Discover the soulful stylings of Lianne La Havas.
F.R.M. President Glenn Masterson was restless. Usually after a few shots of vodka, he went right to sleep. Not tonight. He tossed and turned until he couldn’t take it anymore and gave up trying.
The world was about to change. How could he sleep?
Michael’s expression never wavered as he asked his next question, “And does it have a common day name—another one derived from the Latin, perhaps?”
Zaniel smiled. His liquid blue eyes sparkled. Ah, Latin, a truly beautiful, succinct language.
“Columbine,” Zaniel replied, the melodic word flowing from his mind.
A photograph, combined with the prompt “birth,” inspired me to write a mythic snippet about a floating creature. Further research added details I hadn’t conceived of in the first draft. (See my notes below.)
I was not the only one inspired by this piece. The Houston non-profit group, WriteSpace, located at Silver Street, held a writing workshop for youth and one of them chose this photo for inspiration also–and did an amazing job.
I wrote to Ms. Glover about her wondrous photo. This was our short conversation–
Me: Hello! Your fabulous photograph, Ice Mountain II, displayed at Houston’s Silver Street Studios, inspired me to write a flash fiction piece prompted by the theme “birth.” I wanted to share it with you, just for kicks. Hope you enjoy it. Thank you for capturing wondrous sights like these and sharing them with the world. Cheers.
Ms. Glover: Thank you for sending me your wonderful story. So pleased my Ice mountain inspired you. Best wishes Gina
The photo and the story–
I arrived in a storm millions of years ago and I remain here long after time ceased to matter. Once submerged underwater, drowning in shame, I gradually broke free. I rose from the vast depths. Born again.
I float thru icy waters, lonely and cold. Years of blank darkness exchanged for periwinkle sky, shape-shifting pearlescent clouds, the glorious brightness of sunrises, sunsets, stars.
My face is frozen aquamarine, streaked with gray brokenness. Rays of a hot orb, the sun, the brightest star in this sky, hit my exposed being, erasing me little by little, all day long. At night, the Icelandic wind sends sleeting rain to rebuild my green-tinged, icy artifice.
A powerful force pulls me toward my future. Though I was not sent here to catalogue this world, I wish I had been charged with this task. Instead, in humiliation, I, mother of Thor, was cast to this watery world in disgrace. Rejected.
Though once adored by Odin, I now masquerade as rock, frozen compounds adrift over time, over time unchecked. Vessels made by weak, mortal hands scream at me, piercing my solitude, accompanied with strange salutations, “Iceberg ahoy!”
They do not know my real name. Like the Valkyrie, they do not bow in my presence, even as they stare in wonder, admiring my face. But, like time, my opponents no longer matter. Arisen from the depths, I drift with a new purpose, certain my destiny awaits me.
This is my reply—“Ahoy!
I am among you.
I am Jörd.
Jökulsárlón is a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of a glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the glaciers. It is now 1.5 kilometres away from the ocean’s edge. It recently became the deepest lake in Iceland, as glacial retreat extended its boundaries. The size of the lake has increased fourfold since the 1970s. It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland.
“A great shadow passed over his soul like that of the wings of a bird flying over the mast of a ship. The wings of the bird now brought to his mind the memory of the various ways in which the Christians had died. At that time, too, God had been silent. When the misty rain floated over the sea, he was silent. When the one-eyed man had been killed beneath the blazing rays of the sun, he had said nothing. But at that time, the priest had been able to stand it; or rather than stand it, he had been able to thrust the terrible doubt far from the threshold of his mind. But now it was different. Why is God continually silent while those groaning voices go on?”
Set in Nagasaki, Japan in the early 1600’s, Silence is a historical fiction novel influenced by the true accounts of violent torture and ousting of Christian missionaries and other Western influences from Japan in the late 1500’s- early 1600’s. It is a fictional tale with names plucked from history through letters and other records researched by the author, a Japanese Catholic writer named Shusaku Endo (Volcano, The Samurai, Deep River.) Silence was written in 1966 and became a controversial book in the eyes of some Japanese Christians, who believe it didn’t offer enough devotion to the Japanese martyrs of Christ and proves the lack of faith held by the priests who apostatized under the regime of Inoue, who was infamous for hanging Christians from a rope over a pit for days–until they died.
The main character, Sebastian Rodrigues, is a devout Catholic priest from Portugal, traveling to Japan with fellow priest, Garrpe. The duo hold quite a childlike faith at the start of the journey. The struggle to spread the Christian religion and also to maintain the practices of the oppressed believers in Japan, holding fast to their faith in secret, was real. Endo does not portray the priests as cowards, though their adamant faith in God begins to waver; and eventually, they wonder when–or if–God will act. Or even speak.
The most memorable character, the story’s Gollum, adds further weight to the questions raised by this story chronicling the foreign priests’ struggle between faithfulness and apostasy. Kichijiro is a disgusting weasel who volunteers to be the priests’ guide. He comes and goes throughout the story. Though not a likeable character, Kichijiro cannot be ignored and plays an intrinsic role, akin to the fallen, tortured, former Hobbit from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
One compelling scene occurs when Rodriguez imagines the face of Christ as he experiences his own torture, paralleling Christ’s suffering. The priest recites the liturgy of the Passion and reminisces on his many years of faithfulness to that face. Both torturous events end with similar concluding statements and the silence of God.
With an ending that may leave the reader with much to grapple with on a personal spiritual level, Silence is also a worthy read for anyone who appreciates historical fiction, Japanese history, the history of Catholicism, or stories about martyrs.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the novel, Silence, and the soon-to-be-released film by Martin Scorsese based on the story (with Andrew Garfield from The Amazing Spiderman as Rodriguez, Adam Driver of The Force Awakens as Garrpe, and Yosuke Kubozuka as Kichijiro.)
Artist Makoto Fujimura has published a beautiful non-fiction book to help readers connect further with this tale focusing on the martyrs in Japanese history. A set of Fujimura’s unique paintings have been inspired by the novel as well.
A toothy grin blinds me. Ugh. Brad Davis, president of the Cougars for Christ Club and Mr. Perfect. Brad is handsome, smart, and popular. Teachers and parents adore him. I think he’s boring and fake.
Kayla returns his blinding smile. She considers Brad hot also. At least he’s nice to her. Of course, he’s nice to everybody. But he doesn’t really care.
Oh crap. The retreat.
Kayla clears her throat in a vain attempt to make me feel guilty. She’s bummed that I refused to go to some lame youth retreat with her this weekend. My mother and my new step-father, Bob, are also disappointed. They were about to be outdone in their disappointment by this over-zealous Jesus-freak.
I bet there’s a prize for bringing the most people.
“It’s Anne, not Andrea,” I correct him.
–Excerpt from On The Outward Appearance by D. Marie Prokop
poet & translator
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