Monday, December 29, 2008

Fable of the Month/Monday Poetry Train

Well, I was trying to decide what to post today and I'm feeling especially lazy and someone asked me to participate (not for the first time) in something called Monday Poetry Train. Luckily for me it seems open to prose and poetry, so I thought - lack of anything else much to share - that I'd post one of the last of my Fable Collection. These were mostly written as part of a writing class I took way back in 1993. We were given an assignment - in this case it was to write about a beaver who had been captured by humans - and this is what I wrote. Doesn't add up to much, but there a few things in it that I kind of like.

BARCLAY'S LAMENT

by

Katherine E. Rabenau

I was born near a meadow filled with birch trees, so my parents named me Barclay. For my middle name they chose Gideon, which means feller of mighty trees. Maybe because I grew up with birches, I've never held much stock in big trees. Big trees are show-off stuff. I've always liked birches for their slimness and flexibility. Birches are builder's trees. You know, all beavers are dam builders. Dams are life to beavers. They are our way of being in the world. But, contrary to popular belief, we're not all equally gifted. Because, you see, there's more to it than just building a shelter. We can all do that. But some things have to be taught. And that's what I do. I guess you could call me a wise one, or what Native Peoples call a shaman. You see, there's got to be Spirit in a good dam, got to be love and harmony and community. A good dam marries earth and water. It speaks to the river and says, "Ho, merry friend, stop, rest awhile and greet your cousin, earth. Embrace her, feed her, and teach her your ways." A good dam builder calls on the tree people for help, for the tree people live on water and earth combined and they have also touched the sky. They know how to sing to the river, to make her pause and bend and listen. But they do not all sing river songs, and those who do only sing when they have been greeted with respect. A wise beaver never takes a tree without permission, for the trees, who touch the sky, hear the wind, the voice of God, and the wind tells them their time and their destiny. Not every tree knows river songs, and the river is not patient with those she cannot understand.

Why am I telling you this? Because something terrible has happened. For a long time, the Beaver people have felt safe in the park lands and that is where we have lived. Now, for some reason, the rangers have declared war on us. They destroy our dams. They take us prisoner. I do not understand it. Right now I am on the run. They shot me with something and put me in a box. I chewed my way out and am heading back to my people, but what do I say to them? The dams are our shelter. But more than that they are our purpose. We were created to help the river and the land speak, to help the tree people fulfill their destiny. The land needs us and the river. The trees need us. Why do these humans wish to interfere with God's plan? I am a peaceful soul, but I must defy them. I must teach us to do so with love, for I do not think the humans mean us any harm, really. They are just ignorant. If we love them, perhaps they will be healed. I must teach my people to build, because we must listen to our hearts and be what we are meant to be. I will teach my people to build dams because the river calls them and the trees cannot do their work without us. I will teach my people to trust their hearts. The hearts of humans tell them something else, something I do not understand. I do not begrudge them their journey, though I pity them that they apparently do not hear the trees and the river call, nor see the loneliness of the land. But they must walk their path and I mine. May God bless us both.

THE END

12 comments:

quilly said...

I like this fable! A little education, a little humor, a bit of pathos, some hope ... it has everything!

artpredator said...

yes the monday poetry train is quite able and forgiving--i've ridden the train most times it's left the station for over a year.

welcome aboard!

this is quite a magical piece, and timely as well...

Deborah Godin said...

I loved the voice you have given this fellow, Raven! I would hope all his relaltions get the respect and care they should have.

Dr.John said...

I loved it. It reads like an old Indian folk tale.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ahh, but things are changing! Researchers are learning the need for a good beaver dam and how it affects the life cycle of the pond it's near.

Hang in there, Barclay.

Julia Smith said...

Welcome to the Poetry Train, Raven! I find your prose incredibly poetic, especially this:

'A good dam marries earth and water. It speaks to the river and says, "Ho, merry friend, stop, rest awhile and greet your cousin, earth. Embrace her, feed her, and teach her your ways." A good dam builder calls on the tree people for help, for the tree people live on water and earth combined and they have also touched the sky.'

Shivery.

gautami tripathy said...

This is no prose, this is sheer poetry. I love fables. Like the way it goes.

Trees, the life giving force. You brought that out so well here.

Welcome to poetry train.

guts wrench out..

Finding Pam said...

Raven, that is so beautiful. Spoken like a real beaver. Just kidding.

I love this verse, "We were created to help the river and the land speak, to help the tree people fulfill their destiny."

I agree with Dr.John that it sounds like an Indian story.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Aw. So sad.

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Phew, I admire the way you get your mind round this stuff!

peppylady said...

There a lot of whys on in the world.
If we understood every thing we would be at peace.

Coffee is on.

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