The Vibrant Lives of Dead Women

Although crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,

And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,

Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping place,

Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.

The lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,

These, these remain, but I record what’s gone. A crowd

Will gather, and not know it walks the very street

Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud.

(Yeats)

The women, those powerful and beautiful spirits, have been in mind, coming at night these days as dreams; appearing in fleet impression, as color at dawn, light in the illuminated marsh, the glow of sylvan winter silhouettes, perfumed wafts of presence, golden pink clouds at dusk in the melting snow and the erotic scent of daffodils before the floral overlay impresses the senses with spring. I miss them, but they embrace me now, unseen, but near.

Ruby appears less frequently these days, younger than her grandmother self, more generous with love than even the bountiful plates of chocolate-chip cookies she showered upon us as kids. She seemed so stern in the wee days. It never occurred to me as a child, that her taciturn appearance was the burden of pain, stress, and grief.

The softness of peace and youth on her coffin face shocked me as a young man viewing his first corpse. She looked beautiful and free. I wanted to weep, but didn’t know how to in those long ago days. Free now, her youthful grace and blue gray eyes befriend my man’s inner mind with comfort and companionship. It’s odd that as adults, we finally learn the true value of love given to our nurturing by the receding generations. Ruby is an advisor friend in the deep dreams, and I realize as never before the value of her love.

Her daughter, my mother, is but months gone. Her final years were distant from me and filtered through the machinations of her attempts to hide from me the extremes of her physical and mental degeneration, the desperation of her fear of Alzheimer’s, and the truly heroic challenges she overcame to be as gracefully in charge of her own affairs as ever.

Her brief phone calls were an extraordinary effort at normalcy, summoning every ounce of her courage, formidable intellect  and depth of heart to appear as ‘usual’ to protect a child she thought fragile, but who was really a tough and experienced man unknown to her mother’s vision. I know her fully every time cherry blossoms blow from their attachments and fly into gusts of air as swift moving clouds of elegant transience.

In lucid dreams, her visits are Bardo aberrations, where I reach out disturbed in her direction and am met with tear’d eyes of immeasurable poignancy. I want to heal, to comfort, to clear the path to light. I would be her parent, and wake shaken and upset that she is trapped by her own nightmare unaided by those who love her. I rage that no magic will on my part can create miracles, heal, restore, and bring comfort, even for an instant before the intense fission of dissolute creation.

I call her Spring now in my mind, and she is ever reborn in the most beautiful forms imaginable. Her life’s companion, my father long gone these years, joins her in the wild yellow mustard that covers miles of acres between the rows of grapevines in the lush valleys and lands they once loved together. She will haunt me until my grief is done; her own—- my imagination of incompletion.

Sister Jan went with the rich exquisite tones of Autumn. There is still no accounting for the rage at betrayals of the well-meaning who spoiled her last days and hours with their vampiric self-feeding of need and grief. It will take an eon for that angry energy to dissipate, because no forgetting or forgiveness, even for tragic allowance, is possible yet.

She lived with the horrors of cancer, until not. ‘Cancer survivor’ never occurred to her, even in analogy or mortal justification. She appears as a flowered garden when first she approaches in the late dream morning, and we describe hollyhocks, phlox, roses, lilies and so it goes until she forms, a vision from the depths of fragrance and riotous color.

The final picture of her life album holds close the last visit, in which she reclined on the green park lawn on a sunny warm day, bald head and amber eyes shielded by my straw hat, dressed all in white with pink flip flops askew nearby, and her favorite dog, Bodhi, curled up at her feet. She told stories. It was the last I saw of her, except for that quick glimpse of her back as she lay curled up on her bed; a view through the smoky din of the mourning parlor through a crack in her bedroom door.

She often comes in other dreams, sitting on the sunny porch steps warming herself in the light. We take a walk and she shuffles with pain, but is determined to go on, and I show her the morning glories and sweet peas that entwine the vegetable garden walls. She takes particular delight in the formations of brussels sprouts and purple tomatoes. She takes clippings from the scented lemon thyme, rosemary and tarragon. She is patient when I talk about the wonders of the new tractor, and I do the same when she talks of dresses, shoes, and fashion. We talk of poetry, and why men and women can be such close friends. I love her still; she–my lost muse.

Through the visionary, visits, and meanings we Spring ahead—that magical transition when America assumes direct command over time itself, and for one brief quivering ripple in the spectacle of our matrix, the conceit of practicality comes perilously close to revelation. But we never wake and think that by the miracle of adjustment, we actually assume more light. Damnation is hope, and hope is empty, except for the probability that out of random chaos, some ’miracle’ of the unknown will affirm our omnipotence by acquisition of that which seemed impossible or improbable.

Mardi Gras season is an appalling, artificial, grim glittering, gray time, dirty snow time. Time when grass lying matted and exhausted by the embrace of snow reappears from the weight of countless moments, dull and spent from the dormant season. The gray ways, warming to degrees, last longer and longer each day, and for that we impose the miracle of daylight savings time on the previous wonders of calculated astral configurations.

Post Mardi Gras is gutter time for all the marginalia of the pagan ancient. Those of us who see the vast stretch of centuries before the imposition of Christian suffering for our own good, lie there in the fallow soil of redemptive oppression among the cast-off glitter and artifacts of sensuous celebration, ignoring the bloody crucifixion that is said to be our only promise of triumphant resurrection.

There is no hope there for the old ways, so deep in the blood spirit before the gloom of sacrificial priests who substituted pains for grains. Instead, we look for the tips of daffodils, tulips, silla, and bloodroot—Gaia’s  resurrection gives our ancient vision renewal, sacredness, and a cycle dependable not on the brutalities of imposed and masculine imagined order.

All the celebrant altars now are draped with noble, sorrowful purple, and torture so symbolic for the soul has become the sacrament of a practical empire in its will to impose control. How appropriate it all seems on this particular spring day in late winter. Everything has changed. The paradigm of the American culture has shifted dramatically, and all those who had thought to fear the future are deemed prophets. Only now, the prophets speak to us in dreams, having left us in advance, and only then speak of simple everyday affairs which affirm life, and are mute to grand circumstance.

The fear was real, now true. But all the reasons were systemic in the very nature of the thought, not outside and alien. Fewer still, realize that the prophets have moved on out of the Mardi Gras of empire and have disengaged. It is the comedy hour of slapstick entropy for the once great, whose gravitas rests in the hands of a genius middle manager, and in opposition to a pack of vicious Malthusian clowns whose daylight savings hour extends by seconds on the eternal clock, the vibrant essence of decay.

Traces of the sacred code still lie on retreating snow sheets, beneath which grass reappears, and on which half-tunnels of the vole highways create extraordinarily energetic scraffitto patterns writ large over the meadow spaces. Then, when a heavy wet dusting of late snow appears to tempt spring, the little pocket stops along those nervous lines fill with mounded domes of white, and the effect from the air to the eyes of hungry raptors is that of a vast Braille of opportunity. As in nature, so would emulate Empire.

When storytellers gather in the ruins of a distant future to spin tales of these times, they will began with ”In the days that they once called the Ancien Régime, it was thus said…..” And in so doing, the storytellers will recycle, in particulars, the grand themes that describe the end of times for great empires and the countless stories of real people whose vibrant lives are otherwise hidden from accounting, except for those gifted with the telling.

Beneath the sweeping panoramas of spectacular heroines, heroes, villains and saviors who represent in great extension the passions of we, the ordinary, the nascent growth of Gaia’s rhythms are a poetry no longer heard by gods deposed by an angry sky father. Still, through the stories, the tips of those that will reappear in any event until the end of a cosmic springtime will manifest, will bloom, and in the beauty, will be forever immortal and a song to the sleeping will of existence.

 

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