Dies Cinerum – Day of Ashes

by angeliska on February 11, 2005

Forgive the long absence,
and the coming deluge-
A dear friend of mine died
recently, and I am still
processing the weight
and wages of loss..
All perception of the past two weeks
has been blurred by an overwhelming
intensity of emotion- it melts and
warps into an alien landscape
dotted with rubbery clock-faces-
the persistence of memory, indeed.
I will attempt to move backwards
in time- approaching the hours
of terrible realization the way one
would a rabid animal, slowly, slowly-
always cautious, always wary..
And so, the first step back is
Ash Wednesday, and Mardi Gras:
mardi gras morning
A day of cinders and errant sparkle-
In the morning, bedecked in our
unwieldy finery and long without
sleep, we hustled and hobbled
to the crossroads, where the air
was thick with invisible smoke-
an acrid haze you could vaguely sense
but not see or smell- a mugginess,
a wheezy fug settling over the plumed
heads of the gathered revelers-
permeating into every pore
already clogged by greasepaint.
we three
The Queen of Hearts, Saint Genet, and me – a unicorn princess…
Parading through the confetti-doused
streets through packs of rabid yokels,
seething beaded hyenas with beer coozies
and cameras capturing us up like
the herd of elegant, exotic and awkward
giraffes that we had suddenly become.
swan boy and wolf girl
Swan Boy + Wolf-Girl
lord and lady beaverton
We careened into a transvestite insect parade;
the Queen Bee decked out in a hive-dress
covered with fluttering drones,
her court a mass of elaborately gotten-up
mini-queens in the latest exoskeletons.
We dodged giant scarabs, and strapping
bikers wielding enormous valentine hearts
which they carried like the born-agains
with the wheeled wooden crosses.
I got my hoop skirt caught on somebody’s
sequined proboscis, or was it a tentacle?
After awhile of this we grew weary of
antagonizing the evangelicals
and catering to the paparazzi
(except for the Russians, of course)
and made our way down to the river..
nina and the shewolf
Nina Carolina and the She-Wolf
windup dolly
In the Krewe of Saint Anne walking club,
it is a tradition to take the ashes
of members of the Krewe who have
died in the past year- bringing them along
as the parade winds its way to the river,
and then ceremonially casting them into
the muddy waters of the Mississippi.
We didn’t have her ashes,
so we burned our letters to Pandora,
and placed them and other special objects
into a tiny hollowed out pumpkin with purple sage flowers..
We walked down to where the water lapped
the wooden steps and set the little orange boat afloat.
It bobbed and opened, the black ashes mixing
with glitter and sparkly confetti acquired
accidentally during the parade.
As the misty light refracted off
the little waves and jetties,
and the big boats skulked past,
we watched as the water carried the tiny pumpkin off-
a glowing orange orb sailing in the murky river,
carrying our wishes and words to our lost friend and little sister..
Ash Wednesday bloomed sullen and hazy-
A day of penance, swamped in memory
and the past radiates incandescent behind..
The body is worn, stretched to its final
capacity, no longer conforming to the
mind’s instruction, but only willing to
fall in a heap onto the floor- the eyes
only able to stare and no longer
comprehend the swollen dewdrops,
or the turning black flocks through
the open window.
All my words flew out with them,
and all I have are these well-trodden
verses, but shockingly apt in the
light of recent events..
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgment not be too heavy upon us
Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jeweled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.
castoff frippery
The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word.

So, yes.
And two more things-
This is what our poor parlour looked like
the morning after:
sordid aftermath
Sad, sad, sad..
Such sordid evidence of debauchery!
A drunken dress-form passed out
in a pile of sequins and cigarette ashes!
Well, this is where I retreat to:
home sweet bed
Heaven..

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