1.11.17 Yellow Spectral Star
The Indian had long black hair that was parted in the middle and swept his neck over his shoulders in a shiny cascade ending between his shoulder blades. He wore a light blue denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up, tucked under a woven chocolate brown leather belt that kept his dark blue jeans cinched at his waist. His bronze feet padded softly on the cement floor of a pavillion of sorts; a metal roofed no walled timber framed space with mountains rising in the distance and fields and gardens around it. He walked toward where three of us stood and handed each of us a bow and arrows then he pointed at a rectangular board twenty-two paces away in the pavillion. The board was painted with a map of some sort; it had state lines on it but was not exactly a map of the United States though it resembled it. There were black lines dividing states and symbols marked on each, the colors were burnt sienna and raw umber with some cerulean blue and deep green. He pointed at the map and indicated that we were to select targets and shoot without missing our mark. The first archer let fly a flurry of arrows that twanged as they hit and as each one hit a spot, a symbol came to life and popped out before dissipating. I saw wigwams, pigs, trees, trains all dart out from the map and then fade away. The second archer followed suit, aiming and firing his arrows. The Indian was pleased and nodded at them. Then he turned to where I was standing, puzzling over this map that I couldn’t make sense out of, and unable to make sense out of it I was reluctant to shoot at anything since I didn’t know what I’d be shooting at. He watched me for a while then beckoned for me to return the bow and arrows to him. I handed them over, not without a slight sense of relief mixed with disappointment as well, and then everything turned a sort of purple plum color and I knew he was hooting arrows for I could hear them and saw streaks of white and when it was over the map was no more, the two archers were gone, and The Indian was old. His black hair was streaked with white and his face, previously smooth, was lined and grooved. He snapped the bow in his hands in half and tossed the pieces to the ground, where they joined together and turned into a gnarled oak staff. He motioned to me to give it to him so I picked it up and handed it to him, which is when I noticed his eyes, hitherto a tawny glowing brown, were now bluish white, much like milk that’s been sucked of all fat, and had no sight. He was blind.
“You will be my eyes now,” he said in a soft voice.
I was startled by his statement at first and felt a small twinge of pride too, perhaps I was better than the archers in some way, perhaps I had a gift of sight that he was honoring me thus instead of wasting my ability on shooting arrows! For a moment I was lost in my own glorification, then his voice brought me back, startling me yet again.
“You are useless without discipline, I have no need of what you think is your insight, for while I am now blind, I see perfectly well. What do you see when you look at me? Yes, an old blind Indian wrapped in a black shawl, but I am called Sees Beyond Pine in your language, in my language I am Baseer Taraane Tamaam, and I would have you be my eyes, these ones.”
He gestures to the milky eyes in his face, smiling wryly, and I look at them wondering if he’s having me on. There are thin web like tracks feathering out from the edges of his eyes, weaving into the grooves on his face seamlessly. I become aware that I’m not being ‘honored’ but that it is an honor for me that he is extending this invitation to be his eyes. I shift uncomfortably as I realize that the archers succeeded at something that I failed at.
“Tell me,” says Baseer Taraane Taman, “What do you see?”
I look around and say, “I see mountains in the distance, a field with grass, and gardens all around this pavillion where we are standing.”
“Why did you not shoot your arrows?” He asks.
“I didn’t know what to shoot at.”
“If I had told you, Shoot at that spot there, the one marked A, would you have shot it?” He asks.
I think for a moment then answer honestly, “I don’t know, probably I would have shot and missed.”
“Why do you suppose you would have missed?”
“Because I wouldn’t know what spot A was or why I was shooting it and that would have effected my archery, sent the arrow flying, though I would have followed your command.”
“Hmm,” he says, “You don’t trust. This is the difference between you and the two archers, they serve and do their work unerringly, I say Fire and they fire, I say pick a target and shoot, they do so unwaveringly. They have no doubt, no uncertainty, no monkey jumping from here to there chattering uselessly to them; they have complete trust in what I tell them to do, they do it, they do it well, and so we have an agreement and are successful in what we do. You. I tell you shoot at something, yet you cannot choose a target for yourself. Were I to select a target, you’d be unsure if you should do as I say and shoot it, and so we would stand around dilly-dallying uselessly. Do you understand now?”
I nod as I hear the truth in his words and sense the monkey leaping about with a dozen questions and answers all at once about this old blind Indian, who is he, where has he come from, why should I trust him, the monkey goes on and on, and with some effort I cease giving him attention and focus on Baseer, who nods.
“Come,” he says, “Be my eyes instead of my archer and tell me all you see as we walk.”
And so I find myself being led by a blind visionary, describing what I see as we walk into the field of grass.
Red Crystal Moon, full moon in Cancer
Baseer bids me sit cross-legged in the middle of a circle of moss-covered stones, boulders in grey with pastel green lichen mottling their faces. Rocks with rounded edges; a necklace of them adorning the open field. He hands me a green scarf and tells me to tie it around my eyes. I sit like this for a long while. There is nothing to see, only noises, very few in these early days of winter. I hear the wind, gusty and oddly warm, birds chirping, their wings whirr as they pass by. The creek is gurgling and bouncing, her water spilling over rocks, swirling between arrangements that have brought about burbling buoyant sounds mixed with gushing.
I sit for what feels like hours, the sunlight streaming down in a wash of rainbow colors that soothe my spirit. I listen to my heartbeat thumping, a drumming sound with responses from pulse points. How long passes before I hear Baseer speak, I do not know.
1.19.17 Yellow Rhythmic Warrior
“Though your eyes are closed, yet you see . . . describe it all to me.”
“There is a bald eagle with a five foot wingspan soaring above us. It’s white tail feathers and head are distinctive, there is no question as to who this is circling over and over again. Its wings are dipping into currents that are vibrating.
Somewhere down the road the vibration touches a red car and the driver, who was uncertain whether to go left or right at the junction, is certain about the way to go and he does so. The road is an interesting one, not the usual dark grey of tar covered with dust; but a newly poured black road that ends with a golden temple directly ahead and no path leading to it that can be seen. The temple, for that matter, is partly hidden by overgrowth of rhododendron and azaleas; only the steeple at the top indicates its presence for it glints metallic gold in the light and draws attention to itself.
The little red car sits like a pinto bean on the intersection, a red dot, and to the right the road goes straight and uncurving, a flat black thinning line through the woodlands on one side and farmland on the other. To the left it goes up and down hills, the sky on the horizon is fluffy and peach streaked, a dove with open wings flying with white swans; casting a warm hue on the woodlands and fields.
The eagle continues circling; he’s looking directly at us. You’ve waved him away and he’s gone, over the poplar treetops, over the pines that stand behind them, over the clearing where a coyote is finishing the remains of a rabbit hunted earlier, and beyond toward the archers that you sent out earlier. He’s carrying a message from you and he flies strong and true with it without pausing to rest.
Now I see aquamarine waters and white sands. There’s nothing here except the water and sand and unbroken horizon.”
“Sit here,” says Baseer.
So I sit on the white sands blindfolded, legs crossed, and listen to the stillness, feel it under my bottom, smell it on the balmy salty air.
“Where is the fire?” asks Baseer.
“Inside my belly.”
“Who put it there?” he inquires.
“How did the crow get inside?”
“It flew into my mouth.”
“Why was your mouth open?”
“I was greeting the crow.”
“Was it necessary?”
I sit silently and ponder his question until I dissolve into it and there is neither question nor an answer nor beach nor aquamarine water.
Then I feel something hard and straight put into my right hand. Something smooth and curved put into my left hand. My fingers feel, my hands measure and weigh. I know what these are. An arrow and bow.
“A hundred paces from where you sit there is something you must shoot. Take aim and fire when you’re ready,” says Baseer.
Ahead of me I see a young woman dancing. She’s dressed in green leaves and is stirring a cauldron, which sits in a circle of stones. She dances around and around, tossing her long hair from side to side, though the circlet of flowers on her head remains in place. She’s barefoot beside a bubbling creek with many waterfalls that sing for her, they sing and she dances. Beyond them on the path is an antlered man with a broad chest and a drum in one hand; a stick with a bundle of milkweed down tied over one end in the other. He beats the drum gently and the waterfalls singing and the green girl dances. A rabbit watches them from where she sits on a rock beside the creek. The moon is full and shining brightly, the mother rabbit’s nose twitches and she perks up her ears and turns toward a white slab bridging the creek. There is a body spread out on the slab, gleaming in the moonbeams, arms spread out like eagle wings that have a five foot wing span from finger tip to finger tip.
I see now what I must shoot. I take aim carefully and opening my mouth, with an exhale of breath, I fire. The arrow flies straight and true. It lands in the circle of stones under the cauldron; where the twigs and birch bark and sticks arranged there, the tinder, ignite instantly ablaze. The antlered man drums harder, the waterfall sings louder, the girl tosses her head while she lifts up her legs and dances around the cauldron, dropping her circlet of flowers into the bubbling water, which she stirs with her polished antler. The mother rabbit rolls a cup toward the girl, and she fills it with the bubbling brew in her cauldron and dances over to where the body lays on the slab. She pours the brew over the body and refills the cup then does it again and again. Eight times she pours the brew over the body and then its eyes open and it rises off the slab and stretches in the moonlight before joining the dance. The mother rabbit runs off into the woods, a fawn darts out and drinks from the creek watching the green girl and the reborn dance with joy while the antlered man drums and the waterfalls sing their happiness.
I hear Baseer’s voice speaking again.
“You may remove the blindfold now.”
I do so and see that where there was a bow and arrow in my hands, now there is a butterfly rising.
“Now you are Seeing Woman,” he says.