Life is funny sometimes.
I gathered myself in all seriousness. June has been a density surrounding me, supporting and invisible. Times I might have fallen, but did not. The miracle of buoyancy. Just this, still here, still breathing, while all around the day lilies flower.
I wanted to honor her. I wanted to let the noise subside so that I could really see her, breathe her name back to her. Give thanks. June of portals and gateways. June of launches out of the known and into the turbulent brightness of the new.
I tried, but words and protocol eluded me. I meant to bow, but instead flung myself into the grass by the Wellspring, spread-eagle under the leaf filtered sky, sighing, “Ah me,” in happy pining, like Juliet at her balcony. The sky was beautiful and breezy, the day in its heat smelled both chalky and tender. “I guess I’ll just wait here awhile,” I thought, and then the ground opened beneath me like a trap door and I plunged into darkness and void.
Not unpleasant in itself, darkness and void. There is the relief of simplicity to it, everything unfurls. I was some time falling through emptiness until I fell clear through into turbulence, churn and turmoil, the froth and rumble of tide. I was turned and tumbled and tossed out on the beach, a spit of sand.
I got to my feet, a little shakey. “Glad that’s over. Safe now.” But I wasn’t. Another monster wave came and picked me up and tossed me further up the sand. Standing again I became aware of something large and unknowable approaching me overland, and from either side shifts and flashes I could not make sense of. I grew frightened. I didn’t understand anything.
And then I heard her, through the roar of confusion, I heard her voice, sweet and small as the tinking of bells. “Make a story of it,” she said. “When everything is new and strange, you have to make stories to make sense of things, give them shape. And then you can begin to play. Oh. Can you hear me?”
“Yes. I hear you.”
“Oh! I’m so glad you’ve finally come. I’ve been waiting forever.”
I could hear her. I could sense her there, but I couldn’t quite see her. I tried, but couldn’t make her out. She was young and eager, with small cool fingers, her touch light and tentative. She was a story teller. And she had been waiting just for me.
“You’re a mess,” she said, a little sheepish, as if making known to me some intimacy I was somehow blind to. She tended to me, pouring cool clean water over me to wash off the salt and offering me a bowl to drink. She was so happy to see me, dancing in, her small fingers landing lightly on my arm, my cheek, and then falling back, uncertain. “Do you love me?” she wondered.
And I did, oh I did. I adored the young fragile brightness of her. The eager flutter, the hesitation.
It was a funny reversal, she so young and vulnerable, me so old and solid. Her tenderness called from me complete and unconditional love.
“Do you love me?”
“Oh June Bug. I do.”
“Will you keep me with you? Will you play with me. Will you?”
“I will. But why can’t I see you clearly?”
She peered close then, examining my eyes. “There’s a film over your eyes. Let’s find the story of that, shall we?”
We settled into the sand and she gathered my head eagerly into her lap, rested her cool small fingers over my eyes. She listenened a moment and then she began, “Once upon a time, just the other day, you were sleeping.”
I laughed at that and she shushed me.
“You were sleeping in the sweet cool darkness. And everything was just fine. Everything was lovely, you were sleeping. And then, a great light came into the place where you were. A great light poured all over you, waking you. And you opened your eyes and looked straight into the light. It was too bright for your eyes and burned a film over them and turned them inward so now you cannot see clearly out. You only see clearly in.”
“But isn’t this in here?”
“Yes, but it isn’t so much about where you are as how you look. Your eyes are shy of looking direct at the source and also the surfaces of things. You must look without looking. You must look instead at the shadows things cast, at the smell they leave behind, at the sound of their coming. These are the traces for you to tell. This is your telling. Look sideways. Tell that.”
She had spiderweb hair, the color of light. A sharp chin, a crooked tooth. She had a stubbed toe and scabs on her knee. She was wearing short cut-off jeans, so short the pocket poked down below the fringe. She was young. There were ink doodles on the denim. She didn’t sit still, but moved through bends and twists, holding this or that piece of herself, her elbow, her knee, her toe. She was bug-bit and scratched absently when she was thinking.
Her voice, her voice I may have mentioned, was cool and sweet as water falling into the still pool of a fountain.
I asked her what service I might offer and she couldn’t think of a thing. Just to be with her, to love and keep her safe, to play with her, tell stories. What else coud there possibly be?
I showed her the twig from the magnolia tree I found on my walk this morning.
“It’s beautiful,” she said.
She looked again, then back again at me. “There’s no story to it, is there?”
“No,” I agreed. “No story at all.” We grinned at each other over that, we two story seekers finding such delight in a story-less thing.
“Li-li,” she said, “I’m glad you’ve come.”
“Oh me too June Bug, me too.”
Oh, I really like this. I once encountered an Armadillo in a strange sort of way. And then I knew the difference between Armadillo and not Armadillo at all. Sometimes a twig is a twig. And sometimes the story comes later if we can just let the story go.