Today is the Feast of the Epiphany when the light of the Christ child formally appears to the world. This illumination lies just below conscious apprehension, in the peace of a sleeping baby. Just twelve days after his quiet arrival in the dark. Hence it is also known as Twelfth Night. And yes! The inauguration of the Carnival Season. (I boomerang into the Pagan Rites so fast, it’ll give you head rush.) Time to start working on my costume . . . which will be some variation on the fairy theme. My usual. This time with a sort of 15th century Tumbler/Magician feel to it. If you can imagine that. I can imagine it. I have a picture of it in my head. Only six weeks to make this a reality. I can do it!
Back in the day when I lived in New England, I used to sink into depression during winter. It’s the natural emotional response to the cold, dark season. Living in New Orleans has cured me of that trend. Here winter is the beginning of a spectacular celebration. And a great excuse to dress up in silly costumes. The Carnival infects everyone. It’s impossible to avoid and therefore impossible to be depressed in winter in New Orleans. (August is another matter.)
Emily sends a timely note from beyond the beyond. (Amazing how she does this, but I’m done trying to figure it out.)
#445, c. 1862
‘Twas just this time, last year, I died —
I know I heard the Corn,
When I was carried by the Farms —
It had the Tassels on —
I thought how yellow it would look —
When Richard went to mill —
And then, I wanted to get out,
But something held my will.
I thought just how Red — Apples wedged
The Stubble’s joints between —
And the Carts stooping round the fields
To take the Pumpkins in —
I wondered which would miss me, least,
And when Thanksgiving, came,
If Father’d multiply the plates —
To make an even Sum —
And would it blur the Christmas glee
My Stocking hang too high
For any Santa Claus to reach
The Altitude of me —
But this sort, grieved myself,
And so, I thought the other way,
How just this time, some perfect year —
Themself, should come to me —
Only cool customer Emily could report on her own death with such sang-froid. (I love that word: “cold blood”.) I don’t think Emily has ice water flowing in her veins per se. I do think her curiosity floats above the tumult of her heart. That’s her gift. To exist in a cool space of contemplation where everything is worthy of her intelligent scrutiny.
How like her to continue walking around and observing the world after she has died. Wouldn’t we all like to do that? To see if or how we are missed? In a peculiar sense she is both honest and resilient to say she died. That is the truth of her heart. What is also true, however, is that she has the mental clarity to review the impact of that loss. And to see how the world would fold in and fill the empty space. Not that her “death” doesn’t matter, but that the sun will continue to rise. Crops will come to harvest. Christmas will make merry. People will sit down to dinner.
Emily’s “Altitude” is too high for any of these mortal pleasures. Furthermore she has the power to imagine the resurrection. That “Themself” may come to her. That’s all it takes, the simple return. Not hope for retrieving the past. She knows she’s dead. She also knows that cycles are real. Although dead, Emily still guides her own thoughts. She determines the quality imposed on this scene, this loss, this end. Only She. The Creator and Destroyer.