These are mythologies we breed from unanswered questions. Stories we breath life into to fill in the blank spaces, giving meaning to the black space between the headphones. This is all a grand design to a answer gap in my memory of you three decades ago, grasping to understand that watery forgotten past. I wish in every way to let it pass...

I pulled into the small lot. Pinwheels with rainbow colors turned vibrantly just beyond the gate, colorful markers of the dead, spinning wildly in a strong breeze. Even in this surplus of colorful markers, not one stood upon your grave. Under my feet crunched acorns, pine cones, dandelions, poppies, and grasses dried in the lovely, summer heat. Gophers, or perhaps snakes, had made their homes among the tombstones. Little black holes peeked at me here and there.

Of the three relatives in this cemetery, only one did I know by blood. As I searched, it was not clear to me exactly which grave I was looking for. After 20 minutes, however, I found it; her name on a lonely flat marker, with the word "Mother" as the only addition to the dates of her short life. The moment I found her, even in the upside down fashion by which I came upon the tombstone, I folded into myself. Grand theatrics of previous designs were forgotten. Only now, in this moment, did I feel her. "Mother."

I have a photo of my grandmother as a teenage girl. Jet black hair, pale legs so long it looked as though she'd been propped up on stilts. Impossibly tall. The photo seemed so removed from the old woman I knew, who drank too much and ruled over her grandchildren too roughly. She died early, at the age of 62 after multiple strokes. When I visited her death bed in the hospital, she looked like a geriatric woman aged perhaps 80 years. Such a departure from the vibrant, statuesque sixteen year old girl in the photo.

Born of mixed native descent during the great Depression my grandmother came into the world of harsh conditions in an Oklahoma farm life. She migrated to California, when her own mother hopped a train with her two infant children, leaving an abusive father and dust bowl far behind. In the photo of my great grandmother on the day of her second wedding, she is wearing well-worn boots and work dress. A solitary, white chicken bears witness in the background.

I suspect Grandma's life must have been hard. I doubt that she was the supernaturally evil, fairy tale grandmother we children conjured after living with her. After stroke number two, she became so docile. All day long she painted roses, smoked, drank, and offered Grandmotherly advice years too late. I'm sure her life as a farm girl in the Great Depression must have had some bearing on the hard memories we have of her. It must have.

At her grave I bundle together a small bouquet of flowers, dandelions, poppies, a bird feather, pine cones and lay them before her. I vow to return with my own daughter and plant pinwheel at her site to shine it's vibrant face upon the world. May the grace of "Mother" be with you, Grandma.

In a dream, I am there again among the graves, now black and charred from a catastrophe of fate. I am surrounded by archetypes of creatures passed. These are beloved and less love-ed from within and without me. This is the rest... this is the message.


1 Response to 'Archetypes'

  1. Unknown'> January 7, 2010 at 5:21 AM

    Very nice piece of work. A true piece of literature that I enjoyed greatly.


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