The Statue

The ancient statue had been a part of the town for hundreds of years. The first pioneers had found it while digging the foundations for the town hall and had placed it in one of their parks.

It had been created by master craftsmen from a previous civilisation, all now lost and forgotten. Such was their skill in magic and art that they had combined a little of their own souls, those ancient men and women, within the bronze and stone of the sculpture.

It rested now, centuries later, in an overgrown and seldom used park within the city. It sat on a base of polished black granite, one arm draped over an upraised leg, the other foot, almost, but not quite touching the ground. It lent back and watched the civilisation that had given it birth, decay, disintegrate, and fade from the memory of this present generation of humanity.

The inhabitants of this new city were as unaware of his germinal soul as they were unaware of their own, so caught up they were in their lives and the life of their city.

He had watched the generations of this new city ebb and flow around him like the tide around a rock, single and solitary in the ocean.

Only the children imagined that he may be more than cold bronze, living as they do in a world of games and play, but soon even they quickly grew up and forgot their dreams and games of magic.

There was one child who returned to talk with him when her games were finished.
He had seen the light of her soul grow brighter and stronger over the years of her childhood. In a way it set her apart from her peers. She played happily in their games, her laughter blending with theirs, but more than often she stood back in self imposed solitude, watching, observing, wondering.

In time he became her confidante, and eventually he thought, her friend. It was to him that she came with all the questions of her childhood, the problems that seem so inconsequential to adults but so insurmountable in the confusion of childhood.

"You are my warm and glowing statue." she whispered one day. "I can come to you with my secrets, dreams and fears. You are always here for me."
To his amazement, he felt his soul growing with hers and tried to respond in his own limited way to her questions, thoughts and feelings.

He witnessed her childhood and youth, shared with her the joys of love found and the sorrow of loves lost.
He was still there in the park when her wedding group posed for pictures before him, the overgrown trees and flower beds creating a jungle of greenery and colour about the happy couple.

She nursed her first child and then her second. He watched them grow up and play their games around his feet.
In some way she taught them some of the magic she had found within him and it stayed with them into their adulthood.
In time, they brought their own children to see and play with 'granny's' statue.

He was there to try to comfort her when her husband and companion passed from her. He who had seen so many lives come and go, like cherry blossoms in countless seasons, with detached observation, now felt the pain and grief of her loss.

She spent many days in the park now, sitting on the seat before him. At times she rarely spoke, but seemed to take comfort in just his presence, knowing that it was just there.
At other times she spoke of the memories of her childhood, the hopes and dreams for her children and the great joy she found in her several grandchildren. They didn't seem to mind that their granny talked to a statue, they did it all the time.

There was one day, then several days ,when she never came to the park. Never sat before him in the quiet dignity of her advancing years. In the distance he saw the funeral procession and knew she would never sit with him again, never share with him her secrets and her dreams, her hopes and her laughter.

Within the ancient bronze his soul cried out with a pain never before experienced. From sightless metal eyes coursed tears to etch and stain the ancient patina on his cheeks.

"The statues crying, the statues crying." called out the children as they came to play that day.
"Don't cry statue, don't cry." They called out as they gathered around him. "Its all right. Be happy. Be happy."
They picked flowers for him, wove garlands of blossom and colour about his head and tried to bring him into their games, to share in their laughter as they wove their magic about him.

Before dawn the next morning, in that half light as the stars fade from the loneliness of night, she came along the path towards him.
Within the light and colours of her soul he saw the childhood forms of her the maid, the mother and the strength and the wisdom of the grandmother.

"I have come to thank you." she said, in words without speech. You have been my confidante, my companion, my true friend all these years. It is only now that I can see the soul within you. The soul which I only suspected and dreamt existed till this day. Before I leave you, this one last time, my thanks to you. I am grateful for your presence all these years and for your friendship which I can now recognise.

Perhaps, if I may, I don't know if I should, ask one last question of you?
It seems I have a journey to make. To where, and how long it will take, I do not know.
I dont mind making the journey, but I will admit I'm just a little scared. Would you mind, would it be possible, if only for a little of the way, for you to accompany me?"
Hesitatingly, as the first rays of the morning sun fell upon the heart of the statue, she held out her hand, in hope, in invitation, and if necessary, in farewell.

The group of children exploded into the park the next morning.
"It worked! It worked! Our magic worked." they cried as they gathered about the statue which was still cloaked in their flowers from the day before. Except that now, by a process known only to young children and adept magicians, it had stepped forward from its base of polished black granite One hand was held out to the sunlight that streamed into the glade, or seemingly, held out to a person standing before it, if there had been anyone still there.

The rays of the sun reflected from a bronze face suffused and radiant with joy.
The adults of the city insisted that the statue had always been that way, just that they had never noticed it before. The children of course knew it to be a result of their magic, and never forgot it. as they went on to create even greater magic in their own adult lives.

The story of the joyful statue spread. More and more people came into the overgrown park. Eventually the weeds and undergrowth were cleared away, flower beds were established. Children and lovers alike, would say to each other, 'I'll meet you by the statue,' always knowing which one.

Strangers to each other would come to the park, to see for themselves, the truth of this 'children's' magic. Often as not they would depart as friends, as they met and talked and pondered over the reasons how and why, an ancient bronze sculpture could move and feel like a living being and how a strange molten hole could appear in the middle of its chest as though something within had found its freedom.

There came to the park the aged, the earth weary, who were looking with some trepidation towards their own inevitable journey. They would gaze upon the face of the statue, at the joy, expressed forever in his face, and know that such joy, like thelove that created it, was eternal, and they were at peace within themselves.

Copyright © 1995 g.s.donne
Dedication: to Dani: our children's children

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