The Man is white. Not the pinkish skin color we call white, but dead white, bone white, alabaster white, with a smearing of ash here and there for contrast. He wears a cape of feathers, as white as his skin. They stir slightly with the breezes, or perhaps without any breeze at all, they stir, and sometimes dissolve into a smoky mist before settling back down into the shape of feathers. Over his head is a cowl, also of feathers and he looks like he is enfolded in wings, or maybe he is enfolded in wings that make him look like he is wearing a cape. In the air there is a faint sound of clicking, not a clock-like regular sound, but an irregular slow and gentle metal rain falling on stone, and occasionally the tiny sound of breaking glass, also faint. Even fainter, so that you wonder if it is really there, you hear a musical sound, like an aeolian harp.
His hands are thin, almost skeletal, with long gray nails, almost like claws. In one hand he holds a staff of wood, as white as he is. In his other hand he holds a book, its pages seeming to turn at random by themselves. In his other hand he holds a scale, which he consults from time to time. In his other hand he has a pen, with which he jots an occasional note in his book. He seems to notice you for the first time, turns to you and says "Everything is light. It is the eye that is dark." You try to look him in the eye, to look at his face, and fail. There is something about it that defies your vision.
The woman is black. Not the dark brown skin tones you have seen before, but black like ink, like onyx, like the absence of all light. She seems not to be wearing any clothes, unless the shadows that surround and enfold her are her clothing. They swirl and coalesce here and there, covering and uncovering seemingly at random, like a loose, billowing garment. You are sitting in a chair and she is serving you tea. The tea is hot and fragrant. The room smells of incense and woman and you feel a nurturing warmth emanating from her. She terrifies you and your inability to see why makes it worse. As she sets down the cup, you see that her fingernails are red, and from there you notice that her skin is not uniformly black. There is a fine network of red lines covering her skin, as if she were porcelain that had been heated too much in a kiln and whose smooth fired surface had been crackled. There is a sound of whispers in the air, punctuated by an occasional cry, perhaps of pain, perhaps of too much pleasure.
There is a third. Sometimes she appears to be a child, sometimes a grown woman, ever shifting, always changing. She is red, and surrounded by red flames, and she is flame, clothed only in flame and there is no effort at concealment. She twists and turns and dances with the flames and with you. Her eyes seem always to be on you but with an expression you cannot read. You are filled with a desire, a compulsion to tear your heart out from your chest and place it on the ground before her. But she does not want your still wet beating heart, lying on the dirt. She wants something you do not know how to give, but only you can discover.
Michael Westwind 2016
Fragments like this are why I write. They come sideways into my brain and then nag me until I write them down. Eventually more will come of it.