A few months back I found this doe, laying quietly on a hillside, returning to the earth. I asked (always, always ask and then gift in return. I like to sing little wordless songs to the remains of a life), then took her skull and a handful of vertebrae. This morning, after allowing nature to do the dirty work, I finally finished cleaning her to a luminous glow.
(p.s. if you ever move into a new home and see your neighbor whistling to herself out on the porch whilst straddling a bucket full of bleach and bones, scrubbing away with a toothbrush, just come over and say Hi. Because it will probably be me)
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When I was two days shy of my twentieth birthday, I got into a terrible car accident (one of those 1:00 AM-hydroplaning-across-the-freeway-hit-by-a-car-going-70-miles-per-hour terrible accidents). Truly it was pure miracle both I and the other driver survived. I ended up fracturing a couple of my vertebrae and spent quite a bit of time laying still and stretched flat, thinking about those spinal building blocks. I started looking up anatomical images; something deep in me needed to know the exact shape of those damaged pieces. I began drawing them, first little sketches, then bigger charcoal ones, then painting them into the base layers of my larger works, then stitching their outlines into paper and fabric. And from the first time a lumbar vertebrae slipped out from the point of my pencil, I felt in my very bones that they could fly. That the delicately stacked column in our body was full of these beautiful hollow flapping forms that could play Icarus on us at any moment. That the central opening was a liminal portal through which the secrets of life and death slipped, grew wings, and flew into the sunset.
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