Owlie bird

January 12, 2012 at 9:02 pm (brood, crossroads, life! a lover!)

The earth has taken almost a complete wander around the sun since my last lonely letter into this void, and a number of things have changed.

A family has grown up around me the way that I’ve seen old trees grow around old bicycles. Just now a gorgeous woman has her legs tangled with mine, my hands working to remember how to form words by manipulating a series of buttons, hers busy in her knitting. Three daughters are off at three different schools, and tea is cooling in our mugs. Stepmotherhood suits me well, if I’m infrequently as evil as I may have hoped.

The youngest is five, and in accordance with her grandmother’s and against my wishes, attends a Catholic school. Proper theology, I think, I could stand. I was taught by nuns myself, which left me with a rebellious streak, a lean in the direction of weird mysticism, and, no small thing, educated well enough that I was capable of educating myself. But sometimes after school while we walk to the bus, her hand held in mine, she chatters away, explaining nonsense like, “it’s raining because Jesus is crying.” So I try to give her other options, like maths and science the school incorrectly thinks too advanced for preschool, really good books, strange old gods, and shiny bits of magic.

While picking her up after school yesterday, one of the other little girls asked her who I was. “That’s Jack,” she explained. “Jack is one of my moms. I have two moms.” My partner and I shared a smile over it. I’ve only been living with the bairn for six months, so it still (and might always) feel like I’ve won a prize when she calls me her mum. And that she explained it simply, and the other girl didn’t think to make much of a fuss over it, felt nice. Our youngest doesn’t have much need of words like lesbian or queer, but she does know that there are two of us who will make her oatmeal in the morning, read her stories, take her to the doctor, convince her to eat her vegetables, take her for walks in the woods, and listen to her made up songs, and that would seem to be enough for her to like explaining it and want to brag about it a little.


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The Dead.

November 15, 2010 at 11:52 pm (crossroads, fishmongering, the ancestors)

For Halloween, which happens to be the anniversary of my lovely roommate’s birth and of my conception, we covered the house in dead leaves, cobwebs, feathers, and bones. We filled apothecary jars with a cocktail made from rye whiskey, applejack, and cider, and an ornate punchbowl with a champagne cocktail made with creme de cassis and chambord and fresh blackberries. Dressing up, as one must, I did what I could to represent the god Pan. I wore a flesh coloured nothing of a dress, a vintage fox fur stole, pheasant feathers in my hair and a jutting folly of a broach made of oak leaves and dangerously long pheasant tail feathers across my clavicle and over my shoulder. I went barefoot, and had gold dust on my face and on my hands. We had food, drink, and sweets to offer to friends, strangers, and any ghosts who might arrive, but, for the most part, only the living seemed to have been very thirsty.

The house in which I live does, however, have its ghosts. At times I hear the sounds of neighbours moving about, the dragging of a chair on a hardwood floor, the opening and closing of drawers next door, in the master bedroom of a house that was torn down years ago. My roommate hears a woman weeping sometimes when I’m not home, and I feel a strange sense of apprehension at the space at the top of the stairs, just in front of her bedroom door. I only think it strange how mundane living with a haunting seems. I think of them less than my other neighbours, certainly. The dead are quieter; more civilised, too.

I’d seem to have received a promotion. I’ll be moving soon, as a result, to the store farthest away from the city. I found a big, spooky house across the street from a pretty church and a swamp. It’s all white walls, hardwood floors, interesting architectural details, odd angles, old glass, and strange closets. It feels like it has its ghosts, too.

And today, in preparing for the move, I opened the box of letters, photographs, and art sent to me by the people who have read the various incarnations of this blog in the last dozen years. I found a stack from the charming young lady with whom I’d been in correspondence for years before finally luring her to Philadelphia and making her my roommate. There were postcards and trinkets and envelopes filled with glitter from old, lost friends, and from people I barely remember. There were odd, rambling things sent from London in curling script so pretty that I can barely read it. I found pictures of me kissing the sender. Most of these things I discarded. I’ve kept a small pile, a stack of beloved paper ghosts.

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Too Many Crows.

October 27, 2010 at 10:46 pm (crossroads, crows, life! a lover!, Uncategorized)

In the European mythologies of which I am fond, the land is often personified, deified, implored or commanded or feared, as a horse spirit. Horses are not native here, though. The First Nations words used to describe horses all seem to translate as, “it’s something like a cross between a dog and an elk.” Instead, in the moments in which I speak to the land and hope to hear some mysterious rustle in the underbrush to answer me, I think of the deer that my family saw when I was small and we went for a walk in the woods on midwinter. It stayed still, and we were so silent that we barely dared breathe, and we watched one another from a distance so close that, small though I was, I could have reached to touch its nose. It was the truest form of reverence I’d yet known. I think of the bones of a buck, marked by beak of crow and tooth of fox, that I found scattered in the woods one year ago. The land here is silent and skittish, hidden everywhere, caught only in glimpses before bounding off, or crashing into your car at a high speed.

Three things, of late, have been happening.

My partner and I keep marvelling to discover that we’ve both managed to fall in love with someone who is actually good for us. How unusual. She’ll be moving closer to me in June, once her children are done with school for the year, and getting them here is a task which feels monumental and difficult, and like a truly worthwhile and romantic endeavour.

I’m being sent to a store far outside of the city, a sort of civilised fishmonger missionary to the savage and untaught. A promotion should be forthcoming, and once that is made official, I’ll have to move there. I’ve been saying for some time that I’d like to get out of the city, and, unsurprisingly, the prospect of actually doing so terrifies me. The bicycle ride from the train station to the store, however, is magnificent: trees dressed in their high autumn finery, streams bangled with bridges, crows cawing and white tail glancing at me coyly over their shoulders.

My lover and I have a mutual former partner, someone whom we both loved and love dearly. They no longer speak, and he and I speak infrequently, but I think that we have all been having one another’s dreams. Old scars throb. In quiet moments when we are alone, we feel one another tugging, wondering, waiting silent and invisible in a corner somewhere. There are threads of longing and hope and uncertainty and rage that pull at my chest, that tangle across the world. I’m not normally particularly psychic, but the three of us are becoming increasingly noisy.

So I surround myself with the bones of that buck when I work. Skull and antlers, coccyx and vertebrae and ribs, mark the boundaries of the real world. A trance often feels like something I chase, something I seek. This last time, before I thought I’d found the correct slumped ritual posture of the moment, I felt myself to be surrounded immediately by Too Many Crows. Too Many to see beyond, there was only the black of eye and feather and wing, innumerable black, staring eyes, filling the sky and the earth, keeping only the distance technically required by a small circle of bones. I continued in my usual methods of seeking, thinking the ritual best not broken, wanting to see how the Too Many Crows reacted. They followed. Under water, under ground, they followed. I flew and they gave chase too quickly, moving not like the gliding carrion seekers that they are, but fleet as thought. All of these small crows were one large crow, cells in an infinite body. I chased and they swallowed and kept flying, and their belly was the size of my circle. I thought of Cerridwen, and chose not to have been swallowed, but to find myself riding them, possessing them while they possessed me. There is meaning in this, simultaneously elusive and obvious as a crack in the windshield and a dent in the hood of your car.

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Horsies, and people up and down.

August 20, 2010 at 8:52 pm (adventure, crossroads, life! a lover!, seduction, the sky gods)

I made a pilgrimage to the north, to my lover, to celebrate the skies crashing down. She invited me to join her for this year’s Perseid meteor shower even before I was certain that I was to her what she was to me. She brought me there to meet her children and some small sampling of her immense band of relatives; certainly she is connected by blood, through a series of diplomatic, mysterious, and occasionally romantic ties, to half the North American continent?

We walked from her house to the river where we sat at the end of a dock, dipped our feet in, held her youngest daughter’s hands and let her play in the current. We collected smooth river stones. Had we chosen to swim the short distance across, we’d have climbed ashore in Canada. She took me through the woods, showing me tangles of brambles, high reeds, shifting sunlight, ogham carved in a birch, strange mushrooms.

And she took me out of the town in the middle of the night to a dock in the middle of a lake. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and clung to one another for warmth. Every three seconds a star fell, writing its name across the whole length of the black of the sky. I grew up in cities, you see. I’d have been amazed if they’d stayed still, impressed by their numbers alone. But she brought me there so that she could make the stars dance.

I made my way home in a small propeller plane, watching the sun pour itself in flashing sections from one bit of serpentine river to the next, from one lake to another, fire caught in the land, an undiminishing cordial shared as it is passed from cup to cup to cup. The earth split under me, showing the gold pulsing beneath. It hasn’t escaped me that water and land, sky and fire press close and writhe together when we meet.

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June 27, 2010 at 8:41 pm (books, crossroads, integrated pest management, the culture gods)

My mother is currently wandering Portugal with her gentleman friend, visiting vineyards and enjoying getting lost on old streets. They found a university library filled with ancient texts where, to protect the books from being damaged by insects, they release bats into the library every night.

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