Come and lay with me, here in the amber leaves.
Don’t tell me anything. No whispers; no promises you want to keep and won’t. Do not dare to name the names my dreams are longing to hear – and whatever you do, don’t say any one of the single things my breath is holding itself for.
In this silence, the crows will come and feast on the breathless corpse of everything I wish to leave behind.
Don’t say anything.
There is a piece of me that I have decided to hold onto. For now, at least. And if you say a single word about it, I promise you, I will never listen to anything again, but the beat of those crows’ wings against the cold north winds as they clamor over the remains of those parts of me I will not name.
So be silent. I have a story for you. It 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.
Be silent. This is the story of the berried branches of my childhood, where the weight of the 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 does not come, there is still no salvation.
There is nothing but the putrid stench of rotting fields; of animal carcasses piled ten feet high, and burning. This too, I have seen.
Knowing this, understand what I am telling you when I say I have decided to hold onto it. I am dying – aren’t we all? It is better to let the crows pick my body clean by nightfall, than to ask me to lie in the October sun, slowly bleaching and fading away.
But this one thing, I have buried. Yes – you must bury that which you wish to keep. That is why people lay their bodies in the ground like seeds; like treasure. They worship death with trembling, admirable reverence.
Listen: one day you are washing your clothes in the river. The next day you are washing your hands. One day you will wash your parents’ corpses, and one day your body will be the corpse that is being washed. The river will live far longer than you, but it will not remember.
That is why you have to bury things. The ground remembers; twists itself and changes shape, in order to conform to the memory.
That is why I tell you to be silent. There is nothing “right” to say. Not to me. Once I am gone, I am gone. I will not remember what you said.
Here we lie, in breathless silence, waiting for the crows. All around us the stars are falling, like the veil of night itself.
Perhaps I was wrong, and it is not the crows that are coming after all. Perhaps it is just the stars, here to dance with us on the pyre of the dying year. Perhaps I was even lying, to see if you would lay with me, knowing we were listening for our deaths. Perhaps there is no difference, and the stars and the crows are one and the same.
Everybody has a grave. That grave should not be inside of somebody else.
If you understand that too, I will tell you where I buried it.