I woke up near a fresh spring at the foot of a mountain. I could see unicorns running into the woods, their bright white butts galloping away from me. I walked toward the direction the spring was flowing.
Downstream I met a Mentor living in an old hut. His life was quiet and direct, it seemed, organized around a single, real principle. My name is Bro, he told me. I’m collecting radishes, he said.
I asked if I could see his precious medallions. I could tell he had a store of them.The Mentor shook his head. There were no radishes to be found. No radishes meant he couldn’t in good conscience share his medallions. I nodded in acceptance.
I asked where a snake would go if it had infinite abilities to regenerate. He told me the snake would move toward the Mountain. All snakes congregate on the Mountain’s peak, to warm themselves so close to the sun.
I remembered an old slave song the Long Divided patrons used to sing.
Mountain, be kind to the snake tail
River, be meek to the snake head
People, be kind to the snake mind
Planet, hear the prayer of the fang
Just then some children jumped across the brook in the distance. I heard their hushed giggling whispers mention me by name. I leaned against the Mentor’s hut and hid myself. The Mentor hit me with his long, leather-wrapped flute. “Don’t be dishonest near children,” he said.
With a buoyant, light-hearted shame I retrieved my pack and began to hike the Mountain. No more than 400 feet forward I discovered the Shrine of the Snake. No one was attending the shrine. I was alone in its small quarters.
At the mantle of the shrine was a glyph celebrating the death of the snake at the claws of the owl. I wanted to rid myself of the snakelikeness in me.. That first bit of tail tasted good, but as my midsection entered my throat I realized the error. I existed as a companion to the owl. No. I was meant to surrender, and die.
In Snake Divination, one answers three questions to the face of the snake.
What is your mourning?
Who is your own disease?
Where will you go when you’re eaten?
My answers: “The tribe of Chief Homonculus.” “The ghost of my amnesia.” “To home, without a tail.”
A screeching was heard in the shrine, echoing in a sort of repetitive amusement. I was standing outside of myself. I had become two, not one, Sleepy Mornings. I was watching both as a removed presence.
Both of the new me’s turned around and stared in my direction. “Who, who, who.” One fell through the floor. The other leaped through the ceiling.