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SLCC's Premiere Art & Literary Magazine

A World Without Light

Bobbi Deal

Imagine a world without light. A world of darkness. A world of colorless nothing. Not being able to see the things that surround us. Unable to know the touch of warmth on your skin. How limited our vocabulary would be without light to create colors. To give us visuals to describe all that is in the world. How far would we have traveled the world? How could we have possibly evolved?

Ahh, the spider...

So delicate and misunderstood. So fragile, that an unexpected drop from human hand to the floor can crush its abdomen, leaving it to die a slow agonizing death. Tarantulas, in the desert, can go months without eating. Involuntary fasting unknown to any human or religion. When humans fast, there is often a beginning and an end. For the spider, there is no indication of how long they must fast. An unknown beginning and end.

In some Native American cultures, the spider is called Mother. She is a wise woman. A keeper of stories. She weaves the web, reminding us to pass the stories of our ancestors to younger generations. Another Native American culture refers to her as Grandmother Spider. She is who we honor for bringing fire to the people.

In the beginning, there was no light. Every living thing was in darkness. There was no concept of warmth, light, color...all was dark. The animal council heard news of a lightning strike that had hit an island. The island was now home to something they had never seen before, FIRE! It was described in new words, colors, such as yellow, orange, red, and in senses such smell, sight, and touch. The animals decided to send someone to go to the island to bring the fire back to the people. First, they sent the Raven, for he was a swift and strong bird. He flew to the island and swooped down towards the fire with a whoop whoop. He landed on a nearby tree, trying to figure out how to bring the fire back to the council, but he perched too close to the fire and scorched all of his feathers black. He returned to the council with no fire, and his feathers remained black from that day on. It was then the Great Owl that said he would go. He was also very swift and agile, but with strong claws on his feet. Surely he could carry some fire back to the people. Yet, as he landed near the fire waiting for his move, a plume of smoke whooshed into his eyes and he could not see. He returned to the council as best he could, stopping often to rub the ash from his eyes. Luckily he was able to see again, but the white ash remains in rings around his eyes to this day. Other animals also tried, and all failed until Grandmother Spider stepped up to the task. Grandmother Spider made a basket from her silk and placed it onto her back. She made her way across the water to the island. She placed an ember into her basket and brought it back to the people. Then there was light.

Spider Talker they call me, or the Spider Whisperer. I have only been given a few names in my life, my first was Sister Soldier, a name to represent my militant attitude toward the world. It made me feel fierce. Now I am referred to as the Spider Talker. Something much more gentle yet still fierce. In Native American culture, you do not choose your totems, they choose you. I could be anywhere in the world, doing any random thing, and I can manage to find a spider without looking.

I looked down at my suitcase which remained unpacked from a trip I took over two weeks ago. I had finally heard enough nagging to unpack it and put my things away. There she was on top of my "Native Pride" sweatshirt. The most beautiful velvety chocolate brown. Reminiscent of the velvet paintings we would color as children. Her abdomen is swollen, likely with young ones inside. I must have brought her home with me from Wyoming. I spoke to her softly, "hello pretty girl!" I put my hand down near her and she walks to me as if we are old friends. She climbs onto my hand, lightly brushing my skin with her tiny legs. I walk her outside to my jasmine bush and let her go. "Until we meet again."

Imagine a world without light...

The number eight. When laid on its side, it is the symbol of infinity. Infinity...Like waiting for time to pass. Needles dancing across skin. A burning pain that feels as though the needles are piercing into my past. Would I know the sensation of burning without the Grandmother Spider's fire to compare? Colors intertwined with my skin that would be nothing in darkness. Stories...Weaved throughout time. Marrying our elder's pasts to younger generation's futures. Like a spider. Weaving intricate designs. Like the tattoos on my skin. A map of what has been and what is to come. A map that can only exist because of light. The burning of needles. The warm touch of skin on skin.

I lay my head down upon my pillow. I take a deep breath and close my eyes. When I open them and focus on the ceiling I see it. Another spider, but this one is bigger with a small black body and long graceful legs. It reminds me of the old stories and I thank the spider for its hard work, for without it I would be unable to see the world around me.

I see you.

I feel you.

I know you.

The past marrying to a new generation of my life.

The light of my life.

The fire in my heart.

The joy in my soul.

I see you.

I feel you.

I know you.

The light allows me to take you in.

The spider now lingers in my window sill.

A reminder.

A reminder of the sacrifices made.

I reminder of what is to come.

Tingling on my skin.

Like needles.

I see you.

I feel you.

I know you.

Imagine living in a world of darkness.

Imagine a world without light...