The Storyteller remembered an ancient story, a story that came from many cultures on many worlds. Thanatos, the Angel of Death, Grimnir, la Morte, the Grim Reaper, Śmierć, यम, 閻魔王, Susan's grandfather...the list goes on and on. It was the story of Death, come to life.
As the Storyteller spun the tale, the Brakeman reached out of the cab. A bony finger grazed a strand of the tapestry.
The Weavmothers sensed the unraveling of the strand and one...or all of them...rushed to save it.
Somewhere and somewhen, one of the autonomous units ceased to function, mostly unnoticed and uncared about.
The WeaveMothers have appeared before. In what passes for chronological order, they are here: Weaving Reality, Picking up the rhythm, Nebulous answers to cogent questions, Looking back at the present, Diversity, On the Thickness of Skin, Waging Peace, Of the Greataway, a Machine, and WeaveMothers, On Integrity, Dreams, The Dedos, Post-beginnings, What Shenshi did, The five fears.
Having read Michael Greatrex Coney's, Song of Earth (Book 1 is now at Google Books) is also helpful. Or you could just relax and accept the possibility of the Celestial Steam Locomotive passing through the Greataway.
Sometimes death can mean a new beginning. Sometimes it means change. And sometimes it is the premature extinguishing of a life not yet lived.
Every day people around me reveal that they live in a country that shocks my soul. Words that they speak suddenly open infinity between us. Books or friends or conduct they embrace recede to a pinpoint on my screen and go out.
It is my habit never to hurt these people around me. Their offenses against my taste, my moral sense--my religion--can't be allowed to darken their lives or our joint residence in our time. In separate rooms we are traveling our lives.
--William Stafford, Daily Writing, 2 June 1993
I probably had something approximating the same thought at around the same time. I was a little more than half a year into transition. I could list all my friends on one side of a sheet of notebook paper and still have room to write an essay or two.
William Stafford was busy dying. I was busy being born. Both can be lonely business.
The train regained its speed and rhythm. The Passenger once more dozed. And the Listener sobbed.
The Storyteller searched for other words to say, but nothing seemed appropriate. It was as if some of the brightest of stars were being dimmed, even snuffed out. The tapestry seemed to be losing its luster.
Words from a long-forgotten poet leapt to the fore:
We live in an occupied country, misunderstood; justice will take us millions of intricate moves.
--William Stafford, from Thinking for Berky
But we...none of us...can make all of the moves ourselves. So sometimes we have to trust that others will do so.
And when they do not make those moves...or they ignore the moves made by those who do...or they don't understand how vital those moves are...they abandon the striving for that justice...thinking there will be another time...another place...somewhen more convenient for them...after more and more of the bright lights have been broken...when someone else, but not they, can worry about those moves.
After all, the world has more important things to consider than justice. Always has and always will.
And the Storyteller wondered what riding the train across the Greataway was accomplishing and considered disembarking somewhere. If only there was a place "with liberty and justice for all".
And the Listener pondered listening to a heartbeat, as opposed to listening to the absence of one.
And the Passenger wondered about the Girl...and whether she would ever find a place she could truly call home...and Manuel...and the art he created with his mind.
And the Engineer asked why the train should exist if there were no passengers.
And the Brakemen lifted a bony finger...
in a Puddle of Blood