In my Father’s house there are many mansions.
~ John 14:2
In my Great Mother’s, there are Gothic cathedrals and shotgun shacks. There are inner city slums and cottages where retired professors putter around in gardens filled with marigold and antique roses. There are shooting galleries and libraries, observatories and slaughterhouses. There are abandoned factories infested by rats and the ghosts of assembly line workers who lost their lives and limbs to bring home bread and milk.
In the Great Mother’s house, there are piles of dirty laundry in every room and rhubarb pies cooling on the kitchen counter. There are raccoons living in the attic and a compost pile at the bottom of the garden. There’s a room beneath the stairs with suspicious bloodstains on the carpet. There are tangled roots rising up through the basement floor, ancient secrets and naked light bulbs. There are whispered threats and broken promises. There are dirty dishes in the sink and the downstairs carpet smells like wet dog.
In my Great Mother’s house, we lift pee-smelling babies over our heads and watch the drool dangle from their lips as they laugh. We watch hockey on the television and eat potato chips. We play Brahms on an out-of-tune, upright piano. We do magic tricks. We screw our lovers against the rec room door when everyone else is asleep. We play football in the driveway and dangerous games with electron microscopes. We play cards, argue, tell ghost stories, and scratch, burp and fart until the morning light. In the morning, we make coffee that tastes like dirty gasoline.
In the fields behind my Great Mother’s house, there are crop circles burned by UFOs. There are feral cats eating field mice and coyotes eating feral cats. There are barrels of toxic waste rusting beside a muddy stream. There are tire marks heading towards the ditch. There are creepy men and women watching the lights of the house from the shadows of the woods. There is a crippled graveyard dog doing a bum dance beneath the harvest moon.
In the fall, when the trees are almost bare, we gather in the backyard of Great Mother’s house. We gather around a bonfire for warmth. We huddle together with our hands thrust into our pockets or with our arms around one another. We sing drunken, off-key songs, our voices rising way, way up to outer space.