Little Bee, Deaamoo, lies in her parting dress; a shade of herself ghosts. One moment she’s bright eyed, the next she’s as blank as black-stone. The frigid forest mirrors her comings and goings. In the night sky clouds mask and unmask, Nee-ba-gee’sis, the moon. A thin veil of ice speaks. Birch branches commune with the falling snow. Safe in a sage-dream, grandmother smiles.
Family surrounds Deaamoo, they’ve come from the purification ceremony at sunset. Charged with life, the room wavers in tobacco, and sage smoke. Spirit breathes. Astral ancestors arrive on the beat of drum and drift of snow. Strands of gray hair escape from her braids. Once, they were black, now, they trail beside her bird-frail form leaving her face unveiled. A withered hand clasps a cowrie shell, mee-ghis, a key to the darkness; clasped in the other, a dream catcher to ward her grandchild’s night. The lodge is empty. The clan comes to her from starry dark, to light the hearth fires. Outside, stars wait. They will guide her through the veil, these bright beacons in a clearer sky. Inside and out are ancient wraiths. Friends surround chanting, drumming softly. Outside in the onyx black the pacugu hoots. A ring of blessed stones marks four directions in the snow. The way west is plain. Gifts for The Great Horned One lay in the snow. Soon, Little Bee will enter the spirit house, between earth and night sky. Owl will lead her over the bridge, keeping her from earth-bound darkness. Grandmother is Iron Woman. She’s helped many under Gee’sis, the sun. Grandmother is good. She can read the glyphs and tells the best jiibay, ghost stories. Tonight, they listen as she tells her last story. The night’s veil thins. Her granddaughter, Aamoo, sits on the bed’s edge hiding sadness behind her hands. “It’s beautiful outside, Grandmother, snow hangs heavy from the balsam pine. The fire is lit and the smoke ghosts upward, showing the way to where Gichi Manidoo waits in the midnight sky.” Grandmother’s eyelids flutter and her breath comes soft as sunlight. The song fades. Deaamoo murmurs, “Ready.” Sons carry her into the dark.
Oh so gently, they place her on furs and cover her with the pitch-black skin of a bear. “Tell me the Ladder story, Child.” Deaamoo whispers “lift the veil.” Surrounded by loved ones, Aamoo speaks, “Long ago when the sun set on an old one’s life, a shining spirit would come down the vine ladder, a messenger from Manidoo would take each soul into the night sky to the fork in the Milky Way.” Stars fill Grandmother’s eyes.
Earthly sounds fade into dark as Grandmother’s soul rises through snowflakes. Her husk, a lifted veil, releases her to the blue half-moon’s winter night. Like the morning sun or evening moon; she ascends up the ladder. She ghosts.
Deborah Guzzi is a healing facilitator specializing in Japanese Shiatsu and Reiki. She writes for Massage and Aroma Therapy Magazines. She travels the world to expand her knowledge of healing and seeking writing inspiration. She has walked the Great Wall of China, seen Nepal (during the civil war), Japan, Egypt (two weeks before ‘The Arab Spring’), Peru, and France during December’s terrorist attacks. Her poetry appears in Magazines in the UK, Exsistere in Canada, Tincture in Australia, Cha:Asian Literary Review, China, Greece, and Travel by the Book, Eunoia, Liquid Imagination, The Wilderness Literary Review, Illumen, and others in the USA.