Canoe Woman by Janet Walker

Wave Dreaming

I am at the edge of the world. The ocean glistens gold with moonlight, and murmurs the secrets of seals and small fish.

I grab a smooth pebble and fling it to the shallows. It skips once, twice…. But instead of falling to the depths, it rests on the ocean’s skin and then it begins to grow. It grows like a Camas bulb evolving in slow motion. I wade into the waves to get a closer look, and the icy sheath of the sea sends shivers up my shins.

When I come to the strange shape, I see that it is a canoe, not much bigger than the size of my foot. I lift my toe instinctively as if to step inside. Again the shape begins to grow. To my amazement, it grows to my body’s size so I decide to climb inside. When I hold out my arms, my palms begin to pulse and two carved paddles grow into my hands. When I think about the wild wind it howls to me like a wolf child and carries me out to deeper seas.

When I push my paddle down, into the silky black waves, the water becomes the hair of an old woman. Her hair is as long and fine as the strands of rain that slip swiftly from the storm. I move my paddle through billows of her hair until the water, the waves, and the wind are far behind me. Then she turns to me, her ancient eyes shimmering with delight. I hear her laugh and her withered hands gather me- canoe and all. Cupped in the palm of her hands, I feel her breath like sweet spring on my back and the canoe grows once more, this time into a soft wool sheet. The warmth wraps around me and I feel myself being rocked, gently rocked, slowly rocked in the arms of the oldest woman on earth.

Janet Walker 2012

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