The bon fire burned hot and quick. The wood was old and dry. Some had been in the basement for years. Scraps that Harold, who used to own the house with his wife Florence, had saved. The rest came from the dying Maple in the yard.
The tree the Ravens roost on.
Jon and I sat on chairs feeling the heat and watching it burn. It was our ceremony to say goodbye to my mother, who died on Monday.
I told Jon some of my good memories of her.
How I brought her a bouquet of dandelions on my way home from kindergarten and she put them in a small glass on the kitchen windowsill. How she would pull an ottoman to sit on over my crib when I had a bad dream and hold my hand through the rails until I fell asleep. How I would splash through the puddles on the way home from school when it rained and she didn’t get angry. She would be at the door with a towel to dry me off and say I looked like a “drowned rat” which always made me smile. I told him how I would visit her after each Mediation meeting when I was getting divorced.
When Jon left for a phone meeting I got a rake to move the burning wood around. As I did, I heard the repeated two-syllable call of a raven. I looked up and saw the raven in the distance. It continued to call as it got closer and closer. I looked up as it flew right over me, a silky black silhouette against the blue, blue sky.
The Raven held something in her beak, I couldn’t see what it was, but it was white and shiny. It made me think of the book Kathy recently sent me about the myth of the Raven bringing the sun to the people of the Earth. It made me think of the drawing I did the day before.
As I sat at the fire, a few lines from one of Mary Oliver’s poems came to me. I said them out loud.
“It’s not for lack of love…but I will not carry the iron thing they carried… I will not give them the kiss of complicity, I will not give them the responsibility for my life.”
Then I just sat, watching until Jon came back. And then we sat some more. Quitelty or talking until the last log was smoldering in the ashes.