La Loba

My mother collected the pieces

one by one

in the desert, the sand and skulls

cutting at her feet.

The Bone Mother, they call her,

La Loba

La Que Sabe

the Wild Woman.

Piece by piece she collected

the bones of the wolf,

her ratty cloak sweeping the dunes

behind her, her weathered fingers

clutching those indestructible pieces,

never resting until each one was accounted for.

Patience, she’d whisper to me at night

My love, you’re going to need patience

as I lost count of the scars

as I lost another piece slipping

out the window toward the moon.

Once she found the very last bone, the paw,

she’d take them to a fire, lay them

in place, raise her arms, and sing.

Motion, growth.

She’d sing more.

A fleshing out, fur.

Arms raised again, a final praise

to something I had yet to understand,

and the wolf shot up and out toward

the horizon.

The wolf transformed into

a woman with long hair

of black and yellow and red and silver,

laughing she ran away.

Heavy in my head and empty-chested

La Loba–her voice the pitch of humming bees–

whispered all along as I emptied myself

for years into nights, starved and prowling

a barren forest for some kind of longing,

some kind of yearning deep in my body;

The One Who Knows told me

that I, too, would flesh out into

the real creature I am–into My Truth;

that I, too, am gathering,

gathering those indestructible pieces,

clutching the parts of myself to my chest

barefoot  beside her under that sky.

The wolf beats beneath my chest

I feel its speed and ease

its ownership of one’s Self.

Heat.

I hear a song.

I am standing at the horizon, my hair

in every color catching in my open mouth

as I laugh,

remembering my nature

remembering I had whispered to myself

all along in the pitch of a bee’s hum

that I needed to give myself time,

patience, and the love to gather.

We are our own mothers.

We are La Loba.

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The Key

from prompt/share over at Real Toads

The book I am currently rereading is Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I chose this quote from the last part I read to write this three-stanza poem:

(She’s talking about the story “Bluebeard”–the ancient foe of both genders and he represents a deeply reclusive complex that lurks on the edge of women’s lives, watching, waiting, opposing;Bluebeard is innate in all of us-it has no conscious origin. Also known as “the failed magician” related to other fairy tale figures that portray predators of the psyche: normative looking but immeasurably destructive. He desires submission, superiority, and power over others.  /the predators of the psyche and Jung’s Individuation process and Animus–the masculine strength that also appears in her dreams as specific symbols; the last initiatory step of the Profound Initiation into the Wild Woman aware…):

All creatures must learn predators exist–to understand the predator is to become a mature animal who isn’t vulnerable out of naiveté, inexperience, or foolishness.”

A woman must practice calling up or conjuring her contentious nature, her whirlwind attributes, whirling wind symbol–central force of determination (*focused, not scattered) which requires tremendous energy to her fierce attitude at the ready. She won’t lose consciousness or be interred along with the rest. She will solve, for once and for all, the Interior Woman-Killing, her loss of libido, the loss of her passion for life, while key questions provide the opening and loosening required for her liberation…without the eyes of the brothers {animus} she cannot fully succeed…masculine energy…”

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation-in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness–the properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind; questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to open…if it is forbidden, it must be looked at, studied, and understood.”

It was a desperate thing–

turning towards any light offered,

as any flower turns to the sun. I thought maybe

maybe next time, the light will come from something I understand.

You smile, you nod, you agree…you keep your mouth shut and your eyes on me…

A posed doll, dreamed up like a doll and tossed and thrown about as such,

my painted salmon lips and brush-stroke lashes, trained to be tame, trained to give.

I could feel the strain and resistance in myself as I tried typing their script over

the pressed  hardwiring and design of mine. And all that I thought I had entertained grew old–

I, unchanging on the shelf. No identity to show? Then no identity to have. A nobody.
Tired, empty, but with a quiet something gnawing relentless at the corners of my guts,

when the lights went out and the room emptied, I summoned the light of the moon

and over a thousand nights I sought the question, the right wording to the question

that would open the back of the dress they stitched me up in, leading me out

and into my nudity, my body, my self. I conjured, casted, and picked apart

with the articulation of a mathematician over his favorite notebook

their script’s prescribed words in bold over the faint trace of the fonts beneath that were mine;

I chiseled, I cranked, I hammered–springs flew, nuts and bolts rolled away, in a sweaty-make-up-bleeding mess

I scraped up the first layer. My first sentence was the question.

I stood up and spoke:

“Who am I giving away when they demand to take?

and the seams came undone, the gingham falling away as I began to rewrite

over the faded words:

THEY TAKE FROM THEMSELVES.
I scraped at their words over mine even harder.

It went on to another question. And as I read it, I felt my body growing in size.

Who am I?

and as I read it aloud, I broke through the tiny house and into the night

a thousand nights

under the moon transformed by light

and I turned towards it to bloom.

Petals

This was published at Two Drops of Ink Literary Blog. It’s an almost stand-alone memoir …excerpt

 

I fish for the knife in the pocket of my dirty overalls and slice at Barbie’s pretty blue eyes, so they open. I sit and poke little holes where her pupils are, and then I saw at her ratty hair. I lick my bottom lip, almost got it. A pleasure fills me.

“Amy!” Nikki dashes out of the white hamper of a farmhouse, the screen door slamming shut. I throw the doll, stash the knife in my pocket, and leap out of the lilacs in time to see her break across the dirt driveway for the grass. I know she is heading for the apple trees.  The swing.

Lunch must be over because Gramma Helen walks out after, pressing her wrist to her lower back, her heavy arms tan against the white apron she always wears.

“Amy Jo, I know you was out here in them flowers again,” but I have no time for her, it’s my turn for the swing.

“Daddy John says he’ll push you now!” Nikki squeaks with excitement. I can hear the zip-zip of her corduroy pant legs racing ahead of me, but I know she’ll save it for me even if she wins.

The swing is made out of a splintered, soft wood with thinning yellowed ropes knotted beneath it, reaching up to the boughs of the crab apple tree. It creeks when I swing and the pink apple blossoms shake down like snow to the green grass my bare feet dangle over. I pick at the unraveling cords and notice the fresh grass stains on my knees around a medium-sized hole I had managed to make in the pant leg. I want to pretend it’s not there, that it will go unnoticed at home.

“I built you’s this swing,” I hear his muffled voice behind me now, but coming from high above so I know he is looking up, talking into his beer. I run my cupped palms up and down the rotting ropes. I think of how it feels oily, and it looks like the texture of Barbie’s wiry eyelashes. I start picking apart the rope, trying not to look down at the hole mom and my new stepdad will see.

Maybe my dad had strong hands when he built this because my efforts at its unraveling are making my hands sweaty. I pick and pick the cord, my movements getting faster. I ask for his knife, forgetting I had it in my breast pocket. My stomach drops out and all my anxious efforts with it—at first I have no thoughts at all but by instinct to want to curl up into a ball or protect my face because I had stolen it; then I realize I’m only with my Daddy John, so the reaction ends but I start to feel funny in my stomach again. I try not to cry because that isn’t good either.

“No now you’s girls don’t belong with knives,” the familiar slugging of his Adam’s Apple as he tips the can back again. My stomach settles. It’s just him, and we still have a whole day left here plus tomorrow. His eyes are large like Nikki’s but blue-gray like Jodie’s.

Somewhere a time ago, beneath a kitchen table in a yellow warm room, my aunt leaned over to say just to me under a tablecloth, “You have your daddy’s dark eyes,” and I watched her eyeliner disappear into the smile’s wrinkle.

We’re moving away, I know. To a big city. My things at mom’s are packed, and yesterday mom showed us how to write the loopy cursive “S” to our new last name. This is our last weekend with him.

I notice he has stopped pushing because the swing is still.

“Hey,” I hear his knees crack beneath the faded denim covering his long legs as he gets down and asks me what’s wrong.  I can smell the familiar Old Style on his breath.

I begin to pick at the hole in my pants, and then I focus really hard and start ripping it open even wider, that strange pleasure filling me again.

“Hey you, what’s the matter?”

I look at the dandelions beneath my feet, transparent as ghosts.

“You want one of these? You blow on this, see? And then you make a wish, and when they fly away your wish will come true!” His goggle-thick glasses magnify his long lashes as he grins.

How can you believe in something you can’t hold onto?

All I know about safety is here, on this farm. My stepdad takes up all space; he is massive, looming over me every time I stop running from him. The skin on his hands…his smell, his anger—I forget I am on the swing under the tree. My world there is exposure-his threats to keep the secret presses up like a blade against the thread that connects me to my dad. And my dad’s hands aren’t strong; my dad isn’t stronger than him, and my dad’s letting me go.

I wish I knew how to tell him “I won’t ask for anything; I will be a good girl for you if you keep me.”

He hands me the dandelion after he blows away the seeds-an ugly, bald stem in my chubby hand. I notice a seed left. I don’t make a wish; I already know somehow: he is too small to save us. Small like us.

Then I feel the sting of the rope scratch against my forearm and thigh, and I am jerked backward a little as he drops his beer can and attempts to stand—pulling on the swing for leverage, and begins to push me into the pink fragrance overhead.

Refractions

This is about the mystery muse who has been inspiring some of my best poems and essays. Including “Something Dark Like Jazz” Word Riot published back in July of this year.

Read the first Gray Areas here, if you are so inclined to read about this evolving half-fantasy half-real affair I am having, each Gray Area post is a new height, perspective, emotion, more thoughts, or just wandering around inside my mind, still in a respectful, silenced awe of things…

Refraction of Light

–sort of a poem, sort of just thoughts, sort of maybe the bones to an essay someday

I’m underneath your tongue--all the words you need to say, want to say, and are yet piecing together in your mind to figure out how to say what it is, exactly, you are, but in metaphor

pinterest
pinterest

You left last month.

Last night I was alone

beneath the streetlight, stars like braille punched in the night

my solitaire figure at four a.m.; and I stood

in the middle of the avenue looking up and around

into the midnight-purple leaves, into my shadow stretching

up the pavement; my breath coming out in a puffed vague cloud

and I think of my cold nose and lips,

it’s cold, and warmth

his

like his lips that puff in a vague red cloud, a soft frown

I’m underneath his tongue

alone in this streetlight, thinking he is with someone else

sound asleep

in his bed. His white sheets I want to entangle my limbs in

maybe surround a different woman-

not that that’s not okay with me, who am I to set fences around another.

But it’s the knowing that those words he might say across her skin

were inspired by desire for me, with me, by my desire for him, and he doesn’t know

I have rejected him out of fear

over

and

over

so he left, a rejection reciprocation if you will;

and he tells me now as I settle in alone into my new house

and hang up the art and paint the trim,

tells me right now how he loves, how he misses, how he longs

and agonizes underneath my tongue

Philosophize and figure, scour the cabinets

and linoleum, porcelain and wood, working up

a sweat to get the words out

always gotta get these words out goddammit

but there is no escape

not even with my arsenal of vocabulary;

I have tried to hurt, to push, to disappear, to lie

I take different streets I’ve never heard of

to get lost, to veer, wander, find an ultimate distraction,

find a medicine man or cheap palm-reader to tell me

silly, he’s not for you, don’t look back

So I don’t look back, but, see, this map must be broken

because the streets keep leading into each other

at new places and now

around the corner

he is standing there

I can smell him

just barely on the breeze that carries eucalyptus & jasmine

….if Satan had pheromones, it would be this

he manages spells out of me

and when I look in the mirror I see the turning faces

of all the people I have been

bending and pooling

into this one naked reflection in the cold gray dawn light–

I see the woman in the mirror I have hidden and held and set fire to,

flickr/pinterest
flickr/pinterest

I see the woman I am in his eyes through mine

and I realize that was the only way I’d see me–through

some different, difficult medium, a bent refraction, a test;

he murmurs what he sees when he’s in love and

he outlines with infallible logic and reason who I seem, all my secrets included as a sort of blood–unmentionable, but alive and key.

and this woman, he turns me, look, he whispers, look what I see, what happens inside her…

a fire

a gale force

hungry and almost unspeakably angry for having to have waited so long

to be seen;

my skin licks away from my skin in tongues

beneath his, lashing out only sound

and the words are written on our eyeslike stars, like the braille in the night over me, if you can’t understand, look him in the eye, answers unravel there and my lover doesn’t sugarcoat, so you have to be brave to look

–The urgency is measured by heart-rate, pulse, sweat, focus.

And passion is not just your body,

…I find myself

burning from the impact of our solitaire

existences colliding by accident, by chance,

burning even harder if that were possible–in that

aftermath-my body and mind pinned against the wall,

dismantling each other piece by piece as if in game,

to see what, maybe, is under there. To see if this person

is serious, if they either love or hate themselves that much

that they’d allow it. Only to realize you too are allowing it, and this

person is soft and safe but unforgiving and brutally honest.

Now the course of this cosmic collision is selfish,

it isn’t necessarily together, as each knows,

but for the moment …yes

they are an engine of molecular nightmares-

where one neurological disorder is remedied by another;

where re-wired re-fabricated regions in the frontal lobe

are set back to primal default;

where mania and mayhem, nightmares and flashbacks

are calmed and sated by prolonged exposure therapy, guts,

and whole lot of reciprocated acceptance–the kind of acceptance you value

because of all of your own dark secrets kept up your own sleeve you fear

someone will find out about you…

and then he does.

I fall into place

when he says he is proud of me,

that I am strong, that he’s been watching me grow stronger–

*perhaps we are given certain people in our life for this purpose only–to have someone that is so much like yourself but the complete opposite in how it is contained and you have faith and trust and honesty to a point of utter vulnerability–that bond is tried and tested and beaten because you test it harder than you’ve tested yourself, because you need someone, you really do need someone, to see you. And parts of you are reflections of your inner workings, your fears, your desires, your weaknesses and so on.

But

back to the mirror again–

he is not here

and

I am not there

but I am here,

and I see myself in the reflection this way, finally:

One image.

One image.

Mine. Me.   …I touch my angles with my fingertips…I can hold it, I can touch it.

One Reflection of one mosaic face

of the horrid, hideous, beautiful, young, aged, scarred, pure, difficult degrees–

all cast into this

one, terrifyingly beautiful image.

 

A refraction of light.

I say it shyly to myself, but somehow, for the first time, I believe it to be true.