Written for the first day of The Writer's Cramp birthday week! :) A story of friendship.
|Tomorrow is the tortoise’s 19th birthday. He does everything slowly, does tortoise. Even lives. He’ll still be gliding slowly around at the age of 150 and I’ll long be a footnote in history, remembered only in a short story about a race that I lost. Only, I didn’t lose. Not really. I learned and changed and slowed down as much as I was able and I made a friend that I respect for having a world view so different from mine . . . and yet somehow the same.
I’ve spent months working on his gift. I wanted to show him what I’d learned and I wanted him to have something to remember me by all those long years ahead, stretching outward into the future. I played to my strengths. I took the summer and traveled with speed and learned about art and about poetry because these two things seemed to last even longer than tortoises.
I asked the beavers to show me how to make mud and I asked the eagles where to find the best stones. I asked the owls for wisdom and for special words.
And then I came home. All through the days I went searching for color and shape, rock and stone and bone. And in the evenings I went into a west facing cave and when the sun shone through the open doorway I would work. Chips of obsidian for the darkness of the sky and white bone for the stars. River rocks for his shell and brown shards for my fur. In the end it was an image of the backs of us, staring up into the night sky. Him considering the slow turn of the universe, and I considering its speed.
Beneath it I crafted words. A free verse poem. A type that I learned about in my travels and I liked the name. I wanted him to remember to always be free and I never did like an overabundance of rules. Why should writing a poem be any different?
It went like this:
What is friendship?
Two blades of grass sharing roots
Or a river and its rocks?
Peace to quiet a chaotic mind
Or adventure to break the stillness?
Calm deep waters
Or the ripples that follow the rock?
It is all these things, and more
A warmth in the chest when the world is cold
Laughter in the dark nights, telling tales
Peace amongst the chaos
And chaos amongst peace
In the end, I’m glad you won that race
My award winning friend
Because in the end, I won your company
My work finished at last, I lay down on the smooth floor of the cave, suffering from a writing cramp in my mind. I fell asleep, curled up, and waited for the next day’s sunrise.