Friday, December 16, 2011

2011.12.16 — Kristy-Anne (Kris) Boyd: May 21, 1964 - December 3, 2011

The world is a strange place.
Wednesday morning came, as Wednesday's always do. I wake bleary in head and eye, but once I was mobile my wife commented that Kris's service was this afternoon, and so I needed to get my ass in gear. So I sped around doing unexpected morning shopping chores, but while doing them it came to me, unbidden and unexpectedly, that I needed to speak at Kris's celebration of life service. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years, and knew her only through my frequenting the small corner / specialty store at which she had until recently worked Saturday mornings, the day of my weekly shopping chores.

I wrote:

I am here as a proof that our lives are bound to public strangers. If I hadn't talked to Kris — and as a retail customer that was certainly my prerogative — we would have remained strangers to each other. And my life would have been diminished. Diminished by her laughter and intelligent wit.

Kris was a big presence during my Saturday morning chores. We talked about nothing important — just food and family, their and our foibles, functions, fun.

This morning, after I woke enough to consider my day, my presence here as a stranger to almost all of you, a poem kept demanding to be heard. Now, Kris and I never talked poetry — who does? In fact, I can hear her laughing at the thought of it now. But for reasons inexplicable to me, I would like to read a poem.

A Ritual We Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that other made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug, that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider —
lest the parade of our mutual life gets lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
William Stafford. From A Ritual We Read to Each Other, in Stories That Could Be True. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.
When it came time for me to read, I extemporized a bit outside the text, but read the poem. I felt my voice trembling as I spoke, and my eyes began to tear.

The venue is officially described as 'Grand Baby Ballroom at the Columbia Theatre', but this is a converted theatre from the 1930s that is now home to the local LaffLines Comedy Club. And that is just about as perfect for Kris as can be, because she loved to laugh and she was a real prankster.

Her best friend, whom I'd never met, described how Kris had managed to convince her to go into the back corner of the house one party night in order to pee. Kris had made a bet with the other guests, before she had got there, about who would be able to get her to pee in the yard first. "I won, I won!" Kris bellowed into the night as her best friend was squatting with her pants around her ankles.

And also in line with the prankster nature, the ceremony was filled with little glitches: was to begin at 2pm, but after a short introduction, nothing happened. Eventually (3:15) we were told that we were waiting for Kris's father, and to help ourselves to the food. As soon as people were milling around, the father arrived. Then when the photograph display was to go, the computer wouldn't go (even though the earlier test run was successful) and the PC had to be rebooted. Then, as the photos were running, the machine froze, and had to be restarted again.

Now, for the strangest thing of all. After I got home and supper was done with, I sat down to write something. I visited Goodreads WSSCC Haiku thread. M had with typical humour and skill created a pair of Haiku poems that ended with a girlfriend being directed to the narrator's grave in the smoking section of the graveyard. So I proceeded to create a response. At 7:59pm I posted:
Sorry M and Al, but nothing but doggerel came out this time, try as I might. (I wonder if I can blame the glass of chardonnay I had last night?)

If she found the spot
she would puff her cigarette,
hike up her short skirt.

Then inhale once more
before gracefully squatting
to pee on my grave.

While I was alive
I thought I was a gals' guy.
Not so, says the grass.
While writing this I did not make even the smallest tiniest connection between the story of Kris's pee pranking her best friend and my writing the above. It was only late last night, as I was contemplating how I wanted to put this blog together, that I saw their link. Isn't that just weird? The mind and the unconscious are truly magical things.

Kris, be well, Your brightness will be missed here. But I am sure your new world is being made brighter with your energy, in whatever form that takes.

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