July 1


It is said that Spirit Chalk and Bird Chant were twins born by accident on two different occasions, moving old to new and new to old like ripples on a pond. Spirit Chalk had been born to the Salt Marsh Willow Clan for the Greihound. He was as gentle and elusive as the tidal pool out of which he had been born and to which a few snows ago he finally returned.  Bird Chant had been apprenticed to him for decades, perfecting the ebb and flow of the multiverse on our cave walls. Their songs moved the Greihound as the river moves, a soft and fluid lifeblood that holds in check the power of a tempest. Bird Chant streamed into the position of elder artist for the Greihound and I am apprenticed to him. He is the most extraordinary man I have ever known in this or any other incarnation.

Bird Chant’s eyes are the color of the autumn sky and his hair the color of cherry wood; an enigma for his mother’s dark and brooding Apple Clan people. But I often wonder about his eyes. They are the eyes of a predator and I never forget it. Perhaps he has stalked the quarry of enlightenment for so long that his eyes have simply taken on that demeanor. Then again, Bird Chant might have born that way. Regardless, he is a man to which I always defer. He has been to the worlds he depicts. I have never been much of anywhere. It is said that the snow will come and go for many years and then I will know. I wonder about that too.

Just yesterday the last of the societies intending to leave, left. And today great waves of clans came in including Bird Chant and his mother’s Apple Clan. They will build their camp and probably return to their village while Bird Chant means to stay through the Showoff Dance, after which all of the Greihound will head for the coast. Of course those waves of clans washed in another troupe of clowns. I have often thought of clowns as camp followers, much like the rodents that show up when a camp has been occupied for a while. This group appears to be those infernal forest spirits painted up in pale gray ash with hair dyed somehow green, and dressed in uncut sheepskins that smell like…old sheep. They walk as though afflicted, tiptoeing on what appears to be hooves. These madmen are reputed to be extraordinary dreamers; a skill taught to them by the bear. It is rumored that they hole up in dens and hibernate with bears. I well believe it.

Forest spirits carry sound in their medicine bags. They imitate everything from howling wind and crashing waves to the soft rustling of leaves and the murmur of water gliding over stones. Forest spirits are well known for their aggression against anyone who commits a discordant act in the forests guarded by them, even if the trespass is accidental. They are masters of torment directed by their mastery of sound.

The forest spirits are here for the duration to patrol the forest that surrounds the Great Circle. You can rest assured I will stay close to Bird Chant. It is his intention to show me some of the forest plants that can be rendered into paint and how to make it. He will give me the gathering songs and prayers, and teach me the secrets of that medicine. Bird Chant moves with ease and confidence in the woods. He knows how to do that without incurring the wrath of watchful spirits. I will have to learn that too.

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Responses to “July 1”

  1. Angela Cheetham Wilkinson July 17th, 2013 - 8:49 pm

    I think that Bird Chant is a man I would like to have met – and I feel that the author has met this intriguing man. This powerful respect, the deference to this man has such a ring of real experience, of autobiography.
    I was immediately drawn in by the idea of a person with predatory eyes – that stopped me mid-sentence. Then I learned that this look of a predator could have been born out of a search for enlightenment – whoa – what a compelling thought! Then I saw Bird Chant, with his piercing eyes always seeking beyond the answers he’s given.
    This is also my introduction to the clowns – as yet unclear – I shall await more of this.

    • Thank you. Your comments move this old heart of mine.

      • Angela Cheetham Wilkinson July 20th, 2013 - 6:44 am

        It’s my pleasure. I hope to learn more of the compelling Bird Chant – and maybe get to know a little more of the Clowns.

        • Given that Letters to the Unborn is a work in progress I should be able to accommodate you. I can put anything in this story that anyone wants, like the chapter about Smew and the eggs. It is the best possible way to write a book!