in mourning sound moves without the body
it is continuous and repetitive
it follows what is lost and maintains what cannot be found
its calling is of retrieval
its silence; a surrender to the beloved lost.

there is a spinning  a gravity  a veil

and if your hands were portals
the emptiness too would be mine

take me as you have taken me
there is no other before or after

only transparencies, boreal outposts
veils cocooning shoulders where the dead and
the unborn collect like stitches on cloth or
the marbleizing of pathways in snow

soon a metamorphosing in the cambium layer of things

for now as far away as you are
as close my erasure

and in my erasure
another forgetting

tell me what stillness does your hand reach through to know there is warmth?

how has your body turned to stone or ash
should I remember?

there is a delinquency  an abandonment

touch has presaged desire
and desire turns toward a comfort it can no longer know;
facelessness returns

the dark is immensity
the dark has harvested you
the dark itself has no eyes
so only memory; capable of shadows unveils you

and I am your collapsing light
your refracted outline
your walk backward through dawn
or are you mine?

~s.b.woods

On the morning of Sept. 11th, I was pulled out of bed only to find myself directly underneath the first plane as it flew into the World Trade Center. As most Americans, I am inexperienced in the ravages of war. In that one moment of flames and smoke filling the sky fueled by oil, people jumping to their deaths, broken glass flying upward reflecting light in millions of directions, inexplicably compelling to see as it was horrible, I was changed.

Meditation on Mourning was made as a response to the enormity of loss that has occurred over centuries as a result of wars. In war we become our own enemy. In war we affix our humanity against ourselves. In war our grief becomes bereft of meaning.

In this piece as in the one proceeding it— female figures made of hay— I have decided to work in multiples. The figure when repeated finds a landscape from which narratives of ritual may be derived. The figures are faceless and anonymous because they live in everyone. They are women as representative of procreation and land—equally restful in their positions and in pain. I wanted to know grief in its process and found it in the women cocooned, where both flight and ossification are expressed in her experience of loss.

It is my hope that this piece allows a dialogue of healing to take place between one’s personal understanding of loss with one’s universally shared experience of loss. The Mourning Women are containers of grief. They hold the loss and the longing for a better world.

The Meditation on Mourning installation was  gifted to the Newtown Foundation in August 2013. The Newtown foundation is a Newton-based, all volunteer, not for profit organization that has been working tirelessly since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy to help the community heal and be remembered as the place where positive cultural changes began. Meditation on Mourning installation is touring  the country to help those who have survived or have  been victims of gun violence in America. The names of those who have died since the fatal shooting of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School and approximately 50,000 throughout the U.S. in the past year will be cast in projections on to the mourning women.