I can still see and feel the soft pulsing thing on my eleven year old lap, watching it draw it’s final breaths rhythmically. The rabbit, along with cans and squirrels, had been target practice for teenage boys gifted with guns for Christmas. I had found the rabbit dying on the forest floor after I had chased the boys out of the woods, reprimanding them for their careless and selfish cruelty. Shot in its abdomen by a BB, the soft brown rabbit still rests in the memory of my hands, hanging between being half-alive and half-dead. I took the bunny back to my house and put a Bandaid over the place of entry the BB had left. I remember feeling helpless to control this life and death force that I knew so little of. Nothing had ever died in my lap before. I stroked the soft fur while sitting on my front stoop untilI knew only death was left. I carried her like a baby back to the woods. I found a burrow, the kind trees make at their roots when they fall, and placed her body inside as far as my arms could reach. It has been the helplessness that I felt from her dying that I have not known what to do with all these years.
It is in this memory that She called and came for me, in the form of a wounded animal, to travel once again to a place beyond the hedge where we sense the skewing of a border from overhanging trees that creep close but are trimmed back and the sounds from animal language land with enjoyment on our ears but whose fluency is never attained. Past this hedge to the place where the bramble thickens and footpaths dissolve. There is no worn-out way to travel any longer and only a soul’s inner constellations can guide you further into the forest depths. Here I recognized, above all else, how tame and reckoned I had become since my fearless youth.
At the edge of the Ivy River, I brought the essence my youth’s soft fur and the brown eyed hare back to the woods to die and die again. I hoped in the death there would be enough of a resurrection to forgive myself for not being able to save the innocence from all that was to follow soon thereafter. To my surprise, the memory held not a resurrection but an an invitation. An invitation to meet anew a place of unkept growth and untamed flame. Oh, odd to bring such fire in humble form! But She knows me, more than I knew Her then, and knows I wouldn’t have answered the door any other way.
It was not in an earthen grave I died in that day, but one with fiery liquid walls. With my head submerged, eyes closed and awkward body bobbing in the current of the Ivy River, She spoke and said:
“I want to inject you into my veins! The water that flows over you has moved mountains and carved valleys from violent storms. These are the same waters that flow through you! I want to pull your hips to my stones and lick the wounds tucked in the caverns of your soul. It is here that I desire you the most. With naked breasts exposed to the sky, turn your gaze and look up, Beautiful One, and let me be your Singing Heron flying overhead. I’ll whisper a love song as I pass, our love song, in your ear. I don’t think you have ever heard it before. I am the resinous tears from the Pine and Panther’s teeth drenched with hunger that penetrate your womb. Let me be your tears and your hunger. The green apple that drops my scent onto your closed lashes while you sleep is the scent you have longed to offer the world. The roots from My trees weave an underground tapestry that is hung in an upside -down cathedral built to honor our union. Let me carry you across the threshold of this cathedral. There’s no need to wipe your feet at the door.
And it is you, soul of my Soul, that I desire above all! You will not leave me unchanged, nor I you. You will emerge from my waters with me holding your old skin. I have longed to drip from your new flesh and evaporate into the sun from your shoulders. Your hair will be drenched with my essence, hands puckered from time soaking in me, and your feet washed, kissed with the fluid of rebirth.
I have loved you for eons and eons more to come will I love you more still! I have longed for your soul to find her home in your body, and for your body to join My Body. We are together for such a brief time on this place called Earth. Let’s make the most of it.”
And with that, I emerged from the water and came down from this river, as if it was the first river ever created in the world.