from Chapter 2
Little Blood Moon
The ominous moment arrived. There was no turning back. At 5 P.M., I was standing like an orphan waif on the corner. She appeared with her machete and off we went toward her home. She told me to call her Celestina. That was all she said. The walk to doña Celestina's house was quiet and it took us across a small wooden footbridge and past several fields of corn that all appeared to be dry-farmed. We walked in total silence for a long way and eventually arrived at a large field on the right-hand side of the road that she indicated with a movement of her machete was her own field.
We stepped across the barrier of scrub bushes into the rows of tall green cornstalks. She pulled back the tasseled husk from one very large mature ear to show me that its kernels extended all the way around in rows without missing even one single space, culminating with a final kernel at the tip from which the tassel sprouted. The colors of the kernels were like a rainbow within a cloud, concentrated in some areas and then dissolving in others, with infinite transitions.
"All of them grow this way, complete with kernels all the way to the end of the cob," she said plainly. "When an car grows this way, it's called the Mother Corn, and if you take your seed from only such an ear, over time they'll all grow like these. Look how huge and magnificent these are and how the colors vary. White shifts to gold and then turns reddish. In the next generations, the dance of colors will evolve and reconfigure like the clouds in the sky to form new patterns, different from those that are present in the seed I'll select."
"How do you get them all to grow so big?" I exclaimed.
Doña Celestina smirked again. "Well," she said, "it is true that once long ago, corn was much smaller." She showed me half her pinkie finger to indicate its original size. "But it has always been very potent, like the ancient Earth herself, and if you understand what to look for, and how to choose and combine, and if you select only the best examples for seed, then over time corn grows larger and larger, and more powerful and substantial."
"I've never seen corn quite like this," I said.
"This corn is very like I am," she replied cryptically. "Look, if you see a person with a fine horse, for example, notice the relationship. Is it one of mutual respect and love, freedom and powerful spirits, or is it a broken relationship of domination and ownership, a trained creature burdened by a petty master, harnessed, restrained, miserable, and possibly even whipped? Just as with a horse, all you really have to do is whisper to corn and it will start to respond, if you really admire it. There is even a medicine test for young women at puberty who must prove their capacity for regeneration by praying their cornfield into being. A woman who does not pass does not have the qualities that are being searched for. To bring freedom into being, she must be free herself.
"And now, I think you understand that I'm going to give you a test. This one will be a little bit tough, a little different. I'd like to see if you can grow whatever you are asked by the spirits to grow, in the same way that one might pray corn into being, and do so freely. There is an intent behind this, but it's not going to be revealed to you yet. For now, I'm just going to insist that you do it. Pray and Dream. You say you understand. If you don't, you had better not dare come to see me again. Begin by Dreaming that bridge on the road that leads to my field right here and then later I'll tell you what I'd like for you to do with that. Dream it and walk across it, over and over again. It's that simple. Come to town and see me regularly only to show me how your Dreaming is going and then bring me what is on the other side of the bridge when you cross it. I'm not interested in anything else about you for the moment. And I'm not going to take you on farther to my house today. Instead, I'm going to leave you in my field. I want for you to smell the corn pollen. When you feel totally saturated with it, walk back across the bridge and go your way."
"Don't you want the recipe you asked me to share with you in exchange for this trip to your field and the corn you gave me?" I inquired, totally mystified, meek, and taken aback by her forcefulness. She was as strong when she spoke as when she was silent.
"Your Dreaming is the recipe I'm asking you for. It is one of your best. I'm not going to tell you just yet why I am asking you for it. Now go."
And with that, doña Celestina moved like a strong wind through her field, harming nothing and carrying the large machete at her side. She disappeared in a southwesterly direction heading toward what I could only suppose was her house somewhere off in the distance.