The Songs of Gods to Me
Sometimes I think I am insane.
Why would anyone sane adopt a child with AIDS?
It terrifies me to write this book. I am afraid. I am afraid of dragons.
I am afraid of losing my mind. I want something no one is allowed to have.
I want the mad ones. The children mad enough to struggle and survive. I want the children who have seen war. The children mad enough to question everything. The children who have had everything taken away from them. The children who are broken and mad enough to attempt to repair themselves. The children mad enough to spit and fight. Mad enough to laugh outrageously. Mad enough to make a music of their own. Mad enough to see themselves as individuals. I want children who will dance in rain. I want the mad, crazy ones. I want the ones insane enough to love hard, and brave enough to be vulnerable.
I do not know where this book begins.
I am haunted by deep, electric flashes of music, memory, dragons, and madness.
I was out of my mind to do it. The child was sick. I did say no.
I was fishing with my dog up at Navajo Lake on the Navajo Nation.
It started to rain. I don't fish in the rain. I want things dry and safe. I pulled my anchor up. I have a small Johnson outboard motor mounted to an aluminum rowboat. I beached it. The dog jumped out. A Navajo man about my age helped me pull the boat in.
A young Navajo boy stood behind the man, sort of like a shadow. The boy appeared to be about ten. He kept staring at me with sharp, darting, black desert eyes.
I had never talked with these people before in my life. We were the only people at the lake. The shadows in this place danced a choreography of darkness and light.
There was thunder in the distance. There was lightning.
Thunder, rain, and lightning are not insignificant events in this place on the Navajo Reservation. This high-desert sacred landscape of coyotes, rock, and jackrabbit. Thunder, rain, and lightning are gifts from Begochiddy, the sun god.
Begochiddy has given thunder and lightning to his son, Monster Slayer, so he might use these gifts to defeat the dragons who have been devouring the Navajo people. I believe in dragons. I believe in the power of the mythology I grew up with. Even if I am not entirely an Indian. My father was an Anglo. With skin as pink as peaches. Mythology is oblivious to the blindness of race. When you grow up surrounded by language and stories, you become the stories and the languages you know. The desert does not care who your parents were. Only people care about their genetic pedigree. I am a desert mongrel who howls at midnight moons.
The mountains around us are the sleeping bodies of the dragons. Evidence that the skeletons of mythology are real.
The Navajo know these stories. The Pueblo people and the Apache people know this mythology, too. They understand how old the mythology is. They understand the power of the enigmatic, and of things that breathe fire and fly about the midnight sky.
I did not know who the man and the boy were. And yet I knew exactly who the man and the boy were. Magic speaks to me.
I had to sit down. I was a little breathless, and more than a little bewildered.
My heart was racing. This could not be happening.
Yet it was. It was unfolding exactly the way it had unfolded at least a thousand times in dreams. Dreams of this rain. Dreams of this thunder. Dreams of this lightning. Dreams of this man and his son.
This was madness. I was losing my mind.
It was beginning to pour. The man suggested we could go sit in his truck. He had whiskey in his pickup if I wanted some. I did, but I declined.
The man wanted to talk to me. The boy said nothing. He was painfully shy. I suggested we sit in my jeep. I knew exactly what was coming. I had seen it all a thousand times, and I would wake up, drenched in sweat.
Excerpted from The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping by Nasdijj Copyright© 2003 by Nasdijj. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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