Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Wings unburied

I guess I was glad to find it all, although 'glad' isn't the exact emotion I had when I found the wing span of Lyndon Baines. I have put the rams down in the front pasture for the summer months, and this allows me to go into the fields and barn areas where Stella and Iris hang out. There is a part of the old barn, all protected and enclosed where the animals often retreat on the hottest of days. It is dark even during daylight, and offers any creature a respite, an out of the way place to escape about anything.

So after hanging out with the goats, I went in to check for anything out of place, I do this a few times a year. Once I found 25 eggs, from the banties. Sneaky little women they can be, leaving me a few eggs, and saving the rest to roost on. So that is where I found the beautiful wings, spread apart as if arranged carefully. I felt a sense of relief. The bones had been licked clean. Lyndon had fed another, and this is the pecking order of the universe. Eat or be eaten, you can not get around it. Sooner or later the worms will eat the best of us anyway. Or the wind.

Years earlier, I had nailed up a board on one of the ends of this particular barn area, to protect small animals like lambs from slipping outside of the safety of the pen. That board left a 2 foot space, about 3 feet long hidden behind the board. I peered down, and there was where Lyndon was killed. I found most of the body, sucked clean, only feet remained. It pleased me his killer had done such a thorough job, and not left a morsel. I'm sure Lyndon had found this place to sleep at night, you can tell it was well worn, and there were even a couple remnants of egg shell so a hen might have had a few stashes there at one time. If he had been in his rooster-darkness-coma-state, there is no way he suffered long. That raccoon must have killed him fast without trouble, and ate him on the spot.

I took the remains of the body and buried it, but somehow I could not bury the wings. They have become sculpture to me, just as much as they were while they lived on Lyndon's body. I questioned if this was respectful, and it got my mind to thinking of warriors that wear remnants of their kill. I don't know what is, but burying the intact wings seems so...anti-symbolic.

I think a lot about the importance of taking care of the dead, and burying or returning their body to earth in a way that feels proper for that creature or individual. I don't want to trivialize any death, so please don't take it that way, but when I hear about relatives waiting to find remains from a plane crash, or never having the ability to bring a body home, my own experiences here on the farm have highlighted for me how heart wrenching that is.

The importance of that final ritual we give to a loved one, be it animal or human, is part of a dance we take with the deceased. Whatever your belief systems, it is the right thing to do for the dead, and the living. Keep on crowin' in the free world, Lyndon.