Death and Life: A Memorial for Unmourned Animals

“Death and Life” is a memorial piece I completed this year for unmourned animals. The skull is from the remains of a horse I encountered apparently dumped in the desert with a pile of garbage. I wanted to offer the horse some care in death that it may not have received in life. Over last winter I cleaned the skull with great care. As spring came, I began to find newly-hatched bird eggs everywhere — swallow, robin, and dove. The mosaic on the skull is made from the eggshells. For me the new life symbolized by the eggs also reflects the hope that comes through lovingkindness and the ways all living things are interconnected.

⚠️**Content warning: the paper and video below contain a photo of the horse’s skeletal remains as found and references to other animal deaths and cruelty.** 

I presented the story of Death and Life at the 2020 Quantum Storytelling Conference in December and the narrative will be published with the conference proceedings.

This paper is currently available online here: davidboje.com/quantum under “Death and Life Storytelling.” The video below is a recorded version of the presentation, including the story of the discovery of the horse, the process of cleaning the skull, and the process of gathering and working with the eggshells.

 

 

The narrative contains the following poem addressed to the horse:

 

Your head to my heart, I feel you: 

soft neck, smell of sweat.

I sense with my inner eye

what the elements have swept away, 

leaving lonely bones. 

 

Loved now in death, your spirit remains.

Head tossed in greeting,

light in your eyes,

forgiving those who could not give you 

what you needed. 

 

I clean your bones with tears

yet you are all joy 

and giddy recognition.

May all lost horses be so loved:

please show us the way. 

 

Harvey, E. (in press). Death and Life Storytelling. In D. Boje (ed.),Quantum Storytelling Annual Review: Vol. 10. Las Cruces, NM: Tamara-Land Publications.

 

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