“THE FORGOTTEN TALE” – “The Invitation”

Desire abandoned, I was content with my life’s reconciliation.  The bubbles off the water fountain rolled on, audibly dancing through the rocks as in the stream bed by my Grandfather’s bungalow.  The faint smell of eucalyptus intertwined with the soft scent of butter and corn tortilla.  Santa Ana had followed me from the San Gabriels, past the billboards and giant wind fans of the Coachella Valley, beyond the grandeur of the magnificent San Jacinto, now to the foot of the Sangre de Cristo.

No longer feeling angst for my shortcomings, I suffered only the loss of those left behind.  I was now, lost, alone and knew it to be true.

I had come through this Tuesday afternoon to find the space between my heart beats, strangely content with my pursuits regardless of outcome.  Love and loss abounded in my heart, alternating faster and faster until merging into a silent blurred film of my life.

The diminuendo about me, swiftly approaching complete silence, was then interrupted by the faint strum of a distant guitar playing the melody of my Grandfather.

I opened one eye, looking across the narrow calle towards the music’s source.  My spirit friends now vanished into the New Mexican sky, I sited a small cluster of three people, sitting around a guitarist playing atop a brilliant blanket of blue.

I mustered everything I had to cross the hardened clay pathway towards them.  When arriving, I was invited to sit, but was too excited noting the exact similarities in their blanket to mine and the finished carvings around them replicating my Grandfather’s unfinished work.

Hands shaking, I fumbled with my coat pocket until producing the letter of introduction to the eldest of the group.  After reading, her eyes welled up…. they could have been my father’s eyes.  She implored me to wait for her return and ran off to a nearby casita.

Not five minutes later, the woman of half my age and an elder approached handing me a sealed envelope and a single wooden carving.

They again invited me to sit and rest while offering me food and drink. The familiarity of their eyes and melody of the guitar overwhelmed me.  I graciously accepted their invitation, with the secret knowledge I was nearing my one hundred and first birthday with no where else to go.

“THE FORGOTTEN TALE” – “The Giving”

Hardened wax covered the seam of the envelope.  The seal embedded on the wax imitated the carving it accompanied.  My eldest host lent his hands in opening the parched container.  Inside, a single piece of paper exhibited the steadier handwriting of my grandfather’s prose to say –

    “To the keeper of “The Forgotten Tale”, I am writing these instructions as I know not yet who you are.  Afraid of dying or forgetting the tale before I’m able to find one of true heart, I have written it down and hid it inside this carving, which I’ve entrusted others to deliver to you.  Simply remove the nesting bird from the head of the bull and inside you will find “The Forgotten Tale”, as recited to me in my youth.

Delivered in earnest,

Martin Birdsong

While attempting to pull, without success, the likeness of a grey pigeon, from the head of the wooden bull, I absorbed the twilight giving into the stars dancing over the Sangre de Cristo, accompanied by the guitar’s familiar melody of my Grandfather.  Across the narrow paseo, next to the empty tables normally hosting trinkets and blankets, I could make out the silhouette of a living bull tied to a statue of Saint Francis in front of a gift shop.  Rather than fight captivity, he seemed calm, swishing his tail while searching for small blades of grass within his reach.

At that exact moment, Santa Ana picked up the corners of my blanket seat and delivered three pigeons.  One landing on the outstretched arms of Saint Francis, one on the hardened dirt next to me, and the third exacted a position precisely on the live bull’s head.

The hands, I thought not mine, inexplicably ceased to shake and found the counterclockwise motion needed to unscrew the bird from the wooden carving.  I pulled out a scroll from the carving and began to read……

“THE FORGOTTEN TALE”, as recited to me before I even thought I knew who I was.

“Always remember.  Remember to never forget that we are all lost in our existence.  With this knowledge, let us always be compassionate Human Beings.  If the continents drift and you cannot find your way home, give comfort to your fellow travelers and you will soon find your way.”

The tributaries off the Sangre de Cristo accepted my tears.  Their droplets would flow westward to the Pacific, and later merge with the great salted oceans of earth.

Tomorrow, I will return to my bungalow near the sea. I will again pass the San Jacinto, the wind farms and the billboards promising heaven. I will take pause by the banks of the Whitewater River to remember my beautiful bride, Mestolio, and Santos.  I will give thanks for another day on this journey and remember to never forget, never forget “The Forgotten Tale”.

But in this evening, I will share my Grandfather’s blanket and pipe, play guitar and recant stories under all of our magnificent stars and give thanks for another Tuesday amongst my fellow travelers.

I am forever yours in earnest,

Simon Birdsong