The walk begins almost in silence. I can hear footsteps and low chords, and the flames from the lamps stream out in the wind. Nightwood has transfigured the Mount again, and the paths have shifted since last winter.
The moon will be waning tonight, but I can only see the double line of torches following the old road downhill in the dark.
They lead unto the path through pines that seem to rise endlessly, and the music grows stronger. Over the low held tones, high notes flicker as clear as a xylophone, and a quick beat cuts in like a woodpecker. Lights sift through the needles like ice crystals. For now, the shapes held in the light are not glowing sculptures, domes or shells as they will be later, but the trees themselves.
Right now I wouldn’t be surprised if someone stepped out to talk to me with wings, or antlers, or a body shifting between human and birch or hemlock or a brook in shadow. I can imagine beings on the path here moving as easily as owls. Oreads, aos sidhe, haldi, djinn …
On the map at the opening, Chris Bocchario (creator of the light and design) calls this place the conference of the trees, as though the pines are communing around me like the flock in Attar’s Persian poem, the Conference of the Birds.
And thinking of those lines in Sholeh Wolpe’s translation, the birds could be flying along the path I’m standing on.‘If fire flares and blazes the path to the Beloved and a hundred arduous valleys suddenly unfurl, the heart of a true lover flings itself headlong into the flames, like a moth …’
The way curves around a pool, and lighted sculptures ring it like reeds rimed with ice. I’m following the torches along the wood’s edge now, circling in to the lawns and up the long walk.
In the walled garden, the light seems to settle in jars like dormant buds. The music lifts and the central dome flushes into a warm shade, and the music spins and I spin with it — turning with the dark and the pines and the stone arches — and feel as though I’m dancing with the night.