All Green Will Endure Chrónicle

Susana Chávez-Silverman

Illustration by Cody Cobb

25 June 2014
Trailhead, Thompson Creek, Claramonte, Califas

For Lucía "Lucy War" Guerra

And for Joanna Martine Woolfolk, in memoriam

Something totalmente wormhole-ish, "invisible links-y," extraordinario just happened. I went out to the patio to water the plants. I had a weird, uncharacteristic, very un-Aries dither: I knew if I got involved watering, lovingly comprobing my plants for new growth, random attacks from insectos, etc., it would be too late to have a healthwalk before going to the yoga class. But, eh, what the heck... I decided to go out. I started to sweep up the pine needles and stray eucalyptus leaves that had fallen, badgeringly, from the giant trees on the other side of the fence.

All of a sudden I felt a . . . presencia. I know, ya sé. It sounds a bit cheesy and sci fi, but I dón't knów how (outside the wormhole) to descríbe it to you. How to make it make sense. A tiny fluttering presencia. As if it were a heart with wings. Aye: a winged heartbeat. I knów it sounds crazy, but stay with me. I stood frozen, broom in hand, watching that winged presencia, and I understood that it was a hummingbird. Seeing and understanding hit me sequentially, almost simultáneamente, but not quite. I couldn't—quite—believe my eyes.

Because the night before last I had dreamed about hummingbirds. A whole horda of colibríes, or flock, manada, or whatever the heck you call a group of hummingbirds (those animal group names are one of my favorite things of all time, but I'll confess tout de suite that I don't always—OK, hardly ever—get them right, in English, español, or any of my tongues or their in-between). In the dream, I was sitting in a kind of treehouse-restaurant, with my friend the colombiano (aka Juan Carlos Galeano). It was a humid place, penumbral, jungle-dense. And very green. We were high up, surrounded by green. And suddenly, surrounded by hummingbirds. Or I was.

I now felt the same nanosegundo of aprehensión that I'd felt in the dream. But this time, it wasn't a dream. That's why there was that gap between seeing and understanding. Or rather, let's say it immediately occurred to me that my dream had manifested. It had become incarnate. It was REAL.

The hummingbird was perhaps 18" away. Can't say for sure. I'm notoriamente áwful at judging distances. But he was close, close. Just beyond an arm's-length away. I'm a Califas girl, so OB-viously, I've seen a shitload of hummingbirds (specially trained at colibrí-spotting by my Grándmama Chávez, in her San Diego back yarda). But never in my life, I swear to you, had I seen one so close. That moment of apprehension was because of its microscopic sharp beak. I saw it clearly! That magic needle-like beak. I feared the little dude would divebomb my eye (I'd feared the same thing, just for a moment, in my dream) or that he would get tangled in my hair. —You're safe, you're safe, I told myself, like a bit of a prick, since I realized I was wearing sunglasses.

In that moment, my atención was divided: without taking my eyes off the hummingbird, I remembered that buzzing, gorgeous, iridescent green dung beetle, two years ago. When I was standing in line at the cinema, to see "Searching for Sugar Man," only days before leaving for South Africa. I was humming and buzzing with expectation and apprehension myself. My epic return. Ya sé, I knów. I'd already been back once before, on the 20-year mark, in 2005. But that had been with Dorian. My old life. I wasn't myself anymore, nor was my casa my casa (but that's a whole other story), dixit Lorca. So it was like I was sleepwalking, in South África that time. By 2012 I was myself, once again.

Anywáy people started shrieking, absolute pandemonium (as Howard would say), but I just stood there, calm as you like. I heard that familiar buzz buzz buzzing, the frenético metálico whir of shiny green wings. Like in Zapopan, when my sister Sarita and I would tie threads to them, like slender kite strings (taught this cruel, irresistible trick by the López Moreno brothers, Miguel and Alejandro, the latter my so-called boyfriend aged ten, till he asked me to hold his watch for him while he took a piss behind a tree—but that's a whole other, yuck, a whole other story), casting them aloft into the Mexican summer sky.

I knew that dung beetle, the summer of 2012, here in sleepy college town SoCal, had come for me. He actually alighted in my hair (my biggish, slightly 80s-holdover do); I listened to his insistente buzzing, just above my left ear. A concerned woman whisked her acid-washed jean jacket at me; ¡Fuck me, she almost took my eye out! —Leave him be, I told her. He means no harm. He'll leave when he's good 'n' ready.

I knew tout de suite that that huge green flying beetle was a sign. An omen that blessed, in some bizarre way, my return to South África.

Now, this morning, I had the same certainty: this hummingbird had come for me. A messenger. But, what's his message?

He hovered; for a momento it seemed like (oh, I know this is but a dream) if I'd wanted to, if I'd stretched out my hand, I could've touched his lapidary, minute, uncanny stillness. A still point of light but then a rapidísimo movement, a dive, a mini-soar, zinging bursts of dazzling yet controlled speed. He whirred and chittered, all around my head. All this in about two minutos. It's going on too long, I thought. He's staying way too long. And he's way too close for comfort. RELOJ FUERA: even if I suck at putting a number on distance, I have an acute consciencia of how to measure time, lately, since I've been doing the (hideously boring but effective) two-minute exercises in a book my sister Wiggue (a.k.a. Laura) gave me, Live Pain-Free Without Drugs or Surgery.

I just kept standing there. Stunned, turned to stone, I stood stock-still, clutching the broom, watching him. Not for a minuto did he go near the (native South Áfrican) succulents whose slender, flexible-stalked coral blossoms were the usual enticement for his buddies, the hummingbirds that ocasionalmente visited my patio. No: this one came alone, and he came for me.

To figure out his message I have to use an (admittedly baroque, as is my wont) syllogism: one of the hummingbirds from my dream had also approached me. He'd whizzed and chirped, right around my head. When I awoke, I associated that hummingbird with you, Lucy War. This I can't explain, or not "with words from this world" (as Pizarnik says). But I've had the sensación, ever since our nine-hour marathon visita a couple of weeks ago, that you're a kind of Fairy Godmother. Avatar, too, of my beloved Joanna (R.I.P.).

La Joanna unwaveringly, insightfully supported me; she núrtured and válidated my vision. About my (he)art: that is, my writing and my Montenegro. From 2004–12, during the eight years of our friendship—overlapping (until my Great Escape in 2010) with my cloistering in an emo-abusive, panoptical monasterio—Joanna was with me, encouraging my apprenticeship as a clairvoyant. Until her death, last year.

And then . . . oh, anchorless, blank, dreamless, vision-less. Sin rumbo (pace Cambaceres). Dark dark dark. 2013: the disastrous Year of the fucking Black Watersnake. Drawing to a close, crawling back. Clawing my way back up, toward the light. Recognizing, accepting (the power of) the light in me. However Wizard of Oz-ish and therapy-speak it might sound (and in fact, my therapist, la Leslie, did tell me exactly that: that I have internalized Joanna's teachings, that she's with me all the time, and bla bla. It took a loooong time for that simple yet powerful truth to sink in), I knów that Joanna's visionary insight is in me.

So then (and ónly then) you appeared to me, Lucy. Strangely (or perháps not), you share with Joanna the absolute conviction that the amor between H and me is life-long. In late 2012 (some months after my apocalyptic reunión with Montenegro, in Pretoria—and only six months before she died), at our last astral reading Joanna had said to me: —don't be concerned about H's silence. He's . . . down there, struggling (where "down there"? I muttered, irritated. Where did she mean? ¿in South África, or in the hellish underground of his own creation?) —He's engaged in a slow, very slow Plutonian transformation, Joanna told me. —I know it's terribly slow for your Fire-sign nature! But hold your ground; he's with you.

On the other hand, Lucy, you insist that I try and find him, that I find a way of communicating directamente with H. —Mi corazón tells me, Susanita, you told me, that he needs you.

Awrite then: if this colibrí-messenger is your avatar, and your most urgent message to me is "find H," it makes sense, syllogistically, for this lone hummingbird to be something like a spirit-animal, the wormhole avatar of H. ¿And his message? As succinct as the messenger's own abbreviated form: I'm here.

You found me, Montenegro, you came to me. To encourage me, to remind me, to tell me I must go to you in these slowly but surely unfurling pages. It is here, my darling Rip van Winkle, here in these páges, that I shall conjure you. Bring you (back) to life. To me. To (our) love.

translated from the Spanish and English by Ellen Jones