there are no human-lights to fade it.
He goes on, “because I swallowed the poison of the world. And you know what it did to me?”
I shake my head, following in his wake.
“It made me stronger,” he says, “as you will be made stronger after every poison you take into yourself but do not allow to infect you.”
He stretches the hand towards me. I hesitate, still feeling heavy with the pain; the grief; the loss of a whole world.
“Have you never felt betrayed before?” he asks.
“Well, yes! … A few times… Many times! But” –
“And you learned to trust again after those times?”
“Yes… I suppose, eventually, but” –
“And now you are stronger, aren’t you?”
“Maybe, I don’t know… But the point is it hurts!”
He looks directly at me then, and I gaze into his eyes; eyes which hold distant galaxies and the stillness at the centre of the dance.
“Pain is part of life,” he says softly, “you think when you give birth it isn’t going to hurt?”
“Well, I know that that is the story of our culture, partly influenced by the idea of punishment for original sin and upheld by the medicalisation of birth, but from what I have been led to believe, it doesn’t have to be painful…”
I trail off. He is still looking at me, and there is laughter in his eyes.
“Who chooses?” he asks.
“Er… Well… I suppose, me,” I say, “perhaps those sensations which other women may call pain, I may choose to call… I don’t know, excitement, or –”
“But you will still feel them,” he points out; “you will always still feel them. That’s what life is. That’s what being alive is.”
I stare at him, still nonplussed, though I realise that I have unconsciously started dancing softly along with him, through the wild nightmare shapes of crisis which loom and melt away all around us.
“But it feels like this is happening to everyone now; to the whole world!” I say, “why?”
“You just gave yourself the answer,” he replies, still laughing, “you cannot have birth without some kind of pain – at least without some feeling which some may call pain.”
“So the whole world is going through a… A birth?”
He does not answer, but holds out his hand to me once more, and this time I take it, as he leads me, laughing and crying, into the dance.