Monday, February 23, 2015

A Childlike Shaman Powwow

We were five or six years old when our Great Aunt Izzie came to visit. She was sitting in the rocking chair and I was playing with my cousin on the floor with Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys. The world we were creating was a cross between a science-fiction matinee and Gunsmoke.

My mother took Aunt Izzie’s empty teacup and started walking to the kitchen when it happened. First, the sound was just a whispering. My mother turned around and dropped the teacup to the carpet, as if she knew too well the melody and where it came from.

It seemed like nothing much to me. The teacup crashing into shards appeared more curious. I wondered how we could include their fragmentary shapes into our formless burgeoning contraption. Everything is just a game for our amusement at that age.

But the noise was turning into whoops. Aunt Izzie’s hand was drumming on her lips. She was turning Indian before our very eyes. My mother ran into the bathroom fast as I remember ever seeing her in action, slammed the door, and left my cousin and myself to witness Izzie’s transformation.

She must have been past eighty then and always seemed to be collapsing as if her bones were just unable to support the weight of years. But now she straightened proudly with the posture of a warrior and started dancing slowly on the edge as if the space our toys created was a camp fire burning in a cold Algonquian night.

Her shouts were getting louder and they moved her body up and down like popcorn as she continued circling there around our world as if she were the light of all the prehistoric summers that existed here before their death had been invented by the forked tongue words of white men.

She stopped to look at each of us and shined. We nestled in a world of toys and listened Fort Apache style to every secret word she said. She spoke of black holes in another constellation. She showed us light emerging from its winter cave. She tapped into a maple tree and fed us with its lovely harmonies of sweet intoxication.

In a quiet burning voice, she speaks to me alone and tells me what I am and asks me to forget each sound she makes to heal my heart, predicting every year that follows from this moment is a slow remembrance of exactly what I know right now—and what a cosmic trip it is from our first pow to each succeeding wow.

No comments:

Post a Comment