I realize with conviction
that my banked fire still heats-
but I will not be the same again.
My red kimono is now for the mystery.
The moon is no longer for bleeding
but for seeing.
The white bird whispers in my ear –
When the boys asked her what she was looking for on the black, sand beach, she said she had lost her eyes. She was looking for replacements, she said, a pair of perfect gold agates. It was known these could be found here at sunset when the baby selkies lost them in the surf after a day of play.
“But Grandmother!” the boys cried in praise, “You have beautiful pink rose petals for eyes now! Surely your view of the world must be complete.”
“These are not my eyes,” she said. “One days I was walking along Cascade Head minding my own when I heard Coyote inside a Cedar Tree muttering to himself as he pushed his nuts out a hole Woodpecker had just finished drilling for him. The nuts fell on the ground into a pile of cedar shavings. Next came his long golden tail, each of all four legs, his black nosed snout and then his eyeballs connected by the optic nerve. I wasn’t the only one who saw this, and a bunch of us gathered around shushing each other and trying not to laugh out loud so Coyote wouldn’t know we were there.
Coyote ran around reassembling himself, which was a sight to see. He felt around with his paws for his eyes, but Raven stuck out that thick beak of his and snatched them right out from under his pat, pat, patting paws.
Well, I couldn’t help it. I bust out laughing and Coyote’s ears went up. You know he hates to be looking foolish. So he runs into a wild rose bush and comes out the other side with the most amazing rose petal eyes stitched on with a couple of rose thorns. I admit I coveted those sheer pink satin eyeballs and through them Coyote could see my sudden flush of green envy. After all, my eyes grew at the end of stalks and even though I could see in all directions in every color of forest shadow and sea storm, I didn’t know what I had. But Coyote. He knew.
‘Mrs. Snail,’ he said. You know that honey voice of his. ‘I see you admire my rose petal eyes. Shall we trade?’
All my kind loves a good swap and next thing I knew, I was looking at the world with a soft dawn glow—morning, noon, and night. It was Raven who flew by and told me I could find new eyes on the black beach sand.”
The boys laughed and emptied their pockets. Agates dribbled on the sand like two dozen gold selkie eyes. A sneaker wave came up between their legs and like Coyote, ate them all in one bite like yellow marmalade.
Elsewhere in this blog I have posted illustrations from this story about Coyote. He has had to dismember himself to squeeze his way out of a cedar tree and Raven stole his eyeballs. Coyote replaced his eyes with wild rose petals and when Mrs. Snail asked about them, he said, “These are special eyes. With them I see visions. With them I see spirit rays.”
Of course, she trades him her eyes for the rose petal eyes…who tricked whom, Coyote?
I see also that with this mandala, I have honored my dear friend Dusty, who has passed to the other side of the veil and now I’m sure he sees spirit rays and visions.