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Jade
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In class yesterday, Franz asked us to write down one word: something animal, vegetable or mineral which doesn't usually have a voice.  (Remember, this class is about voices in writing).  He collected the slips of paper, mixed them up and passed them out.  I received the word, 'jade.'  He put on some classical music and we practiced 'automatic writing.'  For the first page, I forgot that it was the 'thing' which was supposed to speak and wrote from a human point of view.  Then, I remembered.

  Jade

                                                                                      Linda Lockett Eisele 1/10/03

    

     I dig into the sand at the foot of the cliff.  The tide is out.  Sand tumbles in the small pit.  I dig so deep, the hole fills with water.  I dig deeper.  What is this?  A glimmer of green.  Jade!  The treasure I have been searching for all these years since that day so long ago I thought I found it walking down a red dirt road, rolling hills of golden green on either side, blue heaven above, and cool air on my face. 

     In her bedroom the week before, Ma Su showed me her most treasured possession.  "It is jade," she explained.  From the way she held the bauble, turned it in her young fingers, I knew:  This is the most precious stone in the world.  If only... if only I could find some.  How proud I would make her!  How her face would light up with joy! 

     An image of green stone lodged in my imagination next to the picture of a three-colored, male cat which does not exist; Pa Pan and Po Kee assured me.  One day, I would show them.  I would find the male calico and the jade.  I would make us millionaires. 

     On that Sunday family outing so long ago, walking behind Ma Su and Pa Pan, Po Kee and Wu Won, I spied a small pile of pebbles lying green in the dust of the road.  Could it really be this easy to find jade?  Had I succeeded already?!  I scooped the tiny stones into the palm of my hand, closed my fist and ran to Mommy.  Opening my fingers, I held out the treasure.  "Is this it?" I cried.  "Is it jade?!!!"

     Ma Su looked at the pile.  "Thats shit," she said.

     "What's shit, Ma Su?"

     "It's a rabbit's b.m."

     Even after my fingers flew wide like a star's and the shit hit the road and rolled, scattering in the dirt, the feel of rabbit b.m. lingered on my palm like an odor which will not go away.

     But that was more than seventy years ago.  I never stopped looking... or hoping.  Now I am old and I know what shit is.  This time, I won't be fooled.

*******

      Something is moving.  How long have I been here?  What is this brightness?  Ouch!  It hurts and warms me all at once.  What is happening to the comforting coolness which has held me since forever?  What softness strokes me?  I remember this feeling!  This touch.  I know this. 

     Oh!  I am rising.  I feel it, and all around me the weightlessness I have not felt in how long?  And, those two spots warm... on my right side and on my left.  And now?  Something tickling me all along my inside... something soft and warm.  I feel myself!  I am cool and solid touching warm and soft all along my inside edge.  I am a circle!  I had forgotten that.  Hmmm.  Cool and weightlessness along my outer edge. 

     What is this bounding?  First one edge, then the other of my inside, hitting this warm softness gently.  Am I dancing?  I have danced before; I know itWhat is happening to me?  But this feeling... 

     It is coming back to me.  How many hundreds of coldnesses ago was that?  There was a girl.  Yes.  A girl.  I remember the day her mother gave me to her.  What joy for both of us!  How she loved me!  And I her.  She carressed me all over my outer edge.  Then, there was this same tickling warmth along my inside edge and I was riding her.  She ran with me out into the countryside beyond her father's house, onto the meadows above the cliffs by the sea.  I could hear the roar of breakers below.  My girl was so excited!  So was I!  She lifted her arm to the sky to show me to the sun.  "Look!  Look what I have!  I am rich!  I am a queen!" she cried.  She spun around and around, dancing me.  I tumbled down the length of her arm.  Her flesh was so soft, so... wonderful.  I flew up her arm to the wrist, then tumbled to her shoulder again and again.  I was dancing her, until... oh, that foolish child!  My poor, careless girl.  It comes back to me now... that last horrible instant four thousand coldnesses ago and I was flying... flying through weightlessness.  I heard her scream.  The sound lingered.  She must have watched me arch through the sky, falling... falling.  Then the hardness struck my side, hurting me, and again the weightlessness, and the hurt and the weightlessness and the hurt until a soft blow which stayed and a thousand tiny prickles sharp against my side and the weightlessness and warmth above and something I had never felt before... tiny points of cool all over. 

     I heard a breaker rumble close, closer... so close, and a newness covered me.  I was standing on one edge, the hard prickles at one point only on my outside, and this newness surrounding me.  It turned my heart to ice in an instant.  The ice feeling came and went over and over, alternating with the weightlessness on one side and prickles on the other.  Slowly, the prickles grew up around me and I did not move anymore.  They surrounded me completely.  

     Then came the cycles: the long coldnesses and the long coolnesses repeating.  All warmth had long since faded from my heart.  At first, I waited... for a hundred coldnesses; waited and hoped.  Would she come back?  Would she dig into the prickles and find me?  Gradually, I forgot.  I forgot to wait.  I forgot to think.  I forgot about my girl; forgot everything, even what shape I am... until today. 

     But this is not the soft warmth of my girl.  This warmth is fragile and brittle like the parchment they wrapped me in the day they gave me to my girl.  The crackling roughness of parchment is cool, but this is warm.  This is not a girl.  This is an old woman.  My girl grown old!  She has come back for me!  My girl!  She has come back.

Thank God for writing classes.  Here at my computer... with you... with an infinity of stories waiting to be written... is where I long to be -- hey!  halleluah! -- is where I AM!