Monday, May 28, 2012

Zipacna: All the Time in the World.

"Zipacna's Travels"
Image reproduced with permission of the artist, Bruce Rimell.

Zipacna, the older son of Seven Macaw, bounded from peak to peak amid the rugged stone range. He was at his work, awash in the joy of creation. He raised his arms, and great columns of black basalt rose from the earth like menhirs, soaring into the sky. He jumped on the ground, and red hot lava spurted out from below, shaping itself into stone as if guided by the strokes of a painter's brush. The rock shifted and molded fluidly beneath his feet as he leapt from ledge to ledge. A mountain was rising. He was building his new masterpiece.

The two proud sons of Seven Macaw lived happy lives, roaming through the world wherever they wished, getting into all sorts of wild adventures and escapades. But what they both loved best was being out alone in the wilderness, working their art, sculpting the landscape. Zipacna, the elder, was the Maker-of-Mountains; he built great mounds and piles and jagged peaks of stone. His younger brother, Cabracan, was the Breaker-of-Mountains; he broke down the peaks, carved out canyons and valleys, levelled the hills, and made the land flat.

The two brothers were thousands of years old now, but they were still young in their looks and ways, still almost boys.They lived as if their future was always before them.

Their father had always let both of them do whatever they wanted.

Zipacna wasn't complaining. He loved his life, exploring the world and following his passion.

Today, however, he felt a bit uneasy. The sunlight was flickering strangely; it had been doing so for the past few days. Sometimes it would flare up brightly, then fade down to a hazy dimness. What was going on with Father?  he wondered. Was there some kind of trouble?  Zipacna shrugged. Whatever it was, Father could handle it. He'd never known of anything his father couldn't handle.

Zipacna returned to his great artwork. Soon, he had lost track of time completely, as he often did, immersed in the pleasure of building. Stone boomed and cracked around him, the ground shifting, the land molding into new shapes.

Then, there was a sharp, bright flash, like a stroke of lightning, a cry of pain, followed by a slow fade to grey. The sun's flickering continued, even more erratically.

Zipacna was alarmed now. Something must really be wrong. "Father!" he shouted. In three great leaps, he bounded down the mountainside and hit the road running. As swiftly as his strong, young legs could take him, he ran down the road leading to his father's city, down through the winding hills.and the forest to the city by the sea.

But, as Zipacna was running to help his father, the sky suddenly shone with a brilliant flash of light, brighter than any day that had ever before dawned. The whole sky was lit up; everything in the landscape was limned in pure white.

Then, the sky went completely black. All was silent. There was only darkness and stillness over the face of the earth.

Zipacna stopped running, right in his tracks. "No!" he wailed into the blackened heavens. But he knew it was too late. His father was dead now. And, soon, his mother would be too. She would not let her husband walk the Dark Road to Xibalba alone; she would choose to follow him there. His parents were like that.

Zipacna dropped to his knees in the road, crying, "Mommy, Daddy," his whole body shaking as he wept with overwhelming grief. A few drops of rain drifted down around him. Over the distant sea,  thunder rumbled faintly.

When he was finally able to pull himself back to his feet, Zipacna gazed bleakly at the once-familar landscape of his father's country. It was much harder to see now; the only light came from a thin crack at the horizon's edge. The trees, hills, and valleys loomed like dusky shadows in the dark grey dimness.

What was he to do now? Zipacna wondered. With his father gone, there was no one left to hold back the hurricane except him and his little brother Cabracan. They had inherited their father's power, but they didn't have his knowledge, skill, training or experience. They had never bothered to acquire these things; it had just always seemed like there would be enough time.

It had always seemed like they had all the time in the world.

He had to try, now, somehow. Perhaps he could find some of the other people who knew about magic. Maybe he could bring them together, to fight the gods; maybe someone could teach him what to do. There had to be a way.

Zipacna looked for the last time down the hill, down the road leading to the city by the sea where his home had been. For all of his life, like the sun in the sky, his parents had been a constant, abiding presence, always there, always to be relied on, often taken for granted. Wherever he had roamed in the world, no matter how far he had gone, there had always been a home to come back to -- a candle in the window, a bed for him to sleep in, arms to hug him. Now it was all gone. Zipacna couldn't go home now, for there was no home left.

Zipacna could never go home again.

So he turned around, and went the other way up the road.

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