Stuck in the bone zone

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer

It’s Georgia O’Keefe’s fault I
have dead things in my
yard. Mind you it’s not like I have rotting corpses and half-decayed brain clumps lounging about, but I have a fine collection of moldering skulls.
I recall a bookmark of one of her paintings adorned with skulls and peonies. The bookmark got lost somewhere between “Wuthering Heights” and “Butcher Boy,” but also left a lucid impression.
Therefore, every artist who lives in or near places like New Mexico should look to emulate this gifted woman by putting dead things on their lawn.
Of course, this genius idea did not start out that way. My front yard began with one-third weed or wiry grass, and two-thirds dusty gravel where the former tenant had dumped the shell of a burnt-out car.
Alas, my yard was void of anything imaginative — until I got an invite to go bone hunting.
When my boyfriend first spied my fine collection of hand-made voodoo dolls and the Day of the Dead tchotchke named Antonio I smuggled back from Mexico, he knew I would adore such a venture.
While most couples may hang out near flower patches or have picnics in the park, we romped with glee through the bone yard — or at least I did. He also had the second duty of warning me not to pick bones that still bore flesh and not to step on a rattlesnake.
He was also perhaps expecting me to choose one or two well-formed skulls. Instead, when we got to the bone yard, complete with his little dog who found solace in rolling about the corpses, I started grabbing at everything in sight.
When the car trunk was pretty much full — too full, even, to house the dried-out brambles I thought might look nice around my mailbox; we headed back, with stinky dog in tow, to decorate the yard.
Although my beau initially said the bones would look cool, I think he changed his mind when he saw how I splayed to bones as if a Trojan War cattle battle had taken place near my front door.
Ironically, a Trojan War-like battle did happen the first night, one that was slept through but heard about later at the convenience store. A neighbor who had watched a pack of viscous dogs attack something in my front yard told my boyfriend: “I thought your leetle dog got keeled.”
It ends up at about two in the morning a gang of feral canines decided the bones looked good enough to eat — so they tried — with a brouhaha that obviously woke the neighbors.
Although this resulted in bone fragments scattered more haphazardly than I could arrange, the canine gang was kind enough to eat off most of the rotting flesh. And they left most of the pieces, save for a skull that ended up in the middle of the street where it was promptly annihilated by a passing car with a sickening crunch.
But my personal bone yard, my tribute to the great O’Keefe, is still going strong. The decor is only bothersome when I have to move them to mow the one-third of weeds and lawn. And I’ve still plenty left to adorn all corners of my landscape — the front yard, the backyard, the fence — with one even left over to send to my mother.

Ryn Gargulinski is a CNJ staff writer. She can be contacted at: