She dances home a flower fairy, sprigs of green and white in her hair. The green and white of the last wear of her summer uniform, but I am relieved; there is nothing uniform about her yet, her spirit wild as the garden beds after a summer of neglect. She is not lost to me.
I learn the story of my great-grandmother. By the time I meet her she is lost to me, her Kalinago name given up for a missionary's English counterpoint. Plain Jane. She marries another missionary, a Scotsman who dies with their son in a volcanic eruption, and I see the dark shadow of the hand of a vengeful goddess in his fate.
I live in the shadow of a vengeful goddess. Sulis, of the water, whose stream called me here, her song echoing in my head from the moment we set foot on this soil, sunlight sparkling on dark water. The water is holy, they tell me, blessed by the Pope, but I know it is the older gods who sleep here still, safe in the sacred valley of my dreams from the colonising men as gods on high who steal us from ourselves. Sulis is a mother goddess, carer and protector of the land. I place my last seeds of the year in the moist dark soil womb on this day of equal dark and light, and know their fate is now hers.
The day dawns bright and warm, turns dark and chill by noon. Equinox. This light half of the year whose passing we mark has seen much darkness. This morning I reflect its light in this community which surrounds me. A new mother at the school gate; I greet her, introduce her to those who took me in on my landing, check how she is. No hot water, the goddess' mixed blessing to the new arrival. I offer her use of ours, as it was offered to me, weeks of unexpected intimacy breeding friendship I would have otherwise been too tentative to seek. A pause for coffee, babies distracted, minds briefly turned from the mess of life. In the light of the shadow of impending restrictions it is a much needed reminder of why we have chosen to live in this place.
Another reminder, chickens. Loss has called a neighbour away, one in a litany of losses. Of course we will check on the chickens; the children are gleeful. I have never looked after chickens before. I laughingly learn that another neighbour has been asked to keep an eye on us as we keep an eye on them. Layers upon layers of relationship, the net of community is carefully woven, shining like dew drops on spider webs in the new autumn morning. Today I notice them all, gratefully. They will light the way through the dark months to come, and their light is love.
Vengeful goddess also nurturing goddess, duality of dark and light. Loving mother, I hear the stories of my great-grandmother passed on with love. She knew someone would need to hear them one day, they said. I need to hear that she married her Scottish missionary for love. My world tilts on its axis as the whole story of my self is changed. Dark tips over into light.
Lighter of skin than both my parents by some quirk of fate and recessive genetics, I have always known that black and white bodies came together to make me. This is written upon me, a truth that shines unspoken to light my way. I have always assumed this union was violent, born of unholy possession of black womb spaces by unwanted white seed. In this telling I now understand myself; why I have not felt more anger, only pain, and grief, and loss.
My great-grandmother is lost to me when I met her, but it seems she lost herself willingly, dark forces of erasure and oppression lit up by the light of love to one day make me. One day when things hang perfectly in balance as the spiral of time turns I make preparations for my winter garden. Order a duvet of mulch and green manure, plan ahead with bulbs for spring. The season turns and I welcome it. I am made of darkness and light. It is the autumn equinox.