Sunday, May 4, 2014

Keeping Promises

In November of 1996, Asa and I were in the first heady weeks of our relationship. He wanted to introduce me to everyone he knew; we went to all sorts of interesting places - not least of which was The Muddy Wheel, where I met Fred Wilson and his wife, Kristen. It was an incredible experience - Fred was one of the most talented and generous artisans I've ever met, and Kristen's jewelry designs were an inspiration to me. In April the next year, we went for another visit so that Asa could share the news about our upcoming handfasting.  Fred waved his arm at a shelf of gorgeous pieces and told us to pick one as a wedding gift. We did, and thanked him profusely, but later that evening as we looked at it again, Asa said it reminded him of a funerary urn. I agreed. He said that whichever of us went first would have the honor of our ashes inhabiting this work of art. Again, I agreed.

As the years went by, I forgot that conversation. Now it all comes back, with our anniversary on Monday*, and the ash scattering happening soon after. This remembering has solved my dilemma - I will keep some of Asa's ashes in Fred's jar, along with some of Asa's favorite things.

I was going through his nightstand, and his many little memory boxes, looking for items I felt resonated most strongly to include in the jar; his Tour de Tucson medallions, pocket knife, comb. Runes, medicine bundle, worry stone, green man. As I was doing this, I found a poem I had written to him that he kept all these years, not with my other poems in his treasure book, but near him in his nightstand. I never knew.

For My Asa                  (dated 11/26/96)

What place of power was I standing in,
     unknown to me
What words came out of my soul
To form what charm of making . . .
     And does it matter?
What perfect circle cast,
What sacred flame lit
To fashion you so completely
From the mist of all my longing?
     And does it matter?
Where was I in the Dreaming Time
When I made these wishes
Now wearing your flesh and face?
What spirits bent close to my mumblings,
Leaning over that dark, coldest place
I thought my soul consigned to forever?
What skilled & knowing hands
Took each & every of my tears,
Collecting them sufficient to wash me clear?
     And does it matter?
In what time past, my times past,
Did I sleep & dream & have this bright spell
     Work itself out of my heart
     Like a golden splinter
And form itself into my shelter,
     My own true home?
          It doesn't matter, the how, the when,
          The why.
It is enough that I have found
My dearest healer --
     Creature of mist & hope,
     Of possibles & true magic.
     My own true heart,
     My own.
     My Asa.

During his final weeks, he asked me to promise to do several things. The ash scattering is one of the last promises. He asked me to promise to stay here in this apartment, for at least another year. I will.**

When we were handfasted, we promised to love and care for each other for a year and a day and longer if we both agreed. Which obviously we did. When we had been together for five years, we went up into the mountains to the home of some friends who had a sacred circle on their property. There we renewed our vows, but this time with the promise to love and care for each other forever.

And we will.

*We were handfasted on 5 May 1997, and legally married on 5 May 2009.

** "I need to know where I can find you," he said.