I am broken
inside. I am very old. Consider those things. Consider: I could
not go with you anyway.
No, no. I dont
know who or what you are exactly, but you are human, you speak
English...something could be done. 7
Nothing in the
flesh, nothing in the stone.
I want to help
you. I must get help.
If you wish to
help then grace my words with attention. There are no accidents.
You answered that you might hear and remember. You know what I
am in your world.
A Bigfoot, I
guess...but that doesn't matter. You would be a curiosity, but...
Please hear me. As
you shall understand-if my face is too pain conscious to convey
it-what I have to speak is of importance to me. 8 Among
my people I am a "doctor", only much different than your kind. We
Ladantias, as we are known, seek the balance of things, and
through the maintenance and restoration of that balance, we keep
our integrities and fulfill our obligation to integrities larger
than our own being. A Ladantia, therefore, must know deeply of
himself and the others. As part of this learning every seventy
moons, he makes The Walk. Each Walk leads to a place where life
is given. This renews the energy of balance in the pilgrim. I am
on The Walk, to be my last. Among Ladantias, the last Walk is
considered most powerful, for knowledge has no definition until
its edges are revealed. Decisions carry the weight of a life,
and strike deeply. I have decided to tell you of the Priorians,
as we are known. Many other humans have been told, but joined to
secrecy lest there be discord. You understand that our existence
is known among you; we have talked to many of your people.
Joining is a power we have. It can be used for silence as well
as song. And of course our mad ones reveal themselves, and
occasionally we are seen. To use a joke popular with us: There
is ample predication for our existence. The Priorians are not a
superior people. We do not, for instance, have your minds for
the beauties of metal and oil. We lack obsession. Nor do our
languages have nearly the grace as some of your Indian tongues.
We do have some unique powers and abilities-but what living
lacks its own uniqueness? Some of our abilities would perhaps
astonish you, but not for long. One of them is the ability to
join things in marvelous orders and complexities and in that way
create new connections to refresh the old. This, if anything
constitutes an equivalent to your arts-we do not make the
distinction. Because we live through those connections as we are
able, our lives are magical-but we have the magicians respect
for "reality", as you call it, for reality is a limit of magic,
and thus a point of balance. We do not pull rabbits from a hat.
But we can become rabbits. I hope my example is not too clumsy-
in our languages there are no comparative structures, while in
yours they are a necessity of the imagination. Our language, you
understand, does not admit of metaphor and is not a metaphor
itself. Sometimes it bores me.
understand, really. Really it is quite astonishing. But why are
you telling me this? 9
It is given me to
do so; I have decided to comply. Birds sing. Always in my life
Ive had a weakness for speech, a foolishness that often afflicts
us of the moon families. Foolishness, age, pain-many
possibilities. Because my voice rises to your face. Because my
voice soon finds its stillness. (pause) But also because things
are bad with my people. For too long now we have lived like
trout under the frozen crust of a winter lake, sluggish,
suspended in ourselves. Despite our powers and small magic there
is a sickness amongst us, a sadness, a grief very deep. No one
knows the exact origin of this sadness. My own feeling is that
it is of astonishing complexity, beyond even dream music. No
doubt it breeds in our isolation, no doubt it finds fecund
[meaning fertile, or highly imaginative...ed] our enforced
disconnection from old springs and spirit grounds that your
people now occupy. Nescomela, one of our most gifted, feels your
people have maddened the earth beyond anything we might balance.
Perhaps. But on this Walk there was feeling in me of a more
serious sort, that our sadness is the first tremble of
extinction, a blood premonition of species-death. I must explain
that it is Ladantia practice to read "emotion" in the blood-I did
so by opening a vein in my arm. In the bloom I saw a fish with
corroded fins and the trunk of an oak tree split. And I saw most
clearly a bird creature feeding on itself, its beak tearing at
its own breast. Birds are the densest energy-they are like song.
And among us, always, only with singing has sadness dissolved.
Long ago, when your people lost respect, we learned to sing
silently against our discovery. I now realize, to swallow one's
songs, for they grow mad in the heart and the blood. That is
what the bird creature told me in its being. There are other
signs of discordance; the quality of dreaming-to which we pay
careful attention-has deteriorated. And there are more mad ones.
They are the ones who leave footprints and cross highways. So
great is their torment they wish to flirt their existence. Two
have been shot this year.