Descent Into the Great Sea (Rainbow Home #7)

whale2Miramar, She Who Mirrors the Sea, Translator of the Many Songs, resurfaced, smiling and nodding her head, an affirmation of my new-found knowledge.

“I was the HeartSeer all along!” I exclaimed, still high and shocked from seeing my face.

Suddenly I realized that some part of me knew the whole time. Why it took me a hunt for a fire dragon in a cave and crazy journey to the Edge of the West and nearly drowning while swimming out to find a cryptic mermaid to “find out”, I don’t know.

“Always the last to know,” I said, shaking my head.

“Does the full moon ask why it wasn’t whole last week? Does summer arrive mourning winter? The big hard sun and the great sea dissolves all and calls forth new things when they are ready. Everything arrives on time,” Miramar said.

And I knew that I was now ready to descend into the Great Sea. The Obsidian Key was down there somewhere.

“Follow me. I can take you as far as the Sei. He will take you further and faster than I am able to. You will not be able to understand WhaleSong, but I will translate for you.

She applied a gooey kelp bandage to my heel, wrapping it with a seaweed cord, stopping the bleeding. Then she put her spiral shell to her lips, took a deep breath and blew hard. The conch emitted a sound so high-pitched that I had to cover my ears.

I grabbed hold of her waist and we launched towards the open sea. The sun began to sink into the horizon, the sky turning lavender, pink, and orange. After several hours of swimming through the waves, a long and very loud squeal reverberated through the water, like the groan and creak of the sea itself. A giant body emerged ahead of us, bigger than any creature I have ever seen in my life–fins as large as walls, a mouth as large as building.

Miramar translated. He says, “The time as come for you to grow your sea lungs and dive down deep.”

Another raspy ocean shriek, like the sound of steel stretching.

Miramar continued to tell me what the giant was saying: “Grow your ocean ears and bend the ear of your heart closely. Listen for the echoes of sublime bass notes resonating through the fibers of your being.”

I merely floated before this beast called Sei, absorbing the message.

“League by league settle into the soul-tide quiet depths of true voice.”

“Step away from the noise of the middle world and keep falling until you reach the mariana trench of your true self.”

“There you will find the Obsidian Key on Gold Ring, the key to your Rainbow Home. It was thrown into the Great Sea many moons ago, not by the Evil Dwarf King, nor by his henchmen. No, it was you who tossed it aside. Out of fear, out of pain, you abandoned your own home.”

“Further down is a mystery where no one goes, yet from which all emerges.

“To enter, you must leave all behind. You have seen your true face in the water, but now you must leave even that behind, going alone into the trench without image or name.”

“Quieter and quieter yet, the deepest voice emerges, Unborn and Unknown.”

“Perhaps it one voice, perhaps it is none at all. It is not for me to say. Even the Great Sea does not know.”

“Are you ready to risk yourself in deep waters?”

“I am here,” I said.

With that, the mouth of the giant beast called Sei opened. The force of the water rushed in, dragging me into itself.

The last thing I saw was the dark cave of its stomach. Then pure blackness.

With a huge splash of its tale, the beast plunged – with the HeartSeer inside – into the depths and disappeared.

The HeartSeer at the Edge of Always (Rainbow Home #6)

GCI-13-mermaid-silouette-weGasp! I awoke with a gulp of air the size of my lungs. Above me an endless blue sky. Below me, hardness.

Solid ground!

I was either safe on land, or else on the bottom of the afterlife.

I looked around – a tiny rock island that sloped gently up towards a ridge. I rolled over onto the green, orange, brown, and yellow lichen-covered surface, exhausted, water-logged, and with a deep throb in my left foot.

Suddenly I remembered being hooked and grabbed my heel–blood oozed from a quarter-sized wound. The water slapped the bottom of the rock with monotonous rhythm. But above that I heard humming.

Getting my bearings, I hobbled my way up the slope and peered over the other side.

And then I saw her. A woman lingered at the base of the rock in the shallow water, soaking in the sun.

Jet black hair hung down to her waist, and glistened in the noon-day sun. Her bottom half, partly submerged, reflected iridescent turquiose, blues, greens, and purples, from tiny overlapping fish scales. She was twisting in the water, seeming to rather enjoy it.

She was dark-skinned and bare from the waist up and held a large spiral shell up to her mouth, the source of the sound that had pulled me to the Edge of the West and had lured me out to sea.

I sat entranced for who knows how long, charmed by her beauty and movement and melody.

Something about her told me I did not need to worry about being lured to my death. I saw, or rather felt, a shining, beyond the brightness of the sun on her skin and scales. I worked up the courage to say something.

“Hi. I don’t mean to startle you.” What do you say to such a creature?

“Hallo two-legged,” she answered, smiling. “You didn’t startle me, I saw you swimming for the past 4 hours.”

Her voice rang like pure water, flowed like liquid sunshine.

“I have been seeking you for many moons. I was beginning to think the HeartSeer was a figment of my imagination. ”

“No, the HeartSeer is not your imagination. But I am not HeartSeer. My name is Miramar, she Who Mirrors the Sea, Ambassador of Oshun and Translator of the Many Songs.”

My heart simultaneously lept and sunk. I finally arrived at the Edge of the West, I finally venture out into the ocean, nearly drowned, met a stunning creature of unparalled beauty and liquid voice–but she’s not the who I’m looking for!

“You almost drowned out there,” she said, stating the obvious. Even though she had put the shell down, it felt like I could still hear its murmur.

“I almost feel like I did drown,” I said, “All this is just too strange to believe. Did you save me?”

“We have a saying in the Great Sea, only he who has hooked himself can unhook himself,” she said.

“I didn’t hook myself. Those sea plants grabbed me and a fisherman’s net…”

“As you say.”

“But, you did. You saved me. You brought me to this rock?”

“I merely guided a floating Two-Legged on the edge of the death to shore. The end of your own struggling saved you.”

“Thank you, thank you!” I came closer. “I am in your debt. I’ve come who knows how far from the Redwood Forest of the East to the Edge of the West to find someone called the HeartSeer. I’m looking for my Rainbow Home. Can you tell me anything about it, or about the Obsidian Key on the Golden Ring at the bottom of the Great Sea?”

“Why you be searching for all these items? We have a saying in the Great Sea, ‘Stop chasing, starting creating.’ I think perhaps you could save yourself a long and difficult trip,” she said with a splash with her tail.”I know only of the Great Sea, which is my home. And have not heard of what you seek. What is a Rainbow Home? Do you live in the sky, with the winged-ones? Is not the whole world your home?” She gestured to the ocean, as if that made any sense.”

She continued, “What is a key?”

“That’s a lot to answer. A key is for the lock that was put on the Rainbow Home,” I answered.

“What is a lock?”

“It’s a…a…thing that…without which, you can’t open a door.”

“What’s a door?”

“It is an…an entrance, umm…a threshold….that can be open or closed,” I could see that this could take a while. “I would be more than happy to explain all of it to you, I just want to know if you can tell me where to find the HeartSeer. from which I am to discover a clue to the whole thing. Some villagers seem to think the HeartSeer is a mermaid. You are a mermaid, aren’t you? You must be the HeartSeer!”

“Why have you misplaced this Rainbow Home? And if it is so important, why put something on it that requires another thing in which to enter or open?”

An interrogation-I didn’t know how to answer. “I lost it long ago. But it is where I want to live now. It is my true abode. My village is suffering from a curse, and I want to make medicine to lift the curse.”

“Aghh! A curse?!! I have heard of such things. The Landed-Ones tell such tales. We have not curses in the Great Sea.”

“Yes, we are afflicted with many things, often of our own devising.”

“I am ignorant of such things, but it sounds serious,” she said.

“And I too am ignorant of the ways of the Great Sea. I live among trees and soil and mountains and…”

“Trees! Such mysterious Earth-Footed Ones. Mountains!” She chimed, splashing as she did a hip roll-up on the rocks. “I have longed to visit mountains of the Waterless Abode, having only seen them from afar. They are like giant waterless islands. They are the end of the known world, the Edge of the East.”

I laughed. And couldn’t help be enamored with her way of seeing as well as her beauty.

“I’m sorry for finding that funny. It is not waterless. We have lakes and rivers and waterfalls and rain and ponds….And the mountains are not the edge of the world. There are whole lands over the hills. In fact, I come from a place that is entirely flat many leagues beyond the mountains, full of fields and wide open skies. Not unlike your sky here,” I said, then added, “But I guess islands are like underwater mountains.”

“What are fields?”

“I guess you would say, fields is earth where we grow our food.”

“But how do you live without the Great Sea?”

“I…umm…don’t know…But I could show you. I will take you to the mountains! I can tell you all about them. And fields. And trees,” I was excited at the prospect. For the moment, I forgot all about the pain in my foot and the hunger in my belly. “I am in your service. I will…”

“Alas, I cannot leave the Great Sea,” she interjected. “But maybe you can bring them here?” Her eyes widened with hope. I could almost fall for her in that moment.

“I see your heart’s desire. I will find a way.”

—–

“Aha!” Miramar lighted up, as if coming into some great idea. “I know where be the HeartSeer. Not very far. Come.”

“You know the HeartSeer? Why didn’t you say so!” I said exasperated only momentarily, being overcome with anticipation.

“Come closer.”

Then I remembered: The gifts!! My heart sunk. I forgot the gifts I was to bring as an offering to the HeartSeer. I felt as much embarassment as regret.

“I forgot the gifts,” I admitted to her. “The 7th Born, I mean the Bunny..er, I mean somebody I met in the forest, said I would need to bring gifts: a gift unmade, a gift unbought, a gift unplayed, a gift uncaught. But I don’t know what all that means. I didn’t know what to bring. And what I had with me I lost swimming out there….”

She was only smiling. “I must go now. Be here tomorrow at dawn and I will accept your gifts to offer to the HeartSeer.”

“But I told you, I don’t have any gifts. I can’t…”

But just like that, Miramar disappeared beneathe the water.

And there I was, alone on a rock miles out at sea, under a setting sun, without my gear. Without food. Without my Sea Staff. Without gifts. Without a clue.
________

Only from extreme exhaustion from the day’s events was able to sleep through the night, though it was cold and windy. Dawn on the sea is quite a different experience than dawn anywere else. It comes earlier and comes on slowly, like a creeping consciousness, a progression of slightly larger breaths.

When the orb of the sun was fully above the horizon, Miramar appeared from below.

“Good morning! It’s so refreshing to be able to say good morning to someone, as most of the Great Sea community does not go by night and day in the way of you landed folks.”

“Good morning.”

“Do you have the gifts? I am eager to show you the one you seek.”

“If you are eager, I am doubly so! But I have been here all night, I have no gifts. How could I possibly get gifts? You just disappeared without…”

“hmmppph…” With that she splashed me with a whip of her fish tail. “You must reach deeper into those pockets of yours, Two-Legged. Meet me at dawn tomorrow.” And disappeared once again.

I was stunned. What am I doing here? How can I possibly please this Ambassador of the Great Sea. Could I trust her?

I spent the day alternating between exploring the perimeter of the little island, sleeping, tending to my foot wound, trying to hunt little crabs and fish, and fighting the urge to swim back to shore. I could see the lighthouse at the village. Warmth, people, food, all of which seemed as strong as the siren song that pulled me out here to begin with.

Once again dawn arrived. My gut hurt from eating only uncooked molluscs and dried seaweed in the last three days. I felt delirious and was worried that I began to not be worried.

Soon Miramar surfaced, eyes wide and full of light in expectation. I could see a brightness shining in her. But I could also see a darkness shining in her. The shape of her wound, behind her ribcage, a shadow shining like a rainbow ray, tender sacred wound. And I could see that it was beautiful and it was painful. It was the source of her shell magic, her song, her melody, her smile, her light.

It didn’t make sense, but that is what I saw.

I loved her–in a way I have never loved a person.

But in that moment, I knew that I could never take her to the mountains. Nor could I bring the trees to her. I knew what I had to do.

I stripped naked, stretched out both my arms with fists faceup, and opened them.

“I bring you my gifts: in this hand is Trust, a gift unplayed and unbought, and this hand an Open Heart, a gift unmade and uncaught.”

Miramar merely smiled and motioned me to come closer, then swam over below the sharp drop-off. Wearily, I inched up the rocks until I was at the very edge, and pulled my body up and looked over. Several feet below she re-appeared.

“They are but one gift called Acceptance. And hey are beyond beautiful. Now, watch where I’m going.”

Her gaze pierced mine, a gaze nearly too much to handle.

“Look closely, for When I disappear, the HeartSeer will appear.”

And with a splash she melted under the water.

When the the ripples settled, the surface became clear as a mirror. Looking over the edge, an image began to form.

A man reflected back at me.

I was looking at an image of myself.

 

Beyond Sight

sequoia-sempervirens-aptos-blue-barkI love you
and the way you see
the world

but I feel more
without you

the soft and the hard of it
the hot and the cold of it
the up and the down of it
the sweet and the bitter of it

the prickly
peely
pungent

damp
dry
dusty

chirpy
creeky
cushy of it all

I rely too much
on your vision of things

so from now on
I will take the delicate hands
of your blind
but sensible siblings
to help guide me through
this wilderness

i came as a sunset goodbye

IMG_1651i came as a surprise
a sunset goodbye
i came as a thief
giving relief

i came as a dark night
too dark to know
i came as a light
too bright to show

i came as a mud bank
slightly sticky
i came as a prank
a bit too tricky

i came as a cry
i came as a laugh
i came as a half of a half
of a half

i came as a cloud
i came as a storm
i came as a doubt
shifting form

i came as pardon
for all that was done
i came as a garden
needing the sun

i came as a heart
inside of an art
i came to confess
that i came as a yes

Swimming the Rock Spiral (Rainbow Home #5)

IMG_5156(1)I awoke with a start on the sandy shoulder above the sea cave, hearing a noise in the night. Wide awake. A silver crescent moon hovered to the south, and a thousand sparkling eyes spread over the Great Sea like a bejeweled blanket.

Since coming to the Edge of the West, I have been a little wary of being a stranger in a strange land, not knowing the customs of the seaside people. Surely, someone had seen the dragon upon arriving. I had no idea how people might react, so tried not to bring attention to myself.

But what I heard was like no animal or person. It was coming from the sea.

Something was in the air, a steady rhythm, sounding like the beat of the cosmic heart above Written across the dark night sky. My pulse quickened. A feeling circulated within. Like love, but different than what I’ve ever felt before, seemed to be pouring into and out of me, waves after wave.

I swear I saw a constellation in the shape of a heart. Then again, I didn’t have my glasses on.

I slowly drifted back to sleep.

When dawn arrived, I was thoroughly soaked from the mist floating off the ocean. I was convinced my night-time soundscape was but a dream, as I had many images visit me in the night.

Ocean waves crashed upon the shore, sounding like a surprise guest, knocking on my door. If I had a door. I felt a bit under a spell, almost like a hangover.

The first thing I saw looking out on the water was a sea otter floating on its back, having a little breakfast. Further out, I saw a whale surface and spout water.

But even above the percussive pulse of the tide, I could still hear that sound, sometimes a melody, sometimes a murmur, soft but strong, sounding a bit like wildfire from the sea, wrapped inside a mermaid’s siren song. As if I knew what a mermaid’s siren song sounded like.

Having done the Ritual of Release last night and set the sacred fabric on fire into the tide, I felt ready to try my chances on the Great Sea, with or without the advice of the HeartSeer. I’d begun to trust my instincts. Often struggling with doubt, I nevertheless had trusted the call to search for the Fire Dragon, trusted the 7th-Born Bunny (even after its brethren led me astray), trusted my search for its cave, trusted myself to pull the dagger out and lead it into the pool, followed my intuition into the sea cave, trusted myself to continue seeking the HeartSeer. why stop now?!

Something about that spiral pattern of those rocks I had seen from the air when we first arrived was calling me. Whether it was my intuition, or a siren song or a bewitching spell, I don’t know, but I was determined to explore those rocks. In particular, the center one.

Of the many tales I heard from villagers about the HeartSeer, one was that she was a mermaid, whose siren song lured hapless men to their death. So that possibility had been percolating in me all month.

I could be one of those hapless men! I knew that, and yet I was still drawn to follow the sound I heard from the sea.

However, if there’s anything I’ve learned since I first set out on this journey many moons ago was that rarely do things unfold in the way that people say or think, myself included. From the fallen redwood trees and silver waterfalls to the puzzling conversation with the strange woman of the north who left a cryptic note in the sand about the Fire Dragon and my Rainbow Home, it has all unfurled quite unpredictably.

This was also one of those days. I had a plan. Yet the plan had its own plan.

My goal was to explore that rock archipelago in the shape of a spiral, which spanned roughly a mile in circumference. I would find my friend the Fire Dragon and he would take me out there.

Short, sweet, safe, and simple.

I went down to the sea cave. No sign of Fire Dragon. Nor was his form as the little boy playing in the waves, which is what he had been doing everyday since we arrived.

Change of plans: I would rent a boat and launch seaward. I would rent scuba gear and explore the waters around the rocks. Though the all the bunnies in the blackberry brush had said that the Obsidian Key had been thrown into Great Sea and settled to its very bottom, I thought that since the source of the sound I keep hearing seemed to coming from the rock at the center of the spiral, that would be a good place to start.

I had no other ideas on how to dive deeper into the ocean, let alone where in the ocean to explore. Based on the word of the villagers, the Great Sea was without end. That sure makes for some long odds for finding something that can fit in your hand.

I searched for a boat to rent. I was informed that as this was Quarter Moon Day, no one took to the sea. It wasn’t exactly forbidden, but at the very least bad luck. I was willing to take my chances, as I didn’t really have an alternative. Walking further to the north, I eyed a fisherman loading gear into his vessel from the dock. He must have been either ignorant of or unconcerned about the Quarter Moon taboo.

I waved towards him. He didn’t see me.

“Hey!” I yelled, waving frantically.

He promptly ignored me and launched his vessel in the opposite direction.

I had missed the boat. Once again, I updated my itinerary: I would swim.

The distances between rocks was significant, especially for a lake-swimmer like me, not used to the strength and rhythms of the sea. I would have to swim to each rock, rest and catch my breathe, and continue.

I continued to hear the murmur, floating on the sea-blown wind. It now sounded like a drum, or a humming thrum, like it was calling mountains to the sea. Like it was preparing for dancers to emerge and twirl on the waves.

Well, here goes nothing, either I’m finally been drawn by a mystic song to my death, I’m imagining things, or else I will meet the person or creature who will help me dive deeper in the Great Sea. If it’s the former, I hope I at least get a good look at the source of my demise. If it’s second, then I’ve got worse problems than death. If it’s the latter, which is my hope, then my problems may just be starting, not ending.

I fashioned myself a staff from drift wood. Finding a bottle on the beach, I cut it in half, and tied it on one end. The other end I sharpened to a point. Around the stick I wrapped my inflatable sleeping pad. The stick would serve as spear, paddle, flotation device. I called it my Sea Staff.

I launched myself into the waves, with my Sea Staff ahead of me, kicking doggy-style in earnest toward the first rock. Not a glorified way of entering the Great sea, but so far effective.

Within twenty minutes, I arrived at the first rock, a dark chiseled block covered sporadically with bright green moss. It was sharply cut from the sides, there was no way for me to find purchase on it.

I was forced to continue paddling without rest to the second rock, a distance of a few hundred yards, cutting a wide arc. Then the third and fourth and fifth, similarly spaced, neither of which presented anything out of the ordinary.

The sixth, which formed the outer limit of the spiral, was approximately two miles from shore. No source of a song found. No creatures other than the occasional black cormorant and empty shells glued to the surface that had been picked clean by birds.

I was getting tired. My body was tempted to cut across horizontally, but for some reason my mind prohibited the idea. I felt an overwhelming need to trace this spiral. No shortcuts. Even above the steady drone of the waves, I could still hear that same enchanting murmur. My heart swelled with a love unlike any I’ve felt before. My muscles strained, and so cold, it was this sound that kept pulling me forward.

The wind picked up and the waves began to swell. I feared I was getting in over my head. That I jumped in feet first to something way bigger than me, something I didn’t understand and didn’t have the capacity for, that would swallow me whole. That I had made one colossal mistake after another, doubting I going to find anything out here. That I should have just stayed in the redwoods, better yet, stay in the House of Willows. I could have just as easily done the Ritual of Release anywhere else but the Edge of the West, could have just as easily built a fine home in the forest. Could have easily not set out to find this HeartSeer. Could have easily ignored this sound from the sea.

Why did I leave the safety and comfort of the village?

I swallowed a mouthful of seawater. I held tight to my Sea Staff to stay afloat.

Suddenly, something brushed my feet. Seaweed, I hoped.

Then, I realized, it WAS seaweed. I was in the midst of a seaweed forest, its flowing leaves wrapping around my legs like tentacles.

And entangled among the sea plants was a stray fishing net with hooks.

I tried to fight the instinct to thrash about, but it was dragging me beneath the surface. with every kick I became more entangled. One of the many barbed hooks on the net caught me in the heel of my left foot.

I attempted to use my Sea Staff to pry it loose, and managed to tear it loose, leaving a bloody gash where the hook was.

Then one of the hooks punctured the sleeping pad around my Sea Staff. What buoyancy I had was immediately lost, and I struggled to keep my head above the waves.

The mind does funny things when it is panicking. Time slows down and all sorts of thoughts race through, an odd combination of pure survival instinct and the mundane.

This was it, I was going to drown here, just miles from shore, I thought. Did I remember to send that letter? Perhaps I could survive on just seaweed. Would anybody find my body? And if so, what would they think I had been doing out here?

Either way, surely my bloody wound in my foot would attract a shark or an orca. Or just get nibbled to death by smaller fish. I think I’d rather my body go to feed larger numbers of creatures than just one big creature. I’m undecided. I’m just grateful its not by squirrels.

“Wilson, I’m going to kill you tell you’re dead, I’m going to punch you in the eye!”

For some reason those Phish lyrics and three pelicans gliding not far above me were the last things in my consciousness before blackness.