The Corn Lily Woman
Story and illustrations by Elizabeth Heyns
Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl who lived in a small village in the high mountains, near a big meadow beside a river. Men were used to hard work in the fields: they worked all day long to get the food for their families. She was restless and young and liked to feel the warm sun on her body, which was young and beautiful.
She was happy with the way she looked and with the life she led, but she was getting close to the age of marriage, and she would soon be given to a young man in marriage. She was not very happy about that, because she saw how ugly the bodies of the women in the community became: thick, big, heavy, old, and worked out. But her family married her to a good man who worked hard and lived nearby under the big shade of a beautiful pine. He was very much in love and gave her many children.
Because of all her childbirths, she lost her nice figure, and because of all the work she had to do to take care of her children, she got very strong and heavy. Her early doubts showed up, and she was afraid that she had lost everything that was worthwhile in life: her gracious figure and her youth. But she realized that she was the happiest woman on earth because of her love for her husband and children. They lived in an open area, surrounded by tall grass and other neighbors like Indian Paintbrush and, further away, Lupines. Many ants, spiders, bees, and grasshoppers liked to play and tease them, leaving them sores and hurts. So she protected her children from evil under her wide skirt, and tried her best to make the lives of her children beautiful. She had good times with them, and felt beloved by her family, so she danced and danced, moving her skirt in circles and spirals.
She taught them who they were, and about the earth from which they came, and she showed them where they were going, to the sky above them. They grew with a very strong and healthy self-perception, and with a strong esteem. So her children grew big, strong, and healthy, and as they were growing, they began to leave her and to have a separate life from her. For every child she had given birth to and who had gone away, a beautiful little flower grew on her head, and it looked as if she had lit a light in a crown on her head. This way she would remember her children all her life. So before she knew it, she found herself alone, with a crown of lights that were lighting the sky, like little white flowers with a greenish heart. There were hundreds.
Finally she saw herself like she had seen the older women in her village when she was a child, but she realized that she was satisfied and happy, and that she had done what women had done for centuries: perpetuate their strength, their beauty, and their wisdom to the new generations, and that this would finally give significance to her life, as well as happiness and peace.
Then she knew that it was time to get back to herself, to find her soul, which grew from the earth and was so bright in the sky. Finally, she felt complete with her earthly body and her shiny head and lived in love and peace.
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