I’ve been having this dream since I was a child. I tied to ignore it, but I can’t anymore; it’s fiercer than ever.
In my dream, I see this valley. Not as it is now, not brittle and dry with smog, but lush and vibrant, teeming with life as it once was. Deer, fox, wolf, bear, squirrel, are all hunting, gathering, thriving. There are streams, blue with snowmelt, rushing towards the sea sparkling in the sun.
And I stand above it all, on the top of highest point of the San Gabriels. I can see everything all the way down to the glittering sea, everything is so alive, and all around me the wind swirls. And as I stare through the brilliant sunlit air, the wind grows cold, and tugs at my garments.
I sense an ancient presence, worldly but not of this earth – I cannot see what it is, I cannot turn my head to look, but I feel someone come and stand next to me. And then another. And another. And more, so many more come up the mountain and stand beside me, until we are a large crowd gazing towards the sea, the wind rising higher, violent and pleading now, as if to pull us down the rocky slopes.
And then the wind pushes one of us roughly forward, the wind sending him downhill, and finally I see what it is – a skeleton.
I can’t move, I am stunned by the sight, and then several other figures move forward, they too are skeletons, and still more, hundreds of skeletons, some carrying baskets or tools. I am unafraid but I want to scream as I watch them make their way down the mountainside, and then a hard gust of wind tears my clothes away, and my flesh with them. I too am only bones remaining, and have no choice but to move my stark white feet downhill, following the others toward the sea.
We walk all day, following a stream, following the sun into its resting place beneath the horizon. As the moon rises, we reach a clearing and stand together on the sandy shore, where the river meets the ocean – a holy place. The world is so quiet that we can hear the moon sigh, birds murmur their dreams; we can hear all of creation breathing around us, and the dried marrow cracking in our wasted bones.
Then, as one, those skeletons slowly turn their skull faces to me – how can empty eyesockets weep? Tears of joy and hope trickle down the ridges of their cheekbones. The white jawbones of my ancestors smile at me, and hold out their empty bone hands to me, guiding me towards the water.
I am so terrified, and overjoyed at the same time, and I pause, and just before the bare bones of my toes reach the water’s edge, I stop. I look up, and there in the shimmering moon, and I see her face. The face of a holy woman, weeping tears of silver into my hands, into the waters below me. Toypurina. She whispers to me, sweet words in a sweet and ancient language, and I step into the water.
I feel the delicious and searing pain of a body regenerating itself, ligaments and muscles, fascia and flesh wrapping around my dried bones. I wade into the water, a few inches at a time, and feel my body rebuilding, reconstructing, rediscovering. I see my hands under the churning surface of the water, I cup them together and bring a cool splash to my face, and a wave of thick black hair washes down my back.
I turn to see my ancestors following me into the water, and they come back to living flesh, sun-ripened skin fastening itself around their shivering bones, revealing potent muscled bodies, broad faces so beautiful their only purpose could be to serve creation. They too splash water on their skull faces, which flush with sun-kissed brown skin, vivid eyes and long black hair spilling around their shoulders.
We raise our hands up to the moon, water dripping down our newly reborn skins, song erupting from our lips. And we sing the song of the moon, of the birds in the trees, of water laughing. I speak and sing with them, singing praise to all of creation… And I wake screaming with tears pouring from my eyes and I have forgotten that sweet language… I don’t have any words…. I have lost the words. Help me. Help me to find the words.