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~ Sheri Rene' Watson
Anka was dying.
The staff had ancient deer lower jaw bones on either
side of the deer-like branches. There was a fossilized
antler on one of the branches attached with sinew
wrapped around it. The young woman never had had
a dream about a deer before but something was behind
it in her spirit vision. Somewhere in time.
But the jawbones began howling. She didn’t know why. It first was a howl heard in the night, but became a fierce battle cry…not a cry for warring but for survival. It quieted after a while, leaving her to think very hard about its meaning. Some presence brushed by her and dissipated. She soon fell into a deeper…dreamless state.
She had stopped…exhausted…tending to the coyote in the dark. It was difficult to tell where the wounding was on the inside of the animal’s body. She guessed there must be damage inside. She was not a healer and she wondered what, if anything she could do. When she woke up from her dream the coyote had stopped whimpering…silent…but still breathing shallowly.
Anka was dreaming of everything that had come before and of everything that would come after. After what? Her death? She did not know. But a yearning was growing inside. It was like a leaf floating on a stream, gentle and barely there. Like a flutter on the edge of her spirit there and gone in a macro second. It was the sound of something. Perhaps larger than herself and yet so ambiguous. She was helpless in the moment. But she yielded her spirit toward the yearning and for a fleeting moment she brushed past something, something familiar but different from her.
Somewhere in Time itself, a raven tail feather fell from a branch of the bristlecone pine. The raven had flown off, toward White Mountain…its mate following. Later in the afternoon, near that between of sun and evening, another feather fell, this time from the female raven, down onto clear water flowing from a great mountaintop. The feather followed the flow down the side of the mountain to a waterfall glittering in the red sunset light. Still following the flow the feather drifted to a gentle stop some miles away in a small water-carved niche in the streams bank….where it stayed …held….to a fossilization over many years. The feather was long gone but had left its’ presence embossed in the ground and sedimentation. When they found it in the digging of grid 42a, it was noted; photographed and with the rest of the great cave's artifacts stashed away in a marked drawer and soon forgotten in the university museum. Also noted, photographed and filed were three hard seed hulls, found in the cave along with remains of a jackrabbit and other small animals such as a coyote might prey upon.
The land was old even when it was still young. Once there were three bristlecone seedlings that grew near to each other closely. And in even more ancient times when the Earth was young but still very old, the land was running with water. It nearly covered most of the land, so long ago in fact that there were no animals, no tribes, no birds, no insects, not even creatures in the sea.
There was something immanent, though, in Time. But this kind of Time was different. There was a presence within it that begin long before the universe. It whispered in the Wind to the Bristlecone Pine seedlings telling them stories about what had been and would be. That they were in the present in every time.
Yet one day there came a great earthquake as the land wont to shift in growing pains. One Bristlecone Pine was drawn into a rift in the land down into the ground a great deal below the surface. The other two Bristlecone Pines were untouched and unscathed. But in the Great Earthquake the water had shifted now flowing North. One of the Bristlecone Pines was swept away on the waters to drift like a passing thought. It settled into a crevice in the small hill water was flowing out of against the greater waters, freshwater.
It was …the source…and where the Bristlecone Pines had been growing was but one stop on its flow underground for more eons than had existed the Bristlecone pines. In its growing pains, the lands wept sweet water. Then burst forth joyfully in abundance.