Of How I Bit Back

“Death doesn’t frighten me. It’s what comes after. [Besides, some of my best friends are dead, and they hunger for stories].” ~ Terry Pratchett [and me]

 

My world remains full
of what you left me—bones
on my altar, books and stones,
the calaveras that grinned on my handfasting
cake (you weren’t here for that)

I miss you…

There are new things
on my altar and living—hearts
from friends, a bird skull
whose flesh and feathers fly
to you (its grin and bone
stay with me)

I miss you…

Newest, on my altar, wild offerings
for you—peanuts and (not so shiny) metal gifts
from a blue jay, leaves and petals and lavender
and rosemary from a witch made of gentle fire,
a shot of spirits (I will never forget)

I miss you…

The world remains full of what you left me, but
there are new things on my altar and living—
life bit, bit, bit… chunks out of my chest, but
I’m fighting, fighting, fighting back…

next year, when The Veil thins
again, when Soul and Flesh get to glimpse
into each other’s mirrors, I’ll share new
stories, Little Brother, of how I bit back,
of how I won, of how I’ll always remember

I miss you…

 

the wee notes…
– last night, I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the altar where I keep my Little Brother’s ashes, listening to his favorite music, speaking the tales of everything of importance (or trivial but humorous) that has happened to me this year. It’s how I’ve celebrated the life of my Dead for as long as I can remember, how I will add to their memory for a long as I breathe.

 

The Blood, the Bones, and the Soul of Memory

Have you ever met an older person who births smiles right out of your heart while making your soul say, “When I grow up, I want to be just like her?” I’ve met several of these wondrous human creatures (Yep, I’m that lucky). The latest one to guild my list is Ms. Francie—artist, retired teacher, professional smiler.

I didn’t talk to Ms. Francie for long, but one can learn wonders from spending the best part of an hour dismembering and re-stitching stuffed animals with the right kind of soul. Besides, the smile on her face and the ease with which she shares her hugs told me a world of tales that said she was awesome.

My Piano Man, my in-laws, the Little Princess and I met Ms. Francie at the San Juan County Fair (where my Mother-in-Law’s quilts won several ribbons… more on this topic later). Ms. Francie sat surrounded by scissors, needles, yarn, children, adults, and a menagerie of scissored stuffed animals.

“Would you like to turn them into something new?” Ms. Francie said to the Little Princess, presenting the head of a dog and the body of a bear.

The Little Princess grinned one of her mildly insane this-will-sure-rock grins, accepted a needle and a length of purple yarn, and sat down to stitch.

I was studying the scene, when Ms. Francie pointed at a small boy and said to me, “That material is really tough and his hands are too small for the scissors. Do you want to help him with that lamb?”

“Yes, ma’am!” I said, decapitating the lamb and handing the head to the happy boy.

“You should Frankenstein something too.” Ms. Francie grinned. My mind might be making up the next bit for effect, but I’m almost sure she rubbed her hands together. Or maybe, I just really loved that she used Frankenstein’s name as a verb. I mean, what’s not to love about that?

I, of course, accepted the kind offer. I already had the body of a lamb, so I needed a head. My Piano Man helped me find the head of a red-eyed frog. I stitched the frog’s head to the lamb’s body, dog paws served as ears, a wee headless body holding a mirror made the perfect tail. And then Frogenstein… “It’s alive!”
Frogenstein

Like I said I the beginning of this post, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Ms. Francie… but I will never forget her… not after telling you the tale of our time together. Stories are the blood and the bones of memory, when we write them and read them we give them souls. Shared stories will live on…

Below is the visual tale:

Of Arts and SmilesMs. Francie and one of her paintings
“This was such fun,” she told me. “I painted with my fingers, with my elbows… such fun!”

Stitching Stuffed AnimalsMy Piano Man was the holder of heads

Stitching Stuffed Animals 2The Little Princess half-way through stitching the head of a dog to the body of a bear

Tinker TentThe Tinker Tent was one of my favorite spots in the fair

Tinkering ManA tinkering man

Grandma and GrandpaMy in-laws in the serious business of ghoul-sitting Frogenstein and Polar Hiney… Yes, that’s the name of the Little Princess’ ghoulish creation, since it has the head of a blindfolded Polar bear for a tail (My Piano Man might have helped with the naming… So complexly creative, my sweet love *cough, cough*).

Blue Steel PoseMy Piano Man (and his “Blue Steel” gone wild pose) modeling my purse (creative and sexy!)

Chewing HayI met two farmers while I was searching for frogs. They told me that their crops kept disappearing. I told them that they had to stop eating it. They made a face. Fine, so the bit about the vanishing crops is a lie. But the frog search, that is real… and I shall tell you all about it in my next trip to Friday Harbor post.