Amara, On Worlds and Manifestations
The Little Black Book Challenge
Amara was born in the morning twilight. The amorous violet-rose sky laden in shadow, the time of transition, being neither one thing or another, but an evocative period full of mystery and portent ~ was suited to her being. She was born in a city nestled in a valley, to two exceptionally fierce and beautiful spirits. On the night she was born her mother was high, it was raining, the night was dark and the car full of smoke. Her mother felt the birth pains on a long winding road outside town. She had had a cesarean with Amara's older sister, and had been told throughout she would have another. Terror engulfed her when the neat and clear-eyed military base nurses assured her she could have a vaginal delivery. She was overwhelmed by the ferocity of pain, she was hindered and unsettled by the induced fluctuations in physicality and thinking. This dichotomy too, its unexpected opposition and harmony, was suited to Amara's being.
Amara came quickly, strong and sure, full of purpose. She was no trouble at all and her mother marveled that she could stand and walk just after the birth.
Amara was a beautiful child, like all children are. Her hair was thick and glossy, the color of cormorant feathers, her features all large, like hearts suspended in various stages of opening. Her eyes were large, luminous . . . beckoning dark pools that held glimmering microcosms in their depths. Iridescent circles, replicated over and over to the onlooker. Bathed in light and dark, curious and also drawn, enveloped with sentiments that made their deepest aspects far beyond reach.
She was a child who lived between worlds, from the beginning. Her spirit was unwilling, or undesirous, or simply incapable of remaining fixed and tethered to one world. It fervently sought travel, and attained it with an uncommon ease. When she slept, she traveled through other worlds, without confines, not even a static definition of self as defined by race, gender, species. She was often at war, captive, subjugated, amid apocalyptic catastrophes. She understood at the core she was both a warrior, and relentlessly sought after. Often she awoke at twilight, and the sun just below the horizon, the sky the lovelorn colors of waiting and eternity, a mixture of pinks and purples, shades of fertility, comforted her. She loved not to know whether it was morning or evening, the beginning or the end of the day. Amara loved not to remember, for mere moments ~ who she was, which self lay in abeyance for utilization, what she had to draw from, what mission stood before her. She loved the freedom, that amorphous existence between worlds. The worlds she occupied were forever piecing themselves together, perpetually dissolving.
In this life, too, she was not destined to know peace. Amara's father was tormented, and coupled with his propensity for violence, his particularized tragic history channeled into destruction and rage, formulated her purpose for the beginning of her life. To keep her mother and siblings alive. To be ever watchful, ever vigilant. Not to allow anything to slip beyond her perception. Many nights she stayed awake, her younger siblings around her in the bedroom, one of four in the home, but the only space they stayed when the unsullied rage rose. Huddled in blankets, weeping, imploring. Amara fixed her two shining spheres, her eyes, into the darkness, and prayed internally, even as she assured her siblings with stories, tenderness and peace separate from what rose within. Amidst the shouts and thuds, the screams and shots and terror, she allayed their fears. Their tears were precious to her, each one a departure from childhood, each one a gleaming beseeching, and also death. Their tiny bodies, full of warmth, full of trepidation, shivering as she wrapped her arms around them. The stilling as she minutes passed, as she focused her efforts, were all she needed for the world to remain. She stayed awake long after their tears stopped, their movements slowed and breathing shifted into sustained unconsciousness. Amara stayed awake, alert, unable to quieting the uncertainty within, the fixed question of what world would await come morning. Would her mother be alive? Would her father? Or would the world fall away again? Amidst the shouts, amidst the bumps and thuds, in the silent aftermath remained something immense and dark. It threatened to swallow them all. It was something Amara was familiar with. The essence embodied within her nightmare enemies - dark and full of insatiable hunger. What it sought, too was most precious.
Amara became a protector and a guardian, rather the circumstances of her life facilitated the emergence of this that was her. She herself was much like her father, full of fire, full of a need to release, at times with violence. But she was also like her mother, and most women who give life and on whom life and its trajectories depend. She had the enduring strength and fortitude of a saint.
Amara loved nature and the wild. She was in love with the morning dew, the slow and beautiful mountains surrounding the city, the long expanses of earth void of human passersby in the desolate town. The hummingbirds, the hawks flying headlong, the stray dogs roaming the streets. Mountain lions bounding in open fields on the outskirts of the town. She loved trees and flowers and the earth itself, the dirt and sand were a twin to her own skin. When burrowing her legs and feet into them, or laying upon, she felt she could dissipate into them, and cease to be, if she truly desired.
Nature was her first love. Writing, and language, her second. Always her mind was brimming with imaginings and ideas. Worlds spun around inside her, encircling her. In this way she was both blessed and haunted. She first began to write the memories of dreams. After nightmares, writing in a depth of detail prompted release from the residual trauma and pain. And she could redefine the characters, the landscapes, outcomes, in the small spaces memory eluded her. She could recreate her experiences, and reconcile it all. It was a precious gift for one who was often pursued, imprisoned, abused, slain . . . to remember every detail, every aspect of the beings that helped or harmed her, their beauty and grace and mystery, their utter malevolence. She found great power in remembering, recreating them on paper. She found the conduit to pursue that which was the only thing she loved as much as freedom: truth. Writing helped her, from the first. It was another means of traveling to other worlds, of making sense of the tangible, and what lingered, as invisible as the single strand of a spider's web from a great distances. No less real, no less the result of long and concentrated effort. Pure, real.
She wanted to preserve the dreams in containers that would compliment them. And so emerged her fascination with journals. When her art teacher taught her to make paper, she created covers - of various bold and light colors, various textures. Drawn to the roughest hewn paper, and colors as deep as the ocean, as light as the morning mist bading enchanting farewell. She loved to press flowers found on walks into them. When she did not make her own, she searched for them. At garage sales with her grandmother, and outings with her mother. Beautiful hardcover journals, those with a clasp or lock. As an adolescent she found a journal that she scratched with a screw taken from her father's toolbox. It was a long screw, its edges ground into her fingers as she worked. The deeper she scratched, the longer, the stronger and more lasting the pain. She scratched an image of her sleeping sisters into it, she worked and worked until their spirits were captured. Sleeping children, at peace, alive, protected. She loved the journal, she poured her nightmares into its pages. She kept it with her through many states of effort and deprivation.
Amara's father exercised his violence on her mother all her childhood. Until one night, before Amara entered her senior year of high school. The demon within him took full control. Her mother was gone, and her father became unrecognizable, a mere husk. He went on a rampage, breaking windows, ordering them into the large living room to pray, racing from one end of the home to the other, to the weapon-filled garage. He became just like a monster in her dreams - his fine and ardent indigenous face distorted, made over with treachery and fury. His body, fragmented, rapidity of movements. His voice unlike that of her father, even unlike during abuse of their mother, when though consumed, yet human. It was the first time Amara believed he may kill them all. She led her siblings out of the home, and was greeted by shotguns from a SWAT team on the street. He was arrested. He broke an officer's leg and withstood several tasers, before he succumbed. He was gone for years.
Absent the threat, Amara's identity floundered and struggled to find purpose. Her mother and siblings were safe. And she did not know who she was. She wanted to find herself. She inherited her father's propensity for violence and self destruction. She wanted, truly, to grind herself to ashes. And so when alone, miles from the beings who occupied her energies and dreams and efforts, all those rooted in goodness, she allowed her other selves their stay. She became a whore, a prostitute, a beggar, a transient. She came to disregard and loathe money, for in her life and in these experiences, it was always tied up to greed, failure, and weakness. Its abundance in her father's drug deals, the shine in his eyes in varying states of surrender, the many women who were dependent on it. Then in other men's eyes. Their wanting need. Their defeat.
Amara did not write for a long time. She was immersed in other forms of creation, and also death. She left the sordid world of self destruction. She became a mother. After rebuilding a semblance of a livable life, though yet in poverty, she was gifted a journal from a woman who represented a kinship, a special affinity, as well as threat, to her. She received it shortly after she was introduced to the notion of manifestation. Unwrapping it, she marveled at the memory: childhood. The book was beautiful in a way she had never encountered, the cover a material that while handmade, finer than any she had been able to create in childhood, when she still held the volition. It was from another land, Italy, brushed, pure black suede. There was a long tie that closed and secured the book, and wrapped around and around a spear shaped piece of blackened wood. It reminded her of the gifter, and also her own self. The black with its softness and also resistance and variations, was like solitude. The tie hearkened to the notion of carriers from another world, dimunitive and magical creatures on long and arduous journeys.
Amara looked at the black journal and thought of manifestation.
She thought of a lifetime of nightmares, and dreams.
Of things burned, objects, and also hopes.
She thought of needs. Of open faces, bills as crisp as expensive lined suits, or as dirty as rough worker hands.
A neverending tide of lust.
Herself as a child. Her own children's faces. The wariness and beauty. The pain that was hers, she would not allow to become their own.
In between states. Birth at twilight.
She thought of poverty and character, the hatred embedded within her for money, the greed it had always been accompanied by. The defeat.
Her father. Her self.
Holding the book, she closed her eyes and released the hatred.
And she asked to find it, to receive money, unaccompanied by lifelong enemies. Accompanied by that which was fine, and pure.
The manifestation was complete.
Ten days later she received the news: her request was fulfilled.
About the author
Filipina and indigena writer, intent on manifesting the dreams of my ancestors/reconciling deeply stored trauma/opening worlds to my children through art. Sharing remembered experiences lived during unconsciousness and waking life.