Monday, December 17, 2012

The Medicine Story began in the winter ...


 We cross borders without regard, ignorant or arrogant of the protocol native to the transitional spaces that take us from this place to that place. Traditions remembered and practiced would maintain and pass along the right things to do, at the right time, and in the right frame of mind. Have we all become wanderers with passports unstamped with the memory of teachings from the Ancestors and Nature? There are rituals to remember and common magic to induce respect for the beings and places that share this planet.

Funny how Nature and Those-Who-Watch time the magic and adjustments for setting things right. Look there under the red awning...

What better medicine then the fabrication of a cozy place, common magic
and company worth keeping.
- The Joy Weed Journal

The Safety Pin Cafe

Red Hibiscus

It was a day a duck could love. For that matter the week was a duck's paradise. Dressed for the season in my long skirt, paisley wool shawl, and tea cozy hat with the red hibiscus over my left ear my feet splashed in puddles. The sensible shoes--black leather lace-ups-- answered the silly duck talk coming from the edges, "It makes no never-mind to me. For though I have no oily feathers to shed the rain, my sensible shoes are always game." I'm sure the ducks got even sillier as I twirled at the end of every city block. But by then they were out of earshot.

Most of the other walkers were tucked tight against the insides of their big black umbrellas, from under my red hibiscus I thought I caught the glimmer of blue. Pale and translucent fairy wings. "They don't usually come out in downpours," my eyes scanned the pavement for their scent. Sometimes you can smell a fairy as sure as see one. The wind began to dance with me as I lifted my nose and sniffed from beneath the felt hat now much soaked through with rain. No fairies. But, a large copper pin about the size of a butterfly dropped from the cherry red awning above me and landed on my right shoe. A pin. A safety pin. "My Ma,"besides being famous for carrying a flashlight my mother always wore at least one but more often a couple safety pins. Just in case. Long before it was punk fashion, safety pins were a talisman of security hard-wired in my DNA like knowing how to make something out of nothing. I fondled the pin and felt the distance of time between us compress. There. Here. Together.

A waterfall drained itself off the red awning. I side-stepped the cascade and picked up the pin. Twinkle lights brightened the windows under the awning where a woman smiled from behind pale blue eyes. A bright gold scarf wrapped round her neck seemed to smile, too. She pointed to the sign over the windows. In letters like liquid copper I read The Safety Pin Cafe. Ravens black and shiny as if dipped in wet ink sat in the panes of the windows out-lined and sparkling with fairy lights. "Against the seasonal darkness, the trick is to tickle the light from its hiding places," that was coming from the woman on the other side of the window panes. I smiled as I recognized a Muse and reached for the crystal door knob and pushed the front door open. The smell of warm cinnamon toast and hot milk filled my nostrils.

My hat drooped, rain puddled into miniature ponds. I laughed out loud to see the ducks swimming at my feet. They so love my company, but really. "They don't usually come in doors." The smells were divine and before my laughter settled a tall silver-haired Raven with splendid garb and lovely hands appeared. He wore glasses and spoke with a cultured tone. Obviously schooled in etiquette for tea he said sweetly, "This way, please," and with no further protocol I felt his one gloved hand on my elbow. "The Lady has ordered for you."

A plate of fine bone china, only slightly chipped but sparkling clean was arranged with cinnamon toast cut into stars and moons and ... ducks. I inhaled with my toes and sent the cinnamon out my fingertips. "May I take your hat and shawl," the Raven said in his deep and almost drawling speech. He pointed to a hat stand near the cozy heater with kitties of all colors nestled on the sills nearby. "They love paisley," his golden eyes twinkled, laugh lines drawing into landscapes of places I could love. I think he was flirting with me. Yes, I'm sure he was flirting. The Lady watched us. She sipped from her teacup and the Raven flew through the open Dutch-door, the kitchen, I presumed. The Lady stood.

"I do hope you enjoy a splash of vanilla from the bean in your hot milk," my company gestured to the chair near her own. As I pulled the chair out to sit, the sound of wings raised my head. "Hot milk and vanilla." A bundle dangled from his beak suspended from a copper safety pin. Deft as a pastry chef Raven unwrapped his parcel to reveal a blue mug the color of pale summer skies. Steam rose and clouded his spectacles. "Small price to pay for delivery," again with the laugh lines where I saw white sandy beaches and turquoise ocean rippling. Finally it was my turn to speak, "They're my favorite things to eat and drink on a soggy day. No question! Thank you both. Thank you both so very much."

We sat and drank our hot milk. I warmed my fingertips which were by now a bit wrinkled from the damp. "No never-mind though," I thought of the silver-haired Raven who was now busy flirting with other customers walking in leaving puddles of ducks in the entry. The cinnamon sprinkled with just the smallest glitter of sugar that crackled as I took a bite from the tip of an especially tantalizing star. Hungrier than I'd imagined I bit and bit till there were no stars left. Then, before my milk grew tepid I dunked the moon and savored it till my belly hummed.

 The Faceless Woman

I saved the last of the duck-shaped cinnamon toast and broke it into pieces, poured the last of the milk now lukewarm into the chipped china and floated the bits upon the white sea. "They'll love it," The Lady said nodding at my offering as I laid the china on the floor and tempted them from the ledge. The kitties woke as I walked over to the window. The ravens perched on the strands of lights made a ruckus. His silver-hair flashed out of the corner of my eye as he said, "Make no never-mind dear. I've seen you around. In your pocket, something sparkly is what they're after." I wasn't a bit nervous about the familiarity inside The Safety Pin Cafe although, I swear to have never seen it on this block before. The locket. A heart made of wood dangled from a leaf made of gold and a chain of silver. A keepsake, a precious gift from one who asked nothing from me and gave comfort without words. Normally I wore the locket against my our heart. A reminder of sunrises.

The Raven's breath was cool and close, "Now Crow will as soon pick your pocket as caw. Not so the kin," he blinked and turned a shade of crimson uncommon to birds. But he was not a common bird and with his gloved hand he reached out. The sill ravens waited. "They speak of a woman of seaweed, salty breath and no teeth," Raven continued, smiled and I relived the lines that drew white sandy beaches. I said her name. "Lorraine. She was sweet Lorraine," and reached into my skirt pocket. "Needed elsewhere," we thought together. Delicately, the bigger of the two ravens lifted the wooden heart from my palm and slid it into a breast pocket of her own. "In exchange," she said to me in a voice that was so like my mother's leaving me with something. A safety pin. "Common magic for uncommon necessity." 

The rain had stopped. Sunlight mute but precious mingled with the tinkling reflections on the windows. So caught in the moment and the growing flirtation with Raven I hadn't noticed an old Gypsy woman seated across the room. At a round table positioned beneath an awning covered with purple silk she spread her cards. Tarot, I guessed. Now, I know Tarot by reputation rather than experience or study. But the one in front of the jeweled and ringed Gypsy watched and listened with her whole body. Student or seeker? "It's all right to visit, no need to hesitate or speculate." The voice of the Lady said. She moved not a lip when she spoke I realized, transferring thoughts to me I wondered, "Is it my brain that hears her? My ears perhaps?" 

My sensible black shoes were dry now though whenever I stepped, a small quack leaked from their bottoms. As if to maintain a modicum of modesty as I approached I reached to unlace them. I did that and then pulled my slightly damp   wool socks from my feet and laid them across the tops of my shoes. I stepped onto the plush though worn carpeting. Obviously ancient, maybe Persian, images and scents of foreign spaces rubbed my bare feet into smiles. Closer still I stepped, quiet as a hungry mouse. "Oh my!" it was me, screaming, no opportunity to pretend. Her flesh hung in moldy patches, hair once sunny gold lay atop the cards between the two women. "So long for a while. That's all the songs for a while. So long to the Hit Parade," the old Gypsy woman sang in voice as bold and pure as a baritone. She was singing an old theme song from the Lucky Strike sponsored black and white television program. "As old as the hills and no chance for gold. It's time to move on with your Hit Parade."

Tears washed from the hallows where once pretty young eyes wore a future that fit her. Now, more flesh moved off her bones. A kettle, black and crusty stood on cast-iron feet within inches of the table. Raven, silver-hair now tied back to reveal lean long shoulder muscles pushed at the cauldron. Mounds of the woman's self flooded the pot to near over-flowing. Seated now the pair of sill ravens looked from the edge the table. I took the empty chair, my bare feet oddly calm now. "She's the one in need of comfort, courage and a wooden heart," I heard myself say the words. Untying his hair, Raven once again, smiled his face into lines and to the now-faceless woman said, "Common magic for uncommon necessity." 

The old Gypsy woman gathered her Tarot. "In exchange," whispered Raven dropping a pin of copper in her hand.


"Did you know humans are the only animals who deny their own metamorphosis?" I was ill-prepared for the question though Raven had not left my side since the old Gypsy woman finished with her reading, and that comforted me. Was it just a reading? "It was just that," The Lady answered and motioned to Raven as she pat the empty seat next to her. I felt his gloved hand on my right elbow but remained where I was. "I want to think about what you asked, Raven." It was the first time I'd addressed him directly and meaning no disrespect for The Lady, this was another of those inordinate questions; not common I believed. I thought of my hens who were molting, dropping feathers rather than eggs. They were not so much changing as the caterpillar became winged, but my hens knew their place and their timing.

The faceless woman now wears a wooden heart dangling from a long silver chain. In place of a self? "Was that enough (protection) for her," I asked out loud surprising myself. "It may not be enough protection this time,but it's what she has." Raven neither released his gentle touch nor altered the pressure. "Can she stay here you suppose, here at The Safety Pin Cafe?" I noticed a small hallway behind an eyelet curtain the color of maple leaves at their final crescendo of Fall. Mottled oranges, gold and crimson, the eyelets let in a view of stairs leading somewhere. "So many rooms. Or just one?" His eyes were impossible to read, and I am good at reading eyes. Raven evaded my question and my eyes. How odd this day has turned. "More warm milk?" This time his gloved hand raised at my elbow. I thanked Raven but declined; my stomach not yet settled from the episode just finished. 

The kitties and ducks had become fast friends and lay huddled in a mass beneath the table. The Lady had a fresh plate of warm cinnamon toast. Fur and feathers mounded into a delectable moving rug. Irresistible, I ran my bare feet over them. Quack, quack, meow. The ground of me softened. Cut into wings, and glistening with chunky crystals of sugar the toast surrounded a large cup of steaming tea -- mint. "Peppermint will refresh you," this time The Lady spoke. Her voice was an odd combination of echoes. Each word reverberated. "It's ...It's...It's... annoyance...annoyance...annoyance," she laughed and pointed at her throat to finish. I felt her say, "The voice can be such a bother. I turn it off mostly, hoping the old spell has run its course. But no. Not yet."

Border Witch
The joy weed. Alternanthera amoena. A small herb from Brazil, used as a low border for paths and flower beds. It has red, branching stems and variegated red, green and yellow, small oval leaves. - Hawaiian Dictionary, Pukui and Elbert
The taste of peppermint lingered. Neither cinnamon nor toast remained. A silky breeze teased at my hair, "Is that you Pale the border weed?" It was the rascal wind for very few knew me by that name. I was not so stunned to be fooled into giving up my identity without banter. The fact I was prone in a bed lined in stones was my clue; I evaded.

"Gentle breeze"

A blush of pink, deep but fleeting brushed my shoulder. Softly a drape of inimitable fragrance fell. Mulberry. Wauke. Mulberry bark. Raven lay beside me. His golden eyes reflected the sleepy lashes fringed from my own. "Whose blush is deeper now?" he asked lifting the length of wauke under my hair. No doubt it would be mine -- my cheeks pulsed with heat, if not be the regret I had missed something. "Have I? Have I missed something?" Again with the questions. One naked, not-so-very-young border witch alone with The silver-haired Raven. "Missed? No not ever," Raven answered pulling his glasses from his waistcoat. Once in place the lenses magnified Raven's golden orbs. Worlds, a universe. Reaching his gloved hand toward me I stood.

Amused to find my sensible shoes laced up properly I laughed to imagine the sight of me -- us. My way had indeed been an unusual one. Right from the start, it would have been easier if I had not learned to read so early on. Filled with imagination from print and fables that suit me better than fighting, I sought story. Now on my feet and solid in my boots --they really were more boots than shoes, the weight of the kihei was like air. Touching it to remember the feel of my past words came,"It surprises me the winds could find me," revealing myself seemed natural with him. If there were secrets to keep, I wondered if my thoughts were safe ... "It makes no never-mind. In this room secrets all wear the cape of mulberry," Raven was reading my thoughts and offered me something in exchange. We were up the stairs, beyond the eyelet curtain the color of maples in a room above The Safety Pin Cafe.

Bed of Stone
There is remedy in the everyday. Anyway you find it, practice homeo-practical magic.
-The Joy Weed Journal

Raven was not a bird long on words. Once his glasses slipped onto the slight indentations above his long curved beak he pulled the kihei gently, and secured the cape across my breasts. "The borders," he said. "They need you," as he finished securing the mulberry bark shawl with a pin. The window was ajar just enough to allow his silver finger-tips to graze the gossamer curtains.

The stones on the strange bed were smooth. A mix of pebbles and fist-sized stones like the beach rocks from my favorite walking beach looking west. Pushing myself off the edge of the bed which rose perfectly my boots found the floor. I held my mulberry bark cape, feeling the soft texture of finely worked wauke. A master's work. The night was deep, but the stars and planets were in their places; the moon already set. Once at the window's ledge the breeze fussed with the sheer cotton. "Oh come in then," fragments of dust mingled with the stitches in the curtain hem. "I see you are here and have things to tell me. So out with it." I was using my most forthright voice with the Stardust, it's the language they really find most irresistible.

A simple wooden chair with wonderfully carved arms was placed facing out the single window. A well-sat upon cushion made of cobalt blue velvet once plush was still comfortably welcoming. I took the seat and waited as the Stardust reassembled itself into the shape of a pie. A smile, then a hearty laugh broke from me, "And what sort of pie have you now?" The answer: A... pie... from...the... sky. "Of course. Granny Smith would be my wish, " It was necessary to listen with undiluted attention since the language of stars pales to the clatter of most Earth sounds. Soon the smell of hot apple pie filled my nostrils. Always with the cinnamon and crystals of sugar, and buttery pastry. I listened to the messenger.

A border witch like myself depends upon longevity for power; early on the journey is often a jumble and tumble affair. We don't come to fit our names until Saturn has returned twice to our birth markers. So, you see being no-longer-young has it's upsides. Navigating and translating my work as  border witch this time, I sensed the message had something to do with the Faceless Woman. She was in one of the rooms. More than the heart of wood from sweet Lorraine, the Faceless Woman needed some of that pie from the sky.

"Just how does a faceless woman eat pie?" I asked hoping to get some clue from the Stardust. As if the question unplugged the lights from those stars, in a blink they were gone and in their place I heard, "We are stars. You're the witch."

I am never quite ready for Stardust exits. The absence of the light is one thing, but I've learned something over time: sniff for the truth. Smoke is caught by the nose before the eye; and freshly baking pie? Well, the nose knows first in that case, too. Raven's absence was making me uncomfortable. I don't like the feeling. Longing for him after such a brief ... brief what? "Mutual seduction, perhaps." It was The Lady. Fluttering this time through the keyhole of the bedroom door, the Fairy Lady wore blue. At this size her voice was audible, and not echoing. "I followed the scent of the dust and as it happens with us I saw the shifting outline of pie," Fairy Lady had actually collected the pie dust. In a dust bin no bigger than a mouse turd she landed on my sensible black boot. The left boot.

With not so much as a word, the Fairy Lady emptied the contents of her dust bin onto my boot. "Your secrets are not very well-kept Pale The Border Witch," the voice like running water teased. "You are neutral medicine, Lady," I answered. "Allowing my basket of notions to you is a choice I make with no never-mind." Rising like yeast-dough the toe of my sensible boot was now a doughnut of a basket. Soft and red in the center like a jelly doughnut, all the notions of necessity lay in suspension ... inside the gooey jell. The sides twined like vines in any proper basket though these were the 'ie'ie come from far and time nearly out of memory.

I chanted the words of permission, careful and thorough where it mattered. The Faceless Woman was two doors from my own room. "Now?" I asked. The basket lifted and tucked itself i-ka-poli-o-Pale (into my armpit). The Fairy Lady had tricks of her own. Rubbing her fingers together until sparks jumped like fleas she produced a long thin silver hat pin which she ran expertly along Raven's Safety Pin. Two pins. Two notions. "You will need both, and it will matter in which order you use them, Pale The Border Witch," Raven was at my side. I reached to assure myself of his standard. My wrist found no purchase. "Look to the source, sniff for the truth," I heard him say.

Clouds moved into the sky, cloaking the light. "And the eclipse." I had not forgotten, but snickered at the reminder. "I shan't be with you once you step your feet, Pale Wawae," The Fairy Lady was keen in her naming. It mattered that I wore my name unfettered in the old language. The kihei assumed her weight of time and purpose. Those they call 'witch' were of course more than that in the work that edges. Border work included so many notions, potions, and remedies. But more than anything it was our ease with time that allowed comfort with the borders. Was I young enough, strong enough, old enough, wise enough? "It made no never mind. I am and that is enough."

"Hi'iaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele," I chanted. The Fairy Lady rested on the copper safety pin at my breast, then began to slide down the length of the pin, warming the metal. Blossoms one at a time budded first at the tip of my ears, first the left then the right. Sliding and fluttering a lei of 'Ohia Lehua grew in a circle around my head. Always the first to arrive when new land was forming, Hi'iaka the Goddess, beloved sister of Pele finds me when I need her. "Lucky me. Lucky you," I heard Hi'iaka's deep, sweet voice. Perhaps others missed the humor and joy of the Goddess' work. For me? The joy of the work was everything! My sensible black boots pulsed rhythmically. Reaching to position my lei po'o in place and at a sassy tilt, I checked for the basket in my armpit. "Mahalo, Tutu," I thanked my elder. The vines of ancient 'ie'ie encircled the jelly insides protecting them from slippage.  Like a miniature throw net the basket would serve me only if I knew where it was when I needed it.

Again, I thought of the sight I made for those who watched. No longer young a border witch was not so alarmed by her costuming. My work would be with one who might not know what face or costume best fit her. With one last long, deep breath I stepped toward the bedroom door and exhaled.


As promised, The Fairy Lady slipped into time in a blink of soft blue. As my sensible boot touched down its toe nudged the corner of the door. The door opened in. With it came the stench of stale brackish water, the sort that has sat too long with neither rain nor movement. The perfect environs for ... "Malingering," the word not mine seemed to suit. No turning back. I knew the journey was i mua forward. I took the next step, planting both sensible boots outside the threshold.

In a heartbeat, and I could hear mine pounding soundly, the hall was a streambed slippery with moss. Water trickled rather than flowed. My boots slid as I attempted movement. "Two doors down. Only two doors down," Raven encouraged. Imagining his silver-hair distracted me. I chose another thought as tempting as it was to stay with that one. My balance in the physical form as Border Witch was not so much missing as random. Sometimes my former agility wore me like well-fitting leggings. Other times, not so much. Falling with the jelly basket in my armpit would be messy and the explanations afterwards ... well. I was too old for that.

Firm enough afoot, I steadied myself and slid the hat pin from the front of the kihei. Twisting the topknot in a clockwise direction with my right-hand the palm-sized pin grew into full and stout length. A walking stick. A tool. A third leg. I lifted my arm just enough for me to dip the end of the o'o between the woven vines of ie'ie, covering it with the sticky jelly. Blowing on the jell dried it, leaving it as cushion to my movement in the brackish stream. The going was easier, though the smell of the stale water thickened. No light assisted this journey. I laughed as I thought of my mother who would have carried a flashlight!

My preference was to keep one as well, but did I leave it back at the cafe? Well, it made no never mind to look back. I planted the silver o'o in the stream bed, reassured. It was dark but my eyes adjusted to the absence of light. Shadows glittered and my awareness sharpened. "No shadow without light," Hi'iaka tugged at the lehua blossom on my left ear. "Turn, turn," she continued. Confident now, my sensible boots pa'a, firmly in place, and my knees flexed I turned slightly and saw the crescent light of Hoaka above the bedroom door behind me. A fair distance behind me now, the light of Mahina cast a pale but particular glow. The shadows of tree skin, the bark as golden as Chinese gold rings outlined a door no higher than my flexed knees. 'ekahi ... one. The tree itself was elegant and tall her arms rose into the space above me. "Madrone, the lovely deep rooted one," I was thrilled to see her and reached for the smooth run of her skin. "The Faceless Woman was two doors down, but what is behind Door Number One?" I waited, wondering, for a moment whether that was the right question.

Making Pie

I was tempted to sit at the foot of the tiny door, curious about what might be inside. The ornate knocker was a luscious green--a set of three leaves. Steadying my self on the slippery stone bank I leaned on the silver o'o to get a closer look. The door itself was no larger than my palm stretched to full capacity. The knocker was intricately crafted. Ivy. Dangling from the leaves thick ropes grew down the length of the door. Feathered roots, like anchoring ropes the ivy vines were still very much alive.

"This is a door not opened for seasons long and short," the voice was Raven's. "Time is what you'll need to wrestle the roots of the Sure-footed one. Have you the time?" My mind played with the image of the Silver-haired bird who spoke but cloaked himself from me. The changing light around me gave me the answer about time. Night was passing into morning. I pushed myself upright, bid my curiosity a nod and noticed the river had slimmed to a trickle. The moss dried as I stepped away from Madrone. My sensible boots anchored to the stones. Each stone flattened into a smoothly laid path with the pressure of my weight fitting the pohaku in place like a wall of the Menehune. "Or a mason," teased Raven. "It is a juggling act to maintain the borders of culture," he continued. "They are the same blood, Silver Bird," I was ready for his edgy banter. Aware that Ivy, the Sure-footed will stay to one side of a well-trod trail knowing not to cross to the other side. "They hear and sniff their place," I answered, my eyes winced as I straightened feeling the age of my back muscles.

The smell of apples and cinnamon replaced the smell of  the brackish stream. The sun was warm by the time I arrived at the second door -- a plain white door, solid wood it appeared. There was no knocker or bell just a simple metal door knob. From door to door the venture had given me: time. Time enough to remember how oddly cobbled I was. "Unique venture" the French mademoiselle did tell me. She was right. Does a Border Witch know as a child the journey ahead? I had my suspicions but my dreams, as are all children's dreams more stardust than human and it was time that would bake me to done.

The basket of 'ie'ie scratched at my armpit heated and in want of hatching no doubt. "Soon," I reassured her. "Moments only." A low rise of two wooden steps made a welcomed stoop. A pair of high-heeled shoes the color of caramels with straps used to lace around slender ankles lay to the right of the door. Next to them a pair of boots stout and worn leather creased across the box from movement. On the left wooden clogs with tops of heavy canvas a deep orange nearly red. Splatters and dusting of white smudges painted the orange canvas. I sat on the landing after setting the o'o against the front wall, untied my sensible black boots and placed them beside the canvas-topped clogs. Now in my socks, at the last minute I pulled them off as well and tucked them into my boots.

Knowing the protocol for visiting I called out, "Helloooo ... hu'i," refraining from knocking I stood back from the door but not before checking: pin in place,  kihei draped, o'o fully extended. I heard the creak of footfall from the floor inside. The door opened in and I was greeted by a tall silver-haired man who towered above me. Dressed in black trousers, a shirt of silky red and a familiar fitted waistcoat Raven smiled. "Just in time," he had dressed for the occasion as I met his smile with the hand that held the o'o.   A wave of energy crossed between us. Images of molten lava, steaming new earth. Quick. The smell of sulphur. I felt for the lei po'o but it was gone and so too the o'o. Raven wore no gloves in this room revealing instead long fingers and flesh of the deepest tones. Ehu as the tree skin of mahogany polished smooth. There was no resisting, I caressed his face with the back of my palm. "Beautiful." Entranced though I was, once inside the door closed behind us, I saw a pair of purple slippers embroidered with designs of black and gold swords. Nearly invisible because it was stitched in purple threads, a cauldron. The old Gypsy woman was here, too.

This room was surprisingly large, two rooms actually with a split of curtains separating the sitting room from a kitchen. Not a duplication of The Safety Pin Cafe below, but similar. The old Gypsy woman sat at a table with her back toward the entrance of the room. A floor to ceiling mirror hung on the wall behind the table. A table cloth of pale leaf green covered the square table. The four square wood table legs stood like carved trees. Silver place settings were laid for four, a fork, spoon and knife beside smoothly polished plates of wood. Raven pulled a chair out for me, "This one," he said and waited for me to sit to the Old Gypsy's right.

"I've been so impatient to help," the Gypsy said. "I've lost so many faces in my time, it's nearly ... nearly ... impossible for me to wait to help. I stir and mix up fixes before a faceless woman is ready. Fixing is my job you see. I was born to it." I liked the face I saw next to me and the reflection in the mirror spoke of honesty. She was well-suited for her work. The lines in her face were expertly concealed with a well-applied face paint. "I love the color of your hair," I said finally settling into my seat as I rubbed my feet together. Sensible boots were well and good, but always, the feel of toes and unencumbered ankles: my favorite. "Thank you. The color makes me feel myself, and I'm just glad to have the coins to pay for these treatments. My kind of medicine you might say," she was a cackler and a toucher, too. In spite of my often detached nature, I was at ease with her and felt myself relax. "It won't be long now," she read my thoughts. "Funny how we come to learn what we need in unexpected places." again with the cackles. "And timing?" I asked her. "That, too," she said this time simply nodding.

A clatter of plates and a comfortable rhythm of chatter came from the the room beyond the split curtains. The sort of curtains I'd expect to find in a sushi bar allowed me to see bare feet moving in time to the chatter. Every once in a while I'd see Raven's stockinged feet. Finally, the indigo blue sushi bar curtain parted. Raven came first with a steaming pot of what smelled like hot milk and vanilla on a wooden tray. Big china mugs of assorted colors, sky blue, sea foam green, wet dirt brown and sunrise orange filled up the tray as he headed toward us. A woman, I guessed at her gender, followed. The lei po'o of red lehua -- my lei po'o encircled her head. A mask that looked to be made of leather fully covered her face. A wooded heart hung around her neck. A cape the color of a near-winter forest hung loosely over her shoulders. She carried a large pie, and though I could not see her face I felt an equally large smile walking our way. The last through the indigo curtain was a dainty framed cook with brilliant blue eyes and a chef's apron to match her eyes. Her bare feet gave away ancestry as they nearly touched down with each step. The silver hat pin was all she carried.

"It's my first pie," The Faceless Woman said as she settled the hot pie onto a quilted hot pad. The chef stood beside the last of the empty chairs, waited for Raven to circle and accepted his courtesy. He pulled the chair out, pushed it under the chef as she sat. Raven poured hot milk with vanilla for each of us and pulled from his waistcoat pocket a tiny silver shaker. "Cinnamon," he asked.

A woman's first pie from the sky is always a time of ritual passage. Not quite the same as celebrating the passing of first blood, a first pie is an occasion to recognize maturing. Sipping the warm milk I watched as memories long and short swam from the steam in front of me. A tent of blankets; a walk on sandy beaches -- white, rocky, warm and cold. Next to me, The Old Gypsy Woman sipped and ripe globes of pomegranates and tomatoes, rich dark coffee and children blond as sunshine. From the edge of the leather mask, the steaming cup of hot milk rose softening the face covering revealing a chin, the flesh nearly transparent. "Sip it, sip it, sip it," we chanted to The Faceless Woman. At first softly, we encouraged her. "Sip it, sip it, sip it. From the bottom up, sip it, sip it, sip it," With each enchantment the leather became her, forming a chin, then lips that could ... sip.

"This is a stop over place, The Safety Pin Cafe," the chef said as we watched The Faceless Woman empty the mug of warm milk and vanilla. Raven refilled her mug and sprinkled more cinnamon. "Not every one finds this place, it's easily missed among the distractions ... this and that, either or. But, many do find us and we never turn people, mostly woman, away." In the chef's hands the silver hat pin had transformed once again this time into a pie server. She handed it to The Faceless Woman and said, "I believe this is yours." An inscription on one side of the pie server read, "New Moon in the Archer. The sky is the limit" Tears fell from beneath that leather mask dampening it. Each tear turned leather to flesh forming one cheek, and another. "Time to cut the pie, and serve us each in turn. But before you do, these three will add one ingredient ... a wish, a prayer, a story," The chef looked at us: The Old Gypsy Woman, Raven and me. "This may take some time a very long, or very short time," said The Chef. With no hesitation there came, "It makes no never mind to me. " It was The Woman less faceless who answered. And we in turn began ...

Once there was, and once there was, and once there was not ...

The Safety Pin Cafe and The Joy Weed Journal are Copyright Protected(c), 2012-2013
Yvonne Mokihana Calizar 


  1. oh yah..the Gypsy woman loves this..

  2. You know there's always a seat for you in the cafe. Thanks so much for showing up!

  3. A wish...

    I wish for the medicine to heal the sad and lonely, to soothe the minds that race and distort. I I wish for a salve to quiet the anxious and the sick and a tincture for the delusional and disquieted. I wish for a medicinal pouch to bring peace and serenity to those shaken and harmed and a secret blessing for those facing losses. I wish the Safety Pin Cafe would lead folks to a better place and heal their souls like the apple pie healed the faceless lady. the gypsy


Your positive words are welcome here.