750words Feb 2 2015 ~ The Chipmunk Dance

The chipmunk dance was first introduced at a ceremony celebrating the arrival of the new moon, that tiny crescent of light tilted in the night sky like a fragile scoop honed from honeyed sunshine and hung high on the wall of el noche.

Man noted the slim elegance of this moon’s presence above the horizon and coincidentally movements of a furred animal with thin stripes of white running parallel over its shoulders and along its spine. Man was happy under the moon and over the chipmunk because, indeed, he was over the chipmunk as his shadow–thrown from the light of leaping flames unfurling toward dark heaven–flooded and pooled about the equally happy creature. Thus, Man identified the shape of the shadow as the shape of himself and movements of the chipmunk as the movements within himself as if he, himself, were the shadow and the chipmunk was, indeed, within Man’s self.

And so it was that Man began to dance, incorporating the pawed chipmunk’s movements, twitching and switching directions within the shadow and within the man, both chipmunk and man looking skyward from time to time and finding the tiny crescent of moon tilted above them. Crickets, cicadas, whipporwills, owls, loons and mammoths provided the rhythm of night’s music while the chipmunk danced within Man’s shadow and Man gyrated within the slim moon’s light.

As the moon gradually crossed the starlit sky, Woman appeared. She was as natural to the landscape as the grass, yet Man had never before seen her (or any woman for that matter) and he lost a few beats of the rhythm, and stumbled forward into his shadow very nearly stepping on the chipmunk. To step on the chipmunk would’ve been like stepping on his own heart because, by then, chipmunk and Man were integrated into one, or at least they believed they were, and we all know how the beliefs of Man are sacrosanct (not certain what sacrosanct means exactly but it seems to the author to fit in this line and so she will leave it there for the moment).

When Man nearly stepped on the chipmunk, a small gasp escaped from Woman’s lips and Man noticed her mouth and how the slip of light from the fragile scoop of the moon seemed to make her lips glisten with dew and how her eyes seemed lit from within with tiny fires of broken blue, the blue broken by wheat-colored gold and new-hay green and the tiniest petals of lilac blooms–and he stumbled anew–and not just because of Woman’s eyes.

Something inexplicable was happening and he knew not how to control it–even if he had wanted to control it–which he didn’t. His shadow was growing. And within his shadow, the chipmunk (who, meanwhile, had continued with a frenzied chipmunk dance while dodging Man’s awkward footing and dangerous sways) was growing within Man’s shadow.

Woman made note of these alterations to Man, Man’s Shadow, the small furry creature who danced in Man’s shadow. She moistened her lips. She was a healer. She could help Man. And she did.

She embraced and nurtured him through the phases of the moon, from new and crescent to half and full and through all the waning to half and crescent and new—and vice versa—through many seasons. As she did so, the chipmunk chittered and danced and chittered some more. He wasn’t alone. Other chipmunks arrived. They drank acorn wine and imbibed in daisy-chain chipmunkallia. Saber-toothed squirrels arrived to see what all the noise was about. And unicorns. A whole herd of unicorns came—sources for some pointed arguments about which there seemed no resolutions. (Note: Contrary to myth and legend, unicorns are vicious hooved beasts who stick their sharpened two cents in everywhere without permission and with no sense of decorum. Their absence from the modern world is due primarily to these vile tendencies—well, that, and the ride they missed on the ark.)

Long story short: Man found himself with Woman, Woman with Man. Most men have forgotten the bonding between the first man and the chipmunk who danced in his shadow and within his being–but not all.

I, the anonymous author of this informative piece soon to be posted on Wikipedia, have met one such Man—a man who celebrates the chipmunk, who dances the dance, who heals and is healed by Woman. Unfortunately, names must remain hidden.

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Rope for Her : an After Words Fable

In the beginning rope for her meant a way out.  It was long and made of small hairs that fall off the backs of black and white cows so that when all of the hairs were hand knit together they made a checkerboard of light and dark diamonds.  The rope was exceedingly strong, the knitting done by tiny hands too small to do anything else and the owners of such hands, to stay useful and secure their jobs, did the knitting with such precision and earnest desires that their ropes were made like no others. She liked to look at the rope, she did, but she really hadn’t the need of one, not then, not when she had no desire to leave a place where she was content.

     After a while, and because the rope was left out where it could be admired, attached as it was to a ring in a high wall in case she changed her mind and needed a way out – after a while the rope began to be eaten by small hair-eating bugs who preferred the black hairs to the white.  This left her with a rope that looked as if it had been made of white lace!  A dainty rope!  A beautiful rope!  But not a rope for escape.  So what?  She thought very little about leaving.  Things were not so bad.  And she had the lace rope to admire.  She couldn’t complain.

     When a complaint appeared one day in her throat, like a frog in the throat of a nervous speaker, the appearance of lace the rope had once had – had vanished.  What remained looked like dirty string – common dirty string.  She let the complaint stay lodged in her throat, not even a whisper emerged.  After awhile, she forgot how to make sound.  Even song had begun to sound like complaint to the ears of those who could hear; and they weren’t very big on complaint of any kind.  The safest thing, with only a string of what once was a rope, was quiet.

     She lived in quiet for a very long time.  The string rotted away, disappeared into nothing, just as her voice had done.  And her eyes, which, from time to time, had seemed somehow accusatory to her keepers, her eyes she had taken to keeping closed for long periods of time, until, when she opened them now, they were all the same color of white.  When irises are unneeded, they take offense and go.  Just so with hers.  They’d left half an eon ago.  But her ears were still the same.  Well, not exactly the same.  With age they’d grown bigger, longer, wider.  And her hearing, because there was only that one sense (other than feeling, oh, well, and smelling), had grown keener over the passing years.

     Thus it was that she heard the root of a distant tree.  Ear pressed to one stone in the wall of her keep, she heard pebbles move.  True, they moved at a very slow pace, but move they did.  After a time, the root broke a stone from the upper wall, not far from the ancient ring where the black and white diamond-patterned rope once hung in all its meticulous glory. 

Daily the root grew.  She could not see it with her white eyes, and she could not feel it, it was far too high up yet to touch, but she could hear it.  And she could smell it, earthy like a potato, but not.  She would make a sound in celebration of such a rescue as that the root would provide, but she could not, even if she remembered how, her lips had grown together in such a way that no sound could escape.  When, after a very long time, the root reached the floor of the keep, it waited there offering a barely perceptible dangle.  How sad for her that at the very moment the root came within reach she found her bones all knit together!  She could not move, in any direction.  Slowly, her ears filled with dust and webs and spiders.  Eventually, the root, tired of waiting, took off again with a growth spurt, feeling its way around the circular well where she had lived for such a long time that she had been forgotten.  The root grew through her then, never even realizing. 

In the spring, the blossoms on the tree, the one that seems always to be reaching for a sky it can’t quite reach, are all the same color of white.

 

 

[after W.S. Merwin, Hope for Her, The Book of Fables]

The Knife Maker

 

The knife maker didn’t start out with a perfect knife.  He was a keeper of birds and at that time there were birds that came to be known as “jays” which were kept for their feathers-more blue than ocean or sky, weightless as the web of a spider, tough as lichen on a rock and the rock hosting the lichen.   Even the shade whispered in awe at their brightness, blinked at their sharp cutting tails that flashed like blades of blue glacier ice at the bird’s whim.  The knife maker gathered the feathers from the birds’ pens for the fashion industry of the day and took them to the long paths of women who nimbly knit them together with the sinew of stringy ducks’ legs, making long gowns of iridescent blue, indescribable blue-gowns bartered away by the knife maker’s mountain people with shore peoples who traded shells with sharpened edges for the dresses.    The sharpened shells made breakable scrapers and weapons that shattered in the hand and the knife maker, keeper of birds, watching the feathered tails of the jays in their shaded pens, watching the shade flinch at the sharpness and shape of those tails, picked up a hard stone and began shaping it with another, honing away the lichens and honing the sides into the sharpness, if not the color, of the jays’ tails. 

 

After mountain knives were perfected, feather dresses weren’t needed for barter and jays were freed from their high-netted pens to scatter the skies over valley and shore. There were no shore people left, no one to wear the blue gowns once the knife-maker perfected his craft. The jays began squawking. They have squawked ever since.

It is said that when the knife maker puts away his hard shaping stone that the jays will warble arias of great beauty. In September of the year two thousand and eight, this has not happened to date.

  

[After W.S. Merwin, “The Broken,” The Book of Fables]