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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 myself 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 in place as 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 the basket. "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 padded footfall of socked feet. 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. 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 the design was stitched in purple threads, a cauldron. The 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 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--a fork, spoon and knife, smoothly polished plates of wood marked places for four. Raven pulled a chair out for me, "This one," he said and waited for me to sit to the Gypsy Woman's right.
"I've been so impatient to help," she 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 foundation, face paint. "I love the color of your hair," I said finally settling into my seat as I rubbed by feet together. Sensible boots were well and good, but always, the feel of toes and unencumbered ankles: my favorite. "Thank you. Blond 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 patter, too who instinctively pat the top of my hand in a rhythm any mother recognized. 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 bear 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 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. 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. Raven held the chair next to me, touched The Woman's elbow to seat her and smiled in my direction. The chef stood beside the last of the empty chairs, waited for Raven to circle and accepted his courtesy and sat beside The Gypsy Woman. Raven poured hot milk with vanilla and pulled from his waistcoat pocket a tiny silver shaker. "Cinnamon," he asked. We all nodded for a sprinkle.
A woman's first pie from the sky is always a time of ritual passages. 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 emptied her mug of warm milk and vanilla. Raven refilled her mug and sprinkled more cinnamon. The chef continued. "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. Company worth keeping give us what we need, and all involved make piece with time." 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 Gypsy Woman, Raven and me. "This may take a very long, or very short time," said The Chef. With no hesitation there came, "It makes no never mind to me. " The Woman less faceless than before answered. And so each of us did in turn add a wish, a prayer, a story.
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
Yvonne Mokihana Calizar