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Dream Diary – Mouse Aethelflaed (by )

I dreamed of the Anglo-Saxon Queen Aethelflaed, I dreamed of her in flowing linen in bold cuts with gold glinting and shield in hand, she was a warrior, she was strong with a purposeful stride and... she was a mouse. All those historical intrigues I had fallen asleep reading about where there with Danes and Viking hoards and ancient Iron Age earthworks cracked open for battle restbite. This was a nodal saga digging deep into the mythos of my mind with mist swirling to hide armies and lands that are firm grasslands now being mires and swamps with island towns between.

But everyone was a mouse or hedgehog or otter (especially the vikings though also they were ferrets) and Gloucester Cathedral loomed into view with a statue of it's founder on a plinth except it was again a mouse - and I realised I was in Loamhedge in the books of Redwall and things made much more sense - books I read again and again. Books my dad has read to me and then to my children, books I begged the scifi library at college to get. It was all mushed together and there was a quest and it was like the stories of knights but more like the thread of the story that those glittering escapades had been threaded onto. There was something of Robin of Loxley with his hood there and something Arthurian. Dragons even slept beneath the hills.

The quest involved a cure for a plague, a plague that had laid the Roman Empire bare and had and would again sink empires in despair, two roses I had to find with my own mousy paws and little whiskered noise but not just any rose - The Sister Roses that grew at Deep Poole. I knew the place - how could I not it was a fusion of Welsh lakes I have known - one found with my husband on the flanks of the mighty hill of Snowdonia, scarred and coloured with the metals of said hill. Beautiful blues that mark its taint and the cave that is barred in the mountain wall. The other was something from childhood - a half remembered place important to my family. A place I think of even in waking as Deep Poole though I do not know what it's name is.

It is the place where my nan insisted on traveling all the way from her new home in the outskirts of London to bring her children, as part of taking them home, to her real home though it no longer really existed, a little village lost to the damp and progress of the modern world. It was hidden in the hills of South Wales - in many ways a very different land from those of Snowdonia. She took us there when ever we were in Wales with her, the waters were still and quiet cupped in an almost circle and they were dark and deep and icy and they called, whispering to you.

The lake in my dream was a combination of these two, with a weir pummelling the escaping waters into white and deadly froth. An unnaturally seeming bank rose from the lake surrounding it's dark blueness, cupped within and hiding, up on the rise over looking it was a ruin, a window so moss covered that it could have been a brick build, or tin or hewn from the very mountain side. This was a sheep grassed grass land on the steps of the mountains, trees loomed at the edge and it was all concentric circles like a labyrinth with curves and twists and somehow I knew that this was a story and that it was looping in on itself. There were desperate men there that should have been guarding the lake, instead they had been drinking holy waters and had become soul sick.

One had appointed himself king and stood taller than us with a crown glinting on his head, it was a tarnished crown and the jewels had been acid etch to a dullness, his features showed a mouse like snout but upon his back where leathery wings and in his mouth sharp incisors like a predator. He howled at us and wanted to keep us for himself but we fought him until a tin thin corroded sword pierced his belly and he fell screaming into the lake. We tried to retrieve him whilst his soldiers flittered around in unease but though he swam to avoid being pulled down into the dark heart of the lake he refused our help and was pulled into the weir where we were sure he could not survive.

He emerged retched and bleeding the other side, his wings were lost and he shivered with spasms of pain, we nestled him and cooed to him in his dying day and his people flocked around us murmuring about the Christs Blood and the Goddesses Tears and how they could save though his wings had been been ripped from his back. Without them he really was just an over sized mouse and we felt a kinship for him now that we had not before - the waters had cleansed him. One of his men told us of the boxes of remnants or possibly a drum or was it a cup? What ever it was it had been hidden by the lake and it could save him.

We told them what we sort and they shrugged, there were many flowers that grew around the lake the trick was getting to them before the sheep did. We decided to help them look for the healing box or cup that was hidden around the lake, they looked at and dug at the banks of the draining river and went onto the grey stone beach that marked the only accessible shore of the lake, we however climbed, we climbed up the grassy slope to the moss covered building. If there was some sort of healing box it might be in the building, it might just be a first aid kit.

Two types of pale pink roses grew on the window so dilapidated and sorry looking, one was a domesticated bloom, large but not overly and elegant rather than bulbous as some over bred roses can become, the other was a series of smaller blooms, little more than blossom, they were wild but you could see that at some point they had been the same as the larger flower next to them. The sister Blooms. We carefully took one of each bloom and no more - for we would not need more than that and to destroy such a thing... a glorious testament to life itself, growing on decay, the bringer of a future and somehow also the guardian of the past - it seemed an unforgivable thing.

The blooms would cure the plague so we knew they would fix the poor broken bat king and so we took them to him and he smiled and smelled their fragrance and become still... we thought he had perish and that the bats would rip us apart instead they too went still as if waiting expectantly for something. He began to murmur a story... it told of Jesus walking the lands of Albion and of a well in Bristol now hidden beneath a house, it told of miracles and knights and of an object that was divided into four, one for each corner and the foundations of the Earth, of how those objects become different things - containing the maiming iron, or the flesh for the skin, or the piercing spear or a cup of ichor and blood caught so carefully.

To keep the items safe they had each ended up in vastly different places that had been designated before the dark death, hosted by very different people but with a connection and a core that connected them. The roses were planted so as their roots would slowly consume the blood and bring the healing into the world and they were watered with the Goddesses Tears just as she filled the lake, though she was known by some local saints name now, but she was the goddess of the hills and the vallies and she kept all her kindred of the land safe within the rocks and trees. And so it was with these two clashes of culture that the Sister Roses had grown one wild and one as it had always been and both perfect and sublime.

A bird screeched and called and pierced the dream which was sweet in my mouth by now and the morning pressed in on my lids as an alarm replaced the bird, a whirl wind of child eggar to know if was a school day appeared. The book on The Warrior Queen and the local Priory sat next to my pillow and my old hedgehog toy looked at me from a shelf, a glittering stone on a faux leather thong reminds me of games pretending to be princess adventures and fearocious fairies and of course the notes I'd made on holy relics a few weeks ago lay scattered around the room, a stake of Brian Jacques books await a re-read or three and I smile thinking of the old photos in yellow reds of Welsh holidays I got developed for my family and the annual holiday me and my husband would take on the slopes of Snowdon including our honeymoon and I think - that was a strong dream and it is not going to leave me alone and though I can see where it comes from the mystic feeling of it remains and I shall share and so I have.

More Dates for the Diary Autumn 2017 (by )

Fri 22nd - Sun 24th Nasty Women Fine Art Show in aid of End Violence Against Women - Stour Space in East London. Sarah's film Love: A Stranger Dream will be showing on loop and the colouring books that accompany it are for sale. There are also lots of other things going on such as workshops, live music and performance as well as art works.

Sun 24th Sept 2-4 pm Villanelles at Waterstones Gloucester - Sarah is hosting a poetry recital, open mic and workshop. Free entry

Thurs 28th Sept 7-8 pm Villanelles Gloucester at the Fountain Inn Gloucester - Sarah is running a poetry workshop followed by performance and interviews. Free entry

From Sat 30th Sept - 31st Oct Frightmare Halloween Festival at Over Farm Gloucester - Sarah will be performing at various points during the Festival.

Fri 6th - Sat 7th Oct 6:30 pm Young G.O.D.S. Presents Alice In Wonderland at Ribston Hall High School - Mary's first ever musical. Donations on the Door

Young GODS Alice In Wonderland Production

Sat 7th Oct 11 am - 3 pm Cheltenham Fun Palace at Cheltenham Library - Cuddly Science presenting sci-craft workshops, puppets, science poetry, colouring and more. Free Entry

Sat 14th Oct 11 am - 1 pm Ada Lovelace's Coding Time at the Museum of Gloucester. Ticketed £5 concessions £4

Sat 21st Oct 2:30 - 5 pm Food for Thoughts Festival Special at the Cafe Rene Gloucester. Donations on the door

Sun 22nd Oct 2-4 Gloucester Poetry Society at Waterstones Gloucester - Sarah is hosting poetry recitals, open mic and workshop. Free Entry

Thurs 26th - Sun 29th Oct Gloucester Poetry Festival in various venues around Gloucester. Sarah will be hosting, performing etc...at various events through out the festival and there will also be the launch of the latest WigglyPet's Press publication Poetry Without Pretension.

Sat 4th Nov 7-9 pm Villanelles at Diverse City Festival Gloucester Guild Hall. Sarah shall be performing.

More dates yet to be confirmed.

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