You never hear her jump. You never hear her land either. You never hear her. You never hear her coming, a shadow of twilight with no voice. Men traveling near her lair feel intruded upon, like a spiders web in your belly instead of butterflies. That’s because they could sense her though she did not roar, or scream gutturally, or hiss. No. The men could feel her presence, though her eyes glinted in their lamp lights, they did not see her shine. She’s a fair predator, always giving warning. You can see your final destination in her eyes, if you let yourself meet her gaze. Be bold enough to stare a puma in the eyes. But they rarely do. They rarely stare her in the eyes but they knew she was there. Men, ever fond of legends, offered her a name: Kaajah.
“Why don’t they ever look me in my eyes, mother? Why don’t they look me in my eyes?” asks Kaajah of this old tree that died long before it lived. Always stuck in one place, taking what the wind and rain decided to give it. The tree died but when woman dies she is still fertility to the land. Kaajah named the tree, Mother. Mother, the great tree who bears no more leaves yet nurtures a wild beast. Tames a puma. Mother tamed a puma. She loved her. Kaajah knew it. Only Mother would carve a hole in herself big enough for Siberian tiger, but a mansion for a cub. Kaajah felt the rain, Mother’s crown whittled away long ago. She stood open to the sky. Kaajah, miserable at first, began to hear the rain’s language. She could interpret it’s tongue, though it came from the sky, the rain was native to earth, like Kahjah. She felt the rain.
Mother allowed her to learn the language, ensured she learned the language. Though she could not roar, she could communicate. She could leap. She could jump high, almost 20 ft as an afterthought. Double that when excited. The only thing is, the higher she jumped, the lighter she became until she’d almost merge with the sky. And though she could relate to the rain, she knew she was native to earth. What kind of life would a puma have in the sky? No. She had to stay with Mother and listen to the rain tell it’s life story and leap whenever she felt like talking.
Then a man thing spoke to her. Kaajah could not understand. She peered behind Mother’s root. Tail serpentine yet earnest. The man thing seemed different than the others, softer. More like a doe than a buck. Kaajah turned and sprinted away from the “Hey there…”. The soft man thing, the woman, stepped back in shock as the black puma, already remarkable, bunched hind muscles and was almost instantly transported to a sickly, yet sturdy branch in a tree with no crown; only a large cavern teeming with tiny life. Mother decided Kaajah should face her fear and the branch holding her began to protest and as Kaajah tried to defy her mother’s lesson, she only assured it by shifting her weight. The woman ran away a few yards as Kaajah recovered almost as soon as she crashed by the same root she’d fled from. It began to rain. Kaajah accepted the comforting words offered by the downpour and leapt as high as she could to say thank you. She catapulted past the living tree tops, she could see down into a valley she’d never know before, and still she ascended. The rain met her ascension and welcomed her and this time Kaajah did not fear her mass lessening. She did not regret her nation, she was still of Earth, but the sky now claimed its relation. The young woman witnessing this knew she must have lost her mind. The puma, the cat, just jumped as high as a flea could were it much larger. She had to tell someone all she saw though she knew they’d think she was playing them for fools…or high.
“And then…the most erroneous, yet magnificent thing happened, mama! The cat, the puma, she was black and she jumped in the sky. I know, I know I said this. But she jumped and suddenly the rain and the puma—Mama, something extraordinary happened!” breathed the young woman rapidly.
“What happened? Baby, get it out. You done scared me half to death already talking ‘bout such a dangerous creature being around us anyway,” said the young woman’s mother as she stirred her favorite stew.
“Well, ma…all hell,” the young woman sputtered.
“Alright, now!” cautioned her mother.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry for cussin’, mama. You’re not going to believe me, but I’m just going to read you what I saw when that black puma and the rain met way up there in the sky. It- it was like…like the puma became ink in the sky,” she paused remembering, then gathered herself at her mother’s impatient noises. Sighing, she prepared to read her account to her mother. “Okay, okay, ma. Here goes:
I’ve never been able to speak
but I understood language.
Conversations with the rain taught me I am native to earth
but I can fly
I can jump I can leap so high
I can’t speak but I
I can ant if I dream.
Catepillar into wings.
I can sunrise at twilight
Ball-gas that I am
Black and lonely and silenced.
Soul bright like midnight
was meant to be before humanity decided to be God and create more light.
We had enough light, we had enough light
I was born black because we need more night
I was born black, giving life to midnight
and I can jump so high
Hurl my black self ‘cross the sky
and finally tell the rain
in a crack of black lightning
how it feels to understand, but not speak.
God is here. God is here.
That’s the name Mother did speak.
Thank you rain for your wisdom.
Saith rain: The sky is composed of the language you seek.
And that’s what I saw mama. I swear that’s what I saw in the sky when that black puma jumped so high she met the rain.”
#black-art-matters, #black-stories, #fantasy, #fiction, #kaajah, #prose, #puma, #short-story, #story-time