Palm Oil

The proud old woman shuffles towards me, an upright collection of skirts, shawls, and softly chiming jewelry. Her face, though lined with the creases of time, has settled handsomely on her bones.  Her eyes are still clear and bright, and I feel a tingle of expectation trill down my spine. She stops an arm’s length away, and I rise from my position on hands and knees to a semi-kneeling state and brush the garden dirt from my hands. Our silence stretches on for slightly longer than is comfortable, but I’m not willing to show any disrespect to this honored elder. Still without speech she reaches for my soil stained hands and I extend them, now greatly confused.

She stares intently at our joined hands, turning mine this way and that. The more she sees, the more her gentle smile grows, until her strong white teeth are gleaming in the morning sunlight. Finally, after what feels like a lifetime of silence she speaks.

“These be Witch’s Hands! The soil sings back to you.” All I can do is nod my head. Releasing my hands she gently frames my face. Her hands are velvet driftwood. Our eyes lock, and I swear I see a glow in those ancient sea foam depths as she continues in a hushed whisper. “When the storm comes, do not run from it.”

I jump as a mighty crash of thunder breaks the formerly crystal sky, and rain begins to fall. A flash of light I swear comes from the lady herself, and she’s gone. Like a figment of my imagination, but as I stand in the badly needed downpour, I hold in my palm a small ancient bottle of oil.


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