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Tag: death

Of Human Skulls

Of Human Skulls

I never knew you, but I cannot bear the thought of you languishing in the dark, doomed to stare forever at rotting things and the dust of what you were. Down in that stale place, beneath the clink of my shovel, you shed your cocoon of wet muscle and became something else, a luminous pearl inside a coffin shell. You were not meant to be shut away like this—forgotten, wished out of existence, too vital to look on comfortably.

Within your sockets I see the blackness of the grave, as if it leached in and took up residence after your eyelids fell away. Were I to light a candle in you, let it flicker from your hollows, it would not banish the shadows that cling there. The mysteries you have seen—you are smug with them. I cannot look away, hoping some small trace of that blackness will leap from your eyes into mine.

I run my fingers over your cool topography, your cracks and ridges, the indentations behind your jawbone. These are the silent maps of your history, your formation in layers that fused and hardened like the calcium secretions of a clam. I feel the bumps of your teeth, splayed across your face in an upward-curving row. I will not call it a smile. A smile is an act of will, requiring the manipulation of at least a dozen facial muscles. Rot has stripped your will away.

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Dear Fall: You give me goosebumps

Dear Fall: You give me goosebumps

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, “Autumn”


Dear Fall,

You linger on my tongue like the tang of apples, cool and wet and utterly alive. Your colors are dazzling, but that’s not why I love you.

I love the way you rejoice in the coming death.

You drop your leaves as though they were nothing, to remind us there is joy in letting go. You expose yourself, naked to the coming destruction, and face it with anticipation rather than fear. Death is only cruel because you make it so, you whisper with the wisdom of the Crone.

Mist drapes you like sheets over unused furniture. Are you preparing for winter abandonment, or do you represent the yet-unexplored rooms of our souls into which we stumble when the veil is thin? You veil our eyes to unveil our hearts, so we may hear the questions to our answers. You remind us of the places between, where Spirit dwells. You restore our sense of mystery, keeping your secrets locked tight.

You are the moment between waking and sleeping, the last gasp before winter entombment. You draw out the energy that weaves all things together. Your scythe makes the world hum with life.

Never change, Fall, and always keep changing.


Featured image by Brandon Godfrey—Ross Bay Cemetery: Fall colors, CC BY 2.0