longingEvery summer solstice I dream of an open-air hill-top terrace paved by Gaudi's daughterwith wildly coloured earthenware and gemscollected from the ocean's ancient floor.The treasureand everyday itemsfrom many ships,dashed to piecescenturies before,now breathe againbeneath my feet.   A table for two rests      on this elaborate mosaic    in the midst   of an exotic garden.        A vast expanse of water             glistens on my left, stretching         as far as the eye can see.   In every other direction    the most marvellous landscapes  shimmer in the sun.    The panorama changes    from essentially Australian,   to Elysian, to a collage  of South America & somewhere   in an English myth,      or it might become Africa   as imagined by Cynthia   Nolan and Rimbaud,      or Scandinavia   with a dash of the sub-Antarctic,    and every once in a while  there are surreal   encounters of time,  space and textual media as pages & canvases are remembered          and reinvented,             to merge with the light         and life in which I am immersed.The plants in the hill-top garden are different every year. Sometimes there are large leafy trees, sometimes there is lavender and honeysuckle, or there might be lilies and love-in-the-mist, or cornflowers, or poppies and freesias, and the reddest blood-red tulips, fields and fields of sunflowers, tall and radiant and strong, and there are,occasionally, orange trees and mangoes and wildly effervescing orchids,or so many roses that the fragrance makes me weak with joy at the generous extravagance of it all.               And then I imagine the chairs.             There are only ever two -      one for God and one for me.  Sometimes they are the deepest green        with finely engraved markings    that reveal the bronze beneath.         And the cushions have a thick nap        of blue-black-purple   and tassels of real gold.   Tiny petals of scarlet silk   have been carefully sewn         around the edges,     and at the centre   of each bloom    is a single sequin of fragile jet.     The tablecloth is plush velvet   and, again, it is green, but variegated  so that it might really be moss.    The fringe is soft as it brushes    against my legs.    The cloth is finely embroidered  and appliqued with words and images that are so beautiful   & so personal  that I can hardly bear the care that has gone into this setting.    I gaze at episodes from my life  transformed into the art of the cloth.   I see animals and fish and birds  and everything I have ever loved    on the earth;     and the sky and angels      and all of the heavens are there;   and there are lines of poetry  that have been finely woven into the fabric - they shine with meanings   that transport me  to dreamscapes from my past,  and my future,   and some that are so current,so full of this very moment, that I never want to leave their presence.   h e a d   The large round cups  are almost translucent.    Their "full moon" surface     is overlaid with mother of pearl.  The saucers are indigo-navy  and made of a sea-shell I've never seen before.       They're so finely crafted       and seem like fragile china,    but I know they are not.      The tea smells wonderful -  of cinnamon and fine tobacco and some other fragrance  that eludes me.    Scones, steaming with heat, lay nestled in a cotton cloth. The cream is thick and fresh, and almost the colour of mutant   albino rainbow trout. Jam, full  of ripe strawberries,  has been piled into a silver bowl,       engraved with nimbs   & children, with the sunand all her sisters.      Another overflows with dark cherry conserve.  My heart beats expectantly.Someone is walking towards methrough this day of endless blue.And I know it is God.My sigh of reliefis so immenseas to make it seemthat an entire oceanhas inhabited my beingand, after drawing back,now breaks upon the shore.Diane Caney, 2000