notes on a structure

Standing in the spot I’ve made sacred in the cemetery,
where I’ve stopped to pray on so many walks,
I take a few breaths,
feel the breeze on my skin,
look up as a funeral procession drives by.

Girls’ weekend retreat we read Seven Wise Women in the Charnel Ground.
I sketched out the idea for a painting
I have not had time to paint.

This day,
I imagine a narrative structure –
seven contributions … about grief?
Seven characters; seven narrators.


the impermanence of sangha –
from gang to team to club to clique to support group to co-workers

(no regrets)

panic attacks



politics (mom)

self / body / ovaries / identity
they removed my organs – am I still a woman?

Then the last thing you expect to happen does.
Enlightenment? -ag

Family circle of Redwoods in Muir Woods, May 2021. Photo by Alicia Grega.

Koan for reference.

Seven wise sisters planned a spring journey. One of them said, “Sisters instead of going to a park to enjoy the spring flowers, let’s go to see the charnel grounds.”
The other said, “That place is full of decaying corpses. What is such a place good for?”
The first women replied, “Let’s just go. Very good things are there.”
When they arrived, one of them pointed to a corpse and said, “There is a person’s body. Where has the person gone?”
“What” another said, “What did you say?” And all seven sisters were immediately enlightened. 
Inda, Lord of the Gods, was moved by their awakening and showered flowers down onto them. He offered them whatever they needed for the rest of their lives. One of the sisters replied, “We have everything we need. But please give us a tree without roots, some land without light or shade, and a mountain valley where a shout does not echo.”“Ask anything else, holy ladies,” replied Indra, “and I will gladly provide it. But I don’t have those things to give you.”
“If you don’t have them,” said the woman, “how can you help others liberate themselves?” At this, Indra took the sisters to visit the Buddha.
When the Buddha learned why they had come, he said, “As far as that’s concerned, Indra, none of the arahants has the slightest clue either. Only great bodhisattvas understand this matter.”

Norman Fischer’s reading: