I am instantly thrown onto the rough, concrete seawall. It is dark. The waves are crashing over me. I am soaked through, I can’t move, my clothes are heavy and wet. The sea rages.
I stop and breathe, and tell myself: Wait. Start at the beginning place. Start at the tree. Your tree. Breathe. Tree is there, I feel it. I am still wet from the waves, though. I go into the tree-heart. I fall so long, so long only to be…dumped back exactly where I was when I started. The seawall. The waves. The crashing. The dark night.
Except now, I am actually paralyzed. I can’t move; I can only crawl along the seawall. There is no railing. Never in my life have I felt so heavy and unable to pick myself up. The waves are relentless. The concrete underneath my hands has turned into jagged stones, they are cutting my hands now. I am bleeding. I am crying. Why is this so hard. All I want to do is to get to the end of the wall, where the twin torches burn, where I might be able to see one last good thing. I think I see a wooden boat, old – creaky – burnished wood glinting under the moon, tied to the end of the wall, waiting. I keep crawling but I am going nowhere. I have giant pendants of various natural stones around my neck and they weigh more than I can carry. One is deep indigo, shaped like a long tooth or a cornicello. It glows and I don’t know why. I cry again and ask the sky:
“WHY CAN’T I MOVE?”
A voice – deep, resonant, and without gender replies,
“Child, but you can. Rise. Can’t you see? Rise.”
I keep trying. It is impossible. I keep asking the voice over and over again and the voice – sometimes masculine, sometimes husky feminine, keeps telling me I can get up, if only I would, pet. If only I would, lamb.
A huge wave crashes over me, I am soaked through to the bone and a thought comes through so forcefully that I sob: I am afraid. I am petrified, I am so scared. I am scared that a wave, as soon as I stand, will wash me over. There is no railing. The water is deep, wild, black. I am as afraid as I have ever been. And almost as instantly as I heave a sob and realize how scared I am, I recognize the voice. The lilt is there, the West Texas drawl. It is Mrs. Lamb. She had already given me a hint. I break out in even more crying and ask why I can’t see her. Why she is just a voice. And she tells me if I stand up, she will come. She says:
“The sea will calm when you stand. This ocean calms and storms for you alone.”
I stand up. I am unsure, wobbly. I take a few steps. They seem like shuffles, I can’t look around, I keep putting my wet boots one in front of the other. They look like a child’s boots. She says:
“The sea apologizes to no one for its actions. You are as powerful as this sea. You crash and rage and calm all because you have that same power. The sea never says, ‘I’ll fix it’ or ‘I’ll change.’ There is no living your life and ‘fitting in’ the ocean. You are either part of it, or you are not. Which will you choose? Will you walk to the torches?”
“You said you’d come.”
I walk, slowly, then stronger, and the sea calms. The waves are almost motionless – soft, kitten-licks of white crests coming over the black rocks below. I walk. I am there. She is there. We each take a torch. We cross them. She says:
“When you feel that fear – at any time – look into your heart. Connect your heart to your mind’s eye. Connect with thumbs to your heart, and index fingers to your third eye. You make that connection. You say, ‘I am the sea.’ This is how you will find the strength to walk out of that place.”
I ask her for a chair. A chair appears, on the end of the wall, between the torches. They burn, but the night is gone. The sun is coming up, faintly. I sit in the chair, resting. She stands behind me. I say,
“There was a boat.”
I can hear the soft, low chuckle behind me. She says:
“You thought you needed one.”
She is gone. I am alone. I drift in and out, watching the waves. I get up after awhile, take a torch, and use it as a staff to walk back up the wall, to the neath-tree, to go home. The staff is my stang. It is three-pronged, and burning bright. My clothes are dry. The green pyramid that was a pendant around my neck is now gone, given as a gift to my teacher and mentor. I ascend the steep stairs back up inside the tree, and when I get to the edge of the tree-heart, my three crows sit waiting. One has a worm in her mouth.
I am awake.