By Karen Stevenson
Remnants of a misty moisty morning walk…a deer skull, lichen, autumn leaves, and a nest. Remnant…remembering…a fading season, an empty nest, and bones. A tree covered in the feathery blue-green-gray lichen, a nest fallen from a tree, snagged by a low-lying leaf-bare bush, and the bare skull, lying in a bed of orange-red leaves of a skunkbush sumac, littered with Ponderosa pine needles, its empty eye socket staring at me.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (Women Who Run with the Wolves) defines bones as “the indestructible soul-spirit, the indestructible aspect of the Wild Self, the instinctual nature, the criatura dedicated to freedom and the unspoiled, that which will never accept the rigors and requirements of a dead or overly civilizing culture.” I hold a stick with lichen clinging to it, autumn leaves, the nest, and now the skull. A light sleet pelts my hat and patters on my hood in the stillness of the draw. I follow a trail of bones, remnants of a pelvis, shattered femur, then vertabrae, one by one, leading me out of the draw and into the open meadow. Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “Within us is the Old One who collects bones to preserve that which is in danger of being lost to the world – the bones of the criatura, the bones of our ancestors, the bones of our stories–awakened by song, poetry, dance–the bones are our soul, the soul of one, the collective soul of a people…” I top out of the draw, leaving the trail of bones. The north wind is creating a layer of frost on the trees and in the air. Soon, inside my warm house, the first snow of the season falls and I lay out my treasures from the morning walk, pondering the remnants of a season.
I am inspired to read poetry, to listen to a Beethoven sonata, to write, to sing, to dance over the bones. It is a good day to work at gathering bones.