Raindance

Rainmaker dances, a wild electric dance, she courts thunder to come clap alongside her, she calls her sisters to join her trance.

There are four rainmakers dancing, their electric hair streaming wildly white, black eyes flashing as feet pound minty music.

The sound of rain pouring comes, thunder claps loudly, and black clouds roll their eyes. They blink and tears stream down, showering daily.

Grasses lay on their side beaten, thunder rattles raising rooftops until the hairs on Mothers arm stand on end.

The child asks, “Mother, why are the rainmakers dancing for so long?”

“Mother Earth is thirsty dear.”

“But look,” the child says, “The little chicks are drenched and cold. See the puddles, Mother, Earth can drink no more! She’s gulped down more than she can hold, listen to her gurgling drunk, will we drown in water, will we float away into the sea?”

“The rainmakers are in a trance dear, let’s leave them be.”

The child says, “I’ll dance up to them and ask them to stop now, the spider in the flowers over there told me how to do it . . . . . .”

“Best not interrupt them son, it’s dangerous business getting between the rainmakers in their trance. Their hair may blind you, their feet find you, their arms bind you, and you’d be lost to Mother Earth swallowed by their dance. The spider woman who lives in the flowers, she delights in snaring young ones in her web, stay clear of her you hear!”

But the child runs into the rain and picks purple bells where they dangle from snaking stems. He puts them in his pockets, he eats them, he tucks them behind his ears.

He plops himself down by the spider flowers, drinks water from their petals, and whispers with them; he weaves a wreath of purple and green, places the circlet on his crown, then he returns.

“The spider flowers and finding flowers will be with me Mother, they’ll help me find my way there and back home again, the spider flowers said so.” He offers her purple crimped petals, “You eat a few too Mother, they’ll tell you where I’ve gone, show you what’s going on so you don’t worry.” He wraps his arms around her in a tight embrace then runs off wildly under showers, weaving between mint, wet hair licking the sides of his face, disappearing from sight.

Mother nibbles on the flowers and shuts her eyes. She sees him then, leaping onto the back of a black cloud floating higher and higher . . . .

The child stands on the back of a black cloud and points the way to where the rainmakers dance.

“There, carry me there, Big Cloud.”

Big Cloud rumbles, Big Cloud grumbles, Big Cloud mumbles, “I wouldn’t but you have the finding flower inside and I must obey the one in which it abides. I wouldn’t but Grandmother Spider makes her bed on your head, and by her weaving we are all wed.”

Big Cloud carries the child to where the rainmakers dance, their black eyes flashing, feet pounding minty music, electric hair streaming wildly white.

“Rainmakers,” calls the child, “Stop this dance! Mother Earth drinks no more, her thirst is quenched, her skin is drenched, she’ll float away into the sea, rainmakers listen to me!”

Big Cloud rolls his eyes and blinks, “Silly child, there’s no stopping this, they must dance it through the needle.” He laughs and thunder rumbles, jolting the child this way and that on his back.

“There must be a way,” the child says, “I know, carry me back down there and wait.”

He hops off into the mud, grup grup grup, it sticks to his feet. He slathers himself with squishy mud, paints his face in streaks and lines, fills his pockets with it. He listens, finds a frog and says, “Frog will you come with me to where the rainmakers are deep in their trance? I know a way to make them stop this dance.”

“Aye,” says Frog, “I’ll come with you.” He leaps onto the child’s head, squats in spider flowers’ bed.

The child hears a song, covered in mud he squelches to the waters edge; a mermaid swimming in rain is calling.

“Boy, you’re going to make this rain stop falling, when you get to the rainmakers circle here is what you must do . . .”

She sings a blue sky siren song, then flipping her tail, she dives underneath the murky surface. Little bubbles rise up and she returns with a turtle in her hands, a giant covered in mud, she pats the ridged back, strokes the scaly tail, croons to turtle and gives him to the child.

“Snapper will go with you,” she says.

Grup, grup, grup, the child weaves his way back to Big Cloud with Snapper in his hands. Yellow Jacket is waiting for him.

“Boy,” she buzzes, “I’ll come with you too, you’ll need my help up there.”

The muddy child climbs onto Big Clouds back, Snapper in hand, Frog on head, Yellow Jacket on his shoulder.

They fly through a sea of rain, they fly into black clouds clapping, they fly to the wild dance.

The child jumps off Big Clouds back, he runs into the dance, his black hair streaming, eyes white in his mud-streaked face, electric.

He puts Snapper down then with Frog on his head, he leaps and squats on all four rainmaking heads, he sings blue sky songs.

He blinks and buzzes, yellow ochre mud oozes from his pockets, sticks to the rainmakers, dribbles into their eyes, streaks down their arms and legs, clings to their feet grup grup grup, until they are stuck in muck.

He flies from head to head pounding purple spider music under his feet, a different beat; the rainmakers pause, their trance interrupted.

Snapper crawls into the middle of their circle, stretches his neck out, slaps his tail this way and that, bats their feet together, then pins them down deep in the mud with each of his four feet, grup grup grup.

Black clouds roll their eyes. Yellow Jacket flies, buzzing loudly, wings moving fast, she darts in and out of their eyes, stinging lightning fast. Black clouds shake and rumble, she fills them with fire and heat. Black clouds open their mouths and try to eat her. Yellow Jacket leads them away. Tumbling and quaking, they follow in play, with maws open wide, they crash and bump to another side; here one woman dances rain where dusty dry Mother Earth is thirsty again.

Four women look around. There’s no clapping, no clouds, no loud minty music, thunder is gone. The electric dance over, they stand still, rub mud from their eyes.

“Listen,” says the child, “Do you hear that?”

They shut their eyes and listen, they listen to the song of the shining sun; it dries the muddy paste on their skin till it crackles, flakes, chips off.

Snapper releases their feet and crawls back to the child who picks the giant turtle up in his hands, strokes the ancient ridged back with his little fingers. Yellow Jacket lands on the child’s shoulder. Frog leaps on the spider flower wreath four times, pressing petals under his webbed feet and they creep and come together, then crawl off the child’s head.

A purple thread curves, weaving rays of purple light upon which a spider crawls, circling the four women, spinning a new song. Before long they begin skipping to a new beat, dancing yellow squash blossoms, swooning honey bees, cantaloupe and melon breeze, lemon balm, a daisy charm, bears and blueberries, meadows mushrooms moss and mead, lichen beading ancient trees, fireflies and calm nights . . . four sundancers loose themselves to the dance.

Spider spins a thread and lets it down. The child climbs to the ground and runs on tiptoes lightly, jingling purple flower bells, home to his waiting Mother. Warmly Earth smiles at Sky, courting begins with rainbows.

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