The Face Of The Divine
On The Banks Of The Adji Chay
I found Enoch in a small village in Azerbaijan, on the banks of the Adji Chay river which runs east from Lake Urmia, through a fertile valley walled in by the Savalan and Sahand mountains. The Tigris and the Eupharates rivers rise in that region. The Araxes has its source somewhere to the north, in a region once known as Cush, while to the south the Uizhun flows through the land of Havilah, rich in gold, obsidian, onyx, lapis lazuli and other gemstones.
We sat on a rug in his one room hut, drinking coffee, tar-black but sweet with rosewater.
The Hushed Breath Of The World
He took a sip of the dark liquid.
-- Once, he began, to the west of this valley lay the meidan of a powerful adonai, a man of fabulous wealth and power that stretched out all across this land. In his domain no-one could hunt or fish, harvest wild grain or gather forest fruit without his word. It was said that in his realm the rain itself would not fall without his permission, that when the morning mist rose, forming dew upon the grass, this was the moisture in the hushed breath of the world as it waited for his command.
Gods Of The Rains
-- As if the water answers to anyone, he smiled, man or god. All rains fall from the sky and soak into the ground, or flow in rivers, streaming down into a lake, a sea, an ocean. Springs rise from the abzu underneath the land. We dig our wells down into it. Yet we mumble tales of this god of summer rains or that god of the storm, a god for each river, and then gods for all the seas. Surely we should have gods for every shower, every rainfall, every drop of water, every bead of dew... or for none.
Stories Are Like Trees
-- But no. They say the adonai’s word held such command that on his death the shabti shaped from clay to serve him in the netherworld echoed his last word. As they laid it in the grave beside him, it still whispered, so they said, as if his breath still moved in it, his will within the breath.
He smiled wryly, mischievously.
-- But stories are like trees, growing into vast canopies from a single seed or from a broken branch that takes root in the right soil. They grow wild and proud, but sometimes, sometimes, they should be pruned back, no?
The Darting Silver Of A Fish
-- I remember my father walking with me beside Lake Urmia once, pointing to the reflections on the water. The sudden splash of it torn by movement underneath, the darting silver of a fish, a surface rippled by the wind... and yet a mirror of this solid world surrounding it. He used to say that we were also mirrors. He would tap the side of his head, and the side of my head, then point down at our images in the water. And as he blew on it, the image rippled.
-- That is the face of the divine, he would say.
The Garden Of My Birth
-- The adonai had a walled garden filled with every tree of fruit and flower, every bush and herb of the known world, sight and scents and tastes more exquisite than any artisan of paint, perfume or pot could ever hope to imitate. A freshwater spring rose from deep within the heights of Mount Sahand off to the south, babbling down through the foothills clear and cool, to the edin, the valley floor, to feed the garden of my birth.
-- My memory of this is... mist though. I had not reached my first year when my family left that place forever.
Signs In Rocks
-- My father loved learning with a passion equaled only by his love for my mother, and he used this knowledge in the service of the adonai, keeper of his gardens, managing the meidan with care. This was no simple work of gardening, for within those grounds the adonai had specimens of even the very rarest plants and trees, prized for their aphrodisiac or medicinal, perhaps magical properties. My father prized only knowledge.
-- He was a curious man, my father, a teacher and a thinker. He looked at rocks and read signs in them that the earth had once been liquid.
The Two Trees
-- In the centre of the garden, by the stream, there stood two trees. One bore a fruit that gave wisdom to those who ate it, while the other bore a fruit that gave eternal life itself. So it was said; a lie can hardly be shown-up until it’s tested -
-- But you must know this story of the adonai's wayward son, the baal, and how he led my mother astray. I imagine you know as much as I; neither my mother nor my father ever talked of the great shame that sent us out from there into the land of Nuadh.
Marks In Red Clay
-- I told you that my name is Enoch; that is not quite true. My father had a way of naming things with marks, you see. Each animal, each plant, he made a sign for in the red clay that was such a part of him he is forever known by it; and in these marks he wrote my name in two parts, En and Ki. As I travelled down into the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, where I built a city, a whole civilisation, I taught those who asked me that those marks meant Enki, or Enoki... Enoch.
Eyah Asher Ea
-- After Eridu in the marshlands of Iraq, I came to be called Ea. Eyah asher Ea, I said when they asked. I am that which is called Ea. But that is not the name I was given at birth either; I have not answered to the name my father gave me since the day I heard it as a curse. Not En Ki, but Ki En. My true, my oldest name, is Kien, or quayin. It means craftsman in our tongue. It is a name I wear carved on me to this day.
- I understand you usually pronounce it Cain.
The Face Of The Divine
Later, he was to tell me of the others, of Adad and Rapiu, of Shamash and Irra, and of those who would be known, in Torah and Koran and in the Bible, as the angels of fire and ice, destroyers of cities, Gabriel and Michael. We sat in his hut, drinking coffee and talking until, with the setting of the sun, he lit a fire. I listened to his voice, old and sad, and watched the golden glow of flame that flickered in his eyes, across his weathered, scarred face, branded, marked with its curse, the face of the divine.