thirty-five (animal bodies)

by nike, November 25, 2014

medieval_gardener2H had a small, strong body and a pixie haircut. Wisps of gold on the back of their neck, on their cheeks. I met H at their home in the low hills out the back of the Gold Coast when I was a uni student. We went there to trade our labour for food and knowledge. We worked for two hours in the not-quite-darkness every morning before breakfast. Six of us, almost strangers, bent over the seedlings. There was no vow of silence, but there was something about those hours that made us hold our tongues. Something about the light, and the work, and the smell of the earth.

H loaned us a pile of books that we never returned. Books on seed harvesting and composting and medieval gardening. Everything H owned, it seemed to me, was both beautiful and had a purpose. Every bowl, every spoon.

Like H’s body, H’s life – it seemed to me – was small and strong. You needed small, strong words to describe it. To think about it.

In the evenings, H would lie on the floor with both hands behind their head and listen to us talking. H was always present and listening, and always looking at the sky. I wanted to ask what H was looking for – what constellation, what movement – but I never did.

H disapproved of bearing children, of anything disposable, of waste and selfishness. H taught me how to make my own soap, and meditate, and tried to convince me not to fall in love.

I heard that H had died of cancer. And that, by the time of their death, H had divested themself of everything except their body. That one irrefutable and unloved object.

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