Today is my late mother’s birthday, my adopted mom. Every year I get her flowers, sometimes cake (she’d never had a birthday cake until I baked one for her one year when she was still alive). I clean her shrine and put out new candles.
Every year I miss her more.
Happy birthday, my miracle mother, ich habe dich unendlich gern, auf Zeit und Ewigkeit.
I wasn’t planning on writing this particular post (and in fact, most of it is revisited from a memorial post I wrote several years ago). I realized this morning though that tomorrow is the anniversary of my adopted mother’s death and I don’t think I’ll be posting tomorrow so I decided to share this again today. We are so disconnected from the Gods, from our ancestors, most of all from each other. It can destroy a soul. I carried the weight of that sickness for more than thirty years, until the Gods blessed me in a way I never, ever would have thought possible: They gave me a mom.
This woman was my heart, my gentleness, the witness to my life. She loved me with the ferocity of a mother lioness. She taught me to live and love and laugh and do something other than bitterly survive. She, for whom life was always such a terrible burden (she felt the weight of the world’s suffering deeply every day of her life) taught me to love and cherish life. She taught me to cherish connection. She rooted me in Midgard and she opened my heart to the Gods in ways I never, ever thought possible. She wove herself into my wyrd (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the Gods did that) and we ate of each other’s hearts. For seven years she graced my world. For seven years she called me her miracle daughter. For seven years, I had a miracle mother.
People ask me how we met, because almost immediately our relationship became one of mother and daughter. I can’t think about this too much…it’s like a pretty toy with a surprising and unexpected sharp edge and it hurts to think about how easily this meeting might never have taken place (though I suppose in Their wisdom the Gods would have managed to get it done some other way). We met when she read a poem that I had published in an anthology titled “The Pagan’s Muse.” She was immensely moved by it and wrote a letter to the publisher that was later forwarded on to me. I had the opportunity over lunch, years later, to thank the editor of that volume but I don’t think she quite understood the tremendous gift and blessing that she had facilitated. Once I received the letter (which took awhile to wind its way through the publisher’s offices), I wrote back immediately and we began a fast friendship that within a year had turned into something else: we became family. She redeemed the word ‘mother’ for me. (Ironically, because of this, I later found myself able to enter into a relationship with my biological mother cleanly…a tangential blessing I also never expected). What terrifies me to the point of nausea is this: I almost didn’t submit anything to that anthology. Moreover, I nearly didn’t submit that particular poem.
My mother wouldn’t have considered herself a healer but she did bring healing to me. We made me a person and I grew up under her care. That’s the best way that I can describe it. There’s a German saying “Ich bin gut gebildet.” She did that for me. So let me tell you a little bit about her, just a few simple things, minimalist brush strokes by which to flesh out a life.
Her name was Fuensanta Arismendi Plaza. She was born in Paris, grew up in Venezuela, Italy and many other places. She considered herself Swiss by choice and nature (and indeed held Swiss citizenship of which she was tremendously proud). She spoke seven languages: English, German, Basel German, French, Italian, Spanish, and could read Latin. She had taught herself a smattering of Armenian and in her youth had studied ancient Greek. She called me “wombat” after a book that we read, that had a messy little wombat as the main character (I’m no house keeper!). I called her lemur, because she fell in love with the animal after watching “Madagascar” (and she said her eyes, with their inevitable rings from her nearly constant insomnia looked like lemur eyes). She loved to garden. She was passionate about protecting the earth and its animals. She was what in German is called a ‘putz-teufel:” a cleaning devil. Cleaning her home was her meditation and a devotional act to the Goddess Sigyn. You could eat (literally) off her bathroom floor. She was Heathen before we ever met (indeed, that was why she picked up the anthology that led to our meeting). She claimed kinship to Andvari and opened my eyes to His wisdom. She belonged to Loki and Sigyn and loved Them dearly and through her devotion she inspired me and many others toward greater love for their Gods. I taught her how to keep an altar. She was a holy woman.
She always said that she wasn’t an intellectual, that her gifts and joys lay with housekeeping, cooking, and gardening but she was better read than anyone else I ever met. She attended the Basel Conservatory of Music and was, for many years, a piano teacher. She loved medieval music especially, though it was not her area of study. Her singing voice was so bad (though she had a phenomenal ear) that she was one of only two students in her class excused from singing classes. Music was another language to her, a very sacred way of engaging with the world. She loved the operas of Benjamin Britten, the works of Dufay, Buxtehude, and Schütz. She loved Bach, particularly when played by S. Richter. She introduced me to the singer Fisher-Dieskau and also honed my love of counter-tenors. One of her favorite pieces was the ‘libera me” from Verdi’s requiem. I learned not only to listen but to hear through her tutelage.
Her favorite poets were Wendell Barry, O. Sitwell, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Sitwell. With all my warrior medicine, I surprised the hell out of her by loving the poetry of Wilfred Owen. She taught me to treasure children’s books and fairy tales, telling me as I got older, I’d turn to them more and more leaving the more serious stories behind; that there was wisdom in those tales that should not be overlooked. She loved my god-daughter as her own and they played often. She taught me about wine, developing my palate to the point that I considered becoming a sommelier and good food and wine were things that we enjoyed throughout our travels; and oh, we traveled. Once, as I was delayed at the airport while I was heading off to a major shamanic ordeal, and it looked like I wouldn’t be able take the flight, I called her and as we were talking, I said in frustration “I never get to go anywhere.” The cry of a child, I’ll admit and someone who spent most of her adult life very, very poor. She told me later it broke her heart and then and there she determined to take me to Europe. She did too, telling me that if I was going to teach ancient history, I needed to see the places about which I was teaching. I saw Paris through her eyes and fell in love with the Seine. She was proud of me until the day she died and inspired me to be a better human being.
She wrote with the grace of a medieval scribe. Her every-day handwriting was a thing of exquisite beauty. She told me when she was about twelve, she decided she didn’t like her handwriting and so she taught herself to write all over again, developing a hand that put most calligraphy to shame. She loved to cook. She had tremendous grace and graciousness. She was also the single most disciplined (and stubborn, oh my GODS, stubborn) human being I have ever met.
She taught me that grace and service happened by attention to little things, not in large, overwhelming epiphanies. She taught me that love was about the day to day choices. She taught me to pay attention to, cherish, and respect the small things in life and to do them exceedingly well. After her death, she continues to inspire many Heathens and Pagans of my acquaintance and we all look to her when our work becomes difficult. She mastered the grace of loving well.
There are places in the world that I shall never go again if I can help it—they would be barren places without her there. Her presence, the memory of our time together is too deeply imprinted on my consciousness to allow me to go there without pain. Carmel, CA, where she lived for over a decade (throughout the time she was in my life) is one of those places. Paris—which I saw first through her eyes and likely will never see again; parts of Italy. Going to Zurich, where she and I spent a great deal of time, a few months after her death (inevitable due to business demands) was it’s own special agony. I stayed at the same hotel she always visited and the entire staff lined up as I was having breakfast and came to pay their respects to Frau Plaza’s daughter. She was our memory keeper. She *saw* people, truly saw them and gave me something of the knack for it too. But there are places that I can now go only because of her. She encouraged me to go back to school and in fact, paid for my schooling. I broke down and cried like a baby when she offered. I could never have afforded to go on my own and I was deeply ashamed of my lack of a degree. I have my degree because of her. I have a life.
Her presence has been tremendously strong the past day or so. It’s been so immensely comforting to feel her so very close again, as though I could almost pick up the phone and call her. I miss her voice, high, with its elegant Basel accent. (Amusingly enough, despite the elegance oh, she could cuss like a sailor—a delightful thing to hear, even with the cognitive disconnect it initially caused!). A friend sent me two photos that she only recently found of a bunch of us having dinner together and in it my mom and I are laughing over something, a moment of shared delight. Those photos were such an unexpected gift, a treasure. In the two years after she died, I have found myself wanting desperately to collect every possible fragment of her life, every fragment that might remind me of her, carry a bit of her energy…it’s only recently that I’ve been able to put that painful desire aside, to realize that she is there, bound to me by something greater than blood: by a connection forged in fierce love. What are things in the face of that? They do not hold anything of her.
She has her own ancestral altar in my home, in addition to being represented on my primary ancestral shrine. In life, she dressed very plainly. It was part of her devotion to Loki. He called her his quiet pool (her name literally means ‘sacred pool’-in fact, there’s a bottled water company in Spain called “Fuensanta” which was very amusingly odd to see when we were there) and requested that she dress in calming colors: browns, dark greens, dark blues, blacks, grays, whites, and beiges. But she loved pink (a color we both associated with Sigyn) and craved that color with an almost painful intensity. She never wore it though, in obedience to Loki’s request. So now I festoon her altar with pinks: flowers, offering bowls, altar cloth…all a glorious panoply of pink. I give her all the things she loved but was too disciplined to eat overmuch in life: pizza, gourmet breads, gourmet cheeses and fine wines (the wine she did allow herself). I light candles and offered incense. I sit with her and talked of many things, and of how my life has unfolded since she died (not that she doesn’t know…I talk to her all the time and her shrine is never, ever inactive). I tell her not to fret—she always fretted about me so. I told her how I missed her, every moment of every day. Most of all, I gave thanks to the Gods for forging this connection, for bringing us into each other’s lives.
Connection is a lifeline. It’s a very sacred, blessed thing. When you truly connect with another human being, when you are truly known and seen (and know and see in return), when someone shares their life with you in whatever authentic way, it has the potential to transform Midgard. It is something to treasure. It is something to value. It is something to remember, always. I remember Fuensanta. I remember my adopted mom. Sancta.
My friend and colleague Kenaz Filan has just posted a beautiful memorial to my adopted mom, Fuensanta Arismendi Plaza. She is venerated by many of us as a sancta and the intensity of her devotion to her Gods, especially Sigyn and Loki knew no bounds. I wish that I had that level of devotion. Her example continues to inspire me and many others.
Love you Mutti!
Read Kenaz’s piece here.
I want to move our conversation away from politics for a moment to touch on two threads that I’ve been seeing emergent in Paganism and Polytheism lately. Firstly, we’re having an ongoing conversation about miasma. Apparently some Pagans think we should jettison the whole idea because it might lead to people equating it (inaccurately) with sin and thus feeling badly about themselves. Now ritual pollution is a thing, and keeping clean of it when approaching the Gods is important in many, many Polytheisms. I’m not sure why this is such a difficult concept in our communities today, but apparently it is. What are your thoughts on ritual purity and the community?
KENAZ: I think the idea of “sin” as “wrongdoing which lessens the wrongdoer before the community and the Gods” is entirely appropriate to Polytheism and Paganism. Of course moral and ethical codes are flexible: of course they change and develop over time and as circumstances change. But that doesn’t mean we should jettison them entirely or that the highest and best of all moral teachings is “do whatever you want so long as nobody gets hurt.”
In John Beckett’s latest Patheos article about Paganism and sin, his definition of “sin” owes more to his daddy issues and authority complexes than to the way Christians use the word. For example, the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia offers a clear and detailed definition of sin from a Roman Catholic perspective. And while I’d disagree with some of it (I obviously don’t think things which lead people away from Catholicism are prima facie sinful, for instance), I’d say there’s a fair bit there, which could be of use to Polytheists and Monotheists alike. Contrast this with Beckett’s knee-jerk rejection of “Sin” because it must be CHRISTIAN and therefore bad.
I also think that Beckett et al are missing an important point about miasma and ritual pollution: it exists whether or not you acknowledge it. In Ifa osgobo is a tangible thing, which can stick to people and places and wreak havoc until it’s addressed. I got touched by osgobo after a friend committed suicide. I didn’t get it because I was a bad person: I got it because I lit candles in his honor without making appropriate precautions. (Spirits that die violently or in an agitated state can bring osgobo with them and this has nothing to do with whether they were good or bad people in life).
GK: I like some of John Beckett’s writing, but I do think this piece misses the mark significantly, especially leading in with dismissive remarks about piety.
Moving on though, I was always taught that Osogbo are actually a family of spirits and as such deserving of respect, including the respect of taking appropriate precautions around their potential presence. I think your example really highlights how one can be doing everything right but still miasma, pollution, or osogbo can still happen. It’s a natural thing in many respects for which we have clear cut protocols.
KENAZ: I have encountered miasma in other situations, which were strongly positive. The life change, my daughter’s birth, was wonderful and transformative — but I found myself out of alignment and struggling to redefine myself. And I think that could have been avoided had we had available the historical childbirth and post-childbirth rituals that helped welcome baby and parents to their new roles in their community and incarnation. But that was something I missed because (that damn Monotheism filter again), I still equated miasma with negativity, impiety and sin. As you wisely stated on your blog, miasma doesn’t have a moral payload: it can be incurred by sin or impiety but that is not the only way it happens. So that is something we definitely need to keep in mind — and something which would help prevent the types of abuses Beckett appears worried about in his essay.
GK: It definitely doesn’t have a moral payload (i like that expression). It’s not equivalent to sin at all. I feel like I need to say that over and over again for my readers, because it’s probably the most insidious misunderstanding I’ve encountered lately.Miasma does not equal sin. If you take nothing else away from this conversation, please please take that.
On a different topic, I’ve seen comments in several places to the effect that theologians and spirit workers and mystics like myself, like certain of my colleagues have a competence that makes people feel small. One post on tumblr (of course) actually accused one of my colleague’s writings of giving readers PTSD because they felt they couldn’t live up to the standards set by this writer for herself in her own practice. Of course, instead of setting better goals for themselves and allowing such writings to inspire them, a remarkable number of people chose to complain about how it made them feel bad and so they couldn’t read anymore, even years later, even though the spirit worker in question wasn’t telling people what to do, but was talking about her own practice. I’m wondering your thoughts on this.
KENAZ: There’s a very real danger of creating ego-driven hierarchies in a spiritual community. I’m a better spirit worker than you because I can horse Gods; my Gods love me more than you because I’m a Godspouse and you’re not; I hang on hooks and whip myself for my Gods while you just light candles for yours. And all that garbage is worse than useless. The important thing is your relationship with your Gods and your ancestors. If They are happy with your service, then you are doing things right. Even if those things don’t involve Ordeals or Sacred Kingship or Horsing or anything exciting like that. When you start seeking those things for glory or excitement or power, you take your focus away from the Gods. And that’s the first step in a long spiral downward.
GK: I’ve actually seen this quite a bit and it’s troubling. I tell people: do the work your Gods give you. If you’re an ordeal worker great. If you’re not, also great. I’m not quite sure why there’s this need to do the flashiest (and most dangerous) of practices when apparently making an offering of water and maintaining a regular prayer practice is too inconvenient. It makes me ask: are you doing these things for your Gods or for yourself? Do the work you’re given to do. If the focus isn’t on the Gods, then none of it matters. What’s the point?
KENAZ: That’s exactly it: when you start chasing titles or looking for attention (human or divine), you’re taking the focus off the Gods. That’s one of the things I learned from Fuensanta. She had this laser focus on the Gods above all else: it was about Them, not about the world recognizing her devotion or her piety. And if you have that focus, you’ll find yourself in right relationship with your Gods and with your world. That doesn’t mean things will be perfect for you, but it means you will be in a place from which you can put your trials in a proper perspective and fulfill your responsibilities to the Gods and to the community.
GK.: There it is. I aspire to her level of devotion and piety. I really do, every god damn day and every day I fall short. Still, I know what devotion can be and what it looks like to live a deeply engaged devotional life and that inspires me to keep trying.
Today my mother was born, Fuensanta Arismendi Plaza. She was fierce and bold, fierce in her devotion to her Gods, wise beyond words, and she was the miracle presence that transformed my life. Every year when her birthday comes around I always want to write something beautiful and profound, something that would give some indication of how important this small, bird-like Swiss woman was in my life and every year I fail. I sit down at the keyboard and all I can think is “she’s gone” and all the ancestor practices in the world won’t bring her back. Oh make no mistake, the ancestor work keeps me in contact with her and it’s lovely but it’s not having her here in the flesh and I miss her every day. In many respects I think she took part of me with her when she died and I’m only now finding my way back to the living.
I have reams of letters from her, huge binders that I keep carefully secured in a duffle. I sometimes think I should post some of them, share the beauty of her mind and soul with others but I haven’t been able to bring myself yet to read through them all again. In time, it will come. In the meantime, I give her offerings of flowers. She loved flowers, and made a point to buy organic ones. She loved pink but had some clothing taboos from her Gods and so was very rarely permitted to wear it. She was sensitive to color and it would nourish her quite a bit. Her home was bright and airy, milky whites, sweet, muted yellows, and a stone hearth that was her household shrine. It was a holy place for me and I grew up there in so many ways.
She loved her gods fiercely. Those are the words that I think she would want as an epitaph and they are true and her devotion fired others in theirs. I wish to carry her legacy on, never, ever giving up on my service and commitment to my Gods (and after her death it was close). That is the legacy she has left me, never giving up on my devotion to the Gods. It’s the thing she would, I think, want me to emphasize the most about her: first, last, and always, she loved her Gods.
Now, I’m going to stop typing and go out and get her some flowers.
I’ve been thinking of Mani tonight. Friends of Mani has been sharing prayers and thoughts on Him and I’ve had my mother’s initial thoughts on this God running through my head ever since. She was so wise in the ways of devotion; I wanted to ask her thoughts on our moon God when I was writing my first book for Him. I wanted to include something from her because she had a way of stilling herself and reaching for the essential core of truth in all the ways of being with the Gods. I wanted to know what she would say and she gave me a brief description written in her elegant hand that changed the way I looked at Mani forever. I’ve included it in my most recent devotional to Mani too, as well as that first book, but I am moved to share it with you here tonight.
this is by Fuensanta Arismendi Plaza:
into the ragged meadow of my soul
eat the grasses of the cemeteries forever.
I have paid my price to live with myself on the terms that I willed.
The feelings I don’t have, I don’t have.
Grief reached across the world to get me,
something old and tyrannical burning there.
I am this one
the one who remains silent when I talk.
the real work is done outside
by someone digging in the ground.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
Eyes and ears are bad witnesses for men with barbarous souls.
I have gone back into my hooded silence,
of shadows in lit rooms that would swallow the darkness.
I have grown weary, weary,
untouched by morning,
of what is past, or passing, or to come.
even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course.
You cannot touch these phantoms…
meanwhile this ghost goes under.
Like a knife slicing through the muscle of my heart,
and a chant unbidden, unhired
there is a wolf in me.
Of alien bloods am I.
I will rise after a thousand years.
Imagine how easily a lion crushes
a pair of fawns in his powerful jaws.
Who hasn’t been tempted by the sharp edge of a knife
Cold as time, smelling of blood-brown leaves?
They talk of short-lived pleasure — be it so—
Pain is not the fruit of pain.
The living come to mingle with the dead.
what flowers in the dark
the haunted chambers of the heart
Oh Lord, here i am.
[With respect to: e.e. cummings, h. jeremiah lewis, frederico garcia lorca, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Catullus, Thomas McGrath, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Rumi, Theodore Roethke, Heraclitus, Robert Duncan, David Ignatow, Santal, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, Carl Sandburg, W.H. Auden, Jim Morrison, Aeshylus, Douglas Young, Homer, STanley, Lombardo, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Chris Abani, April Bernard, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Natasha Trethewey, William Cullen Bryant, lloyd Schwartz, and Eduardo C. Corral].
This year I wanted to give my mom something special on the anniversary of her death. My friend Neve, who has a powerful gift for creating ritual flower arrangements, offered to do something for my mom. It felt right, especially as Mutti always loved flowers, was an avid gardener, and too great pleasure in the peace and beauty of her garden.
I arranged things with Neve, who took the resulting bouquet to the Pacific shore (also appropriate, as my mom adored Big Sur). This evening I heard from my friend, who sent me an account of the small ritual he did, and some gorgeous pictures, of the bouquet offering, the spot where the rite was done, and a cavernous passage through which he passed to find exactly the right spot to honor my mom.
“This morning I arranged a bouquet, transcribed your letter and took a train to the ocean, and walked the beach looking for the right place. I walked the entire length of Ocean beach until I reached the cliffs north of the beach. I had a strange feeling of being pushed further, challenged in a way, to climb way out into the cliffs, through a tunnel, and out to a ledge that I might usually be too cautious or afraid to go to. The whole procession I sang a little hymn I composed…
On the cliff, I lit a candle and sang the hymn three times. As I sang I felt sort of frenzied but also terrified. The ocean began roaring and the waves were crashing intensely. I prayed to Hermes in his role as messenger and to Flora as the mother of flowers and asked them to bring the flowers to your Mutti on your behalf. I poured out offerings to them. At this point the waves reached a height of frenzy and I felt the presence of the Gods, and also a motherly presence, who I believe was hers. I threw the bouquet from the cliff and a wave reached up, tore it apart in mid air, and the flowers disappeared into the water. Then everything was calm. I felt a deep sense of peace and gratitude. The waves stopped for a moment and I left, singing the hymn again, slightly changed to offer thanks as I went through the tunnel.”
With the offering, I sent a prayer:
I miss you every day. My life has shifted again like sands under a tumultuous wave and every day I worry that I am losing the things you have taught me, that I am moving farther away from the daughter I was to you. I worry that the best parts of me followed you to the grave and ironically even as I feel separate, I know that each day brings me closer to reunion with you too. We did not have enough time. We could never have had enough time and yet, I am so very grateful for you, my miracle mother, and so very grateful for the corporeal time we were given, and so very grateful for the choices you made even if they scoured my soul raw in the end.
I wish you were here now in the flesh to see the person that I’ve become. I am a jumbled mess at times but the palace of my mind has opened its doors to places and things, ideas and insights in a way that never could have happened before your care. Because of you I can say “ich bin gut gebildet” and know it to be true. Because of you I did not wither away in agony more than a decade ago. You gave me the only life that truly counts, even if it was not one of your body.
Oh I am so tired, Mutti, so very tired and yet at last I feel I can begin picking up the broken pieces of me, knitting myself together with the remembrance of you, and moving forward. There is so much left to do. I must learn to love the Gods again—it was so hard to let it lie that you were gone. You are still my marker, my example for all that is good and right and proper in this world. I wish to be the kind of person that you would respect, always, and I often worry I am falling short.
Yet I feel your care like a warm comforter wrapping around me, ever and always and still you pour gifts into my hands. I know how deeply I am loved even now, especially now. You have become a most holy sancta to so many people in our community and while I know you are probably appalled by the whole thing, I think it only right and just. Your time in the world, as hard as it was for you did not go unnoticed. You brought sustenance of the spirit to so many and you continue to do that now. I’m proud to say that you are my mother. even if sometimes it seems obscene that the world spins merrily on without you in it. How dare it exist when you do not? I wish that I had gone into full mourning for you instead of pushing through. It has helped me to mark passage in such ways because every day I feel your absence. I do not know how I survived when you were gone. I’m not quite sure how I am still here.
I love you, Mutti, auf Zeit und Ewigkeit. I could write a book of longing and sorrow, joy in remembrance of things shared, and all things that I would have shared like a child holding out its first drawing had you still be enfleshed when they occurred. I know that you know these things already. Instead I will only say that I hope you have a measure of peace dearly bought and dearly earned with Loki and Sigyn. I hope you are whole and healthy and happy. I wish for you joy, oh my miracle mother. I wish for you contentment.
I love you so much, it flows through the veins of my heart and soul like blood: I love you I love you I love you. that is all I want to say. I am so grateful to all the Gods for bringing us together and I love you. My friend Neve offered to make this beautiful arrangement — a blessing gift, something beautiful and holy for you — and I hope they adorn your world and bring you delight. I know you loved flowers and they remind me so of you and of Sigyn. Know that I am well and safe and know that every day I still feel how deeply, eternally I am loved by you. Thank you, my mother. oh thank you.
On this day of your death, I send this forth.
(All photos by Neve)
Today is the anniversary of my adopted mom’s death. I will be writing more about this in the evening, but I wanted to share this for her now. Someone contacted my friend Raven Kaldera and commissioned him to write a poem about my mom, as a gift to me. I am very grateful and can think of no one more worthy to be memorialized with the gift and grace of poetry. This woman, unassuming as she may have seemed, was a powerhouse and she transformed my world, sustaining me, teaching me, and giving me life as only a mother could. i am so profoundly grateful for the time we had together. Ich habe dich unendlich gern, Mutti, auf Zeit und Ewigkeit.
Loki’s Pride, Sigyn’s Joy
by Raven Kaldera
(Dedicated to Fuensanta Plaza, as a gift for her daughter Galina.)
Daughter of dwarven delving,
Granddaughter of gleaming gold,
Linked to the Old World and the New,
Stern-eyed ascetic one moment,
Drunk and laughing the next,
No child of your body
But an ancestress of many,
Mystic prostrate before many Gods
Who advised us all on cleaning products,
The riddle that was you
Wove in and out of our lives
Like the brisk salt wind from the sea
Cutting through the fog of everyday life.
Daughter of fire and endurance,
You were the first to hold the bowl
For the grieving goddess,
The second to hail the Waves
By name and by number,
The third I knew who’d seen Flame-Hair
In his hungriest, neediest form.
No one would have guessed you for
A devotee of the trickster,
Yet the quiet changes you made
To the lives of those you touched
Witness a deft hand and a deft word
Worthy of his sharp-eyed subtlety.
Child of breaking and mending,
Your equally sharp eyes saw flaws
And cracks in the faces of many,
And sometimes you stepped forth to mend
In the way that you knew best,
A not-faery godmother with a magic wand
Made of gold, and sometimes you simply
Raised an eyebrow and a scorching word.
You’d earned the freedom and the right
To do as you pleased, when you pleased,
And no longer needed to prove
Anything to anyone, Lady Putztoefel.
May we all remember that courage,
All the way to the bitter end,
Which you chose, thoughtfully
And with careful consideration,
Leaving little to chance or fate.
You were an iron anchor of belief,
And you would have died for all
You believed in, passionately.
Yours was a belief as strong
As that of a woman who could sit
With her beloved for a thousand years,
Watch his torment, and never think
Of leaving that dark, dank cave.
May we all remember that courage
When we are pelted with public opinion,
Like an iron bowl that can withstand
A thousand years of dripping venom.
May we remember how little you allowed
The cries of fools to sway your decisions,
And may we be inspired to hold our lines
And quietly honor what it is ours to honor
In spite of all the noises of the world.