of manatees and a book called _see_

there’s a gathering down at a friend’s family place in georgia or louisiana, a reunion of sort of generations of good girlfriends long parted organized around a marriage or some other event. there are myriad sweet and homely activities around about the house, both specifically preparing and also just for savoring. I go down to the swampy waterside with one of the older women and sit on the dock where we’re visited by manatees who thrust their short elephant snout fingers up through the water to investigate us newcomers. then there are odd and comical ground foul running through the brush who have scattered-looking downy, sunset-colored plumage with bright orange stripes running down their breasts. I ask my companion what they are, and she says some ridiculous name that marks their derivation from both wombats and something else silly, nonsensically two land mammals, and that someone introduced them to the area from australia years ago.

back at the house we’re exploring and trying to reproduce a whole host of arts and crafts produced by the women and girls of the family over years and years. there are tracings of some kind on old table and bed linens (ironed crisp) of vintage ad imagery. I’m dashing around with chalk and crayons, an electric iron, a stack of newspapers, and a crumbling tome with yellowed pages falling out, conducting experiments, partially on the sly out of fear of making mistakes and ruining something.

later on (possibly a separate dream altogether) I’m sitting outside beneath the arcing branches of an enormous ancient tree with thisbe and her husband and laurel and, for part of it, thisbe’s mom, who has begun the slow and painful process of dying and is being handled carefully and cradled quietly with both arms and words– and we’re having a gentle conversation that feels very real about dying and childbirth and the parallels between the two. then the others are discussing and telling me about a beautiful book they’ve all read called see. I’m listening and marveling and overcome by gratitutde for these people and all the love surrounding me.

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