The Lead Hazard of Witches
Dreamed 2008/11/21 by Wayan
I'm reading Walter De La Mare's compendium of dreams, Behold, This Dreamer! Much better written than most books on dreams--De La Mare's a poet--but it's strangely organized so it's hard to extract dreams, dreamers, dates, any hard facts. Still, I add some classic dreams to the World Dream Bank: The Battle of Philippi, Calpurnia's Dream, Mary Arnold-Forster's Changing Identities and A Flying Dream in War-Time, and William Archer's Che Fanno Gli Inglesi?, and A Prophetic Dream. A lot of work for one day!
I also research the Saybrook Institute online. I've heard good things about their graduate program in dream studies, but it looks like they're all about therapists; the dream program is a side thing and not about the arts. And scholarships cover only about a third of the cost.
I paint a quick sketch, "I Met the Blackbird of Happiness," on an old scratched-up LP record (I like round "canvases" and LPs are basically free these days). Crude but fun--glad to paint again at all.
Bike to the library, the grocery, then pick up my car at the shop (broken shift cable.) Yep, it works...
That evening, my mom calls. My sister Miriel banged her head--bruised, or even a mild concussion? My mom's worried. But then she worries about everything and everyone...
I'm riding along the shore of northern San Francisco Bay. Miles of marshy inlets, meadows and sloughs. The only woods are on steep lonely hills, fists of bedrock punching up through the sediment. The driver heads for one, saying "You should see what's under those trees."
To the north, over a tidal-marsh cove, is a wide shelf--a marine terrace? On it, a great level strip of asphalt--a landing strip? No, can't be; overhead, a line of powerline-towers. Broad crowns with a dozen high-tension lines. Suicide for a pilot of even the agilest small plane.
The driver explains what the strip is: a dump and filtering ground for witches and their paraphernalia. People in this world fear witches still--catch them, burn them. "The popular belief," the driver reassures us in an oily, reassuring voice, "that witchcraft creates lead, so the site is lead-contaminated, is quite false." Oh, great. I feel safer...
Since their coverstory isn't even superficially plausible. You don't put lead in landfills. Even if witches create lead instead of alchemical gold--and why should they?--lead's an element, not a compound. It never breaks down. Mounds like these would just poison your groundwater.
But our guide drones on. "In fact" he says, "there is no detectable elevation of lead levels in witch paraphernalia or in witches themselves." I'm unsure if he's advocating witch-tolerance because we're not as toxic as people think, or just saying it's safe to toss us on the pyre without gloves!
As he "explains" all this, we're climbing onto the wooded hill. The road bends left, flanking a line of great trees. Trees bearing fruit. Huge fruit. Whoa! What ARE those fibrous wooden eggs up to a meter across, dangling like apples? Are they huge acorns, or some parasite, like oak-galls?
I get out and look closer. Most of them bob and sway as if empty--seed-pods blown. But two hang heavy, full.
I climb a tree to look. The pod's only a few meters up. Round to lens-shaped holes have opened in upper half of the pod. Inside, they're like smooth nests. A woman curls up fetally. Nude, beautiful... but her aura speaks of abuse! She fled to this hill to hide and heal. If possible in this world of witchburners.
I check the next pod. Its seams are loosening even on the sides and bottom--scarcely more than a fibrous oval hammock. Almost ready to free its occupant, a teenage girl. Again her aura hints at old abuse.
Not almost ready--ready! A golden leg bursts through the wicker. Another. I help her down to the ground and steady her till she finds her balance.
The older woman, awake, slithers out a side-hole in her wicker birth-caul, and down into our arms.
Talk gently with them. Quietly. They've been used to tree-silence...
Long dream-scenes of getting to know them, encouraging them to talk to each other (they already had been, some, tree to tree. I hadn't heard, for they talked as trees do. A word or two an hour.)
A wiry little outgoing girl from a local alternative college shows up and helps me draw them out. We go to the beach--a cove down the hill. Swim, play, lie in the sun.
At last we retreat to a nearby house to sit and talk in the kitchen, over snacks. They tell me "Before we treed, we were grad students." And think they'll return and finish!
Evening. They snuggle up to me, wrestle with me, rock on top of me. I get turned on. They don't panic. Abuse healed!
I feel happy as we rock gently together in bed. Two bits of this abusive alternate world gone right at last...
...and I wake.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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