(I want to hear it read)
Before the boats with white sails came from over the water, there was a forest that extended uninterrupted from the eastern sea to the vast plains of what is now called North America. Where waves met land, a day walk inland lived a family of large cats in a high wall of caves that overlooked a tributary where three rivers converged. Surrounding those silver snaking bands of water stood a grove of sycamores that covered the base of the canyon like giants.
It was the evening when the moon was but a sliver under which a female spotted cat wandered from high cliff caves into that grove of ancient trees at the river’s edge to begin the labor that would result in the birth of her kitten.
She selected her favorite tree. The largest of the sycamores she had climbed since she was small. One that provided a branch high enough so that she could nest safely from ground predators, and yet, low enough to give her an escape should the need arise.
It was the custom of her clan of cats to give birth in these trees. As her mother had told her, a small life is influenced by the companions who witness their arrival. These trees were majestic. Their blessing was considered richly magical. The cats and the trees were friends.
As the sliver of the moon rose above the cliffs facing her, she also noticed lightning bolts sparking far upriver where the cliffs form a V. A small distant sound of the rumble of thunder reached her ears. She thanked the spirit of the Earth that she was far from that danger. Yet, the lights were spectacular. The sound was exciting.
She felt the pains of her baby wanting to see the world. The birth was quick. And within minutes a small wet furry creature was in the crook of her arm as she cleaned the birth sac from the kitten’s eyes and face.
She purred as her kitten opened her eyes. Then the rumble of thunder occurred again but now seemed much closer. And continuous. It was a rumble that penetrated into the tree. The leaves began to shake. The thunder grew as it echoed from the canyon walls louder with each breath. It sounded like the beating of one thousand drums.
Then she saw it. A wall of water swooped from around the bend, smashing into groves of river trees, ripping many of them from their ground, smashing them into the sides of the river banks, sweeping over the meadows, washing into the walls of rocks. This churning, turning water came toward her faster than cats can run. This water was alive, carrying logs, rocks, and mud scrubbing every loosely held thing away from the valley floor. The wall of water ran under her and rose to where she had nested. Within breaths of the kitten's birth, mother and child were separated, torn apart by currents of cold, bitter water trying to pull her into the depths.
Far above the water line stood a line of cats at the edge of a cave watching this scene in disbelief.