The Tree & The Kokopelli

So, I’ve been doing a bit of a personal creative writing project for myself. I’ve been slowly rewriting stories of mythology into poems, and writing personal stories and histories into the sort of childhood fables/mythologies I recall from years ago.

This study of “personal mythology” is a process for me – one of trying to let go of the complications of our society, to take pieces of my family stories or self-stories and turn them into something far simpler. It is through this process that I attempt to exercise compassion towards people who have hurt me or been hurt by me in the past. It is a therapy, to some degree, and an exploration.

My first story ties into the tattoo upon my back. It’s the secondary meaning of my wings, the first meaning is for a different blog post.

The Tree & The Kokopelli
Once, long ago, a Kokopelli was dancing and singing his way through a great green forest, when he spotted a young tree. She was beautiful, small, with bright leaves and rough bark. He greeted her with his charming voice and asked if he could sit in her shade, to which she graciously affirmed. He leaned against her cool bark, and she asked him about what he’d seen in the world, and the Kokopelli told her.

What about you, he inquired. She told him of a wild childhood as a sweet seed carried by birds across oceans and through foreign countries, of other languages and foods and smells the world over.

But she found this nice patch of green, she said, and when it was time, she left the birds and planted herself deep into the ground. Slowly she emerged as a sprout, and then grew to be the tree he saw before him. She told him of her deep running roots, and how she aspired to grow very tall and strong, to shelter families and use her branches to touch the sky and sun.

The Kokopelli laid a hand upon her lowest branch, and told her he’d love to see her touch the sun.

So he stayed with her, camped in her shade, and he entertained her with his stories, they exchanged philosophical discourse on topics diverse and radical. They fell in love. They had three children, their youngest was born inside a blossom on the Tree’s branches. She was a red Bird, but she had no wings. They cared for her, and she lived in a nest upon a branch, not able to fly.

There were problems. You see, Kokopellis are meant to wander. And trees are meant to stay still.

The Kokopelli would wander the forest wide, and return to share stories with the Tree and their children. He’d play music and the Tree would shake her branches to dance along. The Tree grew taller and taller, reaching her branches higher and higher, and told them stories of the sky. The little Bird with no wings was inspired, but her inability to fly made her sad. After a time, the Kokopelli could not stay, the Tree could not go, and so he left her.

She grew taller and stronger, and sheltered her children and many other creatures of the forest within her shade. He travelled far and wide, meeting many strange and wild creatures, writing songs and learning things. The little Bird felt the need to fly, but still lacked the wings necessary. She was smart and inventive, and she began to think of ways to make her own wings. One day she realized what she needed to do, and she broke a few small branches off of the Tree.

The Tree cried out in pain as she felt her wood give way. She yelled and cursed and sobbed as her dear daughter took these pieces of her. The little Bird looked at her sadly, trying to explain, lacking the words.

The little Bird borrowed ribbon from a traveller who sat within the Tree’s shade, and collected fallen feathers and leaves from the ground. She tied the feathers to the branches, and the branches to her back, and flapped her makeshift wings.

The Tree saw that the Bird planned to leave, and felt heartbreak. The Bird saw that the Tree could only stay where she was, that she was tall and strong and rooted, but she could never wander like the Kokopelli, never fly like the little Bird.

The little Bird took flight. She sang as she flew, round in circles up along the trunk of the Tree, perching in her highest branches, sitting in the sky.

She said she was sorry, and she left.

The Tree grew ever taller, her roots ever deeper, watching as the little Bird flew off into the distance. The Kokopelli, wanderer as he was, spotted his daughter flying here and there, he sang her songs and watched her leave with pride.

Every once in a while, the little Bird returns to the loving branches of the Tree, for a visit or a rest between adventures. She shares stories of a world the Tree can’t ever see from where she stands, and the Tree gives her shelter and shade and food.

The Kokopelli does not come to rest in the Tree’s shade any longer, but he remembers her strength and her shelter. The Tree cannot see the Kokopelli any longer, but she remembers his songs and his stories.

Still he wanders. Still she stands. Still the little Bird flies.

My Wings