Burying Grandma Mugwump
by Doug Rice
© 1994

A gnarled, old woman stood, out of the earth, away from therest of us. Mourning, crying inside the death of Grandma Mugwump, she looked ever so much like a tree. Rooted and firm. Disguised by nature, Prospero tearing himself, herself, me out of that bark, speechless. Unclothing herself, she--woman, child, beast--sucked at my eye. She had to be at least 400 years old. This woman was an old woman who no longer knew how to dress herself. It was as if she had forgotten parts of herself somewhere back in the Middle Ages. Pieces of her flesh seemed to be missing. Torn and muddied. I watched this old woman haunt my eyes as the earth rose over Grandma's coffin. Speaking, "I know what you want better than you do." Her body exposed the unholy ideas of my subtle and terrible eyes. Sight unseen. I kept using all I had been taught to look at her. See me without looking. Even from such a distance, I could smell, smell her age. Grandma dead as earth. Inside my mouth, thunder, metallic rust. Heavy grey dust stirred about in the centers, in the palms of my hands. Out. Out. If only, a little water.

I have been told by everyone involved that Grandma Mugwump is dead, really dead this time. Even Caddie thinks this is true. The whole Rice family stands, staring, at Grandma's grave believing in death for the very, very first time. Such blasphemy, I find, rather intolerable. Just because the woman no longer bleeds does not make her any more dead than you or I. After all, she still smells of blood. That old woman stooped, bent, moving her body back down toward the earth. She used her olive hands to reach into the dirt of the earth. With this hand, I do thee wed. The joints connecting her flesh, backward glances. Her hairy knuckles lost in shadows she herself had created. I looked for the light behind these shadows. Her fingers working the dirt. The earth made to tremble with each finger stirring new circles. Voices from her fingers. I could hear them. Vulnerable mud. While she seemed to be fully capable of putting an end to desires with her imagination, even the smallest of movements appeared to be only possible inside her personal theater of frustrated blood. She was simple in that way of my seeing her.

Looking. Her flesh, frozen in a sort of decomposed silence, fought against the heavy air that surrounded her. My body disturbed and cold viewed by the past of this unknown woman. Grandma Mugwump cracking the sky. Pleasure without jagged edges. Her body lagged behind her own movements. Desire rubbed against reflecting skins. A body, such a pretty little creature, blurred among the remains of silence. The body of the old woman entered the frame only after the idea of moving. In the mist of filthy fog and air, the body of the woman, as it became spoken, almost wasn't there inside the fields of eyes watching as those lines cut through her flesh. Body spoken in the finger tongues of modern ecstasies. She lifted what she could manage of the earth back up to her body. She began covering her absent-- defunct and far away-- flesh. At such times, her body itself became a battle she seemed to be losing.

Grandma Mugwump deep down inside the earth now. I smiled to myself.

Madame Realism removed herself, disappeared back into the wilderness.