The Spirit House

By Mary Bok | Oct 09, 2011

How can I be grateful for this absence you have left?

I could be if it became a place of remembrance instead of forgetting

— as if it were the very proof of your having been here, lived here, loved here. If it reminded me every day of my beloved and of my being loved by you until the very end, when you leaned back into the yellow flannel of your pillow cover, and reminded me once again — aloud and for the duration of that day, “I love you.”  Soon after that you were gone.

There was no breath coming and going. Like a soft, invisible needle, stitching your being into the fabric of my life. A patch over the worn and broken places — a blaze of color in the dark — a shield against the cold and a promise that all will be well again.

Now I sit in this unfinished place, which also contains your absence, and I see quite clearly that I still live. I breathe. I listen. I hope.

There is heavy dew in the grass; little birds sing and flutter in and out of this absence, their voices echo in the hollow of your wake.

They sparkle in the dark. They are the life that follows your path through the shadows of the valley of your dying.

Once it was an impossible sorrow that their song, their fluttering business could go on as if their life-as-usual, habits, somehow negated the very fact of your having been here, lived here, loved here. Died here.

Their joy seemed at first to cancel out my sorrow, belittling the pain of the loss I insisted on taking so seriously.  Were they mocking me do you think? Or were they only affirming the Other, the way things are and will be forever and ever, so that I will, in time, “plant trees early in spring to make a place for birds to sing in time to come.”  For time seems to be coming, bringing yet another season on its way with the coming up of life and growth or the letting down — back down and into the dark, wet silence of the Earth, and its transforming power.

Here, I remember the mountain springs that filled Attila’s little grave with water as quickly as Wendy and I could remove the shovelfuls of mud and clay.  We made a small hammock of the white cotton towel I bought at Reny’s and lowered her little body onto the  top of the grassy sods I put down as a floor to support her peaceful sleep. Part of me knew she would be dissolving in that mountain stream before long and that her tincture would spread across the whole pasture by the time the next spring arrived.  “Tila-Tea,” I think to myself and call it resurrection — another coming!  I hope there is a place where she now follows Tony’s long strides across another field, sniffing here and there for the scent of small rodents and listening for the sound of his voice, calling to her to catch up and come to see what he was seeing.

High above this place, a jet plane flies over on its way south and west of here.  Lexington? Or Chicago?

This is my mediation for the morning.  It is my ambulation through the gentle thoughts that lap against the shores of my dreaming.  I thought we would be having a group meditation here in the Spirit House, but I am sitting alone on a brown piece of cardboard to shield my sweater from the exposed fiber insulation the men installed yesterday.  The hose that blew it in, lies in a great tangle on the floor and out onto the wet grass.  It looks a little like a great gray and white snake that might at any moment begin to uncoil and twist again, across the circle of cement floor.  Little crumbs of insulating fiber lie everywhere, fetching up on any wet surface.  I imagine going into breakfast soon with clusters of it stuck to my pants and suede shoes.  What will they say about such untidiness?  What do I care?

It’s almost 8 o’clock.  Breakfast will be served. I better get going.

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