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The Pool May 31, 2015

Posted by wimynspeak in Bee Write!, General.
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She heard the hawk’s piercing call and felt as if it was especially for her. She had sat so still for so long, waiting, waiting for a sign, a cry that would beckon her. She opened her eyes now and scanned the skies. There it was, coming out of the trees and heading her way. Silent now, it circled overhead, tracing a spiral path that moved lower and lower with each ever-tightening circle, until it was just above her and then, unbelievably, perched on her shoulder.

“Breathe!” the hawk whispered in her ear, and only then did she realize she was holding her breath. She took a great gulp of air and let it out slowly as the hawk instructed, relaxing her muscles as she did so. “That’s better,” the hawk said, settling comfortably onto her perch. “Keep breathing and listen.”

She did.

At first all she could hear was her own breath as it escaped in soft sighs. Then, as her stillness and listening deepened, she could also hear the fainter intake of air through her nose and its movement into her lungs. Hold. Then the sigh of release. When she had become fully attuned to her own breath, she realized she could also hear the hawk’s breath as well as its strong heartbeat next to her ear.

They sat like this for a long time, breathing, listening, deepening. As they sat, the sun arced across the sky, creating moving shadows, that appeared then disappeared, as if in a choreographed dance, but the woman and the hawk saw none of this. When the sun had fallen well below the horizon and the sky had taken off its flashy pinks and purples and donned its black velvet cloak, the hawk whispered once again in her ear, “It is time.”

The woman did not know what this meant, but as the hawk took off, she followed it. She had no idea where they were going, and could not see the path, but the hawk flew in front of her, leaving behind only a trace of sound for her to track in the deep, deep dark. Somehow, even in this darkest of dark places, the woman’s feet managed to miss the loose stones and rambling roots that might have tripped her up.

Someone else’s beliefs might have kept her from taking this journey at all, but the woman was ready to go all out for what she knew would be the richest of treasures, if only she persisted. Another ripple of sound caressed her ear and she turned toward the left, following it blindly, never once doubting the hawk’s purpose for calling her — though she had no idea what that purpose might be. All would be revealed.

At last she heard the hawk come to rest and she stopped a few paces away. Standing still, she could allow her eyes to adjust to the dark. At first she could see nothing but trees so close around her, then the path, the hawk, and the sun barely peeking over the horizon. Beyond the hawk stood a large flat rock upon which a narrow stream of water trickled, glistening in the rising sun and filling a pool at the great rock’s base.

The woman approached the pool and saw that it was clear, like glass. Not a ripple marred its smooth surface. She bent over the pool and saw her own familiar face, but watched in horror as the image appeared to be engulfed in flames, melting into the pool and leaving nothing of itself — of her — behind. The woman took a shocked breath and would have moved away from this frightening vision, but there was the hawk again, on her shoulder, whispering, “Stay!”

And so she did.

She forced herself to keep her eyes open as one gruesome, graphic image after another was illuminated in the pool. After each, the hawk reminded her to breathe, until finally she was able to witness the devastation without becoming tense, without forgetting to breathe; indeed, without judgment or emotion. She had always thought that the opposite of emotional response was apathy, but realized now that apathy itself was an emotion. What she was experiencing  went beyond emotions, a wordless place of endless possibilities that, within the confines of a limited human vocabulary, could only be called Love.

Whispering in the Panther’s Ear February 7, 2014

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The panther settled down in the brush near the edge of the path, alert and awake; so still that an owl landed on her back and a great blue heron walked by without a care, close enough that the big cat could have had an easy dinner, if she chose. The cat was hungry, so it took some willpower to stay focused. But she was strong and knew her purpose, so even when the owl’s talons dug into her back and the heron stopped at the nearby pond to search for her own dinner, the panther remained motionless.

The cat’s mistress, a wise woman wrapped in a cape of iridescent peacock feathers, watched her beloved pet and colleague from her perch high on the hill. A full moon shone through a misty haze and lit the woman’s face with a luminescent glow. There was nothing to do now but wait. The woman watched the cat, as the cat watched the path, and the moon made its way across the dark sky.

Just as it seemed nothing would happen, and the woman was about to call the cat back, she saw a ripple of movement in the air near the big cat’s head: the flutter of tiny wings. A hummingbird was whispering in the panther’s ear . . .

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