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ORIOLE GIRL

for the fairies we all lost

Dreamed 1992/1/23 by Chris Wayan

We survey the fairies of Golden Gate Park.
My chocolate clipboard has a wrinkled list of species
and the classic field identification manual:
Lang's WESTERN FAIRY BOOK.
We loop south through the City's heart. Park-swallowed!
Oaks to the eaves of Pacific Heights mansions;
Vines twine up the copper dome of City Hall;
jade jungle sprawls
down to Market Street, where Strawberry Hill
calls to its southern twin, Bernal.
Stow Lake's turned moat, between this magic wood
and the noise of busy Castro town.
The trees are redwood-huge, but never redwood-straight.
Straight? In this town? Dark oak-arms writhe,
Spicy laurels shimmer, and zigzag pines drip mist.

Eighty yards up lies the fairy zone: hollow
trunks and branches big as human rooms,
vast halls to their lemonyellow
songbird tenants. Orioles pour,
spiral around us, singing transoprano
choruses so pure
they sting my ear,
give me shivers.
My colleagues scribble fast--
counting all of one tree's wonders
for a population sample.
But in their song I hear a human note:
They're a were-bird flock!

On impulse I call back to them,
warble my joy to the lemon rivers
swirling round me.
The orioles come down,
flutterskim the lawn,
explode into girls birdbone-light,
chirping, alert, unwilling quite
to still the holy song.
We improvise a picnic on the grass,
light on food but a splendor of flirt.
Dustin teases a chattering robin,
Wendy finds a bird who lights her up
In a way I haven't seen
since Tiger Lily dumped her.
Steven sneaks behind a bush
with a hyperactive canary.

And so it goes, though I worry
more than luck lures the birds to us.
The Golden Wood is deep, hides powers devious;
are orioles distraction... bait?
But these girls, so flighty-seeming,
elusive one day, seductive the next,
seem honest in their whims.
Wizardry can't easily twist a joy so clean.

I sprawl in the long green dappled grass,
by a tall sprite with gauzy insect wings,
Tinker Bell's clear kin:
hence her human nickname, "Julia Roberts."
Her avian name I hope to learn to sing.
She's swift, a swallow-swooping mind
leaving air and ear dizzy in her wake.
Craves soothing as much as my own nervous skin.
I love petting her, though intuition clangs
"She's been abused somehow--like me."
Birds of a feather. The hurt can tell their own.
I breathe deep, close my eyes, and ask.
"Not just abused, but cursed.
The medical name is vaginismus;
my muscles clench and I close up.
Though I long to, I can't let anyone inside."
"I've heard vaginismus can be unlearned:
you just lie with a cock there, touching,
without trying to force things."
"You'll have to be very patient."
"I am. I've had to be. Hurt too. Hurt too."

I curl up behind and hold her;
Sweet skin auroras begin.
"Won't I squash your wings?" I worry.
"Oh, no, THEY're not fragile!" she laughs.
True. Like flexible glass.
Our hands, together, slide the tip
of me between her outer lips.
We lie quietly, talking a long time.
Couples emerge from wood, from shore,
and sit round us, holding hands,
all two by two, for in this wood
they've found life-mates.
The living wedding-ring observes,
murmurs encouragement, pats Julia.
Such a circle would tense me more,
but it eases her; for now, with effort,
she squeezes the head of my cock inside.
I lie still as she adjusts. It's hard:
the hardest work I've never done.
My soul thrums and thrills!
For I was taught men use and take;
Julia's proving my body, mortal and male,
still can give. We lie so still.
Fear ebbs inside her, slow as a moon,
though low tide's still a formidable sea.
"Would you like me to lick you?" I ask.
"Think of it as a just reward
for the hard work your skin just did,
and beside, I have the purely selfish motive
that I like to." "No... I'd like it,
but my curse specifically requires
a purely genital solution."
She laughs for the first time, noticing
her lubricious salivacious pun.

We get up at last, dizzy, drained,
been through a birthing together.
Down the hill to the shore of the lake,
led by "the normal couples" as Julia wryly calls them;
Normal? In forty states, the love of mortal and fay,
bird and ape (never mind straight or gay)
is still a crime. Cage us before we sing!
Yet I know what she means by normal:
Only cursed at, never cursed.

The boat from Lake Isle slips silent in.
Our birdlovers stay in human form
to ride with us, to glide across
the dreaming water to the green shore.
We climb up red earth banks,
till all trees fall away.
The heart of the isle is one dark rock,
wrinkled and seamed, stark and sleek
as the lithic flank of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Halfway up the cragside's a weak stratum,
where overhung cave-mouths say O.
We two lead the way and climb inside.
High ceilings, natural windows, unnatural tables
and bare wood chairs, so one can sit,
and ponder the lake, and WRITE.
A place to write old wrongs.
All of us want to try it right now,
but each wants the cave alone.
A cave of one's own!
I say "This rock has caves for all!"
but they won't listen, they won't believe
there is no solitude shortage!
Without a count, I know this isle
has a cave for every soul--
Just enough room to write our tales.
Just as there wasn't but is and will
be just enough love. Enough.

Alone I woke, but I did know:
still trailing Never-Never glow.
A silk-painting of Julia the oriole and I sitting naked in the woods. Click to enlarge.

NOTES ON WAKING UP

Readers who know San Francisco will notice hills have wakened and walked around; Golden Gate Park has grown to swallow the Civic Center.

The nicknames in the dream are from "Hook," Spielberg's saccharine portrait of a middle-aged Peter Pan. The lake-isle was Never-Never Land. I suspect the Oriole Girls were all the Tiger Lilies and Wendys exiled from Spielberg's father-son bonding orgy. The Lost Girls.

The sexual healing felt literal. My childhood was hellish; I've only recently begun feeling I can handle sex at all. Like "Julia" (who's nicknamed herself for the actress who plays Tinker Bell in "Hook"--and by the way, Tinker Bell was J. M. Barrie's spelling; Tinkerbell is a Disneyfication) I fear to let anyone in--I shut them out. And like dream-me, I fear I can only hurt those I love. The dream was an emphatic bit of advice: patience! For us abused, sex is stress at first. That doesn't mean using or being used! And the only thing that'll break the curse is living with sex itself. Mouthing off won't do it. A purely genital solution.

But the dream wasn't just a film review or sex fantasy or an AIDS memorial. Yesterday, I learned an old friend was dying of cancer.

A NOTE THE DAY AFTER THAT

My mother calls. She says my godmother also has cancer. Terminal cancer.

One before, one after! The dream knew, and was preparing me.

For Never-Never Land is not just childhood. I fell in love with a crippled angel, I was trying to heal a naked soul... on the Isle of the Dead.



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