Short
 Stories

Totem Series/Uta-Grandmother's Raven TASH 1994 c


Uta’s New Way Of Dancing

She watched the long shadow of morning slither across the forest floor as the sun slowly rose in the deep indigo sky. Dreaming, dreaming; her glistening black wings folded at her sides and as her feet slowly found the ground, she began to dance alone beside the gently flowing water of the river.

Uta delighted in words. Her imagination spilled out into all of her daily tasks creating an excess of speech. She spoke to everything, knowing that all things were alive and finding all life beautiful. Uta’s grandmother asked her to name the colors of the sky and Uta told her about every minute detail not only of the sky, but also of the moon, stars, trees and river. Grandmother explained the nature of the river; that it was the lifeblood of the earth. She told Uta many stories about the plants and animals, filling her mind with images and songs. Grandmother was a quiet woman. She appreciated Uta’s gift of speech and called her Raven Song.

Uta was given the task of gathering berries and herbs for her grandmother. She would return from the forest with the ripest of plump berries and the best flowers, leaves, stems and roots. She had learned well from her grandmother. She spoke to the berry bush or the blooming herbs and they spoke back telling her the best way to gather up their gifts. Ranging through the forest and surrounding hills, Uta found the conversation of the trees and the birds always with her. She loved her grandmother dearly, but as the years passed, she realized that her grandmother was not like her and did not speak the same tongue as Uta. Her grandmother’s tongue was that of the birds and the trees and Uta knew that, though she could also speak their language, it was not her own. She wondered if there was not another of her kind who could speak to her in her own tongue.

She watched the long shadow of morning slither across the forest floor as the sun slowly rose in the deep indigo sky. Dreaming, dreaming; a small girl standing by the fragile flow of water at the wellspring. Her glistening black-feathered wings were now invisible in the morning light, and she was not alone. A strange being, not a girl, grandmother, raven, or tree, stood in front of her.

“What are you?” Uta asked the being.

“Why do you ask me such a question? Can’t you see that I’m a boy?” the intruder answered in
her own tongue.

Confused, Uta replied, “But I have never seen anyone like you before.”

She looked at the boy, this unusual being in her familiar dream. She liked the way he stood in front of her boldly. Though his words seemed harsh, they were in her own language. He turned
away from her saying, “Well, who wants to talk to someone like you anyway?” and disappeared.

Upon awakening, Uta remembered the dream and felt sad. Someone had spoken to her in a language they both understood. She was puzzled by what a “boy” might be and wanted to know more about him. She longed to talk with him and resolved to see him in her dream at the river the next night, but that night and for many nights he was nowhere to be found. The moon’s face moved from hidden to fully revealed before the boy entered Uta’s dream again.

She watched the moonlight weaving patterns on the forest floor as she glided gently down from the shelter of the trees, her raven wings fluttering in the air. The pearly glow reflected in the cool water as she found her feet on the ground and stood beside the river. He walked up behind her, putting his hand gently on her shoulder. Uta had never been touched by a human hand. Her grandmother’s touch was…different and infrequent and the shock of his hand on her shoulder sent a tremor of fear through her. When she turned to look at him, she saw her fear reflected in his eyes. It turned to anger. The memory of his gentle touch was lost as he pushed her away. She stumbled and fell to the ground.

The dream was over and Uta felt dazed as she awoke that morning. Still, that day as she roamed the hills collecting herbs and raspberries, she decided to go to the source of the river and see if it was as in her dreams. She wondered if she would find the boy there. She hoped for some answer to who he was and why she could not seem to talk to him, even when they spoke the same tongue. As she walked along, she noticed a bright blue bird, unlike any she had seen before in the forest, hopping along merrily on the ground beside her. The bird seemed to dance with laughter, unafraid and bold. Uta was overjoyed.

“Beautiful little bird, will you teach me to dance your way? she asked.

You already know the way or you could not ask me, but I will show you now.” the little bird replied.

So the two of them danced together with laughter, cavorting through the trees as they circled each other. When the dancing ended and the little bird suddenly flew away, Uta looked around to find that she was now standing at the river’s beginning. And, there, once more beside her, was the boy. Fearlessly now, she turned, looked into his eyes and smiled. His stunning smile in return made her bold. Uta took his hand in hers and began to dance with him the the way the little blue bird had shown her. They laughed and danced together singing:

If I tell you
That I love you
And you turn away
I’ll be dancing
In the sunshine
‘Til you come again

Deborah K. Tash 2007 c