From The New Parcival: A Book of Questions
Just, for the love of God, don’t call me Rosie.
Come on, come on, come on. Come dream with me. I want to speak of lilacs and of
people, how beautiful they are in their exuberance.
Spirit Blue likes to tease and tell me that I have no rhythm. What does Spirit
Blue know about rhythm?
I dream well and I dream happy.
Even when things get serious.
Oh, I’ve long agreed with Spirit Blue and Spirit Fox that it’s getting serious
indeed, that we need to groom a knight again for shining armor. But they know as
well as I do that it didn’t go so well the last time. It was perfect and all,
but did it last? No. When it was over, it was over, and all of the bad guys were
dead, and some of the good guys were bad, too. In any case, not much survives
from those days, except some scattered castle ruins and a few cathedrals.
Things keep getting more and more alarming. Everyone is wounded. Nobody really,
really likes war once they start to think about it. But usually there isn’t time
to think, and, zoot, they’re off to the next slaughter.
And then there’s always the bewildering contingency that claims that life
without conflict is no fun at all. Really?
Originally, Parcival had to ask just one important question. “Oeheim, waz wirret
dier?” “Uncle, what worries you?” This healed the fisher king from endless
suffering. It healed the wasteland. It redeemed Parcival from his original
mistake of not asking any questions when first shown the puzzling splendor and
sadness of the grail.
Since the beginning of time, language has stretched and tweaked and wound itself
like vines around the sweet reality of those who use it. This always works both
ways. Human beings shape the language. Then the language shapes them in turn.
The root of the “wirre” part of the healing question eventually split off into
two directions. One branch evolved into “war”; the other became merely
“confusion”. You might be tempted to think those two are completely different
now. But at their core the one still carries the other. So in the end it’s all
about war and asking questions and confusions. The word “worry,” alas, though
it’s so very inviting, won’t quite fit into the standard etymological
constructs. It comes from “turn” and “strangle.” But to my mind, war and worry
are braided enough. As a spirit, I have the privilege to braid such things.
And so I told them—Spirit Blue and Spirit Fox, that is—we should disguise the
new knight well this time, to give everything a chance to come to fruition—and
to maybe even stick for a while before the wrong ones get their hands on things
and twist them all round again. Let’s hide the knight in a woman’s body, I
suggested. That way nobody will recognize her at first, and a great deal can get
accomplished before anybody realizes what’s going on.
I could feel their quick rolling energy. If they were human, they would have
rolled their eyes behind my back. But since neither Spirit Blue, nor Spirit Fox,
nor I have eyes or a back behind which to roll them, they simply exchanged some
electric energy, and fairly unobtrusively at that, because I hardly noticed a
To be honest, I expected them to argue, to object. But they didn’t, which fairly
stumped me. I’m not used to things being quite this effortless. Maybe we’re
learning, even here among spirits, even now.
I knew the perfect name for her, too, I told them, taking advantage of being on
a roll. Could they guess?
Spirit Blue guessed Perry. For periwinkle or what? Spirit Fox guessed Val.
No, I told them. The perfect name was Lucy.
Lucy? This time the two of them were stumped.
Okay, stop swirling and acting like some mysterious sunset sky, Spirit Blue told
me. Spirit Blue always accuses me of swirling, by the way, which I certainly
don’t do. I do not swirl. I merely am.
You know what the grail is, right? I asked.
Depends on which version, Spirit Fox said.
Too true. Just then I was thinking of the one where the grail is the emerald
that falls from Lucifer’s crown when Lucifer himself falls out of heaven.
Because when God sends Lucifer to hell, that’s really when all the trouble
starts. Suddenly there’s all this imbalance. I personally like lots of stories
about Lucifer, light bearer and ousted crown prince of heaven. But that’s all
beside the point. At least for now.
Cute, Spirit Fox conceded.
And that’s how I ended up with my Lucy.
I’ve done my best to guide her well. Sometimes I wish I could take her place.
Not that I’d do anything better. Not at all. It’s just that I love her so much.
I wish I had wings to fold around her to protect her, or hands to scoop out her
heartaches and toss them away. But I have nothing of the sort. Most of all I’d
like to feel what it’s like to be such a Lucy for a moment.
She’s so cautious, so brilliant, so brave, and so strong.
And sometimes she’s so dreadfully obedient, and really dumb. I love her even
To be truthful, I’ve frequently envied the life of those on earth. How it must
feel to have a cricket stumble against one’s foot. Same as a cockroach, Spirit
Fox mocks me. I think living the life of a human being would be like holding a
flame by the hand. Spirit Blue says I am given to exaggeration.
Well, here then is my Lucy as a little girl with her father at the zoo. He can’t
look at her enough, her tiny features, her copper hair.
But no, I better start elsewhere.
There. She’s a woman now, late thirties, looking for a movie to rent. She’s
finished with her patients for the day. She’s tired. She wants an escape.
But there’s no escaping the chill that gnaws at her. She shivers. Then she wants
“It’s all about men,” she whispers, dazed, as though she’d never noticed this
To be fair, sometimes there is a token subplot tossed into those stories. The
men have girlfriends or wives or lovers—though at times even the lovers are
other men again.
Lucy ends up not getting a movie after all. She can’t make up her mind which
heroic deed to be disappointed in this time around. She can’t shake her dread,
though. It reaches like ice for her bones, an emptiness, a bottomless yearning.
She longs for her mother. For warmth, for direction. She wishes her mother could
still speak to her.
* * * * *
Another previously published excerpt from Parcival is
available at Her Circle ezine: