The Writer at Work: The Job

On the Failure of Oracles

In love and

on the loose, he is

safe to inspect

for the purposes of


the predator’s fortress

is no longer absolute

distance is necessary

the weight of omens

it is essential

to ask at the right altar

futures blur and fly

nothing is certain

watching his bleak

would-be alien wife

play hard to get

with some cunning

I make an exit

breathe air, breathe again.

Mother’s Day

Waking up flooded with longing for Eamon. How he used to. Does it matter. Weird how some details become so important as the dead depart even further into their watery depths. Watch the cold rain, how it falls on graves and headstones, pooling in the depressions that the brass plaque makes. Who comes to witness these untimely passings. My soul is tired.


Playing Alan Stivell’s Three Songs for A Dead King endlessly, and there is so little to write that is worth the ink I use. How time spares none of us, least of all me, was I expecting some papal dispensation? But none of this is what I intended to write. These endless journals that record the trivia of existence and to whom am I actually writing? Myself again, proof that I exist.

Deluge of self-loathing, yes I know tomorrow I should go the Gallery and clean the house and do the godforsaken shopping. The rain comes. I hate half hearted rain. It stops again. I go on with this drivel when I should be writing Nijinski. Sometimes not even the surface of reality will stick to my persona. Pretend. Play pretends. The alternative is the nameless abyss. Somewhere above me lightning crackles and the promise of what? ‘She will not die of drowning but of life’ so Dransfield wrote such a long time ago and he now resides happily in the country of the dead. And I have yet to forgive him for leaving me.

Reality is a harsh mistress. Keeping it together through the living child who must sense the awesome weight of this burden. At least I tell him stories: Prince Merlin and his only friend, a bird, called Silverwing who takes him into a country of unadulterated magic. Meanwhile mad people appear to be irresistibly attracted to the house and arrive by strange coincidence. Today a lovely young woman who wants to die. Temptation. I try and drag some meaning out of the closet of reason and make it authentic but who is to know with what degree of success. And time creeps and crawls away, leaks down the sink like water from a badly fixed tap. Stuck in a paradox between life and death its not really surprising I don’t have much energy and asthma hacks at me like a dry and dusty day. My chest constricts. Will it ever go away. It rains again.

The Equinox comes treading, treading, my throat is sore and my life feels like a rotting piece of cloth left on somebody’s clothesline. Tomorrow I might just stay in bed all day. Life is predictable, like the Gobi desert. The day labours towards its end. The moon is full.

I sleep with dead leaves and a ginger cat. Trees claw at the window. In the wasteland of my dreams gods decay and angels break. I fall and fall. My brother makes a poem with words that die. His mind dries up. A figure lurches in the distance.

It has potential as a piece of poetry. Why bother? No doubt a Jungian would deconstruct it as a dream rather than a poem. It has bones that are too sharp. Its music is all unhinged.

Monday. What the fuck is the date? Don’t know, don’t care. Last night another dream about a ring with a cat on it which I lose in an ancient palace. A king tries to find it for me, no luck. There is something wrong with the whole scenario. One of those dreams that will colour the texture of the day. More work on Nijinski. Text nearly there. How it arrived let alone got almost finished is one of those mysteries. Me, I’m considering abdication from what the rest of the world describes as reality. Waking once more into a life of shattered glass and broken crockery. Try not to think. Concentrate on sensation where breath begins and ends. Having a tongue and a barrow to push I am sometimes not quite myself and am quietly dying. Little things. Fold the washing. Listening to the wind. Another kitten comes skidding into the loungeroom, white cat morning madness. Unable to make friends with death or peace with wisdom I contemplate these fractured journals and wonder what sense they make. A kind of lifeline perhaps, a distorted map. A supply of something to something. Unconsciously perhaps my life echoes my grandmother’s, who lost two children, between the washing and the reading somewhere it fell apart. Did she, too, yearn for something else apart from justice?

For some obscure reason I re-read Plato, techne tou biou, the craft of life. I suspect Socrates and I have much in common. There is a craft to living, a subtle dance, an attention to detail, an ability to weigh and choose an action or set of them. But is any of this applicable to someone who finds life an activity into which she is coerced into participation, whose responsibilities to ghosts and children ensure this particular charade. The Gods, if they deigned to look downward, would find much amusement here. Enough philosophy, it’s late and time for Nietzsche if anybody. The music from the Last Temptation of Christ now reigns supreme on the stereo, ad nauseum, obsessing music. I appear to be living a life of minimalism. Lists of things that must be done now include driving the child to school. Can’t seem to convince myself that’s there is much worthwhile beyond the bare minimum. Suppose I’ll have to be like Avis and try harder. And this house, madre mia, it puts up no struggle. Its neglected corners that gather dust and become the nests of bad spirits that rarely bother to reproach me. It is as if we are both in the grip of some paralysis, some form of cosmic negation. It has become a cage of silence, its bars grimy with my futile grasping at escape. Somehow I manage a Nijinski rehearsal anyway.

With something akin to spontaneity we all decide to take a quick trip to Pebbly Beach perhaps it was the intervention of some compassionate deity for as I sit here and contemplate this earthly paradise something like peace settles over me. Beauty. I watch the water, the hiss and fall of foam, the blue domain of Poseidon. And for this most special visit a pod of whales come to bless the waters, better than any priest. Majesty of their huge presence. Twilight. Watching day turn into evening, soft the sky as pastel pink as the perfect beach. The kangaroos and wallabies bound down to the sand. King parrots demand their feed, the kookaburra aunt will be arriving shortly for her meat. And later in the night the mischief of possums fed only on grain bread and strawberry jam. We cook outside over the rustic fire, simplicity. Here I will sleep under the stars. This place has some old magic that surrounds it, nothing evil this way comes.

Dawn, birds wake me. An old and somewhat scarred Big Red looms over me with an inquisitive eye. I am not suitable for breakfast so he moves away. The sea is calm. Later in the day the small child goes swimming in the natural rock-pool just right for his size and age. Standing on an outcrop of rock I get so excited about the return of the whales that I lose my footing and fall into the water. My old sun hat is now part of the treasury of the King under the sea. My sweet son is almost hysterical with laughter about this event and will re-tell this story often I suspect. We sleep all afternoon. Wake and collect wood for the evening meal. Reduced to the essentials, life is cleaner if not clearer. Evening and we watch first star burst, the stellar world so pregnant with its power, its deep mystery. I long to be among them and understand how only music could begin to encompass something of their stately dance through night. To keep still long enough to watch their trajectory. I would like to live within the crystalline heart of some ancient mountain, safe like being with a grandfather, warm and wise. Untouched by all my volatile moods, just able to accept. The last clouds linger in the light like fat guilty children stealing lollies only somehow laughing at us and the air cools in this temple of paradise as something inside me continues its lethal waiting. Time moves here at its own pace, for its own reasons. Watching the fire, entrancing as it dances its own sacred dance, the energy that Prometheus stole from the Gods at immortal cost. The child and I continue the old game of watching the salamanders shape change and find exotic animals, castles, kingdoms and an old man’s face, all of them slipping and sliding back into the flame. I watch his eyes tire, the golden droop of his head, the sea is in his blood and he savours this fragment of peace knowing too well and much, much too young that it cannot last. He sleeps at last and I watch the firelight play over his features as he dreams. He has been reading the Greek myths and Legends and finds correlations with his own family in them. The stunning wisdom of youth. Was he born like this?

The velvet claws of night slip over me as sleep encroaches. Just before I drift to sleep it occurs to me that in my case survival will be a stunning gift to bring to the feet of the Gods. Before I die I want to know peace again. Writing again especially in the morning, this place was sacred space to my eldest son; I make another poem for him.


To Eamon

Be not unquiet

my wise dead son,

I’ll write your name again

in cobwebs.

You, who are so

implacably dead

With what thin words

left to me, I’ll craft

another epitaph, veins

aching, clawing at

the ravaged, empty past.

And it is no long

journey, no memory

but a maze, hazardous.

It is the constant travel

of a colourless season.

But your life: so stormy

gleams and leaps somewhere

beyond me as if a

bright fish dreamt it.

So I’ll hunt the shoreline.

As some eagles would

be black and come alone.

I’ll hunt a feather, think

of nothing but the shell.

Fifteen summers, my first love.

Did they make you a man?

O Absalom, Absalom.

The Opening of the Amethyst House

1. The Opening Of The Amethyst House

Memo: From the Newspeakpoem 1.1.2 21N33.6

What use are words…When we have lost their meaning, they that once contained the quinine of our dreams, our antidote and the bishus is just nom gone as for Shinto, it barely existed.

But the old high language we knew: Thanatos thearos creatrix, egasrtos. Iberatus, unellio, kef.

The web consumed it.

I have here the last words the Wild Lady spoke:

Will I ever translate it into the lexicon of the cellular, the heart, the spirit, the rainbow Rosella flashes by; an agony of dream. Am I awake or dreaming in the sea? Cross reference the hemisphere. I am so tired I have forgotten speech. Can that be possible from a wordsmith? My soul is tired and my sister is waiting for my shade. Andiamo.

And then she, dying wrote the last words, her fingers bleeding. It is hard to read even now.

It is truth dying, jeweled in the dragon’s eye, except for the central nexus: zero. I hear them, the Queen bee in the hive humming, I know many answers they hum, what question lies beneath weaving flowers into hon. Who met the ice lynx? I did my sweet, a perilous…

It is now unreadable.

She had many words the Wild Lady. Used them well. She had said that once we had tawny woods full of words, bound behind the oaken doors before the priests forgot to feed the wild birds, and the sea died. And some of this legacy she bequeathed me, heir to the dance of Krystos and Ariadrix. For I sensed the maze of words, the many by-ways, the contoured maps and I heard the keepers, the wise rats and……

David Branson: Brancusi and Wings

Not so very long ago when I was very ill David came to visit me, clad in one of his ill-fitting suits, briefcase stuffed to the gills, fliers in hand. When David came into a room he filled it up, his psychic presence was huge, his particularly beautiful voice bounced off the walls. I often called him Il Magnifico, the de Medici, padrone of the arts. So I lay in bed and watched him drink my best whiskey, of course, while he pontificated on life, on art, on love and on theatre. And how could I allow someone else direct my latest show.

Because darling, I replied, you don’t have time, you are already directing three different shows in two cities at the moment, you really don’t have time. What a fool I was. Of course he had time, he always had time, he would have manufactured time if he could have. Eventually he sat on my bed and made me swear solemnly that I would not die, that I wouldn’t leave him. It was the full Bransonian production, hand on heart, tears in eyes, hands raking through his hair, checking the mirror, walking, pacing, talking, he was never still. So I promised him, as you would a child, that I would not die. Because how could I, the set was all wrong, I needed a white canopy over the bed, more flowers, candles and most importantly, David, playing something truly beautiful on the violin, eyes closed, head bent, lost in music.

It seems to me to be the cruelest irony that I am now standing at his funeral, that he left me, that he left us and there is now a huge, gaping hole torn from the fabric of our lives, for he was so much a part of the weaving of our dreams, of our art, of our love, of our lives. But life is cruel, it so very fragile, so utterly tenuous and we forget this, we forget this all the time. We forget that to be mortal is to be little more than a brief flame in the mind of a God. And what a flame David was. How many of us have warmed ourselves by the fire of David’s heart, our spirits ignited by the passion of his work, how many of us have found a welcome by the hearthside of David’s generosity and compassion. And there is nothing and nobody who can replace Il Magnifico, I cannot seem to shape words that will make an answer to his death, perhaps only music understands it, music which shapes breath and tears and can give voice to something so achingly painful. David, of all people, would have understood that, for I think I loved him best watching him play his violin, when he had forgotten to project his fabulous, over the top public persona, when music claimed him so absolutely that he allowed himself to become the instrument that played the cantata of his heart, the pure notes of his spirit, the melody of his soul. O David. Beloved. It is time to be still, to return to the bright dancing stars of the night, to play music in the cosmos.

Kate McNamara

La Toccata Del Magda

Some went beyond the decency of the horizon, it was their choice, the right to choice so rarely invoked in this foetid city that, in itself, choice had become an act of depravity. They walked, straight-backed, with a kind of unbroken dignity beyond the walls to the ancient Line that distinguished between the living and the technically dead. No-one had ever looked back or if they had it was not reported. All citizens were called to witness this Out-Casting, even the strange renegades of OldTown, by order of the Protector but commentary was forbidden. One could be punished for remarking that they could still see their loved ones beyond the Line; it was not possible to acknowledge that which was invisible, what could not exist, what had, perhaps, never existed or so was the Protector’s reasoning and he was prone to publishing the odd philosophical treatise on the nature of existence and annihilation. Few understood his arcane writings, only the injunction not to speak. Families wore red mourning to such an event and wept silently and children stared, huge-eyed, and often physically gagged for they were frequently the greatest danger to themselves and all unknowing could call out to a beloved brother or uncle beyond the Line. The Protector had the tongues of such children cut out, not even the innocent were permitted to acknowledge that which was invisible. The Protector believed in immediate justice.

Magda had not been born when her father had chosen to cross the Line and

later she would wonder if he would have crossed it had he known that she was to make an entrance into the world. Her mother had scorned such vanity in her daughter.

You think he would have changed for you, child? Nay, he was a Teller, a Speaker, a Weaver of tale strange and mangled and nary did he listen to any but hisself. But he be aught but bones now, the wind whistles through him and you’ll be the same if you think too much. Best to let it lie, Magda, life be cruel enough without adding to it.

There was a wisdom in this that Magda recognised but somehow could not accommodate. But she knew that her mother, despite her pragmatism, allowed her much in the way of freedom. She had always been an odd child, almost unbearably lonely at times, and driven by a yearning for things she could not name, images that glimmered on the edge of her mind, an elusive and beguiling world that she forced herself to ignore; it was too confusing. So she befriended each and every maimed cat in the walled city and the few birds that chanced there found a welcome in the child. With these and other pathetic exiles she filled something of the void within her. It seemed to her that animals understood her, at least they did not avoid her as adults did, turning away, or muttering about a curse. The children of the city were less subtle and tormented her freely every chance they got, shrieking abuse and calling her ghost-get or laying wait in vicious ambush for her as she rambled through her seamless days. Consequently Magda learned the architecture of the city as few others had before her and could disappear with almost uncanny speed. But her heart could not match the magnitude of that hatred and she grew thin and unnaturally withdrawn. Often she would climb the outer wall and lay in the turret, staring for hours into the blue of the sky, watching evening etch its darkness onto the world and feel it moving into her like a dark pulse in her blood, the muted hush in her heart. And then there were stars, their icy, white blaze in the distance, their stately, measured dance. Some nights she had heard an echo of that immense music but of this she never spoke, not even years later when it was safe to share such things. It was a secret that sustained her under the bruising weight of the Protector’s city where beauty had become a heresy and freedom, a forgotten, cobwebbed dream.

Magda knew her days of roaming would come soon enough to an end, somewhere in time her future waited: a man, a hand-fasting, work, children, silence and death. She devoted herself to becoming as undesirable as possible but knew it as hopeless; the decree remained, at FirstBlood a girl must marry and bear children for the city of the Protector. She also knew from hearsay, for she was gifted in eavesdropping in the loft above her mother’s kitchen, just how many girls died in FirstBirth. She was beset by an unshakeable intuition that this would be her most likely fate for she was small and delicately made, there was a lightness to her bones, to her steps, a translucence to her skin and a grace that not even she could disfigure. The perimeters of her daily world were becoming smaller, she could feel herself shrinking, coiling in upon herself and as if in recompense her dreaming world began to flower in the night world of sleep. As if in defiance of the edgeless grey that constituted the Protector’s city, to its monochromatic texture, her soul would take wing of a night. Vast flocks of golden eyed birds flew through her, an ancient king spoke to her of a lost dolphin ring, she swam in the azure blue of deep, unknowable waters that she had never seen, and always a figure, somehow insubstantial, danced on the edge of her vision. She would awake speaking in the Forbidden Tongue:

Mamita, che seorita, vange les angeles, perdu, perdu…

Her mother was beside herself and spoke only in whispers, consulting the wisdom of the women in OldTown and Magda grew used to waking to some bright-eyed crone sitting by her bed weaving signs and smelling of some foul herb, burbling in a language she did not understand. She knew she was becoming a danger to herself and her mother but she could not resist the lure of her dreams, like a bright river fish on a sunny day she was drawn into an intangible place of silver, mirrors, an endless gleaming light. And blood, so much blood, she feared she would drown in it.

She dreams of a world outside the walls, it draws her like a web-spinning, power there is in it, she’ll nay resist it long, pauvre chicita. She dances there in the dream. Her heart is like a big drum beating, her feet are patterning something very old. But Old Muerte, death, is fishing for her and she smells him. Clever chicita. It is in this child to cross the Line, though no woman before her has travelled it. La Que Seba protect her. There is a mist across my seeing and the power of the Protector meshes something foul. I cannot see more, madness, peril at her FirstBlood. You must hide her and you know where. Long past is the time when she should have met the brother of her father. Be wise, little mother, let her go.

So spoke La Consuela, the healer of OldTown who had spent three nights by Magda as she slept and wrestled the dream-darkness to come back with this vision. Not long after this judgement, Magda awoke for what seemed the first time on a clear morning in the BirdHour and found herself alone. She felt oddly connected to herself as if some shadow within her had dissipated in the night. She flung open the windows of her room and allowed the light to stream across her, the morning seemed to hold a promise but of what she could not tell. La Consuela found her half hanging from the window frame attempting to entice her favourite cat indoors.

Chicita, I have come with a gift for you.

For me?

Se, Magda, I offer you a journey.

Away from here, from the city?

Perhaps. It is for you to choose. Would you learn your father’s kin?

Is it allowed?

Se, if you so choose.

I choose.

Do you know what you do, little one?

I want to breathe, again, Consuela, I want to fly.

Years later Magda would look back on this morning and know that with these words she had irrevocably altered the course of her life, on that morning she shaped the first part of a road she would travel, she began to chart the contours of a new landscape. And she would still count the cost as worth it. But that morning the sun seemed to shine for her alone. With the single assurance and egocentricity of the young she left her mother, almost carelessly, and ventured out with La Consuela to OldTown in search of her uncle and the legacy of her father.

Your uncle is named Enrico and even in OldTown he is accounted strange. He is a rarity, a jongleur, he plays music, he shapes his soul on the lute and sets us all free with song. He will be killed if the Protector ever discovers this. It is said of Enrico that he allowed himself to be bitten by the red desert snake and he survived so he has little cause to fear any living man.

And that was the totality of La Consuela’s knowledge of Enrico and with it Magda was forced to be content. They journeyed into a part of the city that was new to her, it intrigued her with its sense of the Forbidden, its forgotten, casual decadence and something else far less easy to describe. It seemed to take a long time but Magda became increasingly fascinated by OldTown’s colour, children darting in and out of alleys dressed like gorgeous parrots, doors decorated in intricate, brightly-textured patterns; she sensed there was an energy here, a drive, a sense of restless purpose and this pleased her. In this she was the true daughter of her father.

But even she was ill-prepared for her first meeting with Enrico. Consuela discovered him quite accidentally in the square of OldTown indulging the feral populace in one of his rare performances. Long before she actually saw him, Magda fell in love with his magnificent voice which gilded the afternoon with tones of such longing her heart ached and with such promise that her spirit rose upward and yearned to soar across distant lands, to experience, to encompass all. Enrico sat in the dust and held his audience by the power of his voice alone, a master cantadora, and in words of a dialect that few truly understood and all reached to understand. He stood up, a small, neat man with remarkable hands and dressed in such outrageous finery that Magda gasped. As if sensing her he turned and with one sweeping gesture drew her into the centre of his world

Se Magda, long, so long have I waited for you like an ache in my blood. I knew you in the long night of le hambre del alma, your soul starving in NewTown. I see now, beneath the game of your skin, my brother’s bones and your eyes, ojos del cielo, sky eyes in the velvet night he loved. Aishling, I will not keep you long but before you leave me like your father did, we will dance, my love, and I will teach you to sing on the wild paths you must travel.

Clapping his hands three times on the ground he dismissed his audience and turned to confer with Consuela. Magda stood a little apart from them ,aware that they were discussing her and she became more than a little distubed about the consequences of her precipitious decision. Eventually Conseula took Enrico’s left hand and smeared it with dirt and her own saliva, the traditional gesture that signified an oath-taking in OldTown.

Then she turned to Magda and spoke:

Chicita, I go now to make your WomanDress for the day coming of your FirstBlood. What are the colours you desire?

I would wish green and dark purple for the first part of the evening sky and white gold for stars, Conseula, but I will not marry.

Little one, you are a river of fire and I think you are right, you will not marry, but you should think on what that will mean, Magda.

I have, Conseula, I have dreamed it is my fate to die in FirstBirth. I will never marry.

O Chicita.

And so saying Consuela strode off into the late afternoon leaving Enrico with his niece. He did not hurry her as they walked to his dwelling but spoke gently, in that beguiling voice, of simple things, his home, his cats and his work as a cantadora. From the time he was a small child Enrico had made his living as a teller of stories drawing on tales that belonged to the Maygar treasury of his family; stories that ranged across time and cultures, many of them predating the time of the Protector’s regime and all these he shared with her as if she were his equal.

So began one of the happiest times in Magda’s short life for her uncle also taught her many things, the names of stars and birds, the language of their inheritance and the secret writing of music. He instructed her in the mysteries of drumming: how one pattern will call to the heart, another to anger, and yet another to tears. Enrico knew that life was not served by work alone, nor by the dictates of the Protector but by the spirit that moved, unique to each living thing. More importantly he taught her to dance and it seemed to Magda that this was the sole reason for her existence. She poured herself into the wild, whirling intricate pattern of la Toccata until she became it, until she no longer sensed her own body only the energy that moulded it.

Se Magda, you dance like a wind-spirit, let earth and sky fill you, forget the little bones in the feet, la Toccata will hold you, it is the oldest dance of freedom, made for a God, danced only by a woman.

And all the while Magda grew taller and stronger and the days passed like clear water flowing in a stream until the morning she woke to her FirstBlood. Enrico sensed the change in her without her explanation and sent immediately for Conseula. He made no attempt to console her with false hope.

It is time to be free of this little garden we have made, Magda. To stay when it is time to leave is to be less than what you are, it leaves a deep scar on the soul and that is not an easy thing to live with.

And then Enrico spoke to her of the long months in which La Consuela and her people had conspired to keep their world safe from the prying eyes of the Protector’s men. For it had been rumoured that the Protector had always taken an interest in Magda and her strange ways. He desired her greatly for FirstBirth. Enrico attributed this to his desire for vengence against her father who, on the day of his Out-Casting, had laughed openly at the Protector’s power. Magda listened in silence, somewhat alarmed to be the focus of such interest. Idly she fingered an old pattern on Enrico’s spirit drum. She could feel an energy gathering in her, a prelude to a storm.

Enrico, what was my father’s name?

Angelo del Sanguisto.

Did he know what lay beyond the Line?

Niente, Magda, but he did not believe it belonged to Old Muerte. That is the speaking of the Protector and webbed with lies. We always forget that he is only a man, not a God. Your father knew that.

Why did he leave?

Your father had no fear in him, he believed, and he was gifted in the art of seeing, that another world was shaped over the Line and that it had taken his dreaming from him. He went in search of it. What shall you do, Magda? I shall Out-Cast myself.

Se, you are so like him, el rio abajo rio, the river that runs beneath the river. So much strength in you, little one, you frighten me.

I will not die here, not for the pleasure of the Protector, Enrico.

Se Magda, there is that. And I will not mourn you as dead beyond the Line either.

Magda contemplated the enormity of the choice before her, but she knew that she was not fashioned to yield, there was little of compromise in her. But her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Conseula who revealed the splendour of her WomanDress without comment. It was a thing of such beauty that Magda was left speechless; it seemed that Conseula had captured the time of twilight in all its myriad shades, the first fire of the nightsky, wild birds and the wind, the endless possibilities of the time of transition.

Conseula smiled at her:

This is the only wisdom I have for you, Magda, it is said of old that at the time of twilight and dawn that everything that is not fixed is vulnerable.

I will leave in the hour of the Hawk, Conseula, just before the setting of the sun, will you tell my mother?

Se Magda, although I think she knows. I will have the children announce it through the city.

Throughout that long day Magda said little for it seemed to her that it had all been said in one way or another, Enrico sang to her and she allowed the strength of his songs to fill her. As evening came she dressed and with her uncle she took her first steps on the new path. A vast crowd had gathered to watch this extraordinary event and Magda was astonished to see that the children wore shades of the same colour as her dress. Even in NewTown there was little evidence of the red of mourning. As she approached the huge arched doorway that was open to her and her alone, she stopped for her mother stood there, dressed in lilac and green, and in her eyes Magda saw a mixture of pride and grief.

Suddenly the Proctector’s voice roared above her:

Magda del Sanguista, as stupido as your father, it is not my wish..

And Magda felt such a rage in her that it shook her bones:

You are a fool and worse than a fool, your wish had nothing to do with it. This is my choice. I will not stay here to sate your lust. You are as nothing, dust and ashes beneath my feet. Cursed be the air you breathe, the seed of your loins and the pulse of your blood!

And with that she stepped through the arch and walked through the gathering of evening to the Line that had kept her people in bondage for over a century. Behind her she heard Enrico begin the opening beat of her song and the echo of a thousand hands, tapping and beating til it rose like a crescendo in her blood.

Years later it was told how Magda del Sanguisto danced through the Line with La Toccato, how her spirit flared in an ecstasy of movement, how she crossed and re-crossed and tempted Old Muerte from his hiding place and danced him til he dropped and the colour of the evening was stayed and there they danced til stars burst above her and she slew him with the beat of her heart and the wild stamping of her feet. And with her dance she defeated the power of the Protector and set her people free. At least that is the way the cantadoras tell it.