Sulee--A Lizard's Tale
There is something about this book that I really love. Sulee, the main--and very wise and helpful--main character just touches my heart in so many ways. He blindly enters a world he knows nothing about so that he can obtain the next level of his training, and he goes far, far beyond what he was destined to learn. The novella is set in the canyon-lands of the Southwest over a thousand years ago.Hope you love this little guy as much as I do!
Price includes USPO standard book rate shipping. If you want to get a copy faster, you can also order it on Amazon.Paperback, 166 pages
Many Kites Press
Excerpt from Sulee--A Lizard's Tale
She called me “Little One” which, had it been any other human besides my girl, I would have found insulting. I am, in fact, not that small for a lizard. My skin is fine and smooth, the color of desert sand and stone; I find it is to my advantage to be both small and the color of all that is around me. I can travel anywhere and remain invisible when I choose which, in the story I have to tell, did indeed give me the edge needed to do what needed to be done.
My real name is Sulee. I am descended from an ancient line of lizards who have roamed this earth for thousands of years. The name, Sulee, I share with my grandfather and great-grandfathers stretching far back in time to when life on earth first began. We small four-leggeds have often been disregarded by other races, thought to be inconsequential in the larger cycles of the world. In fact, and I speak with a humble voice, the small ones have often played roles of great consequence in the history of the world. Our race has consulted with gods and with the priests and priestesses of gods for eons—never mind our size. We have been present at great events and small, often invulnerable, because who would think a tiny lizard had ears—or sight.
This particular story I tell now is an unhappy one. It takes place in the land of sun and sand, in the canyon lands and deserts of the great southwest. My part in the story is a small one, taking place over a few short months compared to the long span of time it takes for a mighty culture to rise—and fall.
But I rush ahead.
Have I failed to mention that every lizard of my species is born with perfect memory of all that came before? My brain, though no larger than a human thumb tip, and these dark eyes in my head, like small black beads, are absolutely perfect instruments. You see, what few humans know is that in the river of time there exists a cache of memory which contains exact imprints of the world at every stage of its development. This cache holds the history of animal and plant, of creatures come and creatures gone, of those that crawl, those that fly—and yes—those that walk on two legs. And my race alone (or so I first believed) is able to drink from this river.
We Sulee lizards are known for our wandering ways, for our wisdom, and for our unquenchable desire to interfere with the doings of earth’s lesser creatures, especially humans, those unfortunate unseeing animals.
Grandfather tells me we do not interfere—we serve. Until meeting my girl I had no idea what he meant. Until meeting Lela I mostly pitied the human species. The story I tell is her story.
It happened the year I achieved the Sulee title. Every lizard of my clan must enter training when they come of age. When we have reached the third level, we are given the name of our grandfathers—Sulee. This esteemed title means ‘He Who Sees’ in our language. According to our ancient laws, a lizard who achieves Level Three must go out into the world to do a service mission for some other race before we can move toward even greater levels of knowing. This mission is taken very seriously by our Elders. We are commanded to go alone, to wait for direction from higher sources, and then to do what is necessary when the path is clear. All of these tasks are necessary to achieve Level Four, the age of wisdom. Our Elders tell us that without awareness and action, there can be no wisdom. Yes, the Elders of my clan believe that a young Level Three Lizard cannot learn to serve only within the nest of his clan but must be active in the doings of others.
Because we make our home on the backs and in the caves and crevices of The Stone Clan, we are their brethren, sometimes their eyes and ears. We transfer the knowledge held only by the Stone People to others. It is not an easy task and requires that we make full use of our faculties.
My grandfathers and grandmothers did not make light of my first undertaking into the world. They spent many days and night making me ready. They taught me the proper songs and rituals, they tuned my ears to correctly hear and even speak the language of the Stone Family as well as the clans that move or root or fly. I was proud to leave the fun and games of my childhood and to enter this training. I also did not make light of my studies.
When at last the day arrived for me to embark on my mission, I felt ready. I had no idea where my path would lead but left home alone, as directed, and wandered north of our homelands toward the City of the Sun. The Elders had said that I would not have to find the mission—that it would find me. They were intentionally obscure in their directions. At the time this made me anxious but that, too, is part of the coming of age of a Sulee Lizard. We must learn to read all that is around us in order to correctly choose a path.
For the first days after leaving, I simply followed my eyes. I went toward giant outcroppings of stone, climbing their heights to better feel the wind and sun on my back. I went down into gullies and washes still damp from a recent rainstorm and listened to the small creatures and plants that emerged from the earth only after the rains had come and gone. My senses seemed to expand outward further and further, taking in the scent, sound, and sights of this beautiful desert land that is my home. When I slept, I dreamed. My dreams were so vivid—of black rivers flowing, of multiple suns rising and setting, of the pale green of the cactus and the yellow of a single flower running together into liquid pools of light. Sometimes, I awoke panting with excitement. I sensed I was coming closer to my goal, coming within range of the mission that I was to undertake.
The Elders didn’t warn me, however, that a Sulee lizard was capable of falling in love with a Human Girl. That I never expected.
The first time I saw her, she stood alone atop a bluff wearing a simple pale shift, her arms uplifted as she tossed cornmeal to Father Sun. I had not ever seen a human—only heard the many stories from my earlier, cloistered life. I watched, fascinated, as those slim, brown arms stretched out toward the sky, the long fingers moving gracefully as she made her offering. Although fascinated by the sight I must admit now with some degree of shame that my first real thought was of my belly—and breakfast. The cornmeal looked delicious.
It was early. The sun had barely warmed my length enough to give movement back to my stiff, cold body. For many days and nights I had wandered without taking the time to eat, so I went to sample the cornmeal she tossed. As I grew nearer, I chanced to look up at just the right moment and there, in her fine smooth brow, in her dark eyes, in the way her tongue touched her lips, I recognized a sister spirit in the too-human creature.
To this day, I cannot adequately describe what happened. It was the strangest sensation, to look into human eyes and see a Sulee relative. How could this be, I wondered? In that single instance, I knew that she, too, drank from the river of time—she could see.
I was transfixed both by the sight of her and by my own churning thoughts. The Elders had not prepared me to find a sister among the human creatures. The girl pulled more meal from a small pouch at her side and she sang, her voice taken up by the wind and carried over the cliff and down into the canyon where it connected to the stone walls. Suddenly, I was hearing the language of the Stone Family in the singing voice of this human girl child. I knew instantly that she and my mission were connected.
My appetite fled. The cornmeal (or rather the small insects feeding on the cornmeal) suddenly held no interest for me. I scurried south again as fast as I could in search of my Grandfather. My confusion was so great I willingly (and rather quickly) broke the first code of my training (to go alone) and scurried home to ask Grandfather a critical question.
When I found Grandfather Sulee, he was asleep on a rock, not even his toes moved. I woke him up and he opened his eyes, blinking a few times to shed the fine sand still sparkling in the lower rims of his eyes. He saw me.
“Ho Grandson,” he said. “What are you about? In such a hurry that you don’t let an old lizard rest?” Grand-father shook himself a little and then said, “I thought you were gone on your service mission.”
I wasted no time explaining. “I am gone—I mean I was gone, but I have seen a girl offering yellow cornmeal to the sun—praying. I heard her prayers, Grandfather—and I recognized her as a relative. She speaks. She sees.”
He laughed at me, coughing a bit, this time to clear the sand from his throat. “And so . . . ?
Grandfather used words sparingly, always leaving a sentence hanging there like a bird aloft. I was actually panting whether from my early morning run or excitement, I cannot be sure. “So . . . how is it possible? I cannot have a human sister.”
Grandfather coughed—perhaps it was a laugh—I’m not sure. He said, “Sulee—have you learned nothing from our time together, from your training? Whatever is the matter with you?”
“What do you mean, Grandfather?”
“Pah,” he snorted at me.
“Tell me what I have done wrong, Grandfather?” I begged.
He raised his head and looked at me. “Lie down and quiet yourself, Sulee. Your great ignorance distresses me.”
Even had he not commanded me to lie down, his words would have laid me flat on that warm stone. I felt cut.
“Close your eyes, Sulee, as you have practiced these many months.”
I closed my eyes.
“Now, breathe slowly, deeply . . . yes . . . that’s right; and now open your other eyes you foolish creature. And look.”
Grandfather’s words must have cracked the final crust away from my inner eyes, from my seeing. I relaxed, closed my eyelids, and breathed deeply, slowing down all of my systems with care and attention. I felt every inch of my body, of the stone beneath my body, of the earth beneath the stone, and of the place above where the sun resides. My body grew heavy and then heavier still, as if made of stone, thick and weighted. Then my inner eyes rolled open . . . and I saw.
Although I’d practiced this inner maneuver a thousand times or more under Grandfather’s tutelage, never had I experienced it quite this way. It is nearly impossible to describe. I no longer heard Grandfather or the birds around us or the humming wind. I had gone into the seeing, into what appeared to be a deep cavern where the river of time flows on forever. It is unbelievably big—this seeing—and so quick. In a flash I saw centuries skitter by, distant lands forming and flattening, creatures come, and creatures gone . . . some never to return. And then my wide vision narrowed, growing thinner and thinner, closing out such vast expanses of time until I saw only the girl, her mother, their village—and the dark one who ruled over them. I clearly saw his evil . . . and her light. And in this cavern of seeing, the girl looked up at me, smiled, and said, “Hello, Little One.”
Her uncanny greeting was my first and only experience of seeing not just the past as it flows behind us—but the future. It popped me instantly out of my trance, and I was again staring at Grandfather. He stared back at me, nodding his head in approval.
He explained that not all humans are blind and deaf to the larger realms—only most of them. He laughed and laughed at my shocked retelling of all I had seen. I was actually trembling. “But how could this be?” I asked. It was inconceivable to me that I could be related in any way to a human. I pleaded for an explanation.
“Dust and dirt,” he said.
“We are all made of the same material, Sulee: dust and dirt and water and sun and sky. Just as the girl’s cornmeal, though ground to powder is still corn, we are all still dust and dirt. We are, in truth, all related.”
I must have blinked and blinked as his words settled into an explosion of understanding. “Of course,” I said.
“Of course,” Grandfather said. “Now, look again. I think you will finally see as you have been taught to see.”
I sunk again into the huge cavern where the river of time and memory flowed. What I saw made me first wonder—and then laugh aloud. I saw the girl’s mother making dough—I saw only her hands, kneading and reshaping, and they were forming bread, forming centuries, forming life—from mud.
After my unexpected (and very effective) lesson, I was anxious to return to the girl to explore this new understanding, to see how I was to serve. With some admonishment, and a reminder of the code of solitude on this mission, Grandfather sent me back to the city of sand and sun. He said it would be my test, my rite of passage, to see in what small ways I could serve these larger events—and I was not to come home again until they were finished.
How different the outcome would have been had I, like some of my race, been better able to see not only what had passed but what was yet to come. Perhaps I would not have been in such a hurry.
But the story must be told in the way that it unfolded, in all its glory—in all of its horror. The story must be told because it is a story that will play out again and again across the world—even in your world.
The girl’s name is Lela which means ‘Laughing Water’ in the language of her mother’s people. Yellow Robe is Lela’s mother.