…Because my heart’s insatiable.
Flight of The Thunderbird will take you to the Canadian wilderness, one of the places in the world where my spirit likes to wander. This piece of flash fiction was written in 2006 and appeared in the Poemata Winter Issue, Canada.
Flight of the Thunderbird
Each child is born with a meaning,
with forces that surround them.
“Hang on in there – don’t let the darkness fill your soul” he whispered to himself. There was something that kept Makya cling to life: light. Light reverberating against ice, blue tainted white of the crevice, which suddenly unveiled itself under the weight of the hunter. He felt as if a dozen knives had penetrated his left boot. The pain grew so intense he sensed their blades piercing his heart.
Betrayed. Makya felt betrayed by the glacier he had endeavoured to conquer in his long search to find himself. Betrayed by the mountains he’s learnt to love like a mother, nourishing earth to which his mind was connected – land & body, equal measure. Betrayed by a crevice he failed to spot from the surface; a crack so deep, steep and narrow.
His breathing slowly stabilised. Makya looked towards the sky, then around him at eye level as if in front of a mirror. He listened for the ice lament – the faintest cracks in its motion. The Great Spirit was his witness. Makya knew his voice could be heard everywhere, from the ripples of the water to the sweet breathing of flowers… Maybe, he thought, in his native Canadian sky the Great Spirit chose Bear Glacier to reassure Makya, who found comfort in this mighty river of ice.
There is no death, only a change of worlds. His ancestors had taught him well. To him, the white man brought only misery to his kind in his effort to whitewash faith, the Great Spirit – a way of life missionaries eradicated from his land.
The ice was beginning to welcome the lukewarmth of crimson, sliding slowly towards his eyes. Makya reached for the front right pocket of his ragged jacket to hold so tightly in his hand his wooden travel companion carefully carved in the shape of the thunderbird. He was calling to the spirits. Makya has always believed that his lost ones wandered in the invisible air, waiting for children to find them if those offspring could be patient. Makya had to learn the sound of their spiritual song. Now he became a young adult he could in turn call upon them. One spirit would become the guardian of his soul. He also knew no living ones could help him get out of his trap. So he brandished his totem friend towards the light.
Above his head the moving icesheet grew purple. The wind had answered his prayer – it held the line with the spirit. Makya smiled for the first time. The crack widened. “Go reach the stars and dream the dream” he muttered to himself – “you have the wings of the eagle, the thunderbird that soars inside.” The spirit had lifted his pain. Makya placed back his totem in the cocoon of his pocket and clambered back to the surface. His two ice-picks would become his talons.
Makya found himself. He, who slid so deep in that crevice, had come closer to nature’s earth. No he crawled back towards the edge of the Glacier, where he felt familiar soil – dust of the flesh, bones and the blood of his tribe’s long gone ancestors covered with snow and fallen rocks. Eagle Hunter regained his way.
© Nat Hall 2006