"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."  --William Shakespeare

Entries in Jane Kitchell (4)


Message to Jane


Image of the Milky Way by G. Brammer / ESA / NASA

Message to Jane

Where are you now, Jane?
Have you sailed to the Milky Way?
Do you dwell in the heart of our galaxy,
winking at us from the constellation Sagittarius?

Do you know what you are to me?
Can you feel my gratitude?
I see you walking in beauty still
at home in the immensity,

visiting me in dreams.
Today is your birth day
but you are beyond measure,
pouring your light into the eternal flow.

13 December 2013




Photograph (c) 2013 KK 


Great winds of the great goddess

whistle around the cathedral.


Inside, the priests have tried to hide

her circuitous path with chairs.


We sweep them aside,

wind through the labyrinth.


Sister, father, walk the eleven circuits with me,

one gone six weeks, the other seven years.


We curve through her four-chambered heart,

drink from the sacred grail at her core.



(With gratitude to Jeannette Hermann and Lauren Artress)





The Convocation of Animals



Photo courtesy of Suki Edwards

Some of us gathered at a computer, adding names to the guest list for Jane’s memorial celebration.


Some of us had just finished writing her obituary.


One of us had arranged on her bed an embroidered gold, red and white kimono with a medicine necklace, both gifts sent to Jane.


Some of us felt her death as so strange that our cells would be rearranged.


Some of us went to a dumb film and drank too much one night.


Some nights some of us dreamed of Jane.


Some nights some of us couldn’t sleep.


One of us made long lists of things to do.


One of us saw images of Jane’s sculptures in cloud shapes.


One of us had a massage and the masseuse touched her back above her heart and released the rain.


Some of us went to the market and bought Gerber daisies and sunflowers to honor her innocent spirit.


Some of us went shopping for candles, and found white lotus blossoms that lit up the moment they touched water.


One of us passed an empty frame in the store, and was seized by the knowledge that she was gone.


Some of us were soothed by calls and messages from family and friends.


Some of us talked one night about how impossible it seemed to write a eulogy, our feelings for her too large to fit into three minutes.


One night one of us said, All I want to do is stand up and howl.


Photo courtesy of Hank Kitchell


One of us said, we could make different animal sounds, and began to hee-haw like a donkey.


One of us said, we could find animal masks and perform a chorus of animals to honor her, since many of her sculptures were of animals.


One of us laughed and said, But wouldn’t it seem too weird?


Some of us went to look for masks, but couldn’t find Owl, Fox, Bear, Cat, Monkey, Donkey.


One evening the ceremony was held at the farm of friends, a sweep of lawn sloping down to a lake fringed by tall pines.


Some of us who owned the farm lost a brother days before Jane’s memorial, but still wanted to host the event.


Some of us came early to set up tables under open tents like sails.


Some of us created a slide show of Jane’s life that was shown on a giant screen.


Some of us gathered songs she loved, and one of us played them throughout the evening.


Some of us opened boxes of candles and placed them on a table at the edge of the lake.


Some of us fanned open paper flowers for the tables.


One of us gave food from his own bakery.


Some of us, the first guests to arrive, were followed down the hill by a hawk.


Some of us had travelled many miles across the ocean.


One of us bicycled there from Victoria, British Columbia.


Some of us had known her since childhood.


Some of us had been her husbands, including her first and last.


Some of us had been caring for her for years.


One of us had moved to Seattle from New Zealand to be by her side the last months of her life.


Some of us saw sea gulls and thought of Jane.


Some of us saw whales.


One of us saw a sparrow hawk flying with another hawk through the desert.


One of us saw a turquoise dragonfly dart across the lake.


Some of us gave eulogies and some of us wept.


One of us heard a wise woman say that in certain African funeral services, hecklers in the back of the room balance the gravitas with irreverence.


Photo courtesy of Hank Kitchell


Some of us, after the eulogies, put on masks—of Horse, Squirrel, Cardinal, Rat, Pigeon, Chicken, Unicorn and Duck—and danced and called out to Jane through the voices of the animals.


Some of us sat with old friends telling stories of Jane all night.


Some of us gathered around the campfire at lake’s edge listening to stories about animal visitations after death.


Photo courtesy Suki Edwards


Some of us wrote messages to Jane on the candles, and floated them on the lake after dark, like fireflies under a three-quarters full moon.


One of us wrote, “I’m still in love with you, Jane.”


One of us heard the Rodriguez song, “I think of you,” and wept in the darkness.


One of us had cold ankles as the night grew deeper, and a white dog named Lily came and sat backwards so that her hind fur warmed those ankles. 


Some of us human creatures felt the grief lift because we had joined together to celebrate our love for Jane.


Photo courtesy Hank Kitchell








Below the Paris to Seattle sky bus,

a cloud path seems to lead to Shangri-La,

some impossibly beautiful cloud country only spirits can enter.

And I know she is leaving.


Over there, icebergs

and shipwrecked ocean liners,

giant frogs posing as princes,

a burning arrow of pink-gold cloud, a peony.




Were we close?

Only as close as twins

who do not know where one begins

and the other ends.


Were we close?

Only as close as two fledgling elf owls,

one a little noisier, finding shade in a saguaro

from the Arizona heat.


Were we close?

Only as close as two children of tender natures,

daughters of a Viking mother—

magnificent—but tough.


Were we close?

Close as two girls, one who loved playing with dolls,

the other, playing with characters in books,

both knowing early on which would be a mother.


Were we close?

Close as two swimmers

in red tank suits, passing the baton

in a relay race.


Were we close?

Close as two best friends, 11 and 12,

trying out our first tampons

in the bathroom at midnight.


Were we close?

Close as two Nordic girls

who gravitate to the sea,

high school in La Jolla.


Were we close?

Close as two astonished virgins

discovering sex the same summer,

one in Zurich, one in Paris.


Were we close?

Close as a pair of ears

thrilling to Dylan’s “All Along the Watch Tower”

and “Lay, Lady, Lay.”


Were we close?

Close as Betty’s daughters, raving about the best books,

The Wizard of Oz to Mrs. Dalloway,

In Arabian Nights to Duino Elegies.


Were we close?

Close as two horses nickering,

galloping, freed, ecstatic

in Berkeley in the '60s.


Were we close?

Close as two artists’ models

costumed as the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse

at an art class Tea Party in Kroeber Hall.


Were we close?

Close as two Viking daughters

setting sail for adventures in the ‘70s

on trimaran and schooner.


Were we close?

When one was in trouble in Ecuador,

she didn’t have to say a thing,

the other leaped to go.


Were we close?

Close as two female artists, slowly learning

how to stay devoted to the making, the shaping,

and cheering each other on.


Were we close?

Close as two monks

who value simple food

and silence.


Were we close?

All our lives when the phone rang,

we knew

when it was the other.


Were we close?

Praying for each other to find a worthy mate,

one who’d be there through celebration and suffering,

the failing body, sailing the long distance with us through the end.


Were we close?

Close as daughters of a splendid father,

fighting for him to finish his life as he wished,

exulting with our family when he returned as hawk.


Were we close?

Close as two art lovers,

speechless at Louise Bourgeois at the Pompidou,

a woman telling deep, difficult truth through her art.


Were we close?

Close as two stars

in opposite constellations,

the Centaur and the Twins.


Were we close?

Close as a dreamer

dreaming with Jane through the bardos,

through the long journey home.


Were we close?

Close as two stars in the same immensity,

connected to each other, and you,

through our shining.




Out of thick fog,

two points of a star lit with gold,

or the tail of a fish:



Pine trees, gold

light and sea.

Serenity over all.

Roar of the plane descending.


Race to Swedish Hospital

with Jon and Leatrice. Already there:

Betty, Suki, Ann, Greg,

Bayu, Rachel and Liza.


Jane in bed,

eyes closed, struggling for breath,

beautiful as ever. We hold her hands,

stroke her brow. An hour later, she goes.


Are we close?