So you can read my books

Monday, March 1, 2010


Looking back through the years, the memory flows into seasons of mist. Rolling clouds of blankness obscures the past, parting sporatically, seemingly without rhyme or reason {though Freud would dispute that} to reveal images blurred by shadows of regret, love, or yearning. But those vistas shape the inner landscape of our soul and of our mind.

Angels of lightning and storm, these memories fly from our past to sweep over our heads and under our radar to propel us along paths we only partially understand. We dream, awake, and forget. But not so our unconscious mind. It remembers, murmuring to take this road and not another. We think we choose rationally. But do we? What is illusion, what is sure in the actions we take? Doubts sleep, love burns, and fears howl. There is no refuge for the storms in our soul.

We hear in the voices of the wind the lost dreams of childhood. If we are fortunate, those voices lead us back onto the path we only thought we had lost. If we are brave, we will walk it anew with wiser heads.

All of which leads me back to those bleak Detroit winter days as my mother opened a world of wonder as I lay shivering under my blankets, the coughing from my double pneumonia growing worse and worse. I think I know why I wrote down those tales she told me, filtered through my own memories and imagination. It is my kiss to the winds to her spirit and to her love. But it could also be my desire to spin my own tales told in the darkness of the written page, to open the healing world of wonder to some other soul in the cold.

Some of my friends have asked me to put in this blog a few pages of THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS. So here are five {the first chapter} :




"Keep me away from the wisdom that does not cry,
the philosophy that does not laugh, and the greatness
that does not bow before children."
- Kahlil Gibran.

The face of shadows gazed down upon the young bear from a bright full moon. Hers was a face that few had seen and fewer still had lived to describe. Her ghostly features were terrible and beautiful beyond any singing of them. A haunted melancholy clung to them. Like a windmill, her memory slowly turned through the fleeting lives that had been born upon her shores to walk soft across her grass like prayers only to fade away into the blood-rimmed end of the sunset.

Though it was the warming season when the geese returned, a swirl of snowflakes settled upon the wide flannel-covered shoulders of the digging bear. The long, odd shovel hesitated in his great paws. Leaning the shovel against a lonely oak tree, he wiped both paws on his worn leather pants. Sighing deep, he looked up into the face of shadows.

"Hello, GrandMother."

A warm breeze melted the snowflakes as it caressed the fur along his left cheek, whispering in the words of the wind : "I still care for you, Hibbs."

The breeze suddenly blew icy and strong, lashing a sharp oak branch across the bear’s cheek so hard that warm, bright blood oozed from a long gash. "But I have not forgiven you."

He wrinkled his nose. "Somehow I sensed that."

His voice was light, but his heart was heavy. As heavy as his steps when he turned back to the strange mahogany chest by his shovel. He thought bitterly, 'If only I could just fall back into my life and undo what I did.’

He pulled himself up straight. He couldn’t do that. Not ever. All he could do was live with what he had done with honor, compassion and courage. And a little intelligence wouldn’t hurt either.

He sank hard to his knees with a grunt. He studied the mahogany chest GrandMother had given him before the start of this journey of exile. It seemed to sing to him of long ago, of legends, and of mystery.

It was black. No, darker than mere black. It was as if all life had been leeched from one lone spot in Eternity and been shaped into the form of a rune-covered chest. He was silent as he opened the chest. No need for words, for with his dark act of kindness all words had long since lost their meaning.

Another oak branch lashed him. This time across the back and much, much harder -- as the words of winter were harsher. "Leaves! You filled my gift with leaves?"

The bear looked up into the moon’s face of shadows. "The stone coins are still there. Still in their leather bag."

His nose wrinkled. "Why are they so important to you?"

"Because they cause me bitter pain."

The tone of Grandmother’s words should have warned him, but Hibbs had never been known for thinking ahead. "Pain? But then why keep them?"

The voice grew haunted, sad. "For a remembrance of my shame."

Hibbs rocked back a bit. GrandMother felt shame? He had always thought of her as perfect and as lovely as the moonlight.

Her voice was but a murmur of the night winds. "But for me the race called Whyte would even now be roaming my green hills."

Even Hibbs was wise enough to know he must choose his next words carefully. "The face on these coins. Does it belong to the race known as Whyte?"

His words hung silent in the cold night air. The young bear had never been comfortable when GrandMother held back her answer to one of his questions. Often it meant that when the reply came, it would be accompanied by a sharp twist of his nose from invisible fingers. This time was no different. He cleared his throat in hopes of saving his nose, still tender from the last time.

"He seems to be like, but not like, the Lakota, the Apache, and the Comanche."

He cocked his massive head. "It seems so odd to speak their names here in this far-away place of exile."

Still GrandMother remained silent. Never a good sign. He sighed. He reached into the chest and pulled out the oak leaves, stopping when he saw them clear in his great paw. When he had put them in the dark chest, they had been dry and withered. Now, they were green, smelling of spring, of life.

He stood, grabbing the strange iron shovel to help him rise, for his body was heavy, even for his muscles. He waited. Still nothing. He walked slow to the small hole he had made.

Thumping to his knees with another grunt, he dropped the leaves into the fresh-turned dirt and covered them with a pat. He smiled sad. He felt like his heart would break. At that moment, the words of wind whispered.

"There are echoes of grief to your smile. Why is that?"

Still kneeling, the bear found he could no longer see clear. Hot tears stung his eyes. He made his voice work.

"These leaves are from the twisted oak atop the Pajarito Mountains of Sonora. M-My first memory of you is when you cradled me in your arms there. When -- when -- you still loved me."

The silence was a thing alive then. His wide shoulders slumped, and he leaned heavy on his large paws . The heart inside his chest felt like it was becoming cold stone like the thirty coins . His fear had been proven true. He was alone. Alone. And he would die that way, alone, unloved -- and unmourned.

His vision slowly cleared. He blinked his eyes once, twice. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. White thigh-high moccasins. They were almost touching his paws they were so close. He felt his chin lifted up, the long fingers holding it, soft, tender. His throat closed.

Standing in front of him ... tall, regal, in her moon-white buckskin dress was GrandMother.

Estanatlehi, The Turquoise Woman, had taken form for the third time in his life.

Eternally young, framed by long hair of living lightning, hers was a face like none he had ever seen, not even on the stone coins. Not that he saw it clear, mind you. Shadows flitted across it like dark clouds across the full moon. But her turquoise eyes were clear. And wet. And so sad.

"Never. Never think that I do not love you, that I will not always love you. You are here because this whole wide world is me -- and, as always, your focus had become too narrow."

"I do not understand."

"I do not ask that you understand, only trust."

And with that, she was gone.

The bear’s face fell. "GrandMother?"

The breeze that caressed his cheek was warm. "I am still here. I came to you again that way because there are some words that just must have a face to go with them to be believed."

Suddenly, snowflakes fluttered upon him. "Now, about this guest you are housing in the cabin I built for you ...."

The heart sank within him. "You’re thinking that it is just like with Surt, I know --"

The next words were colder than even the wind which swirled the snow about him. "You know? So little, so very little. And so very much depends upon you."

"I-I’m sorry for the pain I cause you."

"Do not be sorry. Be better."

"But GrandMother. The strange creature was hurt, surrounded by -- things that would’ve killed her."

"And what if she deserved death?"

He pulled himself up tall. "I am not the measure of the world that I could make that decision. I saw a life in danger. I protected it."

The bear swallowed, then forced himself to say, "I mean to always do so."

The breeze grew warm and ruffled softly the fur of his face. "Spoken like the grandson I love. I’ll be watching, Hibbs."

And this time, Estanatlehi, The Turquoise Woman, was truly gone. Hibbs strained to hear her voice, though he knew deep down he would not. Some instinct made him stare down at his bare furry feet, and he hushed in a breath. A tiny oak sapling had grown from the spot where he had planted the leaves, taken from the tree where first he had felt loved.

*** ***

At the moment, I am listening to "Whispers In The Moonlight" by Omar Akram, a composer & pianist who encourages his audience to dream to seek the horizons that only can be seen from within. He was born in New York City while his father was representing Afghanistan at the United Nations. Check out his website : There is magic in the music played there.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't planned to read it since I rarely read long excerpts from writers' stories when they post them. There're many reasons for that. I'm glad I read yours. It was beautiful and intriguing. Good luck with it. You're definitely a talented writer.