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Dreaming of Eyelashes Sequence
By Audra Coleman
I will tell my daughter one day how all my eyelashes fell out, how one by one they washed away into the sea becoming a meadow of seagrass for the turtles she loves, each follicle turned root spreading under the sediment forming a fluorescent labyrinth, each dark lash turned shoot rising in search of sunlight. I will press white petals into her hand and say, “They bloomed only in this color and only for a day.” I will tell her how those petals floated upon the waves until they returned to me the night of the hurricane, each lash still smelling of salt.
Apache Pine (Pinus engelmannii)
One day, perhaps when we are walking in the woods we love, I will tell her how the night my eyelashes returned, I was dreaming of towering conifers, their branches bowing down under the weight of pregnant cones, that it only makes sense, that upon waking, my eyelashes had emerged as long needles of Apache Pine. If she wants, I will show her the clippings, the newspaper photos, the one of the botanists and ecologists forming a line out the front door stretching down the street until it reached the post office. I will tell her for how three full days, they crowded the living room meter sticks in hand, each arguing over the exact measurement of every lash’s length. How, in the end, 60 cm was agreed upon and promptly recorded by their trembling hands.
When she is no longer a child, but not yet a woman, I will tell her how only when the house grew quiet again did the grandmothers arrive from red coyote canyons left off maps, how they travelled with tobacco pressed in palms, their calico pockets smelling of sage. I will point to the wooden floor and tell her, “They sat here, squash blossoms hanging from their wrinkled necks, their 9000-year-old hands using bone as needle to weave each Apache lash.” Only then will I put the basket of woven pine lashes into my daughter’s hands. “This is the basket they made for you,” I will say. “The one for the winnowing of seeds.”
I imagine my daughter will soon come to me, asking if she is finally old enough to paint her lashes with a wand of black. I know this day will come.
I will tell her, “You have no need for mascara. Only patience.” That as she swirled in a dark bath of amniotic fluid, she inherited her mother’s eyelashes. How this is true because I have dreamt of it, this passing of DNA, every year and always on her birthday.
I will tell her she is too young to remember, that she was only a baby when my lashes once again grew long, so long they held the nest of a mother robin. For days she flittered here and there in search of twigs and straw, meticulously placing each one in the crotch of two unwieldly lashes longer than a willow branch; that then came the layer of mud, another layer of thin grasses, one single strand of red wool. And, how one day, looking in the mirror, I saw them– three turquois eggs cradled within. For twelve straight days I was forced to sit statue still. With every move, the nervous mother flew frightened from the nest, her worrisome heart pounding out from her red feathered breast. And then, there they were, each fragile fledging a small beaker of life unto itself.
I will tell her how after two short weeks, one by one without thought they flew from their mother. I will snap my fingers and say, “And just like that—it was over.”
She will roll her eyes. She will demand proof. And I will be forced to show her the tiny shards of blue shell that must be periodically pulled from both my eyes.