I wrote this piece when prompted about belonging. I just experienced my first death as an adult and I was in a deep portal, a perpetual ceremony, every step, movement, word, was a prayer. To be called into the task of death doula by a woman who was a priestess amongst the pagan community was more than a coincidence, it was an initiation of the highest order.
This work is titled “Bespoken Bones” after a podcast by pavini moray that addresses queer ancestry, sex, and magick, which accompanied me through Marie’s passing and the waves of intense grief and processing that came after.
“Bespoken” means “to suggest; be evidence of”. As a youthful drifter with a legacy of settler ancestors in Onondaga/Haudenosaunee Territory, I ask death what it means to belong, to suggest or to give me some kind of evidence that I do at the same time acknowledging the depth that comes with tending to all my relations in a certain part of the world, the part where my bones have grown.
Have I counted the crows? No…
But they are murderous when it snows.
Where do they go when they die? How come I’ve never seen their bones?
Maybe the animals don’t come to die here.
Maybe there is a familiar place that calls, and they know just where to go.
Maybe the last of their warmth melts them into the solid ground,
the earth claiming their prima materia
as the next blizzard offers them a dignified death,
reciting their last rites,
their cackling interred by the void of icy layers.
their flesh waylaying through the winter, waiting to sink back into everything.
Their bones waiting to be collected by a wildling that wanders
looking for themselves,
seeking evidence of where or who they are, how they died,
by impact, by contaminant, by hunt,
piecing together what is found and
composing a creature out of the scattered bones of raptors,
and the small, hiding ones.
Composing a creature dripping with humus and left over furs, feathers, leathers.
A familiar of their own.
What skin can I claim?
As I long for the scent of a pelt,
for the deer and turkey whose blood drains as they hang from the tree,
for the hunger and gratitude that comes with knowing I will be covered. I will be fed.
What soil will claim me?
Will it be under the ancient sycamore tree beside my entombed ancestors,
pumped with more chemicals that made it comfortable for the living
as they loitered a little longer?
I think down into my skeleton,
the last of my remains
that will rest for more time that I’ve been alive in one place until I am finally dust.
Bespoken not of anything but my ultimate belonging,
My longing to be of one place.