The Crows of Oz
Dreamed 1984/8/23 by Chris Wayan
Where the hell am I? Pale blue-green, familiar... Lockers and shelves. There's a huge reorganization going on. People I thought were friends rush around busily, ignoring me. They follow a complex, posted plan. I'm the only one who has not been given instructions! I search all the nearby lockers for some hint as to what I'm doing in this place.
Why do I recognize this place?
A chartreuse parachute drapes on the wall. From it, a huge moose-head plaque protrudes. On one antler hangs a tall witch's hat. The hat's pale jade-green, and so is the moose-head.
Of course! It's Emerald City! That's the hat of the Wicked Witch of the West.
So I pull it down and carry it ritually before me like a holy green traffic cone, through the gothic halls, singing "The Streets of Laredo":
Oh, beat the drums slowly,In the great hall of Oz stands a funeral dais, and on it lies the Witch of the West, green-skinned as life.
and play the fife lowly...
I climb solemnly up and put her hat back on as a mark of respect. She was bad, but she was clear about it. Honesty goes a long way with me. I sing:
For I'm a poor cowboyA man slips up next to me and whispers "It's time for your audience with the Wizard." I'm all a-flutter, I comb my hair, notice my shirt is on backward! Blank and sealed over my throat, my heart, but open behind me, where I can't even see what I'm baring! No time to turn it--I button it up, contorting. Put on a coat to hide all but the backwards collar. Maybe they'll think I'm a priest. Or something.
and I know I've done wrong.
They lead me into the high-school auditorium in Healdsburg, California. I used to see plays here, as a kid... But except for a sofa, the stage is bare. The attendant leaves and I stand alone, silent. On stage, a whisper. The wizard! But no one's there. I climb up and look to be sure. The voice again... from a crevasse behind the couch. No mere crack: it curves down, with pearly, ornate lips like a seashell, or a Glen Canyon cathedral. A luminous, vaginal, peach and pink passage, down to great caverns, glowing below. The wizard's secret chamber!
But even ear to the ground, I can't make out what the Wizard of Oz is saying.
So the Wizard's interpreter enters and TELLS me. I feel uneasy. Can I rely on this guy? He says "The Wizard apologizes for her present incapacity. She's now in the body of an old woman. An evil sorcerer attacked and stole his younger body. The mage who did it wants to take over all of England!" (Oz is a Shakespearean classic of course. I just hope it's one of the historicals, not a tragedy where we all end up dead.)
The interpreter pauses, listens to the Wizard's whisper, and adds "It's William, Duke of York, who did it!" The interpreter is excited, a real hothead, and grabs the War Gear off the wall, and heads north, to fight the Duke's army massed near the Scottish border.
I feel this war-fever is a bit much; I don't want to go fight strangers! Instead, I climb up to the parapet to look across the Oz countryside, wondering what to do with my powers. For I can change the rules. I've been granted that. Whatever physics I want, will be. But can I stop a war? I consider slowing the speed of light so much that bullets will be too slow to pack a punch. No, they'd get heavier, the Lorenz-Fitgerald contraction. Hm... I could defuse their nuclear bombs, but wouldn't the sun go out?
I can't think of a single change that'd make the world safe. Not and have the world still WORK. Such power... and no way to use it.
The wind is brisk, a little chill. I feel sad. High terrace. Two huge crows land by me. Small ravens? They croak at me. Looking at their shiny black feathers, bold against the bland green fields, reminds me of my friend in Zimbabwe who sent me back photos of local houses decorated with geometric murals of black and bold colors. Darker, yet somehow brighter, than the pastel Euro paintjobs I grew up with in San Francisco. Contrast is good.
Suddenly I notice the highlights in the crows' feathers, fluffed up in the wind. Darkly iridescent spots of sun-glare, rippling with blue, browns, even reds, all very subtle... but amazingly beautiful.
My friend was right. We need the dark. Somber, seemingly empty spaces to develop new harmonies, new colors. Wicked witches are the price of magic. Dark feathers between the stars... Loneliness is necessary! For the laws that make the world lonely and dangerous and dark are what make it big enough to live in.
There's no place but home.
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