I’ve written about this before: Pat Schneider’s Artist and Writer’s Method and the workshop facilitated by Cary Tennis. I go on Thursday nights. A prompt is given. We write for twenty minutes or so. Those who decide to share, read what they’ve written. We reflect back—sharing what stays with us, what we see. Cary is hosting our first Write On, Mamas retreat, January 27, 2013 at the O’Hanlon Center of the Arts. Email programs [at] writeonmamas [dot] com for more information.
This is what I wrote tonight for the first prompt: “write about the death of a real or imagined person.”
There’s a tribe of Native Americans who practiced a custom in which the mother to carried her stillborn baby until his soul was safely transferred to the other side. The vital organs were removed and replaced with grass and she’d carry the tiny corpse in a sling that she wore night and day.
I know why this is so.
We always talk about the soul as if it is something that resides on the inside of a person’s skin. But really one’s soul is the radiance that is emitted, like rays of sun. And so a mother carries a child for nine months and his rays roll together with his mother’s, like sea air and the night fog. When he is born, he takes some of her radiance with him. And if he dies before he grows into his spirit, his mother needs to hold the body until she can reabsorb his soul back into her skin.
There are parts of the corporal body that are not matter.
This is what pulls Diana's shoulders to the ground, why she slouches. Why there is no color in her face. Why her jaw is weighted and drags down the corners of her mouth. They buried part of her soul when they put that little body in its coffin. They trapped it in that little pine box. On Sundays she goes to visit that bucolic place with the green hills and the large oak tree. Wisps of hemlock green waft into the air, like smoke escaping from a smoldering church. They find their way back into her body—through her ears, her nostrils, the pores on cheeks, the hair on her arms. She drinks in this lost life—not his, but hers.
This grieving process would have healed much more quickly had they just let her carry a corpse with a ribcage full of straw.