She Who Heals

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Comanche tribe says that long ago there was a girl named She Who Was Alone. When her parents died she was left with only a doll to remember them by.

Naturally, she treasured this doll. It tied her to those who loved her most. She slept with this doll each night, stroking its hair as she drifted into dreams. In the daytime, her tribe continued to care for her, but still her name made her place in the world: Alone.

Many moons later, the rains stopped falling and the earth dried beneath the sun. No crops grew. Animals migrated to richer land. The people danced for rain and made the usual offerings, but still the skies were dry. When they asked the shaman for help, he consulted the spirits and built a fire.

"An offering of a treasured belonging will bring the rains." he explained to the people during their  meeting around the flames.

The people returned to their tents for the night.
The hunter put his well-loved bow away after another unsuccessful hunt.
The chief's daughter placed her jeweled bracelets in the basket woven by her grandmother.
She Who Was Alone listened to the crackle crackle of the fire.

She pulled the doll from her pocket and combed its hair with her fingers. Its familiar softness comforted the ache of loneliness in her heart. She remembered the earlier faces around the fire. The people were tired. The women with tired shoulders from carrying much needed water from the nearly-dry springs. The men were exhausted from hunting without yield. The children, thirsting for more than rations. The doll lay still in her lap as she listened to the flames again.

A treasure, any treasure it seemed to say, licking the logs and stones.

The more she listened and remembered her people, the more she knew what needed to be done.
In the way important things are always known, she knew.
She walked to the edge of the fire and hugged her doll, the last hope of She Who Was Alone.
Then she wept.

Wind dried each tear and gently smoothed her hair.
Night cooled the heat of mourning.
Coyote and Cottontail kept watch.

"It is time," the girl said as she placed the doll gently in the fire. She watched the flames take the offering. When only coals remained she lay her face to the earth and dreamed so deeply she would not remember their stories.

She was woken by the sound of rumbling skies. The first drops of water brought the people from their tents. As the sounds of celebrations began, She turned to the smoking coals of the fire. Nestled in the ashes was a small blue flower. Her gasp of surprise drew the attention of the people. Soon all had seen the miracle.

"It seems that She Who Loves Her People has given us a gift," the shaman said as he emerged from his tent.

The people looked among themselves, confused. They knew no one named She Who Loves Her People.

But She knew.
In the way important things are always known, She knew.

She Who Loves Her People rose to her feet and claimed her story.
When bluebonnets bloom, the people remember her still.

Adaptation of the Comanche (Plains) Tribe of North America story, the Legend of the Bluebonnets.

Sometimes I wonder why I share so many intimate details of my life.

This blog, my poetry, and basically all the vulnerable posts I've ever made on social media contain pieces of my story. "Why put your life out there so everyone can see it?", I was asked in an interview a few months ago. I wonder the same thing every time I hit 'post'.

It is admittedly uncommon to be so open with struggles. It would seem much easier to hold my heartache close, wouldn't it? I sometimes wonder, why can't I be content to stroke my small comforts and hopes to sooth away the jagged edges of my past, my illness, my pain?

Because I see the faces of the people around me,
their voices crying for water
that is not laced with tears.

If flames can transfigure
pain into rain,
I am willing to brave the night Alone.

for that is the calling
of She Who Loves Her People.

Friends, never forget:
when we give of the self,
we offer treasure
and the people remember
She Who Heals.
© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.