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Ramblings From the Occupational Hazard Department


a resting bee ~ August 2023


I've been writing so many funerals that its hard to write anything else. My mind gets to thinking about what we leave behind. In a desk drawer way upstairs in my house there is an envelope with my grandmother's handwriting on it. Some old mailing address of mine. A postmark in the 1980's. A note with a small encouragement she sent long ago. People don't write letters as much any more and hard drives crash and digital storage degrades over time and what we think we are keeping in that folder on a backup is already lost to impermanence. Because (lest we forget) chaos is the natural order of the universe. August so far offers some variety, and I've got a baby welcome and a wedding to preside at. A welcome change from death-all-day. And I find myself reflexively offering letter-box rituals, traditions to start with handwriting that people in the future have to decipher. Blank pages that become portals of the heart. All of this a hopefulness offered by a person whose dance with hope is a trickster two step with some sassy swing. A suspension of disbelief. Here's the thing. Today I am bent to the task of inventing the language that lays a person in the ground. In their diligence to remain on the sunny side of the grass there was no accommodation for a container that holds the mystery of an emptiness that is none the less filled with time. The leaves of a letter can be unfolded again and again. I wish I had known to whisper a letter box into their imagination. Not so long ago I recited a poem I'd written in the company of one hundred voices saying the words aloud with me. The experience has made me tug at the thread of how sound waves carry the shape of words, how our living bodies absorb them. Pull a letter out of my hat and smile because time is (like my Gram's handwriting) a wibbly wobbly sort of ... thing. The occupational hazard is the everything-all-at-once intimacy with chaos, impermanence, celebration and solace. Burials and births and everything in between.

Anubis, from the digital collection at the Met


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