It was at this time of year that the earth acupuncturist first came here. He is also a cranial osteopath and I went to see him on recommendation, as one does, in the hope that something or other might shift. He had two cats that worked with him. On my first visit the orange one jumped onto the bed where I lay waiting for treatment and sat on my stomach and the black one sat on the window sill close by my head and stared at me. On my second visit the orange cat sat by my head and the black one took up position on my stomach. I like cats, I said, on the point of asking him to move them. But he said they were his assistants and told him where he needed to focus. He had thin fingers that clasped my head and smelled of pepper and herbs. He had long magician’s hair and grew his own marijuana in earthenware pots. He liked to visit the houses of people with my condition, he said, to do a little work there, make sure that everything was healthy. He would charge a fee of fifty pounds.
When he came for the appointment he went first to the apple tree in the garden and stood underneath its blossoming branches where he took a tin out of his pocket and rolled a cigarette. He was having, he said, a sacramental smoke before beginning the work. He came with long metal rods which he stuck into the ground at various angles outside our house on the rough, unmade road. The neighbour’s children came to look and asked him what he was doing. He said he was making the road better but when he came inside he took me and my husband aside. There are black streams underneath the house, he said. The metal rods were to neutralise the negative effects and I would feel better soon. I told him about the underground rumblings in the other house in London. He nodded and said that he would have expected as much because that was what happened with people like me. You choose to live on the black streams, he said. You don’t know it, but you do.
It goes like this: we choose to live on the black streams in order to take the darkness and make it better. In doing this we use a great deal of strength and many of us become sick, unless we are cats. Cats, said the cranial osteopath, always sit on the black stream points in houses and if properly attuned will sit on a person’s weak meridian fault line so a healer will know where to work. His cats, for example, had properly located the line of my caesarean scar which might appear to have healed but appearances are deceptive. My cat always lay on my side of the bed which was directly over the black stream which ran underneath our house. The cranial osteopath couldn’t at that time (though he did subsequently) enlighten me as to what it was about a stream that made it black, or why people like me would choose to live above it, but I am artistic and I can work with metaphor. Do the black streams run in people too?
People keep telling me there is a reason for things that happen. I would like to be comfortable with this. Of course I understand that if you smoke two packets of cigarettes a day for thirty years you are more likely to get lung cancer than if you never smoked, that if you fall into a stream you get wet. If this, then that. Consequences. I know someone who puts her trust into something called the Universe. It knows why the lighting struck her house and shattered all the glass in the window frames and why her son fell from a tree and broke his leg on the first day of the morning of the holiday she had saved for a year to afford. She believes that the Universe knows what we need and that we are rewarded if we put our trust in it.
I don’t, but never mind. The streams are clear now. I picture them running like veins beneath the ground’s surface. Dark or light, I tap into them.