Thursday, March 30, 2017

Photographer of dreams

"I want to tell you about YAMA. This is the Warlpiri word for a shadow, or reflection. It’s also a word that we use to describe a meeting or a meeting-place; we gather under a tree that casts a shadow (a reflection of its shape) onto the ground, and we talk in a group - both men and women together, equally - to make decisions and to reflect on ourselves and our lives. But it’s deeper, too. In yapa (Aboriginal) culture, if someone says “you don’t have a shadow”, it means you don’t exist. All the birds, all the small animals, trees - these things all have a shadow; all of your country and everything in it; this is your universe..."The Home Within"YAMA
Emu in the Sky, Milky Way (photo credit: Barnaby Norris )

The metaphor was strong. He heard the message, it smelled of ginger. "A stimulant, the root is meant to be used short-term and doesn't add to the quality of your health in anyway." With hands wrapped in tape like a boxer Alex followed his nose into time that was much more solid than a dream. Something rankled just under his skin. Not an itch exactly, but something. Camilia loves ginger, cooks with the fresh root, steeped it in tea, grew it in pots in their kitchen even in this water-logged Salish world. Contradiction, the metaphor was a contradiction. He felt that sick to his stomach ripple. Alex Santiago pushed himself to keep up.

Dani DeSilva was no stranger to mistakes, of any kind. She risked often and learned quickly. Early on, it was her bounce-back that gave her the edge. Face down in the dirt ring at eight years old, she heard her Papa's voice, "False pride. Goin' get you every time." Pops DeSilva was an amateur boxer, Fly Weight. What he loved about the sport he loved even better when he was teaching kids -- girls especially, how to fight. As she grew his voice stayed the same, his strong deep brown arms ready to pull her up from the fall. The only change came when both he and Dani were eye-to-eye when she bounced back. "Now we learn tricks," his one gold tooth sparkled. She loved it when her grandfather smiled.

Her dark room was her closet of secrets; there was space for her and the muse alone. A faded photograph of a tiny girl with boxing gloves big as Hayden mangoes hung at eye level. The gold tooth of Pops DeSilva the only light. The roll of film contained just the five shots taken in Alex's dream. The old welder kept his distance, and waited on the padded bench outside the dark room door. A stranger's voice came from the other side, Alex guessed it was a radio. Dani was a young woman with old school tastes. Old camera. Flip top cell phone. Radios that plugged into walls with a dial for tuning.

Up until the start of this dream, Alex Santiago lived magic with his eyes wide open. Welding and meddling required a very grounded presence. His approach to life put him in charge of the burn. He respected fire and the rules for manipulation, or enchantment, depending on who was asking, were clear: do no harm, ask permission of place and people, be prepared to to make amends and watch out for anyone without a shadow. That last rule was worrying him. In this dream, he didn't have one.

Now what?

New to Banana Skin and Ginger? The story begins here.

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