In Rhinelander, the city of the green glass dome where stands the court of justice, there dwelled a mighty sage who had paid dues. I sought the sage for my desire was to be a poet. I sought the sage in the hall of justice but he was not to be found there. I found him at last under a green leafy canopy contemplating a cool damp mushroom.
“Greetings,” I blurted out brashly— then the sage fixed me in his gaze for surely he ‘d never seen me before and I’d never seen him either. He spoke then and I blushed for he spoke of the foolish things I do and know and some wise things, too although I hadn’t said anything except “greetings.”
A woman who wishes to be a real poet the sage said must accomplish three tasks:
- Capture the consonant dragon murmuring under the sea.
- Capture the black troll growling vowels.
- Capture the essence of meadow flowers—the pleasantest task of all.
But how am I to begin? My tendency to fly must be overcome in favor of earthly images. Stay grounded at all costs. Women should not try like Icarus to fly. Why court disaster? My kiting dreams of many colors I pulled down on a string. Whoosh—they dangled from the skeletal limbs of a tree between Heaven and Earth.
I sat down on the damp Earth until my bottom felt at one with it: cold and damp. It happens that dragons dwell in the satiny waters of
lakes. No one has to look very far to
find one. I stared out at the rippling
water and discerned a moving shape beneath it.
Dragon slip, dragon slide—on a dragon I would ride. I slipped onto the
Hssss—the sound of dragon scales. I feel the cool pressure as we stir clouds of silt where winding weeds grow. The dragon takes no notice as I slide from its emerald skin. One of his scales has stuck to my shoulder.
I lie down on the grassy shore to dry. BZZZ hums the sound of honey bees kneading each flower with their legs furred with yellow pollen. They fly to their hive—females doing the work of the world. Yellow pollen covers my hair, my hands, my feet.
My body leaves a hollow place in the grass as if a deer had lain there. I wander into the forest with its dappled light. Leaves rustle as small animals flee. The coal bright eyes stare at me eye level. I am lost.
”Take me to the troll who dwells under the hill,” I ask of the brown and white owl. He spread his silent wings and flew low to the place where stone and black dirt meld—then disappeared.
All night long I listened to the hooting echoing through the trees. Hoo. Hoo Hoo Hoo. I sat on a stone and waited for the bandy legged man. Then in the moonlight he approached. I confronted him there.
“Take me to Mother Earth’s vowels,” I whispered.
“Why can’t you finally leave me in peace?” He asked.
“Please forgive all the mean things I’ve done and said—my rude laughter—take me there and I’ll be grateful ever after,” I said.
“You must follow me to the fen” he said.
Moonlight turned leaves to quicksilver as small breezes blew through them. At last we reached the dark fen where the earth quaked under our shoes. It sucked at my ankles and I knew if I fell into the water it would whirl me around and return only my hollow bones. A green luna moth brushed my cheek and I whispered “fly away. The moon you see below is deception and decay.”
The prune hearted man heard what I said and threatened to bind me to a willow tree. But I showed him the dragon scale clinging to my shoulder and bee yellow pollen that caught in my hair while I was still unaware.
“ I will lead you out of the fen if you will take this apple seed from me,” he growled quite low. He handed me an apple seed like a tear drop and I placed it under my tongue. “Now follow me,” he said.
As we approached the high mountain meadow he disappeared and I saw the first rays of violet dawn then the golds, reds and luminous grays. East wind dandled flower strewn grasses and when I felt tempted to rise and blow away with it, I laid my body down, for grounded after all is where it was decreed I should be by the blithe one.
And there I saw a bright yellow flower symmetrical as the sun. I touched it to my lips and breathed in its freshness. “The sun and the flower are one,” said I and felt a deep harmony. I could not explain how this is true, and yet I knew.
The sage who had paid his dues was right. By staying earthbound, I could go everywhere. A courthouse capped with a dome of green Tiffany glass could never contain this truth. So now I will roam Earth’s high and low places and write my poems. I reeled in my kite from the tree and gave it to a little boy.