A Woman’s Claim

11 09 2006

you’all seem to like these medieval stories. This one is ‘manly’,
yet the real courage lies with a woman …
as with many of my stories it is 20% fact, 40% period documentation
and 40% imagineering …
but then — perhaps I was there

papa faucon


Koynan stood motionless beside the scrub pine and viewed the lumbering train of carts and horsemen that skirted the edge of the dark forest. He did not attempt to hide, for experience had shown that his eyesight was far more distant-keen than that of the soldiers from the West. With the sun behind him he had no fear of reflection from the jewels on his helm. His cloak was wrapped around the scabbard of a great curving sword to still it in the breeze, while the slight flutter of his doublet against chain mail echoed the quickening pace of his heart. The ambush and assault was imminent and well planned. However, the Alan warrior placed only partial confidence in an attack plan scratched into the sandy soil of the steppes. As the leader of the marauding band he placed more faith in the skill of his men to react quickly to changes of battle and the silent preparation each would make in playing out the attack in advance. Such was the way of his people. They had not lost a decisive battle in more than 1200 years. The Roman legions avoided them and the slavs had been quickly subdued. For more than 500 years the Alan had lived by extracting tribute and ransom from the Magyar towns, as they did from the Turkish Marmalukes. He thirsted for real battle. It was fortunate, he thought, that the armored knights had come from the west. Such armor already hung on poles before his tent.

The supply train consisted of 20 mounted knights in colorful surcoats and glistening coifs escorting a cadre of women and Dominican Friars-Preachers. These were followed, at a distance, by a mixed collection of oxen and serf-pulled carts of varying size. The rear guard of six knights had been reduced to four when two had ridden into the woods in search of game. They would not return! A thick undergrowth of hazel brush mixed with birch and tall pines to make passage within the safety of the forest impossible. The mottled hues of green, yellow and white produced a languid affect on the soldiers in the warming morning sun. Only the serfs remained alert, probing ahead with their long staffs for rodent holes that might cause the cattle to stumble. Even then, thoughts were on reaching the safety of the village before nightfall, thankful for a night on a straw pallet rather than the hard ground beneath a leaky cart.

Koynan played out his role in the ambush in his mind. When the train reached the river ahead they would have to come down to the shallows away from the trees. He knew that the mounted knights and travelers would cross first, separating them from the struggling carts. They could not know that a band of 40 hid behind the group of kurgan mounds to the south. At this point, Koyan would lead his band of six in charge from the thicket into the carts while his pair of comrades in the woods would spear the rear guard and join the melee. When the knights turned to aid the caravan they would be attacked from the rear by an infamous Alan spear charge. Only the serfs would be spared, as they also tilled the fields and gathered honey from the dark woods. He had given his own two spears to the forest warriors for their part and would rely solely on his proven skill with scimitar and lasso. His steed would attack on its own with only his knees to guide it. Even if he dismounted, Thron would guard his back with slashing hooves. He joined his band in the thicket for a last fortifying drink of fermented curdled mare’s milk and awaited the crossing.

Aldic was called Bern after the brown forest bear that foraged near his homeland Odra valley. His size, ferocity and tinge of red in his hair had forged the nickname. Even Aldic was not his true name. As a peasant miller he had no official name. He had joined the forces of Charles the Lame years earlier with nothing but a shingling froe for a weapon. The name meant “stalwart one”, and its conference by Charlemagne was a granting of knighthood in a sense. Leadership and promotion came from action within the Frankish armies, rather than from effete noblistic abuse. Thus, Aldic the Bern did not lead from the head of his troops, but rather from the front of a cart where he knew the battle would be the thickest. His cowled robe hid helm, hauberk and two-handed barbarian sword across his back. His walking staff had inlayed strips of iron and a dagger was strapped upside down against his thigh. An instinct born of experience told him that the attack was coming. A low whistle alerted the rear guard and other disguised knights. Swords were loosened in their scabbards.

The charging Alan came when only half the carts were in the stream and Aldic still on land, else he might have perished in the assault. The thunder of hooves gave fair warning and he had time to pull the great lance head from its sheath and affix it to the end of his staff. Thus prepared, he did not run as a serf might, but turned to meet the charging war-horse Thorn. With the butt of the shaft anchored beneath his foot, Aldic dropped to knee and saw the spearhead true to the chest of the steed. The force of the impact sent the splayed point a foot through bone and muscle and levered the beast high into the air. With slashing knife the knight severed the saddle straps and rolled aside as horse and surprised Koynan came crashing to earth. With his curved sword trapped beneath saddle and flesh Koynan had an eternity to contemplate the terrible bearded visage that approached from the dust cloud. He did not even attempt to avoid the awful slash of steel that sparkled against the sky. He thought only of his bride in the distant camp and the honor she would feel over his death in battle. In some ways he was fortunate to die quickly. He did not see that the soldiers emerging from the woods were not his, nor the swordsmen who sprang from the covered carts, nor women and friars who became archers and a brought a rain of death.

She did not feel honor, nor dread with the approach of the Frankish soldiers. She knew that Koynan must be dead now and unable to protect her, but also that the western knights did not war on women and children. She wondered why they came. “Ah, the horses of course.” They Alan horses were legend across the land, both a basis of survival and trade. As she was the wife of the leader, and a Princess in her own right, she came out to meet them, her black hair betraying a Scythian rather than Alan heritage. The largest man she had ever seen dismounted and approached her stand, placing at her feet the armor and weapons of her defeated husband. She knew instantly that all of the Alan warriors were gone. She also somehow knew that their hubris had killed them, not the powerful knights. A known enemy was indeed a blunt sword and this Frankish chieftain clearly knew more about Alan customs than Koynan had known of theirs.

Other knights were collecting all the spare horses, leaving only enough for the tribal band to return to their people. Without the horses the women would die, such was the way of the Alan. They were clearly to hastily depart the land of the Agar, but still, she did not move. She had been drawn to the fire of Koynan because of his great strength and felt now the stirring of his son within her loins. From instinct more than cunnings she made a choice. The sudden appearance of the forearm length curved short-sword in her hand did not seem to surprise this looming bear of a man. Perhaps he thought she meant to take her own life. At another time, perhaps. But the survival of Koynan’s bloodline was paramount now and she sensed that the honor and power of this strange knight could protect her. She slowly drew the blade across the thick part of her palm and handed Aldic the blade. No words or prior understanding was required. The silence between them seemed both detached and alive with fearful portent. Then a smile replaced his furrowed brow and he cut himself in kind. Their hands joined hotly, with her’s displaying a strength he had not expected. She held out her other hand for the Kinjal sword and smiled at his slight hesitation. Some surprises would always be good for their future years. He caller her Thrasa, which she learned meant courageous. The blood of Vikings, Huns, Mongols, Franks and Aryans mixed in their veins.

Thrasa refused to part with the proud blade even in the court of Charlemagne, and all knew that she would defend her new husband and many sons with a terrible passion. For his valor and deeds Aldic was made Baron over the valley of the Odra and became the eastern defense of the Carolingian Empire and the great Duchy of Sachen, later to be known as Saxony. Tales of the exploits of Aldebern and Thrasa became one with myth and fable. All retained a core of truth in which cunning and preparation held sway against pride and stealth. Centuries later the hordes of Ganghis Kahn would be stopped at the Oder River by the soldiers of Baron von Saxe-Odra. The Mongol warriors and Slav soldiers greatly feared the huge Teutonic Knights, resplendent in pure white with black cross and weapons. This in part was based on superstitious tales about why many of these knights had slightly slanted Mongolian eyes, and why they often charged rather than defend their ground.


Unknown Date, The Road to Baba Yaga’s

10 09 2006

Unknown Date, The Road to Baba Yaga’s

The music of the

Island of
Ancestors, the voices of the women whose lives gave birth to my own, haunted me. I did not talk on the way back to the mainland. Anita Marie was sensitive to my mood and shared my quiet. I did not hear the tale of her decapitated friend, perhaps another time.

Bluebird Woman and Wren Woman were quiet as well. I spent the morning pondering the story my ancestor gave me, the retelling of the Creation myth of Genesis in language and order very different from the King James Version.

One of the few things I recall from college Anthropology is creation myths are vitally important because they provide the paradigm upon which the entire culture is based. I compared this new story with the old. The first obvious difference was the gender neutral language.

What would life be like if God were whole? The popular male god is diminished because half of itself is denied to exist. Male and female are both The HOLY ONE. To be blunt a skewed vision of god is a screwed vision.

But what has that to do with who I am?

Sitting on a stone bench in the shade of an apple tree, my thoughts drifted with the fluttering of sun between leaves. My thoughts flowed like water over stones. My heart opened like clouds of rain. And I just knew.

“I am created in the image of The HOLY ONE. I am loved by the ONE WHO MADE ALL. Because The HOLY ONE WHO MADE ALL THINGS created and loves me, I have worth simply because I exist.”

This is who I am. Beloved. Human. Valuable.

I sat until evening, basking in the all encompassing love of The HOLY ONE. I meditated on the identity of The HOLY ONE. Goddess. God. Neither. Both. Life giver. Life taker. Hope. Seasons turning and returning. Being born. Being born again. Immanent. Transcendent. Infinite. Eternal. Temporal. Ephemeral. Everything. Always. Everywhere. Everywhen. Ever within. Without beginning. Without end. This infinite power created me. This infinite heart loves me.

The song of my Ancestors swelled in my heart to flow out of my mouth. I sang until I could sing no more. I danced as I had never danced before, not the dignified, worship dance of the

Island of
Ancestors, but a jubilant dance of praise. I danced until I could not dance more. Then I sat still, resonating with the echoes of the Music of the Spheres, my heart pounding the rhythm of Creation’s Dance.

Bluebird Woman and Wren Woman came to me, holding out their hands and smiling. I rose and went to them.

“You know who you are.” Their happiness for me shone from their faces.

“Yes. I know who I am. I do not know my name; I do not remember who I was. But I know who I am.”

Wren Woman pulled a small hand mirror from her pocket. “Look.”

I looked. My hair was grown to my shoulders. It was the radiant copper of my ancestor. It was my hair and it was beautiful.

We sat in the garden to eat a simple supper. I sat on the ground between them. Bluebird Woman stroked my hair as we ate. They fed me apples, bread, cheese and wine, placing each tidbit in my mouth with their own hands. I lay my head on Wren Woman’s knee, exhausted and ecstatic. We watched the sun set and the moon rise, full of pregnant light as my heart was full of love.

Bluebird woman sighed.

“Dear one, it is time for you to go. You are wholly healed now. You can continue your journey.”

“Go?” I didn’t understand.

“Go.” Wren Woman was firm in her reply. “You need to go back over the mountains into the dark

forest of
Baba Yaga.”

“Baba Yaga?” The name was familiar, but I could not recall how.

“Baba Yaga is a hag, hagia, a wise woman,” Bluebird Woman explained. “Her name means ‘to know, to see, to foresee’ in Russian.”

“She’s a witch and dangerous,” snorted Wren Woman.

“Yes, that too,” agreed Bluebird Woman, drawling out the words as she thought them over. “Wise Women are dangerous, sometimes, if you aren’t honest with them.”

Bluebird Woman reached in to her pocket and pulled out a small doll. The doll was smaller than a coin, pale with dark eyes and rose-red mouth. Golden hair was crowned with a white lace headdress as Russian folk heroines wore. It wore shimmering white, moonbeams woven with gossamer. On her feet were gold slippers. She quivered when Bluebird Woman laid her in my palm.

“I give you this doll with my blessing. She will guide you, advise you. Feed her when she is hungry. Give her drink when she is thirsty. Keep her close and keep her secret. Ask her anything, and she will answer with truth. Plain truth, no oracles.” Bluebird Woman chuckled.

Wren Woman helped me to my feet. She gave me a bag. “Here. These are provisions for your journey. They will last you until you get to Baba’s.”

They walked with me up the mountain path to the peak.

“Well, here we leave you.” Wren Woman was matter of fact. “Walk at night and sleep by day, you cannot find Baba Yaga in the light.”

“How do I find her?” I asked.

“Just follow your nose. It is rather hard to not find Baba Yaga, even when you would rather not.” Wren Woman answered.

“Blessed be, my dear.” Bluebird Woman kissed my cheek.

Wren Woman hugged me fiercely. “Blessings upon you.”

With my little doll tucked safely in my pocket, a bag of provisions over my shoulder, I carefully worked my way down the mountain in the darkness.

I walked until day break. I found a venerable oak and climbed up into its gnarled branches until I was hidden away in a nook behind branches. I opened my pack and found wine, bread, cheese and oil. As I began to eat, I felt a quivering in my pocket. The little doll!

I pulled her out, apologizing profusely. Then I gave her bread and oil and a little wine.

“Thank you.” Her voice was clear and melodic, like water rippling over stones.

“You are very welcome.” I looked at her until she blushed. I apologized again.

“I must seem very rude,” I felt as if my mouth were full of marbles. “It’s just that you are so remarkable, so tiny and so perfect. I can’t help but admire you.”

“I understand,” the little doll murmured.

“Can you tell me about Baba Yaga?” I asked, eager to change the subject from my ineptitude to something more cheerful.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “Baba Yaga is evil and ugly. She is ancient old, older than god, older than dirt. She is very tall, and bone thin. Her eyes are jet black, and her vision is very good. She can tell the difference between a she flea and a he flea at fifty paces. Hair grows out of her ears, but she can hear a snowflake fall. She understands the speech of every living thing, plant and animal, and things that are not living as well – the stones, water, wind and fire. Her nose is like the beak of a vulture, her chin pointed as a spear. She is gnarled and grey. She has never bathed and stinks of decay. What little hair she has is matted and greasy. Her hands are covered in warts, her feet with corns. Her fingernails are long and jagged. You don’t want to know what is encrusted under those nails. Her teeth are iron and spark when she gnashes them.

“Baba Yaga is a Black Goddess. She cannot die and cannot be fooled. She eats children and drinks blood. She commands the sun and it obeys her, she changes the stars in their course, she causes clouds to form in the air and makes it possible to walk on them and travel the country. She can transform herself into anything. She can turn herself into a young woman and then, in a twinkling of an eye turn herself back into an old woman. She likes to transform into toads, snakes, flies. She has to the power to turn people into animals.

“She travels hither and yon in a mortar propelled by its pestle, and covers her tracks with her broom. She travels freely over the world and gathers herbs and other things for potions. She casts spells, discovers secrets for blackmail. She is wise, and if she befriends you there is no better ally. If you offend her there is no escaping her doom.

“Her house is on chicken legs, it travels through time and place. It is surrounded by a fence of human and animal bones and skulls. The gate is latched with a skull clenching tight its teeth. Her cauldron boils in the yard day and night. To be sent to Baba Yaga is to be sent to your death.”

The little doll looked at me. “But you have faced her. You have died and been reborn. You have nothing to fear, as long as you treat Baba Yaga with the respect due an elder.”

The doll looked at me again, as if to gauge my soul. “Yes, you have nothing to fear. Respecting others, even the mean spirited, is imprinted on every fiber of your being. You will succeed. If you need help, I will help you.”

“I have faced her before?” I was staggered, as if the little doll had hit me over the head with a rock rather than spoke to me quietly.

“Yes, when you met Ereshkigal. When everything you were was taken away.”

“Oh.” I was tired and my head hurt.

The little doll looked at me with empathy in her eyes. “Be at peace. When you gave up everything you were, it left everything you are. Let us rest now. Night will be here too soon.”

“When do you think we will find Baba Yaga?”

“Tonight at the soonest, seven nights hence at the latest.”

“Thank you.”

I curled with in the tree branches as best I could, pondering what the little doll told me. At last sleep overcame me, and I had one more night of peaceful sleep.


Wendy Olson

Song of Star Woman

8 09 2006

“It was in the winters

Before The People

Came into being

That Star Woman Came.

She saw Mother Earth

And thought her lonely.

All praise Star Woman.

Star Woman spoke to

The Great Sprit of this. 

He agreed,

Mother Earth

Needed children to love.

Together Great Spirit

And Star Woman

Fashioned The People.

Brother to the wild things.

From the dust of the Stars

From the Oceans made them.

Gave them life with

A warm breath from

White Tatanka’s mouth.

Awaken, Great Spirit’s children.

Blessed them with

Plenty, and faith.

Set them in a good land.

Made us caretakers

Of our Mother Earth.

Walk softly on our Mother.

Great Spirit spoke to them,

‘Care well for your Mother,

Love her, keep her happy.’

I will watch over you,

And shine upon you.

Great Sprit’s first promise.

In times of great trouble,

I will return to you,

And never abandon you.

You are my children,

Born of the dust of the stars

And the tears of Mother Earth.

Heed Great Spirit’s words.”


Princess Burning Hair

7 09 2006

Princess Burning Hair sat in a corner of the attic. Motes of sunshine had faded her red hair and moths had made holes in the fabric of her being. To add insult to injury successive generations of mice had gnawed away at the rubber bands that held her limbs together. Now she was an apology for what she had been.

Downstairs Mrs Jones, owner of the doll, huddled deeper into the bedclothes, her body felt numb. Yet again her husband had launched a stream of invective against her.

Why had she done this or that when she knew the consequences of her actions would be disastrous? The constant criticism nibbled away at her being, Chinese water torture eroding the sharp edges of her consciousness into a soft, shapeless blur. The bamboo spikes of his barbed comments lodging in her ears and working into her brain. Months would go by without, and then suddenly, out of the blue, something would happen to disturb the equilibrium. The strings of her heart were unravelling a little more each day.

Her life underwent the same decline and degradation as the doll with no witness except for the reflections in the numerous mirrors hung on the walls. Why were there so many mirrors, she wondered. She never looked at herself and her husband paid little apparent attention to his appearance – he had no need to for he was always immaculately turned out.

Outside the home she had no life for she never went anywhere. Once her husband had brought a woman home, introducing her as a work colleague and green shards of jealousy stabbed at her already fragile self-confidence for the woman was attractive and self-assured. Not unlike how she had been, once upon a time.

When had this slow decline started and what had prompted it? Not given to in-depth self analysis she was hard put to identify the when and the why. Was it the day he had taken her pet away? The one being with whom she felt a special communion. Her last lifeline was gone, even if it wasn’t human. She had no close family, no close friends in whom to confide – what – anyway?

How could she describe the internal void, the lack of purpose to her life? Although they had not had children, she had gone out to work – not that she needed to but it gave her a reason to get up in the morning. Apart from feeding her husband breakfast, that is.

In the beginning her days had been filled, she had gone out and met friends, visited museums, art galleries but now she found she preferred her own company. She lost herself in travel books and composed endless mental journeys. Once she had even lain out on the bed all the clothes and things she would take on an imaginary trip to Zanzibar – the spice island of her dreams.

Her salvation had come the day she discovered the reference room at the local library – where they had computers. Hitherto an undiscovered world, she joined a class of computer illiterates and the world was never the same place again. She made new friends and discovered new places. But she said nothing of this at home. Her husband never noticed the tiny changes taking place on an almost daily basis. He had grown careless. It never occurred to him that she actually examined the contents of his pockets, read all the mail that arrived and returned it quietly to the stack on his bureau. She painted her toenails red. Hidden inside her sensible shoes he never saw them but she knew they were there – a beacon in the night. She started to wear new underwear too, which he was too blind to see, having long since ceased to bed her. All of these miniature rebellions giving her pleasure and increased confidence.

One day he returned to an empty apartment. No furniture, no food in the kitchen – which had been fitted and therefore she hadn’t been able to take it away with her. Even his computer had gone. When he went into the bedroom there was a single sheet of paper on the floor, propped against an old doll wearing a torn lace dress, with lifeless glass eyes in a pale china face, but with the most astonishingly brilliant, burning, chestnut coloured hair.

“Thank you for the life you have not given me. You gave up on me when I couldn’t follow you. Now the tables have turned. Don’t look for me for you will never find me again although you may hear of me from time to time in the papers.” It was signed Princess Burning Hair

Attached to this note was a newspaper clipping. He picked it up and read …….

The House of Roses today confirmed reports that Prince Charming has a new girlfriend and below was a photograph…..



Pregnant With Possibility

6 09 2006



le Enchanteur is pregnant with possibility. She is almost full term, ready to birth a new journey and a new challenge. Soon she will set out with pilgrims in search of the Grail – the elixir of creativity.

This journey will culminate in the 2006 Advent Calendar.

Pilgrims who wish to participate need to send an expression of interest to le Enchanteur at heatherblakey at dailywriting dot net. A private group will be formed. This journey will not be available to the public until the Calendar is published.


5 09 2006

By Anita Marie Moscoso


Inspired by  The Soul Food Cafe Prompt

Exploring Childhood Innocence


Orcella Moss sat at his kitchen table with a small box of bones in front of him. Every once and awhile he’d reach out and jiggle the box around and then he’d look down into the top of it and sometimes he’d start to reach into it and then he’d stop.
Then he moved the box back to the center of the table and he wondered.
He wondered where his 13-year-old daughter could have found a human jawbone and other broken little pieces of bone and how it all ended up in an old fashion hatbox mixed up with the bits and pieces of her day-to-day life.
Orcella could hear her up in her room; a little while ago he had heard her TV go on, then he heard a beep and whine and then a hum as her computer came to life and he wondered how that little monster could do anything as normal as hit on and off switches when she’d been living in the same room with a busted human jaw bone, a mummified finger and little bits of bone in a hatbox she had left on her desk top.

Earlier that morning Orcella had gone up to Kirsten’s room to liberate the batteries from the remote control for the TV in the living room that somehow always found their way upstairs to Kirsten’s room and into her remote control.

That’s when he saw the old box with the faded candy pink stripes sitting on her desk and almost as an after thought looked down into it.
The box was right next to her California Cutie doll and her makeup (cotton candy flavored lipstick and some blush-on) and her hairbrush and a little bottle of perfume she’d mixed herself at Scent By You at the Mall.
And in the middle of all of that junk was the hatbox with the jawbone that was on the table in front of him now. He looked into the box one more time and that’s when he noticed the nail on the finger was manicured and polished and had a tiny rainbow decal near it’s tip.
 “ Kirsten,” he called up to her “ come on down here for a second, would you?”
He heard the sound go down on the TV and she called back, “ What?”
“ I want to talk to you.”
“ Busy.” She called back in her best little girl in the world voice.

Then not only did the TV go back on it went up.
“ Kirsten get down here.”
“ This better be important Dad,” she snapped back from over the racket “ cause I’m…”
“ Missing something from off your desk. So get down here NOW.”
The TV clicked off and the computer hummed and shut down. He could hear Kirsten walking across her bedroom floor. He heard the door open and then close and then the sound of her footsteps at the top of the stairs.

 “ This is very serious Dad.” He heard her walking down the steps “ You need to respect me and my privacy.”
She was standing in the kitchen now. Her mouth was a hard straight line and her chin was tilted up and she looked down her nose at him, “ That box is mine and what’s in it is mine and I want it back.”
“ I want to know where you found this Kirsten, for heaven’s sake Kid, this is a human jaw bone and what are these? “ he held the box up and shook it at her.
“ Finger bones, “ she held her hand up ‘ fingertip bones, I don’t know exactly but they’re mine Daddy and I want them back.”
“ Just answer me, where did you find this stuff?’ she was looking at him with a dull flat expression and he knew very well by the look on her face she hadn’t ‘found’ anything. Not in this condition anyway.

He tried another tact.
“ Kirsten these are human remains and you had them mixed in with your makeup, some CD’s and a half eaten candy bar and a stale bagel. Do you know how abnormal that is?”
It was very clear by the way she was still looking down her nose that she did know and that she also didn’t care.
“ Give me back my things Daddy.” She said in her best schoolmarm voice. “ Or else.”
“ Or what Kirsten? Am I going to end up in a box on your desk with candy bar wrappers and a half eaten bagel?”
“ No, but you know that thing you have hidden in the basement? If you want it back Daddy you’ll hand that box over right now.”
“ You didn’t…”
“ I mean it Daddy, hand the box over right now.”
He practically threw it at her and as she bent over to pick up some of the little bones that had fallen out she said, “ you’re gross Daddy “ she said with disgust “ I can’t believe you brought that into our house and hid it in a trunk with the Christmas ornaments. That’s twisted.”

She was looking into the box and then she looked around on the floor and came back up with the finger with the nail still attached and she dropped it into the box. “ You’re sick Daddy, you need help.”

Orcella watched Kirsten stomp up the stairs, he heard the door slam shut and the music go on full blast. It was loud;  loud enough to shake the pictures on the wall, loud enough to attract attention,  loud enough to maybe force  the neighbors to call the police and complain.

Orcella didn’t go up the stairs, he went back into his kitchen and down the steps to the basement…and then he started to clear the Christmas ornaments out of the trunk.

To Honor One Woman — To Honor All

3 09 2006

I have avoided posting this true story because it seems too much of me …

but I must share the honor due to a woman who created the setting and events that made this possible. Like our Heather, it was not her direct action of will, nor guiding words that engendered creation in this way, but the internal knowledge (FAITH) that her actions would create ‘touches of wonder’ somewhere — always.

papa faucon


There was a crossing — of Paths, Currents, Metaphysical tremors, whatever. No special portents. A featureless steel sky with sense of snow, but a ‘shirt-sleeve’ 70° for all of that. Each Sunday morning in Salt Lake City, a famed charitable woman hosted a breakfast beneath the stretch of freeway fingered overpasses. Hardly a set cathedral arches and buttresses, but by conjoined will a spiritual place, and the only ‘mass’ the teaming homeless were likely to attend. Others came, like myself, to participate and support the event — to honor perhaps both the simple fellowship of strangers and the non-religious giving of so many volunteers. I ‘paid’ for my ham and eggs and pancakes and juice by wandering about with pitchers of coffee and loading garbage bags on trucks. There were about 300 fed that morning, more than most Sundays, as this was the last breakfast to be held. I don’t know why he came.

Due to the impending Winter Olympics the entire road system was being rebuilt. There would be no room in the inn, and no other place was willing to allow the hordes of unwashed to accumulate on their property. Yet with each death there is always rebirth, and meeting Dann was part of that. I had arrived early in order to secure a special parking place, but now could not get out from the bumper-locked, inching traffic. Several pedestrians, some with physical disabilities, were also ‘grid-locked’ and unable to cross the street. From no where, a largish man with a broken staff paced boldly into the fray and stopped the flow from both directions. He might have been Moses parting the sea — arms outstretched and commanding presence — though his bald head and knee high boots would not have attracted Hollywood’s attention. No one honked — strange! With a parade of wheel chairs to guard my escape, I was able to cross both lines of traffic as if by right. I might have continued unabashed had I not noticed that the extended staff was burned as well as broken. I pulled aside down the block and walked back, after securing an article from the trunk. It was meant to be.

Three years before in the mountains of California, a branch had fallen from a giant tree and hit my car rather painfully. I would have picked up such a branch at any time, because of a hobby I make staffs and canes for people — just to give away. This piece was seven feet long and reasonably straight and the width of an axe handle. Perfect. It also came from a 1000 year old Sequoia with a ruddy bark that flaked softly in my hands. Over the years I had worked it some, just wire brushing the outer bark to reveal whorls of iridescent reds and black and ochre. The few protrusions yielded to knife and file, and a leather tip and a coat of teak oil seemed right. Then it lived in my car for a year — just waiting.

I just walked out into the street and handed it to him. He did not speak or smile — but his eyes did. I will not attempt to describe what I saw there, but the phrase, “pale blue of sorrowful joy” came to mind. He pointed to a jagged scar on his throat and then to my shirt pocket. I handed over two business cards and a pen. One he placed in a pouch on his belt. The other received a quick note, which I assumed would be his name. Not so. He visibly swallowed some air and issued forth a sound not possible from his smashed larynx. “Dawwnn” was what I heard. “Hello, Dann, with two ‘n’s,” I said. His eyes flashed another smile. A brief nod. Then he strode away and I have never seen him since.

On the card he had written, “It’s all about faith.” You decide.