The Squirrel of Darkness

I pass through a cemetery on my morning commute, and I’ve come to know many of the residents. There is, for instance, a family of red squirrels that live in an ancient tree that shades a primarily Japanese section of the graveyard. It is a tradition in many Asian cultures to honor the departed by leaving offerings, including citrus fruits and other items of food.

The squirrels play a vital role as agents for the spirits, gathering and appreciating the offerings. It is not theft; the squirrel is a proxy for things that can be felt but not seen, things that cannot eat but gain their nourishment through their furry surrogates.

Sometimes the squirrels make a mess of things, knocking over the cup that holds the burned-out incense sticks, scattering flowers and decorations. Spirits can be mischievous; it is the duty of their agents to express that in the physical world.

I said it was a family of red squirrels, but that is not strictly true. There is one among them with fur as black as the heart of a killer on a moonless night.

The dark spirits need their sustenance as well.


1 thought on “The Squirrel of Darkness

  1. There’s an old graveyard in the center of our city that I sometimes visit on my walk to work. It’s strangely full of crows and squirrels (the big grey kind), and little else. I always think to myself, “there must be a critter spawner buried around here.”

    The squirrels are very busy with winter approaching. There must be more nuts than bones buried there

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