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Chapter 15


Walking in the forest as a child I longed to be able to read - to read meadows, grasses, trees, bark, footprints, moss.  Many years of coming to the surface of the planet Dumbe gave me a keen sense of recognition.  I could walk in the forest without being bitten by insects or breaking out in a rash.  From time to time, I even ate a few plants by the path, fellow space travelers scattered from the other side of the galaxy.

I knew the characters of the forest, I listened to their songs, but I could not read their story.  I did not know their drama.  Here in Otoyk, I am learning to read and the write, learning to compose. 

I live and work in the home of my teacher, a famous artist.  This weekend, I went to a show of her work.  It was a fantastic exhibition of botanical arrangement housed on the sixth floor of the Great Circle, in the heart of the commercial district. 

Artists from across the city attempted to tell a story with nature.  Some works were glamorous, others outlandish.  Some harnessed the wildest and weirdest creatures of the forest for display.

My teacher's work was a small globe sitting in a dark wicker vase.  Reading from left to right, it told a tale of summer and fall, with hints of other seasons to come, a story made of wispy dreams blowing away and delicious temptations, ripe for taking.   It began with translucent dandelion puffs on graceful stems rising out of a sphere of dense green clover.  This became punctuated by rough green leaves that, reading further, burned yellow, red, finally jutting confidently into the air.  These ardent branches revealed gobs of juicy red berries.   The work was assembled from seemingly ordinary creatures and would have seemed quite natural in the woods.

My teacher used the language of nature, the language of these particular beings as they express themselves, in order to to write the story.

So I study the characters, I learn their drama, and eventually, I hope, I too will learn to write a play complete with a chorus of voices.