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Wapato Birds

Dreamed 1986/2/2 by Chris Wayan

Dream: a Wapato Bird (brown, with antlers) plucking buds off a bush by a lake. The buds are maturing into bird-heads.

I walk through a door and find myself in Montana on a prairie. Billowing hills, not one tree. Snowy peaks on the horizon.

I'm a bird. A Wapato Bird. And it's time for us to migrate.

We Wapato Birds are part elk, of course, so we set out to walk to Wyoming--heading for the Grand Tetons.

I must lead the flock.

I push back through the door, and hold it open for the herd. They follow me slowly, reluctantly. I must work hard to cajole and curse and kick them along the migration-route... It's not easy being alpha bird!

Later, months later, we're at the lakes, under the feet of the Grand Tetons. My fellow wapatos are in their dormant winter form. But winter's ending at last: it's the Moon of Popping Buds. In the water, large hydrangea bushes are just starting to show buds. When I break off twigs, the buds flower in seconds, bursting into... birds! Wapato birds.

I snap and snip them as fast as I can, for I want the flood of fresh birds to be so thick the human hunters will be too lost in wonder to open fire. Even if they do, it's safer for us to fly together, in a great rush.

My people need me for this. Every herd needs a bud-popper. For Wapato Birds are social beasts--driven by rising sap, by the "green fuse that drives the flower", our buds must burst--but we lack the courage to burst out alone.


I go in to work at the Stanford Library. A new illustrated edition of Dante's Inferno comes in. I open it at random, curious, and find a picture of people turned into trees. Dante snaps a twig and it bleeds, and a soul cries out... and I wonder if my dream was saying, hell is just a lack of courage; and the way out of hell is to unite and rush forth together.

Why not? Marx thought so. And though he was wrong about a lot, about this... he could be right.

LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today - cross-species dreams - big waterbirds and birds in general - quests and journeys - dream homes - predictive dreams - psychic dreams in general - Dante - fear - courage, or, lurkers of the world, unite! - Alder's a bird migrating on foot too, in Flock Wisdom

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