I dream each night of dark water.
Pulsing, swirling, ever approaching, but it does not drown my toes.
The threat, but never the reality.
Illinois never loved me back. As a child, there was little I could understand to do, but I did it all. It never helped.
Moving away saved my life. Adulthood looks bright best when you’ve already talked yourself out of suicide at age ten.
A shaman once leaned into toward my ear and gave me a bead of bone his forefathers had carved. “You are a like spirit,” he told me. “I can feel it in you.”
Before we parted, he told me what was in his medicine bag. I had wondered, but knew not to ask; it’s the most sacred of secrets.
It’s a home for the bits of your soul, a place to remember. Most people will include a pinch of the soil they were raised on, a hair clipping from a favorite child, a rune drawn by a holy grandmother.
His, he said, held only salt and sage. A reminder to himself that he already was all he needed, and that tokens are not the same as a life.
I stood again by the dark water. I still don’t know what it’s trying to tell me, but I’m listening.
I try to scream out that it can take my toes. I yell that I am willing.
It doesn’t answer back.
When I stood on my own first soil, I remembered the shaman’s words, and took a solemn pinch from the earth that had watched me grow, heard my songs before words, and absorbed my first tears.
I thanked the earth for having stayed.
The pinch rests in a necklace, sanctified, in a $3.99 locket from a craft store.
The shaman, I’ve never seen again.
The dark water rises still higher every night.
Nothing has changed but the face I wear to greet it, and the surety of my back, straightening tall into the bravest line my body can form.
I have absorbed this warm earth the way it once absorbed me.
Maybe home isn’t a place. Maybe it isn’t even a time.
Maybe home is only found in those salty pinches, gathered near and carefully chosen, carried the rest of the path in a faulted vessel.
Text, Tracy Lucas, ©2015
(Image credit: Mason Raymond.)