● One Bone

A poetic weaving based on the true experience of being attacked by an African lion…
By Lesley Walker-Fitzpatrick

Lion HeadI spent my early years on a cane plantation in Guyana. I miss being held by my childhood Nanny. I remember her in my body. The flow of smooth loving energy was one between us. Now as a woman in my honing years, visiting Jamaica, I feel the pain of distance, the ritualistic song and dance between Black and White, temporal rich versus temporal poor, the imbalance. My eyes reach out to see beyond the skewed masque to the soul behind. Sometimes eyes meet me for a precious moment of recognition and I am soothed within. I am seeking healing of terrible old wounds.

There are many ways to float in Jamaica. Let me remind myself: on a hammock under a pink blossomed hummingbird tree; in the waves, easy smooth sand and satin sea; upon a striped canvas sling deck chair sitting against a sky knife blue and kodak perfect; over a world, another side of the planet, canyons and hidden caves sharp safety for the rainbow people of the sea; in a clean chemical pool encircled by brilliant sun worshipping flower bushes. I am a mermaid trapped in a defining pool, freedom within perfect walls. We, the pale white ones allowed a few days to heal in the sun and caress of bird song sparked winds. A mind afloat on a spiritual vision quest.

Again and again there are ways to float in Jamaica. To catch and ride the inevitable energy of water bowing to it’s mistress, the moon. And when the wave is perfectly caught, you float like a freight train, the roar of the magnetic engine in your ears, straight to shore.

Years before I was enveloped by such an intensity of energy. I became blood sister to a lion.

Everyday I would arrive for rehearsal on the third floor of a building on Yonge Street, two flights above a strip joint. Doug Henning was the vibrant young magician who led the show ‘Spellbound’. I was Maya, The Goddess of Magic, his inner being made visible.

On his audition day they brought Jake the Lion up three flights of zigzagging fire escape stairs located on the back of the building. He had never been to Toronto before; never navigated stairs before and he had never encountered magic before. He faced all these new and bewildering experiences quite well, padding regally around the rehearsal hall. He took in all this unfamiliar stimuli with a turn of his head, a glance from his liquid amber eyes. I was not afraid of him. I wanted a connection with him, with his restless, graceful feline power.

The lion was standing in the doorway of the room I had to enter. Approaching from behind and feeling empathy for the lion, I gently, firmly, calmly placed my hand on his back to let him know that I was going to move past him. This kind touch released all the pent up angst he had been experiencing. His power thus freed, he used it to control me. I was turned to face him as if invisible hands had guided me around. He stood firmly planted on powerful paws, his tail flicking with the rhythm of a beating heart.

Face to face, eye to eye I was locked in a compelling force field that I could not break on peril of my life. I instinctively knew that if I so much as twitched a single muscle he would leap upon me. His hypnotic eyes held me motionless in a prison of golden energy. Beams of charged light ricocheted between us increasing in strength until they appeared solid. I was held in thrall.

We stood locked together, out of time, quivering on a threshold, in profound silence. We stood nine feet apart yet inexorably connected by his will. I broke the spell. Never moving my eyes, I planned to slowly, carefully move my right hand behind my back, grab the door and thrust my body behind it. The image of this idea had barely traveled through my mind when he leapt.

Like a tawny muscled rocket fired at close range, he closed the gap between us.

He came at me eye to eye. His great paws hit my chest, dragged down the front of my body and knocked me over. At the end of this one smooth move, he locked my right thigh in his determined embracing jaws. They say it was a terrifying scream that chilled the blood of those who heard it. I did not hear my own scream. It was but a faint echo, the shadow of a sound, heard as if from a very great distance and as if someone else had uttered the cry. I felt it from what seemed like twenty miles out through a tunnel.

On the other side of this time tunnel I hovered above the scene, watching. Super conscious. Unafraid. Curious. Amazed. Peaceful. In no pain. I saw myself joined to the lion below. Calmly I began to work to release myself from his jaws. My nail tore the soft edges of his gums. The edge of his tooth cut my finger. Our blood mingled in his mouth as our energy had in the magnetized air.

Help did arrive. Doug, wearing his resplendent silver boots delivered a hail of kicks aimed straight at the lion’s mouth. His attention thus diverted the lion eased his grip on my leg. Glenn, a stage technician, grabbed me by my feet and dragged me across the floor and out the door.

I had stopped breathing. Glenn knelt beside me and reminded me how to breathe. Inspiration, expiration, inspiration, I re-inhabited my body.

I was carried down to the second floor and laid upon a couch to await the arrival of the ambulance. Surrounded by a rainbow of feather boas, sequined bras, glittering g-straps, I found myself in the stripper’s dressing room. A chatter of concerned female voices encircled me offering their help. I was semi-conscious, floating in and out of this warm perfumed room. The ambulance attendants arrived to this colorful scene, transferred me to their stretcher and carried me out to Yonge Street under a dull grey sky.

A crowd had gathered to see who was being carried out of the strip joint. A swirling mantra of whispers surrounded me; “lion, lion, lion”, incredulous voices mingled with the traffic noise that assaulted my ear.

“What happened to her?”
“Attacked by what?”
“A lion?”
“At Le Strip?”
“Some new act?”
“Some act! I’d like to see that…”
“Imagine, a lion, God!”

There was astonishment amongst the hospital staff at my narrow escape. The lion could have torn my neck, severed major arteries or torn the vulnerable organs of my belly. But like an enraged lover, he gave me a firm warning bite.

Like a lightning bolt it struck me and suddenly I knew. I now understood that in a clean kill; Mother Nature spares her prey any suffering. In the lion’s harsh grasp I was conscious and I was concerned with my survival but I did not experience any struggle, terror or even pain. Instead, there was a feeling of eternal calmness. This was a stunning, revolutionary realization.

A miraculous message.

I no longer believe in the commonly accepted concept of cruel nature in the raw but have gained a great respect for the compassion of the life force we call Mother Nature. Even years later, when the memory of this extraordinary experience returns to me I am filled with awe.

If that is the power within just one lion, God, imagine the power of the universe! Imagine God A Lion.

In Jamaica, I remember my lion experience and share the understanding he gave to me. Lion eyes. To recognize, to see soul recognition, to fan the flame of recognition! Lion eyes taught me of the golden beams of energy that can flow through eyes, between eyes. But mine are injured now, trying once again to meet and see what is real. The Rasta man is a healing man. He looks for the true dream of all mankind as one under the gaze of the magnify-cat, the lion, King above all.

I feel the Rasta vision flow through the interior landscape of my body. It is warm and alive on a silken Jamaican evening. The soft current begins and centers at my heart then fills me, mind and loin, as if the sun were alive and pulsing in my soul. And I lay, ripe fruit for the tasting.

I float upon a fullness of time. A rich roundness, a perfect balance of firm flesh and sweet juices. In Jamaica there is enough time to flow and experience completeness. No problem. Life energy ever at flow, ever present, for the picking. Mother Nature has provided perfection, a fullness of constantly surprising beauty. Her Mind at play, all forms holy, in balance.

Tears pluck at my eyes, washing them clear of old ways of seeing. Old ways of being. I am turning white, I am turning black and I remember perceptions gleaned from time spent in a remote jungle: heaven and hell are entwined. They encircle and caress each other in a spiral dance that replicates the structure of DNA, sacred blueprint, red print, black and white print of life and creation. Could it be that heaven and hell love, each the other? I feel the pulsing pain of rust streaked hovel beside the rose entwined fortress door. The Black carver, sharp knife at his belt; “How can I buy my children shoes?” What does he want to carve…genteel, frail, White ladies in flowing flowered skirts, at tea on a sea porch of pleasure and privilege. They have a closet full of matching rainbow slippers.

Floating on a sea of color. Layers and swirls and surprising slits of color. Color so alive one could heal monotone highway eyes lidded and heavy from city skies. Wave upon wave of color, turquoise, aqua marine, navy stretching to a horizon soft from mists of ethereal violet before the reach of the sky.

I float, bone woman, standing on the infinitely pulverized fragments of ancient skeletons, rock and sea, silver sands. I float upon my own bones and see beyond my skin and flesh to the bone coast within. I feel the winds play clear musical notes through the hollow reeds of my bones. Dancing bones. Smooth beloved bones.

Jamaica you have old bones, old bones. My bones are conscious, they are healing. They give me a gift on my last Jamaica day. They show me a dance of creation. I am spellbound as I experience a shamanistic vision through my bones. Dinosaur bones prance within my legs and metamorphosize as I swim and dive, frog, fish, fey bones, I am winged, I am sparkling, my head rears above water and lion gold light flows from my mind to embrace the sky. I am one with all forms of life. My husband smiles as I emerge, dripping. “You enjoyed that swim didn’t you”. Granted the grace of a vision. We are one blood, one heart and through eternity, one bone.

Errol, healing man, man of God, Rasta, greets me on the road next leaving morning. We have both been transformed. “Lion woman, I am aware of who you are.”

“You see me and so I am.”