Letting Go, funeral pyre on Lake Michigan, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
It’s one of those gray days in Minneapolis. A storm kicked up her heels last night, a gale force blowing through my dreams. Mr. StripeyPants is draped over a soft brown blanket next to me on the couch. I grabbed my small red greenroom eco notebook of haiku. There they were — the scratched syllables of a day on Lake Michigan.
I looked at the photographs from the writing retreat a few weekends ago. The funeral pyre popped out at me. After we arrived at the little cabins in Wisconsin, we learned that the matriarch of the family-owned business had passed away earlier in the week. She was in her 90’s.
The family gathered to pay their respects. And when we walked on the beach that morning, we passed a tall wooden spire, a testament to her memory. At lunch, an adolescent boy in a black suit paced the pine needles next to our cabin, crumpled paper in hand. He glanced down to the page, out over the blooming tulips, then, lips moving, back to the page.
After dinner, and a day of silence and writing, we looked out the picture window to see the funeral pyre burning. Moths to the flame, we could not help but step out to the porch. We talked quietly among ourselves, but mostly, we stood still and watched. Bearing witness.
It was humbling. In a few minutes, it started to rain. At the same time, a gust of wind burst through the skirts of the white pines and blew out to sea.
Then, complete stillness.
Later in the evening, we were chatting by the fire, and what sounded like gunshots echoed across the beach grass. Fireworks. That’s the way I want to go out. A gangly fire on the beach. Wind blowing my ashes out to sea. Rain to quench my thirst. Giant starbursts in a Full Moon sky.
That Saturday, I wrote these haiku. And to the matriarch — though I did not know you, I know The Grandmothers. And for a few days, I knew the place you called home. Rest in peace.
standing in the sun
waves crashing all around me
pale face, flushed and hot
puffy cirrus clouds
spread cream cheese over the land
gulls dive for crayfish
summer’s in the wind
the moon fell into the lake
waves gently roll back
in a giant concave bowl
anchor beach grasses
sun’s reflection glares
afraid of my own dark thoughts
dead fish rolls to shore
monkey mind is fierce
I don’t know what I’m doing
morning turns and breaks
funeral pyre burns
wind gusting across the lake
all eyes were watching
of that kind of letting go
not for me to know
On The Beach, To The Wind, Phoenix, Lake Michigan, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
-posted on red Ravine, Friday, May 30th, 2008