I’m in a writing group that meets weekly. This post is from today’s session.
Our group writes based on the book by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. The premise is that one of us throws out a phrase, an idea or word and we begin writing in a stream of consciousness way, always keeping the pen moving or the fingers tapping on our keyboards until the timer buzzes, (no stopping to edit), which is 10 or 20 minutes long. Then we share out loud.
We had two writing prompts. One was the non-sensical phrase, ‘A bone calling in the dark’. The other was from a blog post by Eat Pray Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘In Praise of the Inner Crone’ written in October 2013. It was based on the Ukrainian Babushkas who moved back to Chernobyl, where the radiation is 400 times more than was dropped on Hiroshima. The aging babushkas, are now in their 70s and 80s but moved back to their motherland not long after the nuclear disaster in 1986, which, at the time, was the worst in history.
You can also see parts of the documentary about these courageous women, The Babushkas of Chernobyl by Holly Morris and Anne Bogart. I love the ending where the old women walk down the path arm in arm singing, even though they are living in a highly radioactive danger zone.
So my musings unedited…
I can picture these women happy, drinking vodka, telling stories of their lives, a rough existence but living on their terms. They were miserable living in forced government housing after the radioactive accident. They raise their own animals and farm their own land.
Would I want to farm in radioactive ground? No I don’t think so, but never say never. If it was a choice between freedom, happy community with my family and friends, or cramped housing with barely enough food, I don’t know what I would choose.
I hear a bone calling to me in the darkness. It’s marrow juicy with the day’s news, a city inside calling my name. Have you traveled here yet? Do you know my native tongue? Why are you waiting and what are you waiting for? For the bone calling in the night? One that chokes out through garbled words?
Where is your radioactive soil? Take the bones of the wild boar, and clang them together, around the fire, lick your wounds but keep on dancing, until your hair is wet with tears from your laughter, and your arms sweating their joy. Wild abandon you say. How does that look? How do you wear wild abandon?
There are huge wolves that roam freely surrounding the babushkas, but they carry on with their daily lives. The bones call for all worries to be eaten by the massive wolves. I passed a huge coyote last night on Pleasant Plain Road. Normally, I only see small ones but my husband saw him too, otherwise I would have thought it was a dog, or a mirage, doubting my eyesight.
I want to eat away the fears and worries. Those Chernobyl women are bad asses for sure. I’d like to say I would do it, but I feel the fear rising from my toes into my groin, my armpits, and into my veins.
They raise boars and make sausage out of them. Cinghiale is the name of wild boar in Italy. Love seeing them at a distance, but would not want to run into one in a wooded walk. Cinghiale sauce for noodles is delicious although I have only tasted it once, pescatarian that I am. But some restaurants in Italy raise their own wild boars to butcher. Now that is truly cage free local meat. And that’s how the women of Chernobyl live.
I want to live on my own terms, being true to myself, in freedom. In freedom, still caring and helping to create happiness and be happy. Of course weigh my options, then do what gives me the most joy. Easier said than done, as there are responsibilities and duties that sometimes feel like bones knitted together around my neck. A necklace of wild bones for wild women. And the women walk arm in arm singing along the way.
Take lessons from those older and wiser as we all grow older and wiser.
You are welcome to reprint, copy, or distribute Lenora Boyle’s article, provided author credit is included.