Something to Be Said

Before I began to heal,

I wasn’t angry–

no, I couldn’t touch that

because that required will

and a kind of passion

to move.

You gotta outsmart

your wounds

and that is where

I began burning.

Trauma doesn’t run

its course and

return you.

You don’t bloom from it.

You bloom in spite of it.

And there is something to be said about a body that keeps moving.

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Healing

Before I began to heal,

I wasn’t angry

I couldn’t touch it

because that required will

and a kind of

passion to move.

You gotta outsmart

your wounds

and that’s where I started

burning.

Trauma doesn’t

run its course

and return you.

You don’t bloom from it.

You do inspite of it.

And there is something

to be said about a body

that keeps moving.

Noise Pulled into Notes

“Still, we ignite anyway,
becoming love in
a time of fire, almost
touching our lost
fingers in a collapsing
swirl of sparks—”

–from Brendan’s poem “Love in a Time of Fire”

I’ve been sitting on these words, so many words, and I have been lost on them and yet breathing them for too many seasons. Brendan’s poem above unblocked me, so here goes a start to what I am centering around:

 

 

It’s Just You. And a Pulse. And breath.

 

Carl Jung said

“The highest and most decisive experience of all…to be alone with one’s own self…whatever you choose to call the objectivity of the psyche…the patient must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation.”

I have been spending the last several months to maybe even since last winter when I wrote an essay about a little black flower, Papa Hemingway, and the circles we center around and travel and leave lost footsteps around. Here’s a clip:

“…Walcott’s old and tired voice deep in my own chest it seemed as he read: ‘I broke my own heart too. It’s broken and gone…you were my little black flower…’   And just like that, breathing was suddenly harder to do. My throat hurt, my eyes stung. I stopped walking. I stood there on the sidewalk staring into a sort of what I call a “shiver” of what was keeping me—a glimpse. Emotions rolled to the surface and my heart continued a forgotten ache. That line, that one line (I bit my glove off and replayed the audio) “I broke my own heart, my little black flower…”  The tears were a relief and I walked home with a hole in my chest. I replayed it over and over, pacing the warm wood floors, an eagerness growing in my body….”

Later in the essay I wrote “love doesn’t exist when it cannot get in or out-what keeps you are the black petals surrounding your center–and those petals are what you had left out of all that you had and lost , that kept you going.” –They are the pieces of you you spent your life giving away, letting, and taking from, cowering from yet hovering over your gutted pearl someone took from you and threw into the ocean, leaving you the shell sucking up silence like the ocean–an emptiness you would forever try to fill, your identity and worth words others use freely towards their own foundation.  You spend a lot of time losing yourself in what you thought you would be versus what you had become, and then that black flower dies and blooms again wild and new, into what you are becoming–constantly becoming. I am my own Black Flower. We all are.

I thought I had to find love from someone to fix this. To be the something that would pull the noise I am into notes. But love never belonged to me as my own, so I put it in a box-designed, painted, framed and absolute–so absolute that I couldn’t fit inside it right–loose in all that room. I thought love meant something was wanted from me that I couldn’t part with because there were so few pieces left. I was too small for what I Read More

Self-Preservation

The black fly on the window sill

I walk the dark hallways

barefoot in white.

Sleep. I cannot sleep.

My body shakes and rattles like the windows,

waves trembling.

I am silence.

Every law I have been governed by

dissolving in a strike of lightning.

Heart, heat, heart, what is this?

The panic that had risen like a monsoon

is calm and still, but rolling and boiling beneath–

me soft across the wood floors.

I can’t do this.

Do not come here.

The broken window sill, the sheer curtains billow from a gale

and the storm enters this house. But I don’t hear it.

The black fly drowns. Scurries. Tries. Out by the sea,

the purple dark blooming in the sky as the rains are coming;

I go out to stand at the edge of my island at midnight

letting it pour down my body.

Comfort comes against my will

and the edge of the cliff is near

but no man is an island, this I know.

Can’t he see maybe he is the ocean

and I am just a stone.

He is paddling hard in the distance pushing.

The sheets of rain hit me and he keeps on,

the boat growing near on the crest.

The heat, I cannot cool this down, I rake my skin.

Please, please don’t make it, I breathe out,

the tears are words I refuse to say.

I know he sees my pale frame on this edge, with

his warm eyes cast, these sure and strong hands,

courage in his chest, he is coming for me.

My god, he is coming for me.

I cast it—the spell webbed through my marrow is all I know–towards

his motion, you are the ocean can’t you see

and I am just a stone.

I call out the waves, I call out the lightning

and the wind, pelting stinging burning rain,

my anger growing

I arch my back and gather the elements in my arms

in an unyielding sphere

and I let go

the wave turns him over

the water swallows, the foam comes and leaves

the black fly on the window sill

is buzzing when I return in the lightning’s shadow

this house empty and cold

my return alone

it’s supposed to feel different…I’m supposed to sleep.

Shadows on the empty walls play like puppets.

I walk across the floor and puddles form

in the cracked dining room,

watching the white light inside that was too hot

shrink beneath my gown, then breasts, then skin and bone

ribs and blood and then I grow cold.

no man is an island, this I know.

Can’t he see maybe he is the ocean

and I am just a stone.

I crawl like a ghost onto the mattress

beneath the window overlooking the drop

to the sea

not seeing his boat break on shore

I watch the cracked ceiling in the howling wind

I lay down to it, the rain is seeping in

dripping and dropping on my cheeks like tears

I could never make myself yet now I am weeping.

My limbs numbing and hardening, toes to hips now

not seeing the figure on the rocks moving

toward the house below.

The last spell is for pain-

to stop the pain, to eat up the loneliness

that beats through my thickening veins.

I watch my girlhood in flashes:

years of fighting in flickering images. And then

the years of my womanhood–

trying to feel the sand on the shore when I had no skin,

years of building

this house out here.

The man ascends the white stairs, his shadow

passing up the stair well, passing the dead flies

at his feet.

I await the completion.

Absolution.

Washing all away out there.

My breathing slows and is now the only sound in the room.

Chest barely rising in its weight.

I cannot forgive myself even now.

He enters. I’m too frozen to hide as he nears.

Loneliness turns to fear that beats at my chest with wings.

I close so hard I shake.

I shake harder because he leans and touches my skin.

My god he wants to take it–the shaking–

and he does

and he makes love to it–

to me, I feel it on my body

touched skin

and suddenly the ocean of myself

is gone

and here he is with his

real hands and innocent eyes,

flesh and blood and bone

Can’t you see, he says, maybe you are the ocean…

and he takes the wings and quiets them

with his palm.

I feel a painful thawing.

It pushes me beyond fear and into something

like forgiveness

as he cups me up and tells me to bloom.

Love comes in doorways.

Love comes in from the long dark journey across your currents.

Love breaks and sinks and swims

touching you as hard as you are

and words fall

like tears down your lover’s face

as oceans of your own

tenderness tear through you and reach out.

We Wanted Selves

 

“When your lost, and you low, and you can’t get back again, 

I will show you you’re so much better than you know….

you think I’d leave you down when you’re down on your knees? I couldn’t do that…

…when you’re cold, I’ll be there to hold you tight to me 

when you’re on the outside and cant get in

i will show you you’re so much better than you know

when you’re lost and alone and cant get back again

I’ll find you and bring you home

If you want to cry I’ll be there to dry your eyes

in no time you’ll be fine

…If only you could see into me

when you’re cold I’ll be there to hold you tight to me

when you’re low, I’ll be there by your side…”

Sean Rowe, “By Your Side”

After second grade, I can almost draw the picture of myself falling apart and inward–in my bedroom staring into the closet in Green Bay, lining up dolls, the rituals beginning. But that’s another story. My sisters though, we never made a pact, we didn’t have each others backs out in the open–that was dangerous, and I am not even sure why. Maybe it was a matter of self-preservation. But we didn’t need to make one, a pact. We swore ourselves to each other from the beginning. Like my father driving drunk in the car on the back roads, my door flew open, I was maybe three or four, and I remember Nikki grabbing me so fast and holding me in as best as her little body could hang on. And that’s how she’s always been with us. Our sanctuaries, we knew, were not impenetrable to the one person I feared and hated and loved all at the same time; but they were strong enough to maybe remind us that we had each other, and I remember kind of feeling like the world would only get meaner. And maybe strong enough to have the hindsight that we weren’t going to be entirely OK, maybe not ever, but if we were OK together, then that small sanctuary would have to be enough. And it was.

But in the corners of the sanctuaries we were able to create together late at night when everyone else thought we were sleeping, a sanctuary, a home; we respected how each of us was designed (though we hardly understood ourselves) safety, and sort of a reference to each other like-

“–did you think he should have hit her? OK, I didn’t either, maybe it’s wrong? What do we do?–“ Read More

And Your Face, in the Mirror?

This is a poem structure of Louise Gluck’s, I copied the italics and answered the questions my way, and in this new draft, I am contrasting my old perspective when I wrote this with my perspective now. It has changed drastically-since the first draft of this poem two years ago. You can read the first, old draft here, from when I was in that dark space. Now for the new one:

 

“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I told myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive.

Believing it might make me so,

with whatever limitations I

guided myself by.

 

 

“But can you love anyone yet?”

I slipped across mirrors,

always mirrors.

I was only yet learning

my reflection, a face

I didn’t know.

 

 

“But will you touch anyone?”

 

I told myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.

I touched my body

in the mirror,

examined its rounds

and edges, the skin

an …other. Read More

Star Charts

Sobonfu was an African healer

-a keeper of the rituals of Dagara—

rituals of preparing and healing

mind, body, spirit

to receive.

 

You went to her with my letters.

 

You carried my pain in envelopes and journals.

 

And that alone cannot reveal enough how much I love you.

 

 

You combined our written grief

and went to her, placing and meditating

at the altars. Whispering through tears for

me to find my strength. For me to heal.

For you to heal. Heal from the madness

we had endured.

Heal from the sores this world

bit into us.

 

You were never as afraid of the world

I felt so swallowed up in. Read More

A Dream in My Mind

I have this recurrent fantasy where I’m lost in a forest so deep it’s purple.  The grass is black, the moss creeping up the trees is black, the birds chatter like the noise in my head.  Hungry wolves are near, always near.  Then, there, there’s an opening of light not far off, finally.  I walk to it, unable to cry anymore, unable to care anymore with hope.  But I go anyways.  There’s a field of strawberries spread before me, and mountains in the back like Switzerland.  At the end of the field there is a cottage with smoke coming out of a

Around the Island Photography at Etsy
Around the Island Photography at Etsy

stone chimney.  I walk through the white blossoms.  A crab apple tree slouches in the back of the cottage where the pink and white petals fall like snow.  I smell honeysuckle.  The noise is gone, the birds have turned into song, but I don’t notice this yet.  The sky has never been so blue, the grass so fragrant.

I knock on the wooden door but no one answers.  It’s unlocked so I open it and enter.  An old stove holds pots bubbling and boiling, fresh strawberries on the table by a window that has no glass.  Checked curtains sway in a gentle breeze.  “Hello?” I call but no one answers.  A hound sleeps lazily on its bed by the door, and a cat leaps to the counter by a bowl of eggs.  I walk through the rooms, doors framed in oak, a bed swathed in a handmade quilt, a basin of water.  I’m suddenly tired.  So tired.  I’ve never been so tired in my life.  And at last, at last, it must be safe to sleep.  Safe to sleep.  What a relief.  I lay down on the quilt, the springs squeaking beneath me.  Hours pass, and then days, and then weeks, and then months.  I wake to an old woman in an apron, holding a cool washcloth to my forehead.

“Where am I?” I ask, unalarmed–a new feeling.

“You’ve made it, my dear, you’ve made it home. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”