Why It Works for Me – Cherylynn Dyess’s “The Soul Maker”

This is the eleventh in a series I’m doing wherein I discuss why a particular piece of writing works for me, aka, this piece of writing taught me something about writing, encouraged me to be a better writer, engaged me, captivated me, educated me, et cetera.

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s one thing to know something is good, it’s a better thing (in my opinion) to know why it’s good and then be able to copy what’s good about it, to learn from it so you can be as good and (hopefully) better.

This time out, Cherylynn Dyess’s “The Soul Maker” appearing in Harvey Duckman Presents Volume III.

 

 

The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods) – Narration

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

I shared the written The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods) in a previous post. In the past few months I’ve listened to others reading my work and wondered how people would respond to it.

Besides, folks may want a break from a steady diet of Empty Sky (I’ll return to it in a few weeks, I promise).

Do let me know what you think. Suggestions for improving this are quite welcome.

Click on the “post” above to open the story in a separate tab/window if you wish to read along side.


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Morningsong

A Story Based on Great Lakes Aboriginal Legend

Every morning the runner’s legs churned the sand. Before his people rose from their slumbers, his legs pushed him to a point on the island from which other islands, islands which floated far in the east, could be seen. Before his people awoke, he came to where his island’s sand met the sea and sky.

The runner stood in the darkness at the edge of the peninsula, his toes meeting the waves. There was no sun but he raised his hands to his eyes as if shielding them from a great light. He stood there, his mind pacing, rehearsing what had been done so often before.

The horizon shimmered as the light of a new day began to make its presence known. The runner began to hum.

A Darkness mounted the waters between the far islands. The runner watched the darkness carefully. His hum became a soft song.

The Darkness rode the waves between the islands, moving towards the sun. The runner’s song became a clarion deep in his chest. Far away the sun changed the direction it travelled. It moved among the islands, its motion changing with each new chord the runner called. The Darkness followed the sun, striving after it, never in time to the changes in the song. The entirety of the runner’s mind was focused on the scene he choreographed.

Finally, the sun danced far out over the sea. The Darkness returned to the islands the sun had left behind. The runner grew silent. He turned to begin his walk back to the village and stopped. A boy, a youth just entering manhood, stood where the peninsula reached the island.

The runner walked along the peninsula, watching the boy. He stopped and stared when they were side by side.

“Why do you run every morning?” asked the boy. “What is the song you sing?”

“Do your elders know you have left the village?”


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The Magic Tassels

What we see often determines the magic we possess

There was once a little boy who left his village and returned knowing how to journey the way shaman do. He returned to his people wearing tassels on his wrists and everybody who saw these tassels knew they were magic but nobody said anything to him about them.

Each day, the young boy helped tend the village herds and fields, each evening he ate with the old and not-so-old, the young and not-so-young in the village. He laughed at their jokes and made some of his own, cried at their grief and mourned all of his own.

Finally, one evening, a little girl from the village came to the boy and asked, “Boy, what are those tassels you wear on your arms?”

She did this at the village fire and everyone grew quiet to hear what the big boy would say.

He smiled at the little girl and asked, “What do you see, little one?”

“I see snakes,” she said. “Big, beautiful snakes. Snakes to ride on and carry me away.”

The boy nodded. “Thank you, little girl. Thank you for telling me what these tassels are on my arms. Now I know they are snakes. Thank you very much.”

The little girl smiled and laughed and the grown boy did, too, as the little girl went off to play.

A few nights later one of the oldest men in the village came up to the boy by the village fire and asked, “What are those tassels on your arms, boy?”

“What do you see, Grandfather?” asked the boy.


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The Lonely Oak (a Tale of the Woods)

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

 
Once upon a time, in a land almost too far away, there lived a tall, glorious oak. It wasn’t odd at all that a tall, glorious oak should live in this land for this land was a Woods. But this Woods wasn’t like any woods or forests you’ve ever seen before. Here the animals talked and flowers flew and trees moved wherever they needed. This was a magical Woods, unlike most others.

You understand, don’t you? It’s magic, after all.

This tall oak watched all around her. She wasn’t old as oaks go in years, but she was a wise oak just the same. She had been an oak all her life. And all her life she had seen things in the Woods. Good things and bad things, sad things and glad things. And everything she saw she held deep inside, deep where the blood of trees flows from the roots in the ground to the high crown of leaves that brace the sky.

One of the things she’d seen often was the love of others for the trees around her. This made her glad. “Someday,” she thought, “someone will come and love me.”

She waited for some time, through many seasons in fact. But no one came. Many came through the Woods where she lived and spread her leaves, but all that came seemed to prefer the shade of other trees. The tall oak watched this and wondered, “Is there something wrong with my leaves? Or my bark? Perhaps I don’t shade the world as I might?”

None of this was true of course. The oak’s leaves were among the most beautiful in the Woods. Her bark was clean and smooth and ran straighter than many other trees. Her shade was a peaceful relief to the small creatures that sought shelter under her.

It’s magic, after all.

 
But all this wonderful oak saw was the scores of others resting under other trees. “Perhaps I’m too tall a tree?”

And so, despite the fact that she was a beautiful oak, she let her boughs drop to her sides and twisted her trunk slightly, trying to make herself smaller in the Woods.


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