The Fortieth Leaf


Morning finds me excited. Today there will be no chores. In a few moments I will descend the narrow, circular staircase of the tower, pass through the castle and head into the day to meet Iona at the selected spot. And then I will begin anew. Iona will look on as I place this book into the hole I created yesterday. And then, like the King, I will lay on the ground, kissing the earth that has given me all, and cover the book with the ancient soil, the remnant of all history from this, my enchanted home. The King wanted to unite an object of his love with his one, true love. I suppose that I am doing the same, except that my true love is not a person, but rather a place. Yes, I know that I am simply invoking a memory, an artificial reflection of the King’s grief. But my grief is great also. To leave this place causes me a pain I find unendurable. But I cannot stay. If I am able, I will thank Iona for her witness and then hold this girl in my arms. And she will be my lasting memory of a life I once lived, a girl I once loved, and a King I once served. And then I begin again. And to the man I owe everything, I offer all that I can give, this poem.

I have not the words to say

how deep my thankfulness

I have not the melody

to praise you for your deeds

I have not the peace of mind

to see you as you are,

You are my King

I have not the strength to give

the lift you gave to me

I have not the harmony

to live now by the sea

But what I have, is here, is now

to offer up a prayer

God, bless this King

- Sorren

I am torn between conflicting obligations, and my heart is heavy as I read this final leaf from Sorren, the simple servant. I was directed to find this man, and to find this book. I have done that, and I have fulfilled my obligation to the Church. Brought to the attention of the Church that magic was being performed on this island in the Irish Sea, I was dispatched and instructed to discover its source, ultimately to eradicate it. I have found no sorcery here, and I have not found the devil. I have found an aching spirit, and I have found a poetry of emotions. Lord forgive me, but I have been moved by these simple words, for the words of our time are harsh and seething with vehemence. Whomever shall read these words I leave behind, know that I have buried the Book of Sorren in my mind, beneath the soil of tolerance amidst a torrent of upheaval. I know not what I shall do, for my road takes me back across the water, back to the Church. But I shall take the long road . . .a very long road.
— Melanthros

This last leaf of Sorren has affected me greatly.  Strange as it may sound, I feel a slight depression at the conclusion of his journey, a journey I may say that I have also made as I have examined his inner thoughts.  I knew that he was planning on leaving the island, but now that he has, I feel as though I have lost a friend, one whom I will never see again.  His depth of thinking was profound, and I experience no equivalent in my life today.  Perhaps it is my own fault, but is it also my fault that my world has changed?  I have watched this change come about for many years now, I have warned my friends and family, and all else who will listen to me, but in the end progress is inevitable . . .except for the fact that what we have today is not progress, it is death, a slow death of the spirit.  

I have spent many days pondering these thoughts of Sorren, sometimes bleeding into my very dreams, and these musings have made me restless and melancholy and have caused friction with my family.  They do not understand why I should agonize over such philosophical questions that can never be answered, they think it is a waste of time to ponder such questions.  They are wrong, and they will never understand me. 

In the leaf, Sorren talks about the power of place.  He understands this power, it is a part of his soul, and to leave it behind is torment, but he does what he must.  Attachment to a place can be ancestral, as a true Scotsman will always feel at home in his cherished highlands; it may be traditional, as is the home advantage at a beloved ball park; and it can also be spiritual, as is the love of nature and the wild places.  To me, there is also a power in thought and the kindred spirit of one that loves the very same things as we.  My place is inside the world of the mind, it is where I feel comfortable, and it is where I live. 

Last night I drove to my brother Dan's house.  It is a very long drive, but I was awake and alert the entire trip.  He was very surprised to see me.  After we were settled down on comfortable chairs in his Findhorn Studio with a glass of fine single malt whisky, I told him the reason for my visit. Reaching into my travel bag, I removed my beloved Book of Sorren. He looked shocked.  I held it for a moment longer, and then I handed it to him.  He looked at me with a question on his lips. 

"I'm finished with it," I said.    

He looked at me with surprise, and then he shook his head.  "You finished curating the entire book?" 

"No, no, no," I replied.  "I do not want to finish it.  I want you to finish it." 

"You told me that you would never let this book out of your hands," he replied as he drained his glass. 

"Yes, I did say that, but that was a long time ago, Dan.  Much has changed." 

He poured another dram of Glendronach before asking, "What has changed?" 

I became excited.  "This book is not about Sorren," I said after sipping the smooth whisky with satisfaction.  "Yes, this book was started by Sorren.  And now, as you know, he has left the island.  But there is much more to this book, Dan.  I have skimmed through it, careful not to become entranced again by the strange presence of the book, and I can tell you that the writing is different, it is written in a different hand.  There may turn out to have been many hands to have written in this book, but I did not look too closely." 

"Are you afraid of this book?" he asked suddenly.  "And why give up now?" my brother said with bitterness. 

"I am not giving up," I replied as I drained my glass.  "I intend to discover what happened to Sorren, and Melanthros.  I intend to do research." 

"That could take years," Dan replied impatiently.  "And you may never discover anything." 

"You're wrong about that," I said.  "I already have." 

"You're kidding?" he said with rising interest, and I could see a slight smile. 

"No, "I answered.  "And that is why I need your help.  I want you to continue curating this book, and I will try to learn as much as I can.  I have made some discoveries," I said cryptically, although I was not trying to conceal anything.  "What I have discovered however, is only fragments, disassociated pieces of text, references to other work by other authors, some of them from the Isle of Man.  This book may be very significant, Dan.  We have to continue." 

He asked, "Where did you find this?" 

"The Internet," I responded with satisfaction.  "Did you know, Dan, that almost everything that has ever been written, has either been lost forever, or it has been backed up, saved?  Much of the body of work from previous centuries has been copied onto microfilm and microfiche . . .it's all there, stored in University computers and libraries, waiting to be examined.  I have found a few links, and from there I am beginning to uncover fragments. I will chase this thread and see where it takes me, and I will continue to write music. Perhaps later I will want to curate these leaves again, but for now, I just want to be done with it so that I can sleep.” 

The next day I drove home and resumed my quiet, middle-class life, and my wife sighed, for the book was finally out of the house.  That is when I realized: this is the reason I was given this book.

I now leave this book in the capable hands of my bandmate, my brother, and my friend, Dan. I will monitor his handling of these notes, and I will follow his thought carefully, looking for signs . . .

— K