in the midst of ash and bone

It’s early spring. We had four inches of snow the other night that melted by noon the next day. The coyotes are coming around and eating the food I leave out for them…the chopped meat I buy on sale at the supermarket, the bones they carry off to their den. There is a pair of them; I see them sometimes when the early morning fog is burning off…tails high, noses to the wind. They are mated for life as I am. Perhaps this is my deep affection for them. In a month or two she will give birth to her pups, tiny ones blind for the first few days of their lives.

I leave food out to nourish her, help her milk flow, make strong babies who will have to survive the resettlement once the new exclusive development that’s just been approved carves up their habitat. Where will they go? Crossing borders, looking for new lands that will welcome them, scavenging food for their children.

And of course my mind and heart turn to the Ukrainians at the Polish border, their homes destroyed, the pictures on walls, the photo albums, the favorite chair and book left open. All left behind. All destroyed.

It is spring and the bombs are dropping. If I am quiet I can hear them and I duck, hide my head, stay close to the ground moaning with a sickness that is ancient. My ancestors knew this sickness. The heavy boots at the door. The soldiers. The guns. The flames licking hungrily like a beast unleashed.

Always there is war, always there is blood being spilled and staining the ground red, always there are mass graves with children on top of mothers on top of fathers, always there are the old ones wailing. And the bombs, always falling falling falling. We cover our heads we stop up our ears but the screams follow us everywhere into every dream of home when we wake to the always new day of the always war.

It is spring and when I bend to the ground in grief and wordless sorrow I see green pushing up through thawing earth. I see green that will not be silenced, will not bow to demon hate, will not allow fear to keep it from growing. I see green that opens its broad leaves and collects sun and rain and makes them into beauty, a promise that there will be life beyond the bombs, that life will find a way to grow between the cracks in the sidewalk the way the mint did, me on my roller skates on the crooked sidewalks of my youth, with tree roots pushing up through the cracks, weeds that laughed at my curiosity, all pushing up through the concrete, all singing the hymns of life.

It is time to learn kindness in the midst of ash and bone. It comes down to this: we learn to share our bread and what water we have left because without this kindness there is no hope for peace, without this reaching out to the other saying you and I we are the same, you are the me I have been exiling, you are the part of me I have been looking for, the stranger with the dark eyes, you are the beloved the mother the son the daughter. Come and share what I have because if you starve I starve too and if you go thirsty my mouth is also dry.

Come and while the bombs are dropping we will sing the old songs and build altars made of rubble to honor our ancestors. Come and sit with me in the silence between gunshots and in the breath between screams we will hold each other through the dark night and pledge ourselves to love.

4 thoughts on “in the midst of ash and bone

  1. Beautifully said. An overview of life, it’s joys and possibilities and destruction, death and it’s sorrows. That’s life.


  2. A true, deep, courageous reflection on our times, and history. You are right. When any one of us is diminished through war or urbanization, etc. all lives are touched and lessened. Maybe, we will learn kindness as you suggest.


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