Imagination Protection: A Tale for Children of All Ages

Audio recording of Diane R. Wiener (author) reading “Imagination Protection: A Tale for Children of All Ages”

Author’s Note: This story is offered with great respect for the cultural contexts from which Amabie, Anansi, and Kali hail. Golem and I have been acquainted for a long while. I wasn’t aware until very recently that Golem, Amabie, and Anansi have been friends for lifetimes, or that Amabie might describe Kali as a cousin. Holodecks and Tardises, references from Star Trek and Dr. Who, respectively, are mentioned here as storytelling devices in the spirit of fandom and fair use. Thanks to C. A. P., J. P. H., and all of my friends, for their support.

Late one afternoon, Golem met up with her spirited friends, Amabie and Anansi. For a while, now, they had been gathering under a white birch—daily, at 3 p.m.—for a walk-swim-fly in the woods.

They chose that time to honor and celebrate the human children who were no longer getting off their school buses, because (these days) they were learning nearly everything from home.

Roughly a third of the adult humans naively confused Amabie’s name with the sweet shrimp they could no longer get, because all of the sushi restaurants (along with most everything else) had been closed down.  (Not everyone ate sushi, of course, and many who did could not afford it, to be sure.)

About a third of the human folx knew of Anansi as Nansi.  They thought, erroneously, this meant that Nansi was somehow in the business of solving teenage mysteries (in some respects, they were partially correct—just not about the Drew part).

Nearly no one knew about Golem, but the small number among the humans who did generally knew something of the lore—although they remained unaware that the lore was real.

One surprisingly warm afternoon in late March, the three long-time friends were gathered as smaller versions of themselves, so they could observe the crocuses opening from a close distance. That day, Golem, Amabie, and Anansi decided to create a portal or communication device of some sort, in order to be able to share their experiences and some peaceful intentions with the people.

While enjoying their potluck lunch of mist, daffodil leaves, and mushrooms, the trio mused about how none of them needed to choose Holodecks or Tardises to meet their aims.  They decided to use either transmigration or image projection to reach the humans, some of whom, after all, already believed in fairies. 

With their combined expertise, wisdom, and humility, the three friends discussed how images could be dream-based, and were not limited to visual options, so they picked that approach and settled into their labors of love and the specifics.

First, Golem, Amabie, and Anansi asked the hedgehogs to join them under the birch tree. Hedgehogs from all over the world rolled up to assemble. Gathered in their scattered groupings under the birch, the furry collective resembled pointy, unbruised fruits. Waiting patiently to learn more, the hedgehogs scratched their noses and raised their quills in curiosity.

Golem, Amabie, and Anansi puffed up some cumulus clouds, summoned a western wind, and welcomed the worldwide spiders, as the hedgehogs sat, wondering and still waiting. 

Then, as if handling soft toffee or marshmallows, Golem gently pulled and stretched the clouds, turning them into a gigantic screen.

Onto this cloud screen, Amabie directed the wind—with the wind’s permission, of course—to become a medium of image projection and transmission. The cloud screen and its wind associate would include and exceed access to all of the known human senses (and ones that were as yet unknown or unnamed).

All that they needed, now, was the images, themselves.  They knew that they were not in short supply, as far as imagination was concerned.  In that moment, they decided to dub their endeavor “Imagination Protection,” as they reiterated enthusiastically to one another that all offered, shared images would be necessarily multi-sensory and delightful. 

Anansi, who was a kind of spider, joined her spider kin in making a great web onto which could be stuck (but from which could also be easily released) image upon image of devotion, tranquility, absurdity, intrigue, and laughter. The web would act as a storage space for the images, as they were collected and continued to emerge.

The clouds expanded, the wind strengthened, and the web grew and grew, until the entire earth had a cloak of Imagination Protection that was sweetly fierce, vast, and timeless, suitable for all manner of peaceful dreams and post-waking consideration. 

The first images that Golem, Amabie, and Anansi created were silly but true stories about themselves, to introduce the humans to the idea that what the people had perhaps known as lore was real.  The trio chose this path out of amusement, rather than egotism.  It was a preliminary experiment to get things going.

Now reclining from her seated position on a high branch in the white birch, Golem went first. She explained (through a leaf constellation) that she was born of mud and to protect—but never in a patronizing way, and certainly not without a sense of humor. Golem paused, and shrunk herself even further in size, to rest against one of the leaves through which she had just been peering. She smiled at her friends, and she curled up in the green. Then, Golem breathed deeply, having noticed that the squirrels and chipmunks, who had been watching from a short distance, now joined them all, waiting to find out how they might be helpful.

At this moment, Amabie, who lived primarily in the sea, was floating in a small pool of rainwater under the birch tree. Through words and music, Amabie explained that she (like Golem and Anansi) could be nearly anywhere, and did not need to maintain a watery form or stay in a watery place. This explanation indeed helped to clarify (for anyone who may have been unfamiliar, prior) how she was able to be with the company in the wood, even when not floating in a small rainwater pool beneath a birch.

Amabie noted that she took seriously her responsibility to predict abundance and warn about disaster, sometimes at once.  She briefly mentioned her cousin Kali, who had a somewhat similar role.  Amabie burst out laughing.  Then, she grew quiet.  She turned to listen to the nearby insects and everyone else.

Anansi climbed way up into the web that she had spun with her spider kin. She looked down with gratitude at the hedgehogs, who were admittedly still quite curious about their purpose in this thus far fascinating endeavor. Anansi explained to the assembly that Golem and Amabie were her sisters, and that while the spider kin shared with her other concepts and ideals of family, everyone was family—not just here, but everywhere. All who were present sighed and paused.

Soon, the seagulls, the sea urchins, and the octopuses showed up, joined immediately thereafter by the herons, the otters, the ravens, the skunks, the slugs, and the muskrats, for the white birch had changed.  It was now of water and air as much as it was of soil.  Fire newts extinguished their blazing temporarily for the occasion.  They made a small fire pit a little ways off, where they could set up camp without endangering their friends.  Fire newts are well-known to be a very considerate lot.

The hedgehogs rolled out the news of the Imagination Protection plan, with an accompanying request for help.  The news and the request were then shared by and among all of the animals, plants, and stones; their modes of delivery were well beyond any one sense, sensation, or sensibility.  And, what of the request for help?  Anyone who was willing to do so was invited to share their multi-sensory images, to protect and support humans’ imaginations.

It was through these means that, over a relatively brief period of time, all of the animals and plants, the hills and rocks, the seas and lakes, and everyone else who was nonhuman in the world was at-the-ready to help make Imagination Protection come true, as a gesture of good will for the sake of humanity.  In these ways, collective and individual jumping, crawling, swimming, flying, being still, and so on, soon became the regular stuff of human dreams. 

About a gazillion images (perhaps more) got stuck to and were, in turn, released—with caring timing—from the great web. They were projected through wind onto clouds, with Golem, Amabie, and Anansi as the conductors, laughing with love, the whole time.

Published by:

Diane R. Wiener

Diane R. Wiener (she/they) is the author of The Golem Verses (Nine Mile Press, 2018), Flashes & Specks (Finishing Line Press, 2021), and The Golem Returns (swallow::tale press, 2022). Her poems also appear in Nine Mile Magazine, Wordgathering, Tammy, Queerly, The South Carolina Review, Welcome to the Resistance: Poetry as Protest, Diagrams Sketched on the Wind, Jason’s Connection, the Kalonopia Collective’s 2021 Disability Pride Anthology, and elsewhere. Diane’s creative nonfiction appears in Stone Canoe, Mollyhouse, The Abstract Elephant Magazine, and Pop the Culture Pill. Her flash fiction appears in Ordinary Madness; short fiction is published in A Coup of Owls. She has poetry and creative nonfiction forthcoming in eMerge. Diane has published widely on disability, pedagogy, and empowerment, among other subjects. She blogged for the Huffington Post between May 2016 and January 2018. Diane served as Nine Mile Literary Magazine’s Assistant Editor after being Guest Editor for the Fall 2019 Special Double Issue on Neurodivergent, Disability, Deaf, Mad, and Crip poetics. Since January 2020, Diane has been the Editor-in-Chief of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, housed at Syracuse University.

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