Dreamed 1996/7/28 by Chris Wayan
A pregnant woman walks through a redwood forest. Her name is California. She comes to a nest like an eagle's, but on the ground, and even bigger and messier.
It's a tiger's nest.
California still moves in.
When the tiger comes home, she acts friendly and confident it'll be friendly back. And it works. She lives together with the tiger in the redwoods.
Finally California gives birth. She feeds the placenta to the tiger as rent. She names her baby Chris, who grows up playing with tigers.
Chris grows up to be... me.
No wonder I have such an affinity for cats! Raised with tigers.
NOTES NEXT MORNING
I'd just read Robinson Jeffers' long story-poem Roan Stallion: a battered woman named California lives in the Big Sur redwoods with her daughter Christine--who I identified with, as we share both a first name and a history of enduring abuse. California fantasizes mating with the roan stallion instead of her abusive husband. She can't fight or escape him, so eventually she sets him up to be trampled by the stallion.
Then she kills the horse for having done her deed... or to deny her complicity.
Once, I lived with a batterer, who I'll call Kay, in the redwoods not far from California's lost valley. Toward the end, trapped in the wood, I got like California--developed the desperate ferocity of a tiger? At least I felt so. Had to kill my own compulsive empathy, to break free of Kay. I felt selfish for abandoning her--to save myself!
But curling up in the tiger's nest means... I curled up with fierce old Jeffers and his tigery tale! I can handle violence, passion, ruthlessness--not just in books, in life--if I look it in the eye and keep my confidence.
After all, I survived long-term abuse. I'm birthing myself. I can handle tigers.
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