My Chicken-Skinned Arm

The BIA Willow, honouring all 572 registered Native American tribes

One of the many interesting people I've met at The Red Vic, the B&B I'm staying in here in San Francisco, is Laurie Marshall, writer, educator, peace activist and artist.  Laurie is instigator of The Singing Tree Art Project, aiming to unite divided young people through having them work on a shared mural, based around the concept of planet earth as the ‘singing tree' of the cosmos.

Her most recent book, Stories from the Dust in the Corner, is a meditation on life cycles and the choices at life's end through the trope of the ever-returning presence of dust — and suggests the possibility that our spirits, too, might dust up again for another whirl.

Here's one of the poems, written by Laurie's mother as she lay, at the end of her life, in her room at Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburg, PA. Give it to the next person you meet who's contemplating cosmetic surgery, or trying to look younger than they are.

My Chicken-Skinned Arm

One way you look at it,
It could be sand dunes in miniature,
Or an aerial view of a delta,
Or the bottom of the ocean floor,
Or a cloudless view of the surface of our
Earth, from a certain point in outer space:
I'm getting cosmic!

Orna Ross


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