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Mackie



A long time ago when this world was not yet even begun, God, who was still a Child and who had not yet become the Beginning of Time, lived inside the center of an egg that was being carried, along with many others, in a sac on the back of a very nice spider.
         
Before you ask, remember that despite how things have turned out, there may be people who don't believe in God but there's nobody who doesn't believe in spiders.



You certainly can't tell which it is merely by who happens to be carrying egg sacs around.

It could be anybody, perhaps even a neighbor.

I didn't know just how to address it by its gender title.  Was it Monsieur or Madame or Madamoiselle or You or Who or YouWho? Perhaps my bashfulness was why I did not speak that time that I saw it and simply smiled back. As if you could help but smile back!

                      

I suppose I could have called it "Pal" or some such, huh?  But I had, myself, just crawled in through a crack in this universe's wall and wasn't even sure just who or, even, what was going on in this one.

My antennae were nice and, indeed, flexible enough, and, although quite long, never got in anybody's way.

We lived a very genteel life back then, before time had started.

It was pleasant enough but, still, we, ourselves, were known to go about changing things in ourselves or in our environment, sometimes even by accident,  sometimes even before we thought of it.

Those changes, were sudden and, though substantial, didn't encompass everything, but here I am getting ahead of myself.

That's not so easy to do before time begins and everything starts moving to the rhythm of that big, ticking clock in the sky... somewhere..



 In our story, everything may not yet have begun moving to the beat of That Big, Ticking Clock but it will, yes, indeed, it will -- and then it would be possible to get  ahead of ourselves, be beside ourselves and even from time to time  be behind our selves and it'd be okay, but not yet for before Time it is only Now..


It's true that there's always somebody to say almost anything--no matter how unlikely.

There were some, even, who said my smile, my smile mind you! was sweet.

They usually were the kind that liked my kind and some of them may have even seen me in there somewhere because my smile really is sweet.

I rather like people to say nice things to and about me whether others think it true or not.

I like to think they are true and, if there's anybody I believe, it's me--even when I'm making things up.

Sometimes I get lazy, though, and only think every other thought or even every third thought.

I let the rest of the would-be thoughts just pour right down my thorax and fall to the bottom of my feet where, unfortunately, they itch a lot but what can you (shrug) do, huh?

When you're hanging out in a place that has spiders with pleasant smiles, it's surprisingly easy to laugh.



I watched the spider very intently that brief passing moment because way back then before time began, all creatures were still quite different from one another.

It is said that like summer nights there weren't two alike which may be true, but I don't know.

This night was a darkly velvet sachet of transient jasmine flavors mixed roughly with the underlying powerful earth scents.

The stars,  set against the velvet, were as diamonds that burned with their own fire.

The spider saw them as though they were refracted by a prism dangling from a black thread tied in a thin, black bow, tossing snappily in the inter-stellar breezes.

The spider had a body halo of carmine fur which shimmered as it stepped with measured grace from star to star.

Against the background of the night it was easy to find stepping stars as the spider would have called them, I am sure.

But there were changes taking place, which, even though slow and piecemeal, were occurring with increasing rapidity.

It might have always been like this but, back there before the beginning of time, certainly, for me, who had just crawled in through a crack somewhere near the edge of the universe, it was hard, you see, to know.

Occasionally, in those days, A new star would blink on and since none of the stars ever seemed to blink out, I wondered whether, if this went on, sooner or later night would be as bright as day but my brain being so small could not hold these thoughts for very long.


But you know what? None of the stars ever did blink out.

To those who noticed, it was as though the velvet was gradually being rubbed off the night so that there were patches that shone with a paler light that seemed to lack depth.

The spider, lazy like the rest of us, and thinking the two thoughts on either side of that one, missed thinking about it at all.

But it shouldn't have worried because God who was The Beginning of Time  was in one of the egg sacs on its back.

It might have known. Some say it must have known. But what do I know? Huh?

Sometimes when the wind ruffled the waters at the edge of the universe, it would sing to the eggs----and, in fact, to the water as well.

And, you know, when the spider sang, rainbows would flutter gently down from the clouds and from just about anywhere along the edge of the water where everything else was singing, too.

The music of the notes that had been locked in the stones and other objects from before time itself began, was released when the spider, its tail curling upward, its eyes softened and tearfilled, its smile warm and wandering, hummed softly to no one in particular but most especially to the egg sacs on its back.


Most of the time, though, it just carried the sacs from place to place, strenuously climbing pebbles and stones, in its seemingly aimless movement through the shadows of what we know now to have been at the edge of time.

It hardly seemed to take the time to eat.

Another star blinked on and the shadows jumped crookedly like the edges of broken pottery or jaggedy glass.


Well, that's how some spiders think.

In the egg sac on the spider's back, God, somewhat luxuriously suspended in the comfortable gel, seemed to be still and inactive.

That's because God did things differently than the spider.

God was not a slow thinker and, in fact, thought so fast that by the time anyone could realize just what it was that God was thinking, that thought was over and a new one begun.

Whether or not God was foolhardy is still a matter of conjecture.

Being a Child, God was quite playful and playfulness is often confused with foolhardiness.

Someone once told me that God was really very Old at that time but there's no reason they should know. How could they tell since there was no time yet? Tell me that, will you?


Anyway, fast as you could smack your mandibles, just like that, all of a sudden, perhaps, for all we know, for no reason at all, it began to rain.

The rain fell in drops as big and fuzzy and soft as invisible tennis balls.

And it rained and rained and rained.


And the drops bounced and splattered and crashed and tumbled all about the ground and gradually clumped together and began undulating and rippling and all like that.

The ground was soon saturated as, with more and more certainty, the water collected and began flowing downward sweeping before it or carrying with it whatever, in its path, it could move.

The spider held to the pocked sides of an otherwise smoothly surfaced concrete walk.

It was at this time that I floated by on a rotting, shredded leafstalk and saw the spider and, of course, God, for the first, and only, time, even though, quite naturally, my eyestalks could not clearly define God's Being.

Still, it's something I could never even want to forget and now that I've told you, mabey* you won't forget either.  

[* this is in special honor of the way Jane always spelled "maybe" -- mabey she was right. And let's never forget that this is a story that Jane told me after she was dead -- when time, which had by then been flowing for a long time, hesitated for a moment before moving on.]

You know, even in that spider's dreamy smile, there was a song that I heard over the roaring waters.

The song was multileveled and manyvoiced and each phrase hinted at ever more possibilities for each note contained within it all the sounds that would ever be uttered in all of eternity.

Or at least of this here eternity.

But the contact was brief.

You see, when I saw our spider, it was holding on to its egg sacs while some of its legs clutched the rocklike surface and others trailed in the rising water.

And it seemed to me to have a smile that though not fierce was very determined--a smile at once impenetrable and almost unbearable. 

                                        


The rest was told to me by others who came upon the scene as the leaf, of which we have all learned in those often recounted stories and poems the crickets like to tell, or sung in those haunting songs of which the bees are fond, lifted the spider from its perch and carried the leaf, and the spider clinging to it, crazily in the water that swept the gutter.

The water rushed on past and, even, under the leaf, but the leaf, itself, had come to rest.

In the legends that have come down to us, the leaf is often described in great detail with only minor variations with respect to the number of veins in the leaf, their general form, and as to whether the margin was lobed or serrated or smooth.

But the one fact that everybody agrees upon was that the stem was still attached and that it curved back over the leaf and that it was that that had knocked the spider from the walkway onto the brilliant green surface of the leaf in the first place as the spider, clinging to its wall, placidly watched the leaf pass below.

The leaf bobbed and drifted on the surface of the streamlet--at every moment a little more swiftly--toward a roar that filled the heavens with its power.

The spider stood, its filamentous silken egg sacs dull yellow in the faded light, its heart singing and eyes shining, looking straight ahead as the leaf was swept along.

And suddenly, in an instant, the leaf caught against the grill of the drain and came to rest pressed tightly against two of the drain grill's slats.
 
The spider stood there just feeling the drops on its back and legs, waiting for the rain to stop, not bothering to think anymore.


The rain stopped in its own time and, when the clouds passed, it seemed,  in contrast, at least,  that the stars were blinking off more and more often.

The spider sensed some activity in the sacs on its back, startling it for a brief moment, before its customary composure regained its  quiet mastery over its soul. Time had begun!  Just like that! With a little buzzing sensation on its back, it now knew that time had begun.

It was time for the spider to act.

The time for thinking about acting had already passed for the music had changed and the underlying rhythm was now the ticking of everything's own clock.

Time, if not on everybody's mind was now, certainly, in everybody's mind.

And, presto voila, the stars began turning dark until only a few remained in solitary splendor as darkness returned to the night.

Now God (Who Else might I ask?) placed the moon in the sky as counterpoint and the sea began to surge against the shore.




The spider, now that the water no longer flowed through the gutters and into the drain, walked carefully, avoiding some pools of water, across the drying grill and climbed to the surface of the concrete sidewalk where finding a crack of its own at the end of the universe, it crawled through and found itself in a vacant lot of rusting cans and plastic bags and a nest of silly, but otherwise happy, baby mice.



To them the spider was a gigantic creature and they trembled for a moment to think that even its great size could not save it in these new and changing times. But, back then, in those primitive times at the dawn of the creation of this universe -- however it may have changed since -- philosophy was not one of the strong points of mouse-borne fleas.



Who knows?

And, remember, if you ever meet a spider with a pleasant smile and a long, bushy tail ask it to sing.

You'll be glad you did.









    Afterword




I'm not sure why this story/poem is entitled "Mackie." It came to me in Jane's voice. Ask her the next time you're dead, too. I'm not sure whether Mackie is the name of the spider, the storyteller, or God, or all three of them.

I think that back then before time began, when God was still a Child, everything had the same name and that name could very well have been Mackie.

But that's just a guess.

  Copyright (c) by Allan Bazar, 1985


Goodbye for now, Jane, we love you still.


The drawing of Mackie was by Korin Price Lusardi who was a child then and who now is a mother herself.

Soon there will be a link here to Marilyn Renaker's memorial to Jane -- as soon as I can get a decent scanned copy.