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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We’re all crows.

July 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm (bears, crows, the ancestors, the sky gods)

I have always worked with crow. The corvids lead me to and in my trance work. Even in this city in which there are no crows, they appear when I am attacked, when I take or leave a lover, when family dies or is born. They fly like a black tear in the sky through which these changes come.

When my father was dying and had his stroke, the words he spoke were disconnected from any meaning. Occasionally, with great effort, he could speak in riddles and symbols, and when we solved them he’d nod furiously, fatigued by our ignorance. In one of his last efforts, he called us all crows. He was annoyed at the end by the constant visitors, and wanted time alone with my mother and my sister and me. It was supposed that he felt like the extended family was picking over his corpse while still it breathed. But I wondered what it really was that his elf-touched brain was seeing.

When I go dreaming, there are black feathers and rasping calls. When I die, I’ll crawl off to let those birds pick my bones.

My older niece, who just recently reached the age of reason, spent the other evening in my company, and together we watched the sky. There were bats, fireflies, fireworks, stars. She hoped to see Ursa Major and Minor, or, as she called them, the Mommy Bear and the Baby Bear. And, as she has done several times before, she asked me about those birds, the black ones. She never speaks of them by name, only waits for me to offer, “You mean crows?” and solemnly nods her assent. She tells me that she is afraid of them. She tells me that she just doesn’t like them, that she feels like they are watching her, as if one day they might come after her.┬áIt was dark enough that she couldn’t have seen the odd expression that took my mouth.

Because, really, they might.

The Raven

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