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GRIEF KIVA

for my grandfather

Dreamed 1980/2/16 by Chris Wayan


My father is very old now: 93. He's a devout Buddhist. I love him deeply, but he wants to die. "I can't bear the load any longer," he tells me. "I was learning lessons my soul needed, perhaps; but now life is just pain."

I am his only daughter--indeed his only child. Only I can help him. I refuse what he wants me to do at first, then delay. Until he begs. All of a sudden I can't take any more and I give in. With a hard sweep of my arm, I knock his cane aside. He falls, and dies instantly. I start crying uncontrollably, and wake up.

I choke back the crying, nearly strangling myself, because someone may hear me and come ask questions and find out I killed him! For several minutes I'm confused what's dream and what's real, but gradually my grief fades and I settle shakily into my waking world. It was just a dream.

I get up, noticing I'm a man now. A man living in the back of a small diner, in the Four Corners area, near Black Mesa. On the Navaho reservation, but close to the Hopi boundary.

It's early morning. Only one other person is up: a young woman who's already painting away as always, outside the front door. I recognize her instantly--I was her, in my dream! The daughter who killed her dad.

Why did I dream I was her? Did she really kill her ancient father, at his request? Not the kind of thing you can just ask...

She's painting an old ruin visible on the near side of the Mesa. This worries me; I know that place is haunted. Perhaps my weird dream of being her and losing someone I loved, is a warning about her going there--I know she's been, I can tell by the perspective of some of her sketches. I warn her: "Carbon dating only says that place is something between 1500 and 15,000 years old--whoever built it, it's ancient. And... HAUNTED. You mustn't go inside, it's extremely dangerous." She answers "Parts of it are safe; and besides, I have the right to risk myself for my art."

I go inside the ruin myself, to map out what's safe and what's not. I find a huge spiderweb of thick cables filling the lower levels and the kivas, like neurons in a gigantic brain. As I'm climbing through them nervously, everything starts to shake. Spider Grandmother coming! No, the stone walls are shaking too, and the floor! EARTHQUAKE! I'll be crushed...

A long long tremor. But the webs just flex, and nothing too big comes down. The quake subsides. The kivas hold. I wonder--did the webs support the stones, absorb the shock? Maybe what I feared so much just saved my life.

Something has opened up. A passage down. How deep do these kivas go? The Pueblo say the surface we know is the Fourth World, that we came up successively through three others--through holes between worlds called sipapus. I think I've found one.

Much later. Much, much deeper. So deep I'm lost. And then... a corridor opens out into a vast cavern. A whole sealed-in world down here. And I meet people. They don't even know they're underground. The roof is of pale gray cement, and so high it's like a perpetually overcast sky. The people don't know there's a fourth world through the sky, because they are so busy just staying alive. Lots to worry about here: it's a Latin American style dictatorship, dominated by the army and a conservative oligarchy (it's the Third World, after all).

At the still, small sound of trumpets we must all line up along the sides of the Red Carpet, the endless Red Carpet that rolls and unrolls through the cave kingdom's passages, under the marching jeweled boots of El Jefe. Wherever he walks, the carpet goes, and we must drop what we're doing and come line up and cheer wildly on each side. Or be shot. You have to show enthusiasm too, do it just right--fake it but not fakily, no threatening gestures, but some waving and bouncing, never perfunctory. Or you're a subversive, mocking the proceedings, and the guards shoot you down.

They've killed so many that despite all the poor people crawling with babies, there's a cheerer shortage.

El Jefe comes by one time and I'm waving when the guards blast someone near me and there's a spray of blood and all of us panic and start running and screaming. The guards, perhaps because we are so few now, don't mow us down en masse.

I realize this is my opportunity. They expect us to hide! I can try to escape now. I find a curving pocket of concrete--was this entire Third World artificial? I worry about this pocket. It could let bullets ricochet in, even focus them to hit me...

Suddenly I'm lucid. This is a dream--I can change it! I visualize the concrete walls bending... and they convolute, contort into a shape no bullet could bounce through. I sudden feel disgusted with myself: wasting a lucid dream in here! I turn my attention to the far wall. I wave the wall aside. A huge tunnel begins extending from my chamber up up and out of the Third World. I make it big, and straight, so others will sense the light and air, and escape too, if they want to.

I walk up the tunnel to the light.

Dune country all around. Despite my lucid powers, leeting me control the dream, I feel so tired and full of grief for my Buddhist father's death, I just want to cry and mourn and rest in a private place. Already I can see Vigorous Characters among the dunes: a Dog Man is digging sand-holes, not with his mind but by hand, tossing plumes of sand in the wind. If he sees me, I'll be off with him on new adventures, I just know it.

Hastily I make a chamber in the mesa cliff, with a hidden airhole too small for a person to squeeze in or out. I add a "chimney" hole on top so the air will circulate, and then teleport myself inside. I adjust the stone like punching a pillow, and sleepily, as an afterthought, I create a bush right in front of the ventilator, to hide it. It's a sea-rocket, a mustard plant adapted for sand--native to coastal dunes, not here, but it's the only one I know well enough to create. It'll have to do. I curl up with my sadness and go back to sleep, to heal, I hope. How long will it take? Now I lay me down to sleep...

And wake up in your world.

Me, curled up sad naked and green.
1995 NOTES

How long?



LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today - cross-gender dreams - fathers - death - guilt - false waking and nested dreams - family - deserts and oases - Four Corners: Hopi and Navaho land - sipapus and other world-gates - another strange kiva - the underworld(s) - spiders - goddesses (Spider Grandmother) - Native American dreams - Buddhism - lucid dreams - visualization - sadness and grieving - dog people - opportunities wasted - psychic dreams - prediction and precognition - I start resisting the tyrant in the neglected depths: Coyote's Pajamas - portraits and self-portraits - crayons

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