Into Her Great Unknown
Updated: Feb 9, 2020
A Little Background: Last year I took a writing class by Martha Beck called Write Into Light. Using Dante's "The Divine Comedy" as a backdrop for lessons and prompts, the class called upon us to search within ourselves and share beyond ourselves. The unusual class format was challenging and rewarding. "Into Her Great Unknown" is one of the pieces I wrote as a result of the class.
1971. At a friend’s 8th birthday party, Rose watches the festivities from the basement couch, content to observe.
2001. While on vacation, friends join a bar top dance. Rose cheers them on from below.
2018. At a fundraiser, Rose gratefully declines to sing a few songs with the band. She is tired and a bit hoarse.
Rose steps gingerly into the hot spa and wades over to her favorite spot. She sits, leans back and nestles her head into the rock’s nearly perfect pillow. The night is quiet and the dark, star-specked sky is still, but only for a moment.
After a few deep breaths, Rose’s eyes widen as strings of neon light unfurl above. Faint music starts to play. An acoustic guitar? Yes! Its soft, almost fragile sound perches on top of a bright green strand. Recorders chime in, coasting forward on a bold yellow wave. A soulful voice emerges, bending green and yellow together, before breaking free to form a pulsing blue stream. A symphony of sight and sound builds. The electric piano on pink, drums on red and bass on orange. Colors and music twist and weave together; a dancing river.
Although Rose has listened to this song countless times, it feels new and fresh and alive. Its lyrics cling to the light like ornaments. Rose is entranced.
♪ There’s a lady who’s sure All that glitters is gold And she’s buying a stairway to heaven ♪
“It doesn’t work that way. How absurd! You can’t buy your way into heaven and who says you need a stairway to get there?”
♪When she gets there she knows If the stores are all closed With a word she can get what she came for ♪
“Seriously!? The stores are closed! What word does she think will open them? What did she ‘come for’?”
. . . ♪ If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow Don’t be alarmed now It’s just a spring clean for the May queen ♪
“What’s a bustle? A disturbance? Spring clean can mean clear out the old, right? Does May queen stand for new beginnings?”
. . . ♪ Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow And did you know Your stairway lies on the whispering wind ♪
“I get it. The stairway is free. To find it, listen to the call of the whispering wind. Be one with nature.”
For the song’s full 8.03-minute duration Rose continues her monologue. She examines verse after verse after verse, listening, dissecting, and analyzing. Until, finally, in exasperation, she decrees the song a precarious and disconcerting balance of uncanny wisdom and absolute psychobabble.
As the song ends, Rose sees a figure sailing swiftly towards her from sky to spa on the fluorescent stream of lights. Fifteen feet out, she gasps as she recognizes Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. He flashes a quick and knowing smile as he extends his hand. Rose hesitates, but only for a moment, then grasps it. Holding on for dear life, she ventures into her great unknown.