It is raining. I am listening to rain on the roof and skylights. A rain I have not heard in four years. This is not the heavy rain that is still predicted. This is the “light rain” — it intensifies now, as I write these words. It precedes, we hope, the” heavy rain” that could reach down to the very tips of the deepest roots of the tallest trees to restore the aquifer and the future. I am writing in rhythm with the rain, and it is setting up a path of communication between us. Between the rain and myself after such a long time. A communication in another language.
I have been speaking to, praying for the rain, this rain, for almost four years. Praying as I watched the land parch, watched the animals of the wild desperately seek food and water, watched even as the drought-tolerant purple sage withered and browned. There are animals in these mountains who have never seen rain. We keep a large pail of water filled for mountain lion, bobcat, coyote and deer — they all have to learn to drink together, and so live together in the feral orchard.
We put down bales of alfalfa in the driest winters for the deer and other non-predators. But the animals have to be safe there — we can’t lay a trap for prey, or an opportunity for the predators. And so it is.
For more than four years, I have been listening for a Literature of Restoration. Simultaneously, I have been listening for a dialogue with the elementals. I began by praying that the rain would come. But I knew we do not deserve it. So then I prayed for the rain. On behalf of the rain and the other elementals. Such prayers require another language.
Indigenous peoples sing to the elementals, the ancestors, the spirits. For most peoples and religions, songs and prayer are one. In many indigenous languages, prayer and honoring the spirits are embedded in, intrinsic to, each word of the language. To recreate such prayer and honoring is intrinsic to the Language of Restoration.
Beauty is also an essential element of The Language and The Literature of Restoration, but it does not exist if its other face, Truth, is not present. Beauty and Truth become Integrity, and Integrity requires Responsibility. What we say, and how we live and act, must be one. The Literature of Restoration demands this.
I am not writing in a straight line. I am writing in a circle. If you write in a circle then there is a field within it. The field is the earth and the future. A Literature of Restoration holds the earth and its future in its arms.
Here comes the rain. I must speak about the rain in a time of drought. I must speak about the rage and anger of rain. I must speak about the rain as it returns as one who has been in prison or in exile. I could not call for the rain to return, I could only pray for its welfare wherever it had sequestered itself, wherever it was hiding. I could only pray for the soul of the rain, wherever it was confined or held captive.
What needs to be offered, so the rain can be free to be itself?
We must change for the land to be free. In order for the rain to be free to come to the land that requires it, we must change. We must change entirely. We must change so that we do not live against the earth and we do not live against the rain. We must give our lives to the rain.
I give my life.
This is what the dream requires through its language from another world. It is a sacred message from Spirit. The dream comes in its own language to remind us that we have to find, remember, learn and develop this Language so we will understand. Understand the dream. Understand what we are being called to set right. Understand what we are being called to create: She will not kill.
Here is the dream.
The dream came in another language. That is, it came in a rhythm from another language and, therefore, spoke of another world than the one we inhabit when we speak English. An unknown world.
I am, or she is, holding the photo and speaking to him, or he is the face in the photo. I am, or she is, saying, “No, you will not kill.” He, as a revolutionary, or they, together, they will do what they must, what they have been doing, what has been necessary, but they are here in this country, this Spain of the Imagination, and they will leave without killing. Killing will not be the last act. Killing is not sanctioned. I am, or she is, adamant.
But now I am the Mother in a Spain of the Imagination and I am going to the Teacher. I open the door. I tell her that I am here on my knees. I fall to my knees before her. One can only fall to one’s knees before someone one trusts implicitly. We are women in a Spain of the Imagination. We have dark hair, our faces are strong and clear, we wear black skirts and white blouses. But if we wore only black you would not be surprised.
I tell her that I have come about my daughter. She is sixteen or eighteen. She is the Daughter. She will not kill. I will not allow it. It is not to protect the victim; it is to protect my daughter. She is a revolutionary, as we all are, as we must be. But, I tell the teacher with whom I am now collaborating, who understands everything, I will send the daughter away. She will go to another country. I cannot send her to the United States. It is not a country of such women as we are or we have become. It is not a country that forbids killing.
That young man will go to another country, too. That young man who is her partner, in the way the man was my partner earlier, when I held the photo and knew that he must not, and so would not kill. He/they will not kill.
I speak this to the Teacher. I am on my knees, and she is seated on the single wood chair by the windows in a classroom empty of children. I fall to my knees and then I rise up. It is possible that I am also the teacher. It is possible that there is only one person in this dream and it is myself and I am playing all the roles. No, I am not playing roles. I am everyone in the dream as I must be, because it is a dream and that is how the dream teaches us as there are no others in a dream; there is only what we know or what is being told to us by the dream—which, ultimately, knows what needs to be known.
This is the dream. A dream from a world of the imagination that birthed me when I was a young girl or a young woman, and when killing (despite Guernica, despite World War II, despite Hiroshima and Nagasaki) was not killing a person, but an act that created another world. In such dreams of language, killing was a word, not an act. It was a word that led to another world, an act that had to end in a dream of Life, of words come to life, like justice or freedom. A dream of a world in which killing was not ever to have to kill a body that could not understand the horror of killing. To kill and not to kill were the same, because they created the world we had to create so that the killing would be over.
It was a world I recognized in an imaginary literature of Spain where I have never been. It was a world I was born into through dreams I do not remember that have rhythms that might be flamenco and which I found again in the rhythms of the poetry and the literature of Latin America.
In these dreams that are not dreams so much as patterns in other worlds, the women know what they have to know, though their mothers wore veils and were silent and sequestered behind walls in cities called the Alameda or Alhambra, the Red. In the languages of these worlds, the men told the stories of what the women were not to know…The men who told the stories did not know what the women knew and were passing on to the daughters, the daughters who come to me now at this time in my life in my dream. The daughters who are straight and tall, who are revolutionaries in black skirts, who have red lips and carry red roses and will not kill. The women who will not kill, so killing is forbidden. That is how strong they are.
The women say, “This is what we taught you in dreams you have forgotten you dreamed in your childhood, the dreams that formed you and that surface now at this time in your life when you are asking what is to be done, what is to be done, what is to be done?”
This is the photo of the man who, at the end of what he is to do, is not to kill. The photo is not of the man who is to be killed. The photo is of a man, who ultimately, because he is the revolutionary—the one who brings justice like the sunlight or the rain— will not kill. The woman says so and so it is so. That is what the dream says. And it says that all of this, the story, the strength not to kill, the strength that ends killing, is in language, in the rhythm of the words, and this is what we have forgotten. Earth, rhythm, language, light—they were to have come together in a poetry from which the future might have arisen if we had listened and learned to speak that language, its rhythms and images, its absolute poetry.
But then we forgot or yielded to the trance, to the relentless noise from which our cities dull as old metal and gray egg cartons arise in the fluorescent lights of super markets and endless parking lots and deluded malls which have no music to them and so are not the languages that we had been given to heal the world.
And because of this, because it may not be too late, the dream comes and the woman says, adamantly, “The man, my lover, the woman, my daughter, her lover, we will not kill. At the end of the dream, at the end of the dreams, we will not kill.”
The dream comes in another language, a Language that emerged from a Literature, or a Literature that emerged from a Language that, despite war, blood, prisons, cruelty, iron bars, sequestered women, had a poetry beneath it that was a river of life, even when life was forbidden.
* * *
The rain is here again like the tap of the heels of a woman who is dancing flamenco. She is dancing her life and her death to the music of the guitar whose chord slides down from heaven to earth, from her wild black hair into her pulsing groin, the bud of her clitoris within her red rose. Arpeggio. Crescendo.
This is why she will not kill. She will prohibit killing. She is like the rain. She returns. She persists. And so the earth will be restored by the insistent and persistent rhythm of her dancing heels, one phrase after another, in her secret Language of Restoration.
I am waiting for the rain to come to see if I can send this dream to you. The rain is here. We are on our knees. It is a hard rain. Flood, its other face, is possible, but now we welcome the rain and we pray in another language.
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About the Author
Deena Metzer is a poet, novelist, essayist, storyteller, teacher, healer, and medicine woman. She has taught and convened community for many years. Story is her medicine. She is the author of many books, including most recently, the novels La Negra y Blanca (2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature), Feral; Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems; From Grief Into Vision: A Council; Doors: A fiction for Jazz Horn; Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing; The Other Hand; What Dinah Thought, Tree: Essays and Pieces; The Woman Who Slept With Men to Take the War Out of Them, and Writing For Your Life.