What fates, what forces were guiding the flow of my own journey? It hardly seemed to matter. To enter Ryhope was to enter a confusion at the edge of things, a sensory cacophony of sound and vision - glimpses and echoes that could not be grasped - that was both frightening and seductive. I had experienced these feelings on a previous occasion, and had become determined to fight through the fear, to fight the dizzying defenses of this semi-sentient wildwood, to find that certain moment when a definable and welcome preeace replaced the screams of the anxious intellect and the tricks that the forest was playing. It was a moment when a hand seemed to reach out and soothe everything, from mind to brow. There was a certainty attached to this moment, a feeling that the direction was right, that the events which were being witnessed and the loss of control were all being carefully monitored. I was like a child, secure on the assertion and confidence of a parent, unaware, of course, that the parent was trained to respond to my fears in just this way.
Previously I had turned about when this catharsis had occurred. Now, however, with the rediscovery of Guiwenneth as my goal, I fought against the feeling to return and let events take their course.
I though of Longfellow as I launched the short canoe; I lay back, my pack at my head, my arms over the sides of the simple, smooth-hewn craft; I let the river take me and watched the sky through the over-reaching branches of the trees. I let the motion of hull and water become the movement of time itself, taking me backward, ever backward, into a distance of which I had only dreamed.
This was the edge of the wilderness. It was the true entrance to the past and to the Otherworld and I became afraid to watch it, aware of its beauty and its confusion. To try to see it, to document it, would perhaps have been to find that it ceased to exist; and it would spit me out, hurl me back into the bright air near the cornfield by Oak Lodge, drifting again on a stream in England rather than on a river that flowed into the realm of ghosts.
I thought of Longfellow, and his Hiawatha.
I thought of Arthur on his way to Avalon, stretched out in his brage, three queens tending to his mortal wounds. And I rued the lack of women, black cowled or otherwise. How nice, how pleasant it would have been to have had their strange company on this sluggish journey to the past.