When I awoke in the morning light. The woman was awake and looking into my eyes…I looked back into her eyes and felt the sweetness of that sharing, it had been so long. I breathed in the smells of the place; the smoke of the fire, the smell of the woman, the skins which lay on top of us, the left-over shells of the rock fish and a faint hint of urine. All the scents felt good to me. It felt good to be alive and touching another person. I listened to the sound of yoshi crashing over and over again against the land. I imagined the water caressing the land. I lay there enjoying the moment looking into her eyes until she looked away and stood up.
She walked over to the stack of small twigs and used them to quickly revive the fire. I felt the urgent need to pee, so I stood up and looked around. The woman pointed at the pot she had used already. So I guessed she meant we should share the one pot. Lifting the lid a strong odor of the woman’s old piss came wafting out. I held my breath and knelt down, to make my penis close to the pot as I pissed. The woman, let me know that I needed take the pot outside to empty it.
Outside, there was a heavy mist, I could feel the moisture against my skin. The air was still, but their were many sounds. The mist made the sounds I heard in the distance a mystery. I recognized the constant roaring sound of the water that the woman called yoshi and I was eager to see it. There was also a screeching of a birds and a kind of strange barking sound. I looked around for the animals creating the sounds but could only see the old abandoned huts of the village. So I walked around a little, peering into some of the huts and finding them all abandoned long ago. Some were collapsing and all were untended except the one in which the woman lived. That smell in the air, it must be the endless waters that my father spoke of. I breathed deeply, drinking in the thick air, not wanting to go back into the hut which seemed confining after my long journey sleeping in the open air.
As I listened to the roar of the water I felt an urge to see what it was making such a noise. I walked toward the sound, until I came to the edge of a very tall cliff. Looking down through the mist I saw the rocky edge of the waters and watched as wave after wave smashed against the rocks throwing white water high into the air. It was as though the water was angry with the earth. I stood and watched, amazed at how the waves lifted themselves and how they turned white as the water came crashing back down. It was like the waves I had watched on bad bear lake, only so much bigger. I imagined it was a huge creature which lifted itself up, reaching out and then falling back down again and again.
In that moment I thought of sawat who had followed me here. I wondered where she was now, perhaps watching me from the edge of the mist. Then I remembered the woman and the hut. She would be waiting for me wondering what was taking me so long. It was a novel feeling, to have someone waiting for me again.
After returning to the woman’s hut I replaced the piss pot and watched as she prepared herself by putting on her coverings. Her clothes were made of a very soft thin hide and fit close to her body. They were skillfully made and held together with stitches of very thin string. Before walking out into the mist we each picked up a leather pouch, I following the woman. I walked behind her and admired how she walked, her feet were bare, her toes reached out for certain places in the path, knowingly. There was a confidence in her walk and a sway in her body which made me sigh.
She led me down a steep path which ended just where the river flowed into a wide marshy area, thick with reeds. Then I followed her along a path close to the base of the cliff which soon opened up onto a large sandy beach.
I could see and hear the waves up close now. They threw themselves onto the sand, flowing way up onto the sandy beach and then flowing way back down. Sometimes I thought the waves would come up and wash us away, but they always stopped short of touching us or they tickled our feet lightly as we walked along the beach. The sun broke through the mist as we walked, and the warmth felt good against my skin. The woman stopped and pointed out over the water.
This is yoshi…. everything begins and ends with yoshi.
…..There are times when the thoughts of things past flow through me like a river.
….the days I spent here with my husbands,
…and as a child ……with my parents,
….I played here with my friends; the boy with the spotted face and the boy with a laugh like a hawk.
…So much of my life is here on this beach.
….The memories pull on me sometimes and I wonder if I should join them there.
…. in the shadows.
Then I look to yoshi and I know that somehow all of it is held by her, I know I must wait for my own time.
We walked side by side, close to each other. I remembered feeling the same heaviness of life, when I was alone for so long. I felt the opposite now that I had found her and I hoped that my presence would lift the heaviness from her.
We walked to the end of the beach toward a rocky outcropping. We climbed up onto the rocks carrying our leather pouches. The woman pointed out where the water crashed against the rocks. I could see they were not just rocks, but full of many living things which clung to them. The woman showed me how to walk far out onto the rock when the wave left and then run back up when a new wave came in. While doing this, the woman pointed out a patch of black shells clinging to the rocks. Then we took off their coverings and set them down on the dry rocks in the sun. We walked out into the water, then let the cold water crash against us as we tried to hold ourselves against it. As I reached down to grab some of the rock fish a big gush of cold water knocked me over, it tumbled me over and over until I ended up in the sand on the beach. I was able to stand up quickly and did my best to get the stinging water out of my eyes and nose. The woman recovered my pouch which had been torn out of my hand by the crashing wave. She stood looking at me with a smile on her face. At first I felt anger, then humiliation and finally I smiled back at her.
Your softhorn is like a shy flower…shrinking up and hiding when it is cold.
I realized that is what she was calling my penis. I looked down and saw that it was now very small and my balls were hidden completely.
I had forgotten…. my husbands’ were the same way.
We sat in the sun together, warming ourselves. We watched the waves crashing one after the other. I felt mesmerized by the waves, they never failed to arrive on time, one after the other. I watched the birds soaring overhead and then diving into the water. I saw the animal which was the source of the barking noise, a huge animal that lay on the rocks like a giant slug with short fur. Occasionally one of them would raise up its head and bark, I could see that they had a face, like a wolf or a coyote.
What happened to your husbands?
The woman looked at me, as though I was a small child.
They are gone now… It has been years since I’ve felt their skin on my hands.
The woman moved next to me pressing her body against mine. She reached down and placed her hand on the my thigh. Stroking my thigh, she watched as my “softhorn” stood up straight, pointing at her. Then she wrapped her fingers around it, holding it in her hand. With her other arm she reached around my back and held me like that for a time.
I can fell the beat of your heart in your softhorn.
I felt the softness of her breasts against my back. We sat their together in the sun, on the warm rocks enjoying that feeling, until the woman let go of my softhorn.
There is time for more of this later…now it is time to gather our food.
We walked back out into the water, running and dodging the waves. We climbed onto the rock and began pulling the hard black creatures off the rocks. Then when our bags were full we walked back onto the beach.
We walked home together, feeling the warm sand in our toes with each step. The woman held my hand as we walked side by side. We boiled the creatures we gathered in water, and watched as they opened up, exposing their soft flesh inside. We ate them there, near the fire before the darkness came.
It seemed like we were melting together, we touched each other as we moved, looking into each others’ eyes, thinking each others’ thoughts. After eating, the mist began creeping through the cracks in the hut. I could feel the cold damp air moving in quickly.
The woman fixed tea over the fire, and we sat next to each other uncovered, skin touching skin. But then she stood up and sat on the other side of the fire still holding her tea. She sat cross-legged looking at me just how she did when I first walked through her door. I sat cross-legged, looking back at her.
What good is the dance when no one is watching?……
She paused for a long time looking deep into my eyes.
I have danced that dance too many times. It is the separation which brings life. It is your eyes on me which tells me that we both exist.
In the time of the many people, they had a picture which they called a puzzle. The puzzle was many small pieces that fit together and formed one larger picture. I have many stories from that time, each one is like a small piece of that bigger picture.
A woman lived there. A tall, straight haired woman with skin the color of a deer hide. When she walked on the hard paths of her village many men looked her way. But there was one who looked her way and then turned away when she looked at him. Of course this is the one that interested her. She knew that this was one that would not command her, this was one who would listen to her.
It was a hard place to live, and it was hard times. In our village when we want food we go out and find it, when we want a hut we make it with what surrounds us. In that place and in those times there were only a few things a person was allowed to do to get food and a place to live. The tall straight haired woman lived in a tall building made of stone and metal and glass. Her bed was a soft as the downy feathers of a bird. Water ran right into her hut when she wanted it. And food was easy for her. She could walk into many nearby places and food would be made for her while she waited.
But there was something she had to do to get all these things, she had to dance in front of many people. They would watch and cheer and clap for her, encouraging her to do more. It made her smile to have people watch her as she danced.
The man also had something he did for his life; he prepared food for others. He worked inside his hut on the side of the hard path. The tall woman stopped to eat his food. She spoke to him saying, “a good meal is like a good dance, it is here to enjoy for a short time and then it is gone.”
She said,”I like your dimples” He said, “I like how you walk. It is as though you dance when you move.”
This dancer could find out whatever she wanted to know about this cook. In those times all the people were wired together like the nerves in our bodies. She could know who his mother and father were, what he did as a child and all the bad things he had done in his life. She could even know the shape of his thoughts. But he could not know these things about her, because she lived near the brain while he lived out near a finger somewhere.
Some time went by and she stopped by his stand almost everyday… to eat…talk…look into each others eyes…and learn about each other. One day she handed him a key, it was a small piece of plastic with a code embedded in it. He knew what this meant. He knew this was a key to a room, he knew if he handed the key back to her, it was saying “no” and he might never see her again. If he kept the key it meant he agreed live in the room she had given him.
He lived inside a large open building with many other men. Each man had their own small bed but they slept on an open floor together. It was a hard place to live but he was used to it, he liked to see his friends. The dancer lived in her own large lodge, bigger than anything we have ever built here in this place. She had other rooms nearby where she kept other men to help make her more comfortable.
The cook kept the key that the tall dancer had given him. He found the room she had given him and used the key to enter. It was a large room with a soft bed and water that came inside and washed away his pee and his stools. He could stand under the warm water and it would wash his whole body. He felt happy to have so much comfort.
When the dancer came home she knocked on his door. She showed him her place which was many times bigger than the room she had given him. She showed him the place where he could cook the meals for herself and her wife and the other men who lived there.
This was a surprise to him, he had dreamed of the dancer caressing him and him caressing her. Now he did not know what his future was.
This is the start of a longer story and I will tell it to you over many more nights, but now, this is a good place to stop. Now… I need to hear more of your tales and how you have lived.
I remember listening to her so closely, I didn’t want to talk or think I just wanted to be near her listening to the sound of her voice, looking at her body and smelling her scent.
We were once a small band, where we lived in the high mountains….mother would tell us stories of the people who had passed there. She was a child when they were fathers and mothers….She only had misty pictures of them in her mind.
Mother would sometimes tell us a story about the bones of the limping man….
In those days, there were several people, they called themselves a village. Though there were so few that they all lived together in one big lodge in the winter. It was big enough for kids to run around and play games. It was built half underground and the rest was a covered with a large curved shape roof. It was tree limbs covered with hardened mud and from the outside you could not tell it was anything but part of the hillside. The smoke hole was also the entrance. And there was a ladder which they used to get in and out of the smoke hole.
Our family lived in the same lodge… when I grew up.
Some winters the snow would lay thick everywhere and they spent all their time inside the lodge. Sometimes the winter snows lasted too long. As kids they just wanted to run outside, just as they did when it was sunny. They walked in the snow outside with warm foot covers. Sometimes they would walk just on the top crust of the snow when the adults fell through. Sometimes even the kids would sink deep into the snow, if it was fresh or soft from the sun.
When the snows lasted a long time, their food began to run out. The men started chattering about how to get more food. They usually talked about hunting rabbits because rabbits stayed in the mountains in the winter snows. The deer all left to the valleys below.
One year the snows came as tall as a man stands, it was a thin summer for tree nuts and deer. They were all very hungry all the time. The men would go out and hunt rabbits but soon even the rabbits were gone. The men started talking about the fish in bad bear lake. It was the limping man who was the best fish catcher. He knew how to think like a fish, he could read the water better than anyone.
He left that morning putting on the snow-walking shoes and they all watched him as he climbed out of the lodge and walked down toward bad bear lake, leaving wide prints in the snow. But soon the winds and the clouds came and the snow fell fast. So fast that all the trees were thick with snow, and it was still morning. They all waited for the limping man to return. They waited all night and into the next day. Still the snow kept coming. Their thoughts reached out and tried to enter his mind. When the snow came he would turn around and come back. He could not catch fish in this wind and snow is what they thought.
The limping man never did return. The kids all kept waiting for him, wondering if they might see him as the snow melted and the sun felt warm. They were all so thin and hungry that winter, they chewed on their deer-hide covers at night. Another one, they called white hair went out to bad bear lake and brought some fish back, but he never saw the limping man.
When the snow turned to patches, they all went out to look for the limping man but no one could find him. Then on a day when they were gathering mint leaves for tea by the big meadow, mother walked over to a tree at the edge of the meadow and saw some bones lying at the base of the tree. When they all looked closer they found things which belonged to the limping man. His winter coverings, his snow walking shoes and the necklace the limping man used to wear. That is when they all knew that it was the limping man who must have died there.
They gathered near that spot where the limping man died. They built a large fire there at the edge of the meadow. Long into the night they told stories of the limping man from what they could remember. They all slept there, near where he died, for one night. They never touched or moved his bones, his clothes or his necklace. Whenever they returned to pick the mint leaves they would visit his bones underneath the tree at the edge of the meadow.
When I was a child we would also visit that spot and there were still a few bones left there.
The way the woman looked at me as I told that story made me want to do my best. I thought hard about what was true and I didn’t try to fill in parts that were half-forgotten. Once I was finished she stared directly into my eyes from across the fire and I wondered what she thought. But she did not say anything. She stood up to gather more wood for the fire, then sat down again across from me with her legs folded openly.
We have a story about the crow with the broken wing.
Many years ago before those people who are alive today can remember and some time before that. A crow came into our village. His wing was broken and he could not fly. He was very tired and starved, very close to death. A young girl took pity on him and began to feed him and brought him inside with her. The crow regained his strength and began to walk proudly again as crows often do. But still his wing remained broken and dragged along on the ground beside him.
The young girl brought this crow with her wherever she went, and soon he began to speak like a person. He would say only certain words and sentences over and over. The crow’s words were a mystery to everyone, they were not something anyone knew of or spoke of before. Usually children repeat what their parents say, until we grow older and learn to make our words sound new and fresh. But the crow was not like a child learning the words for the first time.
The first words the crow with the broken wing began to say were, “Draw me a picture without any form”. The girl wondered what this meant or if it meant anything. Was this a piece of wisdom that the crow knew or was somehow passing along? And she thought about it for a long time. How can anyone draw a picture without any form?
The girl started to sit near the village center with her crow where people walked by. They began to hear what the bird said and began to wonder about the bird. The next thing the crow began to say was, “The sound moves but the truth remains.”
While the first thing sounded like a riddle, these words sounded like an ancient truth. The people in the village began to take notice of this crow and the girl who carried him. His words sounded so mysterious, some began to think his voice came from the ancient ones, what we called the wisdom of babies.
The girl was invited to the lodge of the old mothers. It is the lodge which still stands near the center of our village. It was usually only for older women who had gained respect in the village, they were chosen to make decisions for our village. She brought the crow with the broken wing along with her and sat in their circle.As the old mothers sat around their fire talking about plans for the village, how the families got along, the food that needed to be shared, the children that needed to be born, and their plans for the ceremonies ahead, the young girl sat and listened without saying anything. But every so often the crow would say something and the old mothers would stop and listen and think for a bit.
The crow said many different things over the years of his life and the girl remembered all of them. She was a woman when the crow died and it saddened her that his story had come to an end. She cried and mourned as if it was her child but when she was done, she felt her own life was more defined than before. She continued to be invited to the old mothers circles, but now it was her who said the things that the crow with the broken wing would say. She would sit and listen quietly until something the mothers were saying would spark something inside her, and she would repeat one of the crow’s phrases. Almost as if someone else was moving her to speak.
She lived to be a very old woman with two children and many children of children. In the old mothers’ circle she never said anything more than those phrases she had learned, but the mothers gave her more honor than anyone else. There was always at least one young girl who chose to learn the words of the crow with the broken wing and carry on with the words after the first girl turned into an old woman and died.
The words of the crow with the broken wing stayed with our village always. Even today…I was the girl who learned the words the first girl had remembered. That is why our village is called the crow’s village.
I sat there thinking about the woman’s story for awhile. It seemed hard to believe that a crow could somehow come up with the talk of people. But it was a story, and like some of the pictures that I drew, it did not have to show all the details. I know that’s how most of the stories of “monsters” my father used to tell were meant. But the woman’s story reminded me of a different kind of story.
In the early times, our village tried to stay hidden from outsiders. It was hard to trust anyone in those times. Maybe they carried the walking death. Maybe they were looking for slaves. Maybe they were an outcast for a good reason.
On one day, a pair of hunters spotted an old man hiking on a nearby trail. When they saw this man they had to decide; should they kill him, should they let him alone, or should they greet him. They decided to greet him, and when they talked to him they decided he was a harmless old man and took pity on him. They brought him back to our lodge. Not everyone wanted him to stay, there was much discussion about it.
So they put the question to him; who was he? and what was he seeking? His reply was, “Jesus said, love your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second commandment which grows out of the first is; love the other ones as you do yourself. These two commandments are the foundation of all laws and stories.”
That is when they noticed he carried a book with him. They recognized this book as one that carried many stories from before the time of many people. What he had chosen to read from this book, helped them to decide it was safe to let him stay. And he lived with them for many years before he died. Most days he would sit in his corner of the lodge staring at the pages of his book. He never told stories of his own life, only the stories he had learned from the book.
Our people looked at the pages of his book and saw they were just black and white. And his stories were the same way. They had no color, no shadow, no reflected light, no softness. His stories always commanded they never seduced. They felt sorrow for him because he never seemed to connect to all those things around him.
The old man would often read these stories from his book while they shared by the night fire. Mostly his stories were never repeated by others and most of them soon became forgotten after he died. His book was lost as were most of his stories. But there were a few of his stories that were retold and passed down. I remember one that my mother used to tell:
In those ancient times, the old man of the desert made the laws by which they all lived. His law said that if a woman touches and caresses a man without the tribe’s approval that woman will be tied up and the tribe should throw stones at her until she dies. But many, many year later in the time of the son of man, his tribe caught a woman that caressed and touched a man that was not approved by the tribe. They tied her up and prepared to throw stones at her, as an example to other women who might do the same thing. They came to the son, because he was their leader and they said, “you know what the law is, now we want you to approve of her death”. But the son didn’t say anything, he just stooped over and wrote marks on the ground with his finger. He stalled for time to gather his thoughts. Then he stood up and said,”Let the person who has never broken a law throw the first stone”. He knew that the harshness of this law would be seen, if each one looked at their own lives and saw they were unable to follow these laws themselves. No one picked up a stone and threw it, because all of them realized that they had broken many laws themselves. That is how this leader from ancient times saved the life of a woman. And he saved his tribe from the cruelness of rules of the days long passed.
Much later this leader became famous for his kindness and his courage to stand up to the many harsh rules from the olden times. He was never able to change those rules himself and he died in the most cruel way they could imagine for him. But still his story was retold again and again during the time of many people. Something about his courage and his kindness spoke to the people from that time.
After I had finished that story, the woman stood up, walked around the fire and sat down next to me. She placed her hand on my thigh and caressed the inside of my thigh until my soft-horn stood up for her. I looked into her eyes. I saw her softness. She touched her lips against mine and at the same time her hands explored my body, finding my soft sensitive places and I opened up to her. We let the fire die down and together we lay under her big bear-skin. Underneath us was a thick pile of softened deer-hides. We lay there, soaking in the feeling of skin touching skin, a feeling that we were both starving for. The woman turned me over with my back toward her front and she reached her arm over me. I could feel her breasts and the coarse hair between her legs pressing against my back. Then she grabbed my softhorn and began to stroke it very smoothly, pressing, squeezing and sliding as if she knew exactly how it felt. I felt my spasms of pleasure very quickly and more intensely than ever before. I remember letting out a squeal of pleasure. Afterwards she seemed to admire her work, looking at my warm liquid all over her hand and then coating my belly with it. We lay their together savoring the moment until I was lost to sleep.
I woke early that morning, the woman’s arm was still wrapped around my chest. I felt like she had taken some kind of ownership of me and it was a good feeling. It gave me a sense of being wanted and cared about. After spending so many years with just the animals as company, that human feeling was good to feel. Carefully I slid out from under her arm, she let me go, in her dreamy state of awareness. Looking at the sleeping woman I admired her face. I felt the dried liquid on my belly, it clung to the hair below my navel. Looking at her hand I recreated that feeling of her stroking me in my mind. Her holding my softhorn tightly and squeezing, with a touch that seemed to know. Then there was that moment of me letting go and letting the ecstasy flow through my body. I always thought it felt like a small glimpse of death. It made my softhorn stand up again just thinking about it.
I continued to look at the woman’s face and watch her breasts moved up and down with her breath, it occurred to me that she looked to be about the same age as my mother when she had died.
I started the fire that morning, and boiled the rockfish. The woman smiled to see me. We exchanged no words but touched each other softly, both of us still uncovered, little bumps appearing on the woman’s skin from the cold air. After crouching to fill the pee pot, she sat close to me, warming herself with my heat. Soon she began to speak.
I’ve had three husbands so far….
The woman paused there and stood up to add sticks to the fire, poking at it a bit. As she stood over me I could see the goddess flowing out of her and into me. I observed the curve of her body and the texture of her skin. The dark hair between her legs made me melt with longing. My softhorn began to grow as the goddess flowed into me. She sat back down next to me, holding it in her hand as she pressed her lips against my cheek. She smiled at my awkwardness. I wondered if she felt as drawn to me as I did to her.
My husbands all grew hair on their faces. It is nice to feel a smooth cheek with my lips.
At that time I was still too young to have much hair on my face. I looked down at the fire as I remembered how she had stroked me in the dark. That morning, it was just a light squeeze and a kiss.
I will search for wood this morning?
Yes,… its cold.
Sometimes this place is like living inside a river. The mist is always blowing off the water. Our huts are like little boats floating on a river of mist.
It sounded as if she was trying to make peace with herself about feeling cold. Complaining about the cold mist, but making it sound poetic at the same time. It was as if she held onto some bigger picture and she could put she could keep this small discomfort in perspective. As I grew to know her better I became familiar with her poetic complaints.
I prepared to go outside. I wrapped myself in deerskin and pushed my way under the door flap and out into the heavy mist and blowing wind. The land looked so much different than it did yesterday. The trail was hidden in the mist, all I could see was a few steps in front of me. I listened to the sound of the waves and the barking of the seals. The wind made a whistling noise as it blew through the grasses. It made a different sound as it blew across each hut. I realized that this was no accident. Each hut had a kind of large whistle attached to it, creating a single long note as the wind blew through it. I covered myself from the wind and walked beyond the border of the village and into the nearest trees. I picked up what sticks I saw and began to build a small pile.
As I worked I heard the crackling of a twig next to me. Startled, I turned around to look. There… close enough to touch me stood, sawat. I stood frozen… staring, I could feel my blood pounding in my ears. She lifted her hand and slowly placed it on my shoulder. I looked up into her eyes, she was looking down into mine. Underneath the smell of her fur-cover I could smell her body, it reminded me of the woman’s smell, only stronger. As she looked down at me, her fur cover was open and I could see her white skinned body underneath. I noticed the size and strength of her muscles. I felt drawn to her nakedness, but at the same time in fear she might break my neck. But instead I saw longing in her eyes. I could see her face was hairless, her mouth and lips large and her nose flat. On her head, her hair stood out wildly and it was bright orange like the dirt I had seen on my journey to this place.
I had a vision of her being lonely and longing for a companion. We stood staring into each others eyes for a long moment. I had never heard her talk and assumed she couldn’t. So I spoke to her.
Her eyes widen, as to let me know she heard.
We have always called you sawat.
She didn’t make a noise. She wrapped her arms around me in a powerful embrace. I could feel her muscles pulling me close to her, my face was pressed against her bare chest. I felt the softness of her small breasts and my softhorn began to stretch out as she held me there. But then quickly she let go, turned and disappeared into the mist.
I wanted to follow her but she moved so quickly I would never catch her. I waited there gathering more wood, hoping she’d return. She didn’t.
I hardly noticed the path as I returned to the hut with the wood. My thoughts were on sawat, remembering how I had dreamed of the two of us sitting together floating on a raft. And wondering if this could be the giant woman of father’s stories.
The woman noticed the distant look in my eyes when I returned.
I have heard of the bear/woman…
It was always said that she lives in the high mountains…
She has the voice of a crying baby.
I was startled by her words, it was as though she knew my thoughts.
Sawat was out there…
She wrapped her arms around me.
I heard her footsteps in the night. She must have followed you here.
It was sawat who led me to you.
We both sat silently for a time.
There are still many strange things left over from the old land. Mostly they are ghosts now. It is hard to tell where the dreams stop. In the old land there were no dreams, only solid things.
When I was a small girl I used to ask my mother why the old mother left the old land and brought us all to this place. Everytime I asked her, she told a different story. I would say, “but that is not the same story as last time.”. She would just say, “but it is the same story, you are just not old enough to understand yet. Someday you will understand.”
The old mother always said that in the old land they did not see in the same way we do. When they looked at a thing, they did not see the dreams which surround it and make it a part of the story. Instead they saw only the tiniest parts which are put together. Always, they were looking for smaller and smaller parts. They believed that if they could find the very smallest part, then they could write the story themselves. Like a young man who is driven to win a race or throw a spear the farthest, they were driven to capture the story and write it themselves….
It is good to laugh at our younger selves. They did not know it is no good to write the story yourself. The story needs wildness, the story needs mystery or else it is like trying to tickle yourself.
The old mother saw, that when thoughts of people became broken down into smaller and smaller parts. The dream is all around them yet they can not see it. She called this, having the eyes of a fly. It is the goddess who gives birth to the dreams and suckles them like they are her own child. The old mother sought a place where the goddess could be honored and the story could be reborn. That is why she brought her husbands and all of her followers, here to this place, crow village…
But that was so long ago it is but a distant echo in a dark cave.
I didn’t ask her anymore about the beginnings of crow village, I knew she would tell me when it was time. But her words made me wonder about the old times she spoke of and what kind of things happened then.
We slept together that night with our arms around each other. And as time passed the two of us lived together in her hut. Our bodies and minds blended. We both learned the ways to caress the other’s body making them feel good. We learned how to give each other that spasm of pleasure.
In the morning we would sit by the fire with our tea, content just being together. Later I would go collect wood and the woman would walk down to the beach, just to watch the waves moving back and forth. Later we would collect food together. Sometimes it was potatoes from the village garden, or rockfish from yoshi. Or I might go hunting alone and bring back a rabbit or a fish, I was able to spear. Before sunset we would bathe together in the river. Then around the the fire we would tell stories at night. And we would sleep together, our skin touching under the large bear-hide.
As I became comfortable in her hut, I began to play my whistle more often and I drew my pictures. I noticed my music had changed with this new place. It became full of the mist and the wind and the sounds of yoshi. The woman said my notes had a sad, lonesome sound to them. But I thought they were much brighter. I drew pictures of yoshi and of the woman.
Sometimes we would sit together on the rocks watching the yoshi….and talking.
I’ve had three husbands in my life. All three are now shadows which I still see in my dreams. We played as children on this beach digging and building villages out of sand. Small sticks were people talking to each other. Mounds of sand were lodges. Our villages in the sand were huge, filled with many people…but in life we were the last ones. It was our job to bring the story to an end.
There was the one I call bright eyes with the big crooked smile, the one I called seal face because he could bark like a seal and he looked a little like one, and the one I called tears in his eyes, because he cried so easily.
In our village each person had many names in their lives’. We did not use one name like they did in the old times. And the names came from something they did or looked like at that time in their lives’. Also, most people had a village name and a different name they were called by their lovers. Sometimes the names came from dreams. Sometimes they came from living. A mother usually gave her baby a name while it was growing inside her, and she always kept that name, even when the child became old and slow to move. The name my last husband called me was, “clouds before the moon”. To make it short he just called me “cloud”. My mother called me “horse rider”, it came from one of her dreams.
We walked side by side, our arms brushing against each other, along the beach and up the bank of the river. We followed the river until the banks turned to stones. Then carefully we stepped on the river stones at the water’s edge. Here in the sun the water flowed clear over the rocks. We stood at the edge of a deep pool and slowly eased ourselves into the water, bracing themselves against the cold. I loved to rub the woman all over with soft rabbit skin. I lingered on her sensuous crevices and curves, and she smiled pleasantly. Our skin was soon covered with the many tiny bumps and it wasn’t long before we began to shiver. Afterwards we always returned quickly to the hut and built a warm fire.
Sister used to say that sawat was always there in our thoughts…This was when we lived alone together in our lodge. It was hard to get enough food for the long winters. We were both always very thin by the time the snow melted. When she was a girl, we played games together. I can still remember the way she would smile and laugh when we joked together.
Sometimes those dreams come to me at night as though we are still playing together and mother is still watching over us while she works with her hands.
Sometimes I forget where I’m living, whether I’m here with you or there with her.
I think of all my family…they are all in the shadows now. And I think it is sawat who speaks to them still. Sawat’s eyes are their eyes watching me wander here alone in this land….
Now I am no longer alone…
Sister died one day. It was after a long winter, we were both very thin, the snow had melted and the deer had returned. We were stalking a large buck, with many branched horns. Sister walked the deer toward me as I waited… with a deer head made from a deer skin over me. I waited silently for sister to lead the large buck toward me. I waited and waited but the deer never came. When I called for sister there was no answer. My heart jumped and I ran wild calling and looking for sister. I found her laying in the water of the creek. The cold clear water of the melting snow was running across her body. She was beautiful there, wearing her soft deer-hide. Her skin so young underneath the water, and her long dark hair flowing in the current. I turned her over to look at her face.
I paused here because tears filled my eyes and my voice was broken with the thoughts of my sister’s death.
There was a dream on her face. Her eyes stared past me and she did not move or breathe. For a moment, I tried to wake her but saw that she was already with the shadows. I pulled her from the water and sat with her for a long time. I didn’t want to think about anything else. I slept there with her through the night, looking at her, touching her. In the morning I carried her to a large tree which she liked to sit under. I sat there with her, us both leaning against the tree. I took off her necklace and her buckskin and carried those back with me to our lodge. I knew the animals would find her there and her flesh would become part of theirs. I did not return until only her bones were left.
After my story the woman and I sat silently staring into the flames. The shadows shifted a bit before the woman spoke.
My first husband was the little boy we called bright eyes. We explored each other with our hands discovering those sensitive parts and softly stroking them. It was so new to both of us. I remember the expression on his face the first time I made him squirt. It was so easy with him. ….These are things which are like spirits, they came and went so quickly, I wonder if they really happened.
All three of the boys I played with as a child became my husbands but bright eyes was my first. I gave him the name soft moan because of his moan when I would stroke his softhorn. He also let out a little squeal when he was ready to squirt.
The four of us lived in a large hut which my husbands together built. Soft moan always said that somewhere there must be other people still living. There were just so many people in the old land that some must still be alive. They probably lived differently then we do, but they lived somewhere out there.
Sometimes soft moan would go on long journeys by himself. He was always searching for the other people he thought still lived somewhere. When he left he would always leave for seven days and return on the eighth.
After his return he would tell us stories of what he had seen. We were eager to hear these stories. It seemed he was always finding signs of people living in some place. Sometimes he found bones and the houses where they lived, but never did he see a living person.
Before he left on one journey, the two of us had been arguing. I had spent all day preparing for a big dance and a feast for the time of equal light and darkness. I told him it was not a good time to leave, he should stay and help and not miss the dance. He was angry…. he said we were all a dying tribe… we should give up such ceremonies because we were the only young ones left… everyone else was so old.
For those seven days I worked with my other two husbands to prepare for the dance. His words hung over us as we worked…because we saw the truth in them. Why have dances and feasts when there were so few of us still alive and mostly just old ones. All the other mothers were past their time of bleeding and their husbands were losing their strength.
Soft moan never returned on the eighth day. He never returned on any day. our dance became a calling for soft moan to return… and every dance after that one, we call for his return…but he never returned.
The woman and I became lost in our sad memories, we said nothing more all night. We only sat with our arms around each others’, holding each other and comforting with our touch. We felt our naked bodies together and slept together under the heavy bear-skin.
There were many nights under the bear-skin, feeling each other’s skin touching skin. I rubbed the woman’s hairy patch until my fingers felt the smooth liquid between her two lips. I thought about how it was like a mouth. She arched her back and pushed, then shouted with pleasure. I began to imagine a kind of power running through my body and into my fingertips allowing her to feel waves of tingling pleasure. With time, our touching became more ordinary, but the hunger kept returning again and again.
Looking back I can see how full my life was. It is easy to forget after living alone for so long. The people in my life have marked it and colored it. During those times when I lived without people, certain animals spoke to me in the same way and they marked and colored my life as well. Without those markers the time seems to be lost, almost as if it never happened.
I can see the light showing behind the rocky mountains in the east. It is clear I won’t be able to finish writing my story this night. The air is cold and crisp but I’ve kept my fire going all night. I guess I will gather more wood when the light returns and maybe some food and water as well. There is so much of my story left to write, it will probably take many more nights. I have no plans once I am finished, maybe I will just let myself die up here in the cold. Maybe my time here is over, it seems harder for me to find wonder in living. Sometimes I feel removed and looking down on myself, not caring about the beauty or the pain.
But right now I will keep moving and working. As the woman used to say, “I am here, now”. I don’t have to carry the weight of time around with me.