In the Brooklyn district of Portland, in the backyard of a recently-purchased house, a grape vine climbs weathered fences strangling the nameless alien being we domesticate by means of the more banal anthropomorphic concepts of reasons, choices, motives, leaps of faith, irresistible limbs of a pine tree. Its instinct for survival twists it in every direction, even as Dionysus "can be gentle, or provoke the wildness within us all."

Both woody, one doesn't speak the other's language. Pine grows a parka, a shirt-like, collarless garment made of reindeer suede, with an iron chain sewn onto its back. During deep trances, it is not accidental that 'home' and 'haunt' share deep roots in Old English, that we speak of the home of an animal as its haunt, or that 'haunt' can mean both a place of regular habitation and a place marked by the presence of spirits. Like scars, the spirits are reminders--traces by which the shaman's helpers hold the chain so they can pull him back from his dangerous journeys to other world. Both the shirt and the breastpiece are profusely studded with copper, iron, and carved bone figures that play well-defined roles in the proceedings. The double-headed copper navel, or kin, protects the shaman's belly, and its iron geese command the elements of earth, air, and water, assisting in his magical flights up, vine meanders, encircling its host—

drunk
                         on the crush
                              of its own blood.

 

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