(This post is part of our Samhain special. See also this and this post…)
Let us go to the park, and lay down in the amber leaves.
Don’t speak to me of anything. No whispers; no promises you want to keep in the new year, and won’t. Do not dare to name the names your dreams are longing to hear – and whatever you do, don’t say any one of the single things your breath is holding itself for.
In this silence, the crows will come and feast on the breathless corpse of everything we wish to leave behind.
They need no instructions. Don’t say anything.
There is something inside you that you must hold onto. For now, at least. And if you say a single word about it, I promise you, you will never hear anything but the beat of those crows’ wings against the cold north winds, as they clamor over the remains of those parts of us we should not name.
So be silent. I have a story for you.
This is the story of an orchard over-filled with too-ripe apples, splitting their skins and sickly sweet. It is the story of worms wheedling their way inside them; a story of flies clustering in great black hordes around them.
This is the story of the berried branches of childhood; a story where the weight of dark fruit brought whole hedgerows to ruin, collapsing them beneath the burden of their terrible, ponderous weight.
Do you understand? There is no preservation. If the Harvest did not come, there would still be no salvation.
There would be nothing but the putrid stench of rotting fields; the horror of animal carcasses piled ten feet high, and burning. This, I have seen.
Knowing this, understand what I am telling you when I say, there are things we must leave behind tonight – and things that we must not. I am dying – and so are you. We cannot take everything forward. It is better to let the crows pick a body clean by nightfall, than to let it lie in the eternal summer, slowly bleaching and fading away.
But this one thing – let us bury it. Yes – you must bury that which you wish to keep. You must lay it in the ground like a seed – with trembling, admirable reverence for everything that seed contains. The ground will remember. It will twist itself and change its shape, in order to conform to the memory.
That is why I tell you to be silent. There is nothing to say. Not to me. Not to the earth. Not to anyone. The seed needs no instructions either.
Now let us lie in breathless silence, waiting for the crows. All around us the stars are falling, like the veil of night itself. We are listening for our deaths, knowing that the stars and the crows are one and the same.
Just as seeds need soil, everybody needs a grave. Don’t place it inside of anybody else. Place it only in the earth, that part of you which you wish to keep, and let it sleep under the snow.
Spring will come. Let the crows take the rest.
Aemorniel Shelley was born and raised in the wilds of Wales, and since the age of fifteen has wandered wherever the land’s voice takes her, seldom carrying more than her music and her stories. She has a deep love for the ocean, for the way the sun feels on her hair, for the voice of the wind in the trees, and for the way her feet feel when bare in the sand and the soil of the earth. Currently based in Los Angeles, she is learning every day how to connect with an urban landscape whose roots go far beneath the pavement and cement of its current human occupants, and whose heart beats slowly but surely in the pulse of the Pacific ocean, and the heat of the desert sands.