Jeru of the Shifting Paths

Jeru has seven times seven hundred faces, and for Cedar it wears them all, shifting streets and alleyways by whim and by chance. She crosses seven leagues at a stride, moves from harbor to desert by rounding a corner, day to night by climbing a stair.

Jeru’s is the tongue of Babel, a shifting cathedral of freighted noise; the only common word Cedar hears among the thronging, maddened crowd is jeru, jeru, by turns a prayer, a curse, a direction, and a time. “Jeru, jeru,” she mutters, one voice among many, an endless sussurrus like wind upon the dunes.

Cedar has a friend, a beast like a leopard with four wings on its back and four heads on its shoulders that she calls Daniel for want of anything better. They take long walks in the afternoon and talk for hours in incomprehensible jargon. They speak of many things, but always of Jeru, of the eternal city, striving mightily after some final, unconquerable description, some single moment of simple comprehension. Cedar weeps and Daniel laughs; Daniel weeps and Cedar laughs, and Jeru changes yet again.