Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kao (We Once Had Wings)

Thank you, readers, for your Facebook comments and emails. I’ve been hearing from more of you recently, and it means so much to hear your feedback. I am especially moved when our seniors’ stories trigger stories of your own. A couple weeks ago, Kao emailed me a poem that she has generously allowed me to share. In her email, she said:

“I just wanted to share a poem I wrote that was inspired by my grandmothers. They both were extraordinary women who loved their children and community fiercely. I wish I could love like them.”
Kao Kue
Via Email, May 26, 2010
We Once Had Wings

Grandmother said

We once had wings

The First Beings were immortals, relatives of the Gods.
They lived on the clouds in the Sky;
Spoke the same language, one language;
Shared the same mother.
They worshipped no one, but loved everything created by Mother.
Mother’s hands stretched from the Heavens to Earth.
Like their cousins, the Phoenix and the Dragon,
the First Beings had strong wings.
They could fly between the Living and Spirit Worlds,
And they were entrusted by Mother to care
for all creatures and spirits.

However, peace would not last. The Evil Spirits were jealous.
For thousands of years, Evil crept in caves and waited its turn.
The Evil Spirits yearned to ravage the world.

While Mother took a pilgrimage to the Land of the Spirits,
The Evils incited a war between the Gods and the First Beings.
Blinded by ambition, the First Beings were defeated.
They were taken captive;
Their wings were clipped;
Scattered across the land;
They were forced to speak different languages and
Became slaves to the Gods.

Mother’s journey was long and in her absence,
her children suffered.
Many tried to return home, but
Without their wings, they fell to their deaths.
Gradually, those who survived learned the ways of dust.
They became land people obsessed with consuming Earth. 

When Mother returned, her children had forgotten her.
She tried to convince them of how life was before.
No one would listen to an old, dying woman.
Finally, she knew it was time to rest.
She asked the Gods to grant her one last wish.

I wish to become a dragoness, the rain keeper, to replenish life.

The Gods were moved by Mother’s compassion and
Established her as a lesser goddess.
In this way, she continues to nurture her children.
With each drop of rain, Mother reminds us:

One day my love, you will remember yourselves.
On that day your wings will grow back and you will return to me.
Grandmother said

There is no ending. We once had wings.
We will grow them back again.
There is only the time of remembering.