To Ayla of The Earth Children, 2003

In that dream I had, you ran to me, your five-year-old body parting crowds. I knew your name and forgotten language before you ever said a word. Then you leapt into my arms and spoke mine. That night, we wove ourselves through eons and what we can make believe, face to face with her other’s beginnings.

In different ways, for different reasons, we once took another chance to live. Mine began with a coma, a terrible dot that tore life into two unfinished clauses– before and after the closing of eyes. And for us both, it ended with a scream– the kind uttered at first recognition of difference, still afraid to lose what we had no time to love.

At twelve, when I first heard your story, my blood still stung in the places where so many tried to cut me off from myself. It was you who challenged me to start bleeding watercolors, spill tears without silence, as if, just by painting the desert in swirls of blue, I could stumble into the mist of belonging.

Then, there were the twelve years since. The acorn follows the oak tree, (the meaning of your name,) the child mother to her, woman, the earthy light of old caves. Was it you, or me, who brushed my voice across these shattered sands, slowly removing the brambles–so many obstacles to overturn, so many who deserted me? Was it me, or you, who learned to love the pathfinders (the wolf as their symbol?) I have adopted their language; they have become my second family.

It does not matter which of us came first. That night when you perched on my horizon like a firefly, I whispered to you all I knew to make the world more beautiful. Perhaps it was you, or me, who dreamily pressed a face to the window as we drove home,
Glass reflecting back our smallness, a cool mirror and warm skin.

I still remember waking: how the sun poked its face through the blinds and how the dream felt, ebbing back into the marrow of my bones. I wanted to speak soundlessly, moving my hands, my whole body, through those ancient signs you danced as a child. I would say this to thank you. I would say:

“This woman wakes. This woman has found her others. She has sifted through the grains of sand, and has counted you in every one.”


4 thoughts on “To Ayla of The Earth Children, 2003

  1. Very beautiful Éilis! Although I get the feeling this is a very private message which has special meaning to those it is intended for, but I can still enjoy it for its beauty… if that makes sense lol!

    1. Thank you Ali! I actually did write this about an actual dream I had about the character Ayla, so wrote the poem to her though of course this is only metaphorical because she’s fictional. I read Clan of the Cave Bear when I was twelve, and was captivated by this strong, feisty, independent, creative, child heroine who learns to hunt, becomes a medicine woman, honors the earth and the seasons, lives in a non-individualistic society, and is quite the survivor. I both saw much of myself in her and when we differed I wanted to become her! 🙂 I subsequently read the whole series… though once I grew up I realized hunting would be right out for me and I really would never want to live in a cave or outdoors all the time, and I’d prefer a bit more clothing. 🙂 I used to think I couldn’t practice a pagan religion unless I lived 50,000 years ago like she did… lol… but I’m glad I sorted that one out. Anyway I still adore her character and think all young girls should read at least the first book as there is no end to our need for empowering feminist role models!

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