Dying Forward



Photo by Rebecca Bronson

There are days when nothing works and all that can be done is to lay in the grass.  For a long while yesterday I did just that, as it was finally warm enough to take the shoes and socks off and fall into the earth’s embrace; breathing the sun into every cell.  When the garbage trucks began smashing things and the metal collectors started dumpster diving in the alley I knew peace and quiet was over, for the moment.  It was delicious while it lasted.

There are these precious stretches of time in the city when quietness falls over this place like a soft rain; sweet bits of stillness before and between the appearance of the chembots spraying their poisons, the scream of sirens, pounding of jackhammers.  Here we are, finding our way through this clamor and nonsense and living like we still remember what spring smells like.  Nothing was still not working inside and I just couldn’t get in there anyway to sit behind that computer that wouldn’t obey my commands so I decided to pull out the dead things from the yard.

The bitter melon that began as two small delicate plants were still there beneath all that melted snow; dried and shriveled up with no resemblance of who they had been in the heat of the summer. They climbed up and around everything they could possibly find, including the electrical wires that run across the back yard, coiling and dangling their exotic mottled freckled bodies from the high wires.



Patrick Williams

This was the summer of Jiminah’s death, my best friend, kin, and teacher who traveled with me for 18 years in that spectacular cat body. After her death, a peaceful, tearful leaving in the back yard, everything seemed to grow more vigorously and lush. Even a squash plant from the neighbors yard climbed over the tall fence spreading itself like a giant leafy wing. The woody brambles, dead stems and roots, now visible after months of freeze and snow, cover the small plot of earth where all the planting and life  happened creating a silence and serenity in the deep interior of the soil.  I place my palms there and feel the cool wet dirt and wonder what it must be like to be one of the thousand living things down there.

Pulling up the dead things, I thought about how natural it is really, dying.  And how everything contains some fragment of the everything else, held in the tender shoots of memory. I smelled the soil clinging to the roots of what was once a daisy plant and imagined their yellow petals which reminded me of the early morning spring light.  I thought of the picnic when we burnt the chicken and Roxy leaping off the porch to catch her red ball.  I thought about how nature and animals knows how to do this, dying and returning, effortlessly, rhythmically.

The planet Venus, known as Isis, Astarte, Inanna (she has many names) to the ancients, is traveling behind the Sun now.  She will be out of sight until she returns as the Morning Star in early April.  It was Her, the Queen of Heaven, whose return and resurrection was awaited, celebrated, and honored by civilizations before this hyper-patriarchal era, before the myth was rewritten, her story erased and Sacred Feminism hurled out as if she had never ever existed, never mind her teachings.


The bad boys of global dominance trying to accelerate a dying cruel system would do well to remember Venus’ presence and take council in the font of Venusian Wisdom. She would invite them into her flower festooned lair, serve a stimulating sparkling beverage , look them straight in the eye like cats do and simply say: I have returned.

After a few of her own delightfully fermented beverage she may even tell them straight up just how foolish they look and transparent they are as they parade themselves out for all to ridicule with their pestilence, propaganda, and pandering to their insular addictions and obsessions.  Venus, in her magnificent quantum ability to shape-shift and reorientate her cosmic location, would also remind this strangely disconnected species that she has been in the neighborhood far longer than they have, a few billion years perhaps, so she knows a thing or two about how  the cosmic clock/cock works and who is truly in charge.  Interior breakdowns and breakthroughs are what she is famous for; working quietly, brightly in the background, guiding the deaths, births, and returns.  The renewal of Self which in turn renews the System of Selves is Venus’ specialty.  In the grand scheme of things it is Venus and not Judge Judy or politicians who ensures the scales are balanced, the universal laws kept  in motion, and the Great Awakening and Cosmic Correction proceeding as it is intended by forces far wiser and more intelligent than the silly boys and girls who believe they and their empires will never die.

There is a rabbit who comes into the yard and her name is Holly.  When Jiminah was dying in the late summer, Holly showed herself for the first time.  She hung out in the yard for two or three days before Jiminah’s last breath in that beautiful old fur body. She visited off and on while Jiminah lay under a large fern on the back porch.  Then Holly disappeared, until last week.  This morning I sat outside and had tea and watched her, nose in the dirt, chewing on the new spring grass. I thought how these moments are what we truly desire; visceral and magical like the return of Venus as the Morning Star; the little crocus’ waking up, knowing its time to bloom and give of their beauty. I thought about the deep knowingness we humans carry that pushes us out in times of great sorrow and endings.  Then just outside the window, there is Life, returning us to what is real, renewing something that has gone frozen and deep and silent.



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