“In the Foothills of the Mountains,” Albert Bierstadt, WikiArt.

Part 2: Timber in Treeless Realms

“There is more,” Derya advised, few words doom
Invoking, anxious breaths for father and myself.
“Plateau winding paths,” she began, withered
Hands waving, mental images evoking. “Two
Day’s journey, treeless elevations, cave of head-
High entrance –” “This place I know,” Rasin
Interrupted, “Stark-barren land, foot of Kaçkar
Dagi.” Touch of knee, Derya silenced father.
“When holy-place speaking, obscure not my
Sight. I am hillside present, cold, cloud-swept,
Knowing spirit-wind, Rüzgar, ancient texts
Contained therein.” Father’s face she gripped,
“Here, Rasin, post and lintel doorway, at
Cave entrance, you alone must fashion.”

Labours father and I endured, threshing vision
Still heart-present, breast pressing, mountain
Calling, contemplative life, reading ancient
Texts aloud by light of Derya’s pungent-smelling
Candles. Oxen cart, hand-hewn timbers carried
Into treeless realms. As we journeyed home,
Father asked, “How does one fit doorway to
Cave entrance?” Mysteries confronted, dozen
Questions, each complex, unanswered. Alas!
Kaçkar Dagi spoke to me, “By saw and chisel,
Wood and rock, fashion passageway, seams
Mortar-sealed to living stone.” Father’s task
Of mountain pines realized.

Beneath Anatolian skies, days, weeks unfolded,
Farming harvests, mortal strains as winter sped
Approached, face of Kaçkar Dagi, upper plateaus,
Barren cold-cursed. Lo! All I touched and saw,
Prompted ancient gods to speak aloud. Had
We failed Derya, lingering lachrymose in stone
Hovel? One-by-one pilgrims farm-appeared,
Word-of-mouth, timber felling, carts and tools.
“Build not door until frame is set,” carpenter,
Masons advised, stout posts they crafted, Sun-
Radiant days, we made on foot high conclaves,
Devout women, children, and their men pushed
Forth, fountainhead of faith.

“Portrait,” Luke Fildes, 1900, WikiArt.

For all who sought cave entrance, marked by
Flaming altar fires, sentinel defying frosts,
Winds, and rains, artisans guiding, my father
Chiseled stone, fashioned stout door and
Frame, seam-sealing limestone mortar, his
Work complete, though mine began, within
Candle-lit corners. What deities required
Humbled obedience? Arcane texts I decipher
Strained, much less read aloud with wisdom-
Revelations. Such sorrows! Hardly enlightened
Candle and door was I, but prisoner entombed,
Marooned upon stark wastelands, faint
Bosom, self-piteous tears reduced.

For now, Tizmay feels imprisoned in hermit’s cave, confronted with
daunting task of interpreting verses from ancient manuscripts by
smoky candlelight. What will she discover about these texts and
about herself? Thanks for reading and following.

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