The closet in her room
remains as she left it
clothes losing their dark
interest. Ghosts in the dust.
the final time I saw my mother
she was trying to find
the last strawberry on her plate
According to the ancient religion of Tengrism, at death, the wind spirit ushers one’s soul back to the sky god Tengri in an inevitable return to nature. In this short film, the Mongolian-born, Montreal-based filmmaker Alisi Telengut uses hand-painted animation to illustrate the Mongolian postmortem ceremony known as wind burial.
The word became the mantra of
her last few years, which were, in fact,
often disconcerting: her descent
into dementia, her cancer diagnosis,
her fall, her fractured hip.
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
You know you are not in charge
of your body any more
despite its joyous odes
Just a few days before my father died in 2014, I asked him a question some might find insensitive or inappropriate: “So, what are your thoughts now about dying?”
I sometimes think I recognize the face
of my own death. Knowing it is nearer
makes me feel it ought to be familiar,
a neutral guest I’ve seen somewhere before.
I asked When? And How?
I was thirteen. My cousin, twelve.
It said I would be 41.
The same age my mother was that Christmas.
Elvis was 42 when he died. Jesus, 33.
Sitting at the table with the paper birds,
she unfolded mine and began to read.
I couldn’t make out a word
she was saying.
We’d just discovered a new word—necropolis—
and now we wanted a city of the dead
of our own. But it was too hard digging life-size
trenches, so we settled for the flower garden
our mother wouldn’t need anymore.