Pantherwife No. 6

On a day when the snow lay frozen on the ground, when everywhere the sound of running, dripping, trickling water gave the lie to the frigid brightness, the Moonbuggy arose from her meditations (we will be respectful and call them this). She pulled on her red rubber boots and her white jacket all trimmed with fur and toggled together, and she walked down from her long-legged house to the shed where the prophet and the Marigold Woman sat.

“Good afternoon!” she said brightly to them both.

“I’ve got a word,” said the prophet.

“So have I,” the Moonbuggy returned. Where one the prophet might have scowled and doubted, today she barked laughter.

“I’ll bet you twenty-three-eighty it’s the same one,” she said.

The Marigold Woman--the Pantherwife, as we might call her--heaved a gusty sigh. Her dark eyes moved from the prophet’s crinkled smile to the Moonbuggy’s beam.

“You’re both going to tell me,” she observed.

And this--this is not what they said, for it is much longer than what they said, but it is the unfolding of the puzzle-box they handed to the Pantherwife:

My loves my lo-ammi! The world is sweet and dangerous, someone told me once. But I say to you what the bees of the north have said to me: you can see the darkness now because of your own brightness, not because it is getting darker. And the signification is this: you have two hands and you have two feet and the Almighty has not brought you to death yet. Salvation is a dress with red spots, and clad in that you are ready for action. Get out your trowel and your hoe, roll up your sleeves, and as your joy goes to seed take those kernels and plant them. Water them with warnings, work your sorrow (you will always have that sorrow) into the earth, take pages from that ancient book. I sowed, Apollos watered, and God giveth the increase, and so we who are panther children have nothing to fear, only to work.

If you remember nothing, remember this: you are already here. It is time to work for the sake of the bright silence rather than for your own hunger.

When this had been said, the Marigold Woman harrumphed at the others, but made no objection. Instead she fingered her wedding-band thoughtfully while she and the Moonbuggy watched the prophet light a cigarette.