Climbing the Soul Vine

(Inspired by The Way Of The Shaman, by Michael Harner)

Monkey-skinned dream bag keeps the rain off your monkey meat and plantain … feet climbing the slippery trail barefoot toes oozing mud mother, avoiding a swift slide down a shaman hole into another world. Glacier waterfall roar fills your head unrelenting. You dropped out of the sky in an old Junker tri-motor, landed on a banana strip carved out by machete hands, so you could trade hunting rifles and beer for knowledge and power … taking the soul vine up where the bird people sing and the dragons spread their wings and wink at you, wearing their sardonic grin like a black pearl necklace.

You hear your heart slowing and shout, “My heart! My friend! don’t quit on me now. The trail to the falls is long and steep. But that’s where the bird people wait to greet, singing their song … has only one word. Joy.”

You have journeyed here to find the one true medicine … is the antidote to fear. Take it and push through the water pool and find the little crease in the falls, only one-man wide turned sideways. … Slip through to the other side of the curtain…. A million eons ago, this water poured from the mouth of a great dragon in the sky. You stand and shiver, staring at the curtain till you see the story .…

A boat with one square sail in its center, manned by 100 oars, pulling it up the fiord, surrounded by barren hills like sketches of the newly dead, you are going to meet the King of the Bird People. Pray he takes you in, and accepts your gift — the dried monkey meat, plantain and aya juice. Naked. No rifle, camera, tape recorder, wearing a rope belt and only your cheap rubber sandals and a cotton cloak stuffed in your bag, you came this far, knowing even if you ever make it back, you must always return. Source demands and commands your full attention. Once you have found it, or it has found you, it’s true what every good shaman says. You can never go home.

All this you dreamed upon a water curtain, climbing a soul vine vision, while lying all the while on the dirt floor. Your right arm clasped over your eyes. Someone is shaking you. He’s a small man, like a father and a mother both to you. He calls you by his pet name for you while shaking his feathered rattle four times in your ear. Stop. In this valley Shangri-La, high in the Ecuadorean Andes, you dropped out of the sky — remember — in an old Junker tri-motor, skipped down the banana runway and came to rest on this dirt floor, looking into his eyes … already know what you have seen. The sorrow of your lifetime has ceased playing all the years of tears and frustrations. All that’s left is the moment eternal, drinking the cool water he offers to your thirsting face. As the small wooden cup brings the first sip to your lips, you want to dance a song barefoot that has only one rhythm-word. Joy.

[Gary D Aker lives in Portland, Oregon where he currently pursues dance, photography and creating his crime novels, in addition to writing lyrical and narrative poetry, flash fiction, sudden memoir, long-form memoir, articles, numerology charts and whatever else is lying about that needs to get written. His poetry and flash fiction has been recently published in Night Bomb Press, and The Smoking Poet.]

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