In Blossoms and Bones, Kim Krans takes you on a journey.
It begins simply enough. Krans has taken refuge from herself in an ashram for thirty days. During those thirty days, she has the urge to “draw the feeling”. Every day for thirty days, she puts pen to paper and draws her emotions.
As Krans puts pen to paper, we are witness to her unravelling. We watch as she struggles with an addiction to food, with self-hate and self-loathing. We watch as she tries desperately to deny what her subconscious is telling her, what she has been trying to tell herself for so long.
With each day that she draws, she comes closer to the truth and even closer to the parts of herself that she left behind intentionally. She parts the curtain to travel deep within herself and take a look at some very hard truths.
When the skeleton offers Krans its hand as it offers to be her guide through her subconscious, will Krans be brave enough to take it and follow the skeleton on this journey within herself? She will have to go down to the darkest parts of her inner self.
Will she be able to journey that far? Will she come out again?
It’s difficult to review this book without giving everything away. I knew that I had to read it as soon as it was announced. I’ve ben a long-time fan of The Wild Unknown by Kim Krans, her bright and colourful tarot cards, animal spirit cards and the new archetypes cards. I’ve been reading tarot with her cards for years now. I even had the Strength card, the Ace of Wands and the Ace of Swords tattooed on my right shoulder. I love her work that much.
The cover to the memoir is a riot of colour, but I knew from seeing a few images online that the memoir was drawn entirely in black and white. This lends to the books power. Everything is so very raw and the black and white imagery without the use of colour makes it all seem a little bit more primal.
Sprinkled throughout the memoir are prayers. These are so lyrical and so simple that you can’t help but put the book aside for a moment to contemplate what you’ve just read. I actually want to copy these prayers and fill my office with them.
I love how this book was laid out. As you are reading it, you have to turn it upside down or turn it around to read all of the words. I also love that, even though the book is completely done in black and white, there is a rainbow coloured ribbon bookmark to mark your place. It’s as if that bookmark is like a light in the darkness in some way.
This isn’t a book for the faint of heart. It deals with a lot of heavy personal issues, but if you can persevere, you will be witness to one woman’s coming completely apart and cheer as she puts herself back together. This isn’t just a memoir you read; it is one that you experience.
Blossoms and Bones is a gorgeous, beautiful, gut wrenching, harrowing, dark book filled with so much light. Touching on subjects like infertility, eating disorders, endings and beginnings, everyone needs to experience this book. It will leave you changed.
I am neither perfect nor imperfect. I wait to hear what my new song will be.
There was a body in the open field. Tanya hated dead bodies.
For one thing, they smelled. Then there was the blood and the birds. It was always the birds. Tanya watched as a black crow plucked the eye from the face of the dead man and made away with it, letting out a loud shriek even with an eye in its craw.
“Fucking vultures.” She said.
“Won’t we be needing that sir?” Lucy asked.
She looked at the younger woman and tried not to give her a withering glare. She also tried not to roll her eyes and wasn’t entirely successful. “For what?”
“For…evidence?” Lucy sounded unsure.
Tanya reminded herself it was rude to snort. “Well, unless we could read the grey matter of his brain to see what he saw, then his eyes are no use to us. He certainly won’t be needing them, will he?”
“No, sir.” She shrugged her shoulders.
Sighing, Tanya turned and looked at the younger woman. She was of average height and had curling red hair that reached past her shoulders, pale skin and green eyes. Where the girl should have looked frumpy in a brown potato sack of a dress, she instead looked ready for a romance novel cover. Tanya allowed herself to hate her a little bit. “Out with it.” Tanya said.
“It’s just, well, isn’t that disrespectful? Why did you let the bird get away with the eye? What will his family say?”
Tanya tried to hold back the words she wanted to say. Again, she wasn’t entirely successful. She really must work on this. “Do you really think the family will be concerned with a missing eye? Personally, I’d be concerned with his missing genitalia. Someone has done away with that member already. I’m surprised you didn’t notice that already.”
Looking towards the area where the genitalia would normally be Lucy squinted and then blushed. “I did examine the body as you told me to do, but all I saw was a lot of…hair, sir.”
“Did you not think that odd?”
“There are some men who prefer to keep things natural down there, sir.”
“Yes, well I don’t fancy going on an expedition every time I want some rumple foreskin, Lucy. Did you think the amount of hair to be normal?”
Lucy’s blush deepened. “I haven’t slept with…very many people…um, sir.”
Trying not to take pleasure in the younger woman’s apparent discomfort, Tanya pointed at the area. “That is an abnormal amount of hair, don’t you think? It rather looks like someone has made a bouffant out of his pubic region. Now why would they style the hair that way?”
“I do wonder where they got all the hair from. He’s quite bald, you see.” Lucy pointed at his bald head.
“Well, if you would look to the left of the unfortunate gentleman, you’ll see something there. Shall we move closer to see what it is?”
“Dead bodies make me nervous, sir.”
“Then you should have chosen a different line of work then, shouldn’t you.” Tracy sighed and tried to make her tone of voice softer. “Come, you can take my arm for strength, but try not to leak tears on me, I abhor whimpering around a murder scene.” She sighed inwardly. She must try again.
Before offering Lucy her arm, Tanya took out two pairs of latex gloves. “Put these on.”
“Shouldn’t we wait for the constable sir?” Lucy said timidly.
“We could, but how many body parts will be remaining when he sees fit to hurry his ass over here?” Tanya motioned at the body. “In case you didn’t notice dear lady, there is a naked body lying in a field. It is our duty to find out everything we can. That is what good detectives do.”
Lucy took Tanya’s arm and the carefully made their way closer to the body. Looking at the body from this angle showed Tanya a few different things. “Tell me what that is, lying next to the body.”
Luc looked down while trying to keep her eyes away from the bodies gonial area. “I believe it’s been a beard trimmer, sir.”
“Quite so.” Tanya pointed at the body. “You see all the red marks on his body? On his arms and that redness in the mans armpits? The scratches along the man’s scalp?”
“Those might have been made by the crow, sir.”
Maybe there is hope for her yet. “A good observation, but an incorrect one.” Then again, maybe not. She smiled inwardly and patted Lucy’s hand. “A crow wouldn’t have made the same marks all over the body. No, these marks were made by the beard trimmer. They shaved off all of the man’s hair.”
“Why would they do that, sir? To what purpose?”
“Is there ever a purpose behind murder?” Tanya said. She bent over to grab a small branch that was lying in the grass nearby. “Now I want you to get the camera ready. Will you do that?”
“Yes sir.” Lucy said, taking hold of the camera that hung around her neck.
Tanya bent down and began to prod the nest of hair. She dug the stick into it and hit something solid. Catching it on the stick, Tanya held it up higher so that she could get a better look. It was a gold ring with a diamond centre piece.
“I think this was a crime of passion.” Tanya said. “Why take the man’s genitals and leave a ring?”
“So, we are looking for a scorned mistress or a wronged fiancé!” Lucy said with some excitement.
“Close, but you’re wrong. You must learn to look at everything, Lucy.”
“Why would I be wrong?”
“Well, this ring is far too big to be a woman’s ring!” She smiled. “I think we are looking for a man who has been scorned by his lover, not a woman.”
In the silence that followed, they heard a crow cawing in the distance.
Penelope remembered what she had told herself before she came here: Do not expect a happy reunion. Do not expect a Little House on the Prairie scene. Those things didn’t happen in real life.
Shit, she thought. What was she even doing here? Why had she come in the first place? What did she hope to accomplish exactly? I mean, she couldn’t exactly walk into someone’s house and say: Hey, remember me? I’m the daughter you gave up for adoption.
But, in the end, it would come out exactly like that. Because what else was there to say, really?
Penelope’s breath caught in her throat when she heard the sound of footsteps. A tall woman with flowing brown hair came into the room. She was dressed in a long, flowing gown and house coat set that was made out of silk. It flowed behind her like a wave on a breeze.
She thought this woman was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Valetta had long flowing hair, dark brown tresses that fell glossily past her shoulders. Though she was an older woman, she was obviously in good shape; her body had a liquid grace to it.
Valetta regarded Penelope with a wide and pleasant brown gaze. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” Valetta asked. Her voice matched her movement, like water flowing over rock. “Geeves tells me that you’re my daughter?”
When the woman was closer, Penelope saw that Valetta looked like her; or rather she looked like Valetta. She tried to calm herself, tried to forget the foster homes, the group homes, the curvy road that her life had taken. She felt in some way that her life had been quite precarious. But she wasn’t sure why.
Gathering her courage, Penelope took a deep breath. “I know you are.” She said. “You gave birth to two baby girls.” She hadn’t meant to blurt it out, but there it was in the air in front of them. “You have your daughter Hasenpfeffer.” She took a deep breath. “But you had me first.” She said.
Valetta gave her a very calculating look. “What do you base your information on?”
Penelope took a small photo out of her pocket and handed it to Valetta. When Valetta reached for it, her hands were shaking. Penelope wondered if the older woman knew what she would see.
The photograph was of a woman that had long flowing dark hair and dark eyes. She held in her arms a small baby. A girl. Penelope.
Valetta looked at the photograph with glassy eyes. “Where did you find this?” the woman asked.
“They gave it to me. At the orphanage.” Penelope tried to swallow, but her throat was thick. “They said that my mother had wanted me to have it, to know that I was loved.” Penelope took another deep breath. “And there was this.”
She reached into her shirt and pulled out a locket that dangled from a thin silver chain. The tears that had been threatening to fall from Valetta’s eyes fell freely now. She reached forward, her hand shaking even further. Taking the locket in her hand, she held it in her palm, the chain trailing up from the locket to Penelope’s neck.
When Valetta looked up at her, Penelope saw many years of pain in that gaze. “I was very young.” Valetta said. “I wasn’t married. It was so hard back then…” Valetta went quiet and looked down at the locket again. Opening it, she saw the pictures she knew would be there.
On the left, a picture of her as she had been. On the right, a picture of the girls father. Tortoculis Rosebude. He had been someone different then, too. Now he whiled away the hours of the day inside of his head.
Valetta wondered where the man they knew had gone. “How you must hate me?” Valetta said. “I never did want to give you up.” She looked away. “But he was so intent for a son.” A sob broke through her throat. “But I am a Finkelstein now.” She turned away from Penelope. “I took on a different mantle now.”
Penelope’s heart went out to the woman, to her mother. “It took me a long time to find you.” She took a gun out of her purse. It was a small revolver but lethal. Holding it in her hand, Penelope pointed it at Valetta. “I did come here to kill you.”
Geeves made to move forward but Valetta stopped him. “No, Geeves.” She said. “It’s okay.”
“Walter.” Valetta hissed. “It’s okay.”
Penelope looked down at the gun in her hand. “Oh? Is this making you nervous?” She gave him a wry grin. “Sorry, but its okay.” She slipped the gun back into her purse. “I’m not going to do anything.” She paused. “Well, maybe we could do something.”
When Geeves and Valetta looked at her, Penelope wondered if they had been waiting to hear someone say these words. They looked hungry, as if they had been waiting for anyone to utter them. “We could kill him.”
“Who?” The word came out in a purr.
“You know who?” Penelope smiled. “We all hate him. He got rid of me, fucked you up. And look at your other daughter, Has.” Penelope snorted. “A more fucked up child I have never seen in my entire life.”
Valetta nodded. “Yes, well, she has a very creative spirit.”
“Creative my ass, she’s a freak.” Penelope motioned with her hands, a circular gesture, linking the three of them together in the air. “We could do it.” Penelope said. “The three of us. We could take the fucker down.”
She smiled here. She had been holding this thought in her mind for so long anyway, who cared if she changed her mind at the last moment? She had come prepared to kill both of her parents. But instead had chosen to spare her mothers life. That had to count for something right?
“Besides,” She said. “He doesn’t even know I exist.”
Valetta let out a breath and Geeves smiled, letting out a soft chuckle. After a moment of quiet, a silent agreement, Valetta smiled and took Penelope’s hands in hers. “Well,” She said. “You certainly know how to have a heart-warming family moment don’t you?” She laughed and the sound was like tinkling bells.
To his mind, Charley Inglewood had only been in love three times in his life. The first had been a man twenty two years older than him. The second, a brief but passionate affair, with a man twelve years older than him. His ex was only nine years older than him. Pretty young for him.
Charley wasn’t sure what drew him to older men. He knew that he wasn’t looking for a Daddy figure; he wasn’t into anything like that and he didn’t need a Sugar Daddy either; that was a train wreck waiting to happen.
In the end, Charley thought he went for men that attracted him. Or at least he used to. He had been off of the dating market for well over a year. He didn’t think he had very high standards. The guy had to be able to talk, had to be somewhat intelligent. Oh, and they had to have the basics of hygiene down pat; that was a biggie.
You would think he was searching for a needle in a haystack. After a month, Charley celebrated his independence. After three months, and a few bad dates, Charley tried to enjoy living alone. At nine months, he wondered if he should strike hygiene off of the list but decided against it. At twelve months, he had a revelation.
We are defined by time from the moment we enter the world. If you think about it, we are born to die; from the moment we take our first breath, we are heading towards a great journey. Some like to get it over with as quickly as possible, some take their time and see what’s out there.
We define ourselves with people too. We are defined by the relationships we carry with us, by the people we associate with. But, more than anything, we define ourselves based upon our romantic entanglements.
Charley’s friend Scott argued that humans weren’t meant to be with one person for their whole lives. “I mean, we’re descended from apes, right? So you look at apes. Yeah, they carry on serious relationships, but they are never with one mate for very long.” He had tapped his head and given Charley an intense stare. “It’s all in our heads man. It’s instinctive.”
Where love was concerned, Charley tended to agree with him. There were some things in love that were inherently instinctive; they were intuitive, intense. If the feelings were strong enough, if the spark is there, the resulting emotions are often intense and incredible.
There had been fillers, stand ins. For a time, Charley had indulged in the seedier sides of sex: bath houses, fetish clubs, sauna’s. He had been there, done that, gotten the t shirt and the membership card.
In the end, he didn’t mind living alone. But why was it so hard to find a guy who wasn’t screwed up in the head and wasn’t a total wackjob of some sort? He wondered if this is what women went through on a daily basis. There was just too much testosterone in a gay relationship.
His blackberry buzzed on his hip. He took it out of the holster. It was an in coming call. It was him. “Hello?”
“Hey,” Zackarius said. “How’s your day going?”
Charley stared at the bay of monitors in front of him. That Nanna McKanda’s daughter was a real bitch. He was almost hoping she would show up. He’d love to see the look on her spoiled little face when he told her she couldn’t go up.
“Not bad.” Charley said. He tried to keep the nervousness out of his voice. He had met Zackarius online and they’d bee on one date and were planning another. He wondered if it was going well. Charley had been surprised by how off his game he was.
He had been out of the dating game too long, he realized. He had forgotten what it was like to bring someone else into his life. He wasn’t talking about furniture and clothes or even a toothbrush. Instead, he was more focused on the other things. What to say and what not to say? Family stories to avoid, the unfortunate camping trip you took as a child.
Charley Inglewood had forgotten how to speak to those he was attracted to. A stranger sitting on the bus reading a book? No problem. An old woman in a grocery store? You bet. Someone in line in front or in behind him? Okey dokey. But put someone he was attracted to in front of him?
Big problem. The words in his mouth felt thick and heavy when he was attracted to someone and he often found himself thinking really hard before speaking; he wondered if it gave his eyes a glassy look. Charley hoped not.
And then he wondered whether the guy liked him. I mean, sure, Charley knew that he was a catch. But he was do damn nervous about this kind of thing. Why did it feel like high school all over again? He was in his late thirties and it was as if he had never escaped those unhallowed halls.
In a way, it was as if the fat, bespectacled, zit faced young kid he had been was still following him. In his more free thinking moments, he wondered if the child he had been was still hiding somewhere inside of his shadow?
“I need a drink.” Charley said.
“What?” Zackarius’ voice on the other end of the phone was full of amusement.
Crap, had he said that out loud? “Sorry,” Charley said. “Long day.”
Zackarius Lemieux laughed. “Tell me about it. But did you want that drink?”
Charley blushed. “Yeah,” he said.
“Did you want to go for one? I can pick you up after work.”
The blush on Charley’s cheeks deepened. God he liked this guy. “Sure, yeah, sorry,” Charley said. “I’d appreciate it very much.”
“Nothing to appreciate, I have a selfish motive. I want to see you again. When do you get off work?”
Charley looked at his watch. “In about an hour.”
“Cool. I’ll call you when I’m outside. See you soon.”
“Sure.” Charley said. He hung up and stared at his blackberry. He was intelligent, smart and hot. And he liked him.
“Shit.” Charley said.
The leaves surround me in the dark.
I can hear them even though I can’t see them
and they brush against my skin in a soft caress.
Each time they touch me,
I can see little flashes of light appear around me
filling up the dark with bright flashes of colour
even if it just for a moment.
The leaves are different colours:
reds and yellows, orange and deep golds
and the occasional purple hue.
I listen to their whispering
and the sound is comforting.
It is like they are trying to lead me
out of the shadow and towards something more.
I feel a hand take hold of mine
and suddenly all of the leaves light up,
each colour shining brighter than before.
There are more colours than I thought possible,
I can see deep burgundies, soft pinks,
the occasional orange and yellow leaf
that looks like a piece of the sun.
I look at the hand holding mine and it is you.
You hold my hand and you pull me closer
so that I can feel your heart beat against mine.
The leaves around us are not whispering now,
but singing around us, filling the air
with a song that reaches into my heart.
I realise that it is our music,
the music of the love that we have between us.
When you kiss me,
the leaves sigh happily
and the darkness is awash in light.
The shadows have lifted and,
as the leaves dance around us,
I realize that the light around me
is coming from within
and that the music I hear
is the music of our love.
When we kiss again,
the leaves let out a happy sigh
and float into the air,
filling the skies