Apports and Letters From The Dead

Kage Baker left me boxes and envelopes and Peechee folders and plastic bags and old purses full of writing. Manuscripts, some of them; others are single pages and torn scraps of same, tucked into books all over the house. I found a lot of them when I cleaned out our apartment after she died (and two $50 bills, too, to the amazement of our friend Neassa and I: we went out to dinner that night on Kage), as well as bits of stories tucked at random between pages of other stories … it’s an Escher library here, weaving in and out of dimensions and stacking shelving on the ceiling.

Last night I sat down with one of the older manuscripts to read through it – I needed to hear Kage’s voice, in something I haven’t read a hundred times. I had to sort through it so all the pages ran the same way and in order – no numbers, of course – before I could read through the old handwritten pages. No one has ever seen this one but me. It’s the beginning of a sequel to a book she never even submitted, but that insisted on being written.

This afternoon my patient sister Kimberly (with whom I now live) handed me a little scrap of blue-lined note paper: on it, in faint pencil and written across the lines rather than on them, is this:

Now peace be on your soul,
And peace be on all here
And peace be in our house
At the darkening of the year.

For though the shadow fell
And though the blade was red
We’ll drink beside the hearth
To the unborn and the dead.

Ch: The child is being born.
No, nothing on the bough
But the berry and the thorn.

And life stretches up
And shadow stretches down
And the fire burns high
Along the antlered crown.

Fear never cold
Fear never heat
There is a broken circle all unbroken:
There we meet.

Ch: The child is being born.
No, nothing on the bough
But the berry and the thorn.

It’s Kage’s handwriting. I’ve never seen it before. It must have lain on the living room floor for hours while we all walked over it before someone noticed it. Must have fallen out from between the pages, from where I sat reading across the room … right?

Right.

Tomorrow: I can hardly wait to see …