You walk through the shadowy woods, searching.
A craggy mountain range rears up.
Your feet take you to the mouth of a dark cave.
Hesitating only slightly, you walk into the darkness.
But before long, the dark gives way to twinkling lights.
Natural crystals jut out from the walls of the cave.
The deeper you go, the more there are,
Glowing with a clear blue light.
You wonder at the eerie beauty of the mineral light
Illuminating every rock and crevice.
You notice that some emit a pale green instead of blue,
Increasingly as you go further.
Then you see a dim pink crystal among its blue-green brethren
And soon spot a few more.
Something about them fascinates you
And one in particular draws you closer.
It’s fixed on the wall at the same height as your eyes.
It seems to glow stronger, and redder, as you come near.
As your right hand reaches up to touch it
It burns like fire and almost blinds you.
Surprisingly, it’s cold to the touch
And immediately fades back to its faint pink hue.
But then you feel that it’s loose
And you instinctively grab it,
Fitting it snugly in your palm.
It seems to pulsate in your hand,
Fierce flames dancing within.
That it’s your very own life that rests in your hand.
You keep walking
Until the passageway opens up onto a vast cavern,
Extending in all directions.
The far walls cannot be seen
But for the luminous crystals on them.
The sides of the great hall,
All covered in the shining gems,
Curve up and form a domed ceiling of rock.
The crystals no longer radiate only blue and green light,
As grey white, deep purple and pale yellow shimmer all around.
Amazingly, the walls also curve downward,
Forming a basin as deep as the vault above is high.
It is as though you are standing at the entrance of an enormous orb
With little lamps all around its inner surface.
You walk forward.
After a slight downward slope
You reach the edge of a black lake
Extending to the far end.
You realize that the hollow below is merely the reflection of the ceiling
In the obsidian water.
You ponder how to cross this immense lake,
Because you are reluctant to go back,
Ever feeling a need to press on.
Suddenly swans appear,
Gliding about on the lake like white clouds piercing the night.
At first they move in their own inscrutable pattern,
A dance of a secret language.
But ever more seem to find their way
Towards the spot you are standing, on the water’s edge.
Bending down, you reach out your left hand,
Holding it above the swirling surface.
You spot your own reflection below—
A face lit with shifting colors
And filled with wonder, curiosity and purpose.
The birds gather around near to your outstretched hand.
The closest ones lower their necks and rest their beaks on it—
Then, after a moment, break away
And let others take their place.
Then something dark grows ahead,
Blotting out the crystalline lights with its large shape.
It is not black, but iridescent midnight.
Its slatelike surface shimmers darkly
Of the cave’s crystal colors
And its form is of a swan.
The white swans part and let the great one through.
Your heart is beating fast but you do not feel fear.
The dark swan lowers its head
All the way down to the ground where you stand.
Its red-orange beak, the size of your body,
Now rests in front of you.
You carefully sit down, straddling the beak
And the swan immediately lifts you up
And deposits you on its back.
You land on your back,
The large feathers catching you softly.
You wonder if you are supposed to sit up—
But the symphony of the twinkling lights above
Dazzles and soothes you,
So you don’t move.
You feel the giant bird turn around
And glide out on the lake.
Lifting your head you see the white swans
Following beside and behind you.
After a while you hear a flapping of wings.
One of the white birds is taking flight.
It rises up in the air,
Drops down again
And shoots away close to the water.
After a few moments, the swan comes back,
Descending through the air.
It lands next to you on your avian barge,
Wings still outstretched.
Its eyes seem to ask something of you.
All you have is the pink crystal in your right hand.
Without hesitation you offer it.
The swan takes it in its beak,
Flaps its long wings
And flies off.
You can see your gift blazing red again
As it is carried away ever farther into the cave.
The rest of the silvery birds are still all around,
Gliding along as your host continues onward—
Towards unknown waters—
Where the glittering lights seem to take on completely new hues.