Chambers

If you press your ear against my chest you will hear a clock ticking, a slow and heavy pendulum dangling.

An aorta feeding organs blood, the sound of rushing rivers and waterfalls in suspended silence, then crashing on rocks below. Inside four chambers lie four very different worlds. One gray and black with a murmur, a flutter. A beat. A murmuration of birds, flying together as one shape changing trapeze act. Shifting with wind, with movement of an arm or the brush of fingers through hair. My body conducts them, endlessly swirling, colliding like chemical flakes in a snowglobe.

Second chamber is a field of grass where I would run naked as a child and pick daisies that were as tall as my head. Remembering the feeling of grass touching my skin and coloring my legs like a paintbrush. How the world was seen from inside that field and it stretched for as far as my eyes could see. A quiet crawlspace of a chamber where one could crawl beneath the grass and hide with crickets and ladybugs-poke your head out to be touched by butterflies.

Third chamber is for my sorrow. It is deep scarlet red, with chocolate undertones. This chamber is cold and hollow, yet full of voices and words that bounce off walls. Words like sex and love and ache. Words that mean betrayal and feel like sharpened knives. This chamber is for storage, full of drawers and old letters filed next to lessons learned and categorized by relevance. It is cluttered and often gusts of wind come in and scatter everything. Your patterns become clear stretched out before you and you promise you won’t make that mistake again-but you do, you just do it differently this time. You disguise it, but underneath it’s still the same. You cannot truly grow in this chamber. You come here to learn, to remember, to grieve.

The fourth chamber is for my son. A safe space beneath my breast where he still cradles his head and listens to the rhythm of my breath. Of my beat. Of the first sound he knew, before my voice, before a song or a story read. My pulse was his music, his soundtrack to dance to. He knows the sound of it racing or panicked, the sound when it sleeps or is alarmed, the sound it makes when I’m relaxed or contemplating or when I’m giving birth or when I was breastfeeding.

If you pressed your ear to my heart beat you would hear whispers of birch bark and beds of ferns by the edge of a bog, you would hear owls calling in the night, a galaxy being born and another dying.

You would hear the words, “Don’t leave me alone here.” You would hear fear and the voice of a little girl who just wanted to please. You would hear the words, “I just can’t let it go” and they would be a lie, because I can let it go, I choose not to. I choose not to because sometimes it’s easier to hold onto something that has hurt you when that pain has become so familiar that you know it like reading braille with your fingertips. Hurt is intimate. So instead of letting it go, you let it stay. It may be one of the only memories you have left of him. You may have thrown many of the good ones away. And sometimes we need reminders. You would hear the words, “Sometimes we need reminders, that even though love is painful, we accept and choose that pain. Sometimes pain is more familiar than pleasure.”

You might hear the sound of a smile, or my heart swelling, you might hear it burst or set itself aflame with anger if someone it loves is being mistreated. It may tell you to go. It may not say a word. It’s a powerful, yet fickle living machine.

If I stretch my limbs out I can feel it pumping, pushing blood to my fingertips and circulating. If I listen carefully I can hear it flow through my head, the murmur, the beat, the memories.

Murmuration
Beat.
Childhood
Beat.
Sorrow.
Beat.
Son
Beat.
Heart
Beat.
Write
Beat.
Now
Beat.

Advertisements

Where do I go?

We all have those places we run to, the places we retreat to, in the recesses of our minds, in the dark corner, under the covers or out in a sunlit field. I asked myself, as I ask you, where is your space? What do you claim as your calm, your quiet, your escape? Where is that safe space in time that holds you tight like the womb, where you can unfold and be…you -in all your glory, wrapped in lessons and memories held by skin and days or months or years. Where do you go?

I asked myself several years ago where I would rest if I died. I know not in a box, not in that sense, but a place. If we were supposed to choose our ideal spot, the one special piece that had become the landscape of our heart. My answer was a series of questions.
Nowhere and everywhere.12687769_10153812315116166_1028088449205451360_n

Did it really matter?

There was no place.

There were places; in time, in memory or emotion, in imagination or longing of traveling to places I’ve never been.

Sometimes I close my eyes and I find myself in corners of empty rooms, brightly lit. I see myself curled tightly, chin resting upon my knees, like steady, solid guards protecting me. There are times I need complete solitude and space, where the walls are pale, pale yellow or cream or orange and the paint is chipped or peeling, little fragments scattered on the floor which is warped wood full of scratches and dusted footprints. The space is abandoned, overgrown with broken panes of windows where nature creeps in, tracks from small animals and stray feathers from birds, dead leaves create sparse blankets or nests and in this forgotten space, there is still constant and deliberate growth. A familiar oddity. Sometimes I go here. I take and leave nothing. I never even speak.

Other times, with my eyes open wide, I leave sidewalk and traffic lights, sirens and stop signs, neon lights, barking dogs, the sound of skateboards hitting the pavement and engines humming. I trade them for carpets created by conifers, for the way that the underside of birch bark slides like silk across your skin. Traffic lights become crickets and neon a form of firefly. The modern disappears and it is the forest and I.

This is home. This is the place my feet know. This is why my soles are calloused and rough and shaped by earth-because walking barefoot through the wild is important to me. Because my feet need to feel earth. They need to touch stick and stone and be comforted by moss, challenged by thorns and ice cold rivers. This is why I leave shoes behind in the summer, why I tell my son to do the same. So he can know the feel of soil and sap and acorn caps and various textures of lichen and mud between his toes and speak its language. My home is the forest, but home is not always where we need to be.

When I need escape, when I need to lose my skin and become light to shed layers and feel golden and ancient and connected with time, I arrive in places I have only seen in dreams, where maps and globes and pages in books pull me. Here my sternum is lapis and my crown is moonstone, my eyes are boulder opal and lips of garnet. I walk through walls and time. I walk among stars and gravity has lost its hold on me. I belong in parts of the planet I’ve never been. Here I am a different self, a version that cannot exist anywhere else.

When I need wisdom, raw truth where there is no filter and I can hear myself clearly I travel back to Tucson, Arizona (in my memory) to the Saguaro desert. I remember seeing it for the first time in daylight, how there was no canopy between me and the sky-nowhere to hide and the arms of the cacti twisted and stretched through the swirling waves of the heat.

Where Earth was raw earth. Bare rock and bone.

The heat held me tightly while I stared at the long forgotten, dried and deadened sea that lay cracked before me, too hot, for even my calloused feet to conquer. Forcing salted drops of sweat on my skin. Raw like placing yourself in the middle of the sun’s territory and surrendering.

This desert tore me apart, it stripped me bare and then filled me with life when I least expected it. The desert birthed me as a mother, as I birthed in it, my son. It holds truths I’d rather forget, but can’t, and memories so beautiful I want them running like an endless filmstrip in my mind.

I often revisit that beauty of raw pain and joy.
The beauty of the naked truth.
The vulnerability.

Wild

Inner Wild

wild (v.)
“to run wild, refuse to be tamed,” Old English awildian (see wild (adj.)). Wilding (n.) in the teen gang sense first recorded 1989. Earlier it meant “plant that grows without cultivation” (1520s).

wild (adj.)
Old English wilde “in the natural state, uncultivated, untamed, undomesticated, uncontrolled,” from Proto-Germanic *wilthja- (cognates: Old Saxon wildi, Old Norse villr, Old Frisian wilde, Dutch wild, Old High German wildi, German wild, Gothic wilþeis “wild,” German Wild (n.) “game”), from PIE root*welt- “woodlands; wild” (see wold).

wild (n.)
“uncultivated or desolate region,” 1590s, in the wilds. From wild (adj.). Earlier it meant “wild animal” (c. 1200).

When my Wild self crawls out in an untamed howl she screams like a banshee, she speaks in tongues and sounds of fury and love. Like a chorus of mother wolves, she paces and circles within me, within her marked and carefully guarded territory. She breaks through me like medusa encased in stone, follicles of snakes dancing upon her head, ready to walk barefoot down the sunken trail.

She is fierce and often reckless, a Wild uncultivated tongue that tastes sweet like roses and honey, tendrils wrapping tightly, piercing ever so gently with thorns that dig in and cut the surface, the Wild longs for the depth, she seeks what lies beneath.

Unleashed Wild likes to shapeshift and crawl inside and around, feral like an animal, others know her as Instinct. Wild like Instinct, and action without thought. Wild like when we allow ourselves to be animals, to lose language and move bodies as our predecessors did- walk on all fours or slither around each other like invertebrates. Wild bodies tangled like undisturbed forests, Wild like mating calls and rituals, like fire and wind that speaks through branches of trees.

A mouth wide open with dry lips and the shrieking echo of a red tail hawk flying. Wild like the way it finds you, the way it circles you. One, Two, Three times. Wild like soaring upon air, like sunlight illuminating wings. Wild like speaking to animals, like knowing their words and gestures. Wild like knowing the shape and size of their bones beneath your skin.

Wild as in untamed, as in no one can capture me or hold me down or plant my feet. Wild as in I am solitary, often by choice, sometimes by circumstance, mostly by acceptance.

Untamed like the blood running through my veins, carrying choices from generations passed, entwined in my DNA. Wild like winds that shake the barely in Ireland where many of my father’s side once lived and I stare at the family crest and wonder what they looked like, what they thought and who they loved and what they knew of hardship and suffering.

Wild like Native American blood, like a connection to the land that calls to me in my sleep that I have no living link to, no formal stories aside from the ones my eyes hold in the deep.

Wild like my matriarchs before me, like the imagined selves they never got to be.

Wild like the time I was 11, it was summer and my skin was sticky from a humid day. A thunderstorm moved in, and something pulled me, some Wild spirit. I challenged the storm, I opened the door and ran barefoot up the trail in the woods as fast as I could. I ran until my lungs burned and my head was light. I waited under a stand of trees and sat on my favorite boulder and I stared at the empty field before me as I watched lightning strike. Wild like knowing I could have- that I should have turned and run home the way I came.

Wild like just following my feet, never telling my mother I was leaving. Wild like my anger.

Wild like my breath and the beat of my heart and the slow yet deliberate smile that came across my face as I leaped from the rock, ran into the pouring rain and feet hit the muddy and slick grassy field. Wild the way that time stops or slows down or changes how you recall things when your body fills with adrenaline. Wild that I had the arrogance to challenge such a storm. I ran through the field and I heard a symphony playing in my head, the thunder crashed and lightning broke the sky and I ran across the field and into the dirt road, with rocks cutting the soles of my feet and my mother’s voice in the distance calling me.

Wild like in that moment- feeling so brilliant, so defiant- against myself, the laws of nature, against luck and chance and my own physical limits. Wild like I had uncovered true freedom. I stood in the middle of the road, bent over catching my breath, hands resting on my knees, tired and soaked from summer rain that carried courage and a certain sense of immortality.

I knew from that very moment I loved the Wild; the noun, the verb, the adjective, whatever shape or form or synonym it took. I knew— raindrops brushing my eyelids, rib cage expanding, feet bleeding, my heart and mind aligning, that I was bound to Wild.

I would never truly be a woman you could tame.

 

Credit to:Jeanette Leblanc @http://www.peacelovefree.com/ for providing prompts to inspire this writing

An ask. A thank you.

  1. An incantation, a prayer, an ask.
  2. A thank you.

1. I ask for knowledge from the deep. Not just the deep, but the depths where I can’t reach, of my time here, my so-called footprints, of which I have purposely left none, yet many silently remain. I want deep connections, under soil. out of sight from the naked eye. Invisible communication.

An intergenerational mycelium network of dreams and experience, of stories that were forgotten to be told. Stories that may be of little importance to you, that one day may speak something, may call out some answer that’s been searching for me- for my son- for my sister-for the forgotten stories to be finished, to be heard through photographs and sewn together memories, with finely crafted holes like lace curtains, or the change left behind in the cracks of chairs after the owner is gone, small things like the smell of molasses or the smell of rum. The way we used to talk and how people often share their depth, their deep when you least expect it, when you’re often too young to fully understand or appreciate. But it sticks to you, like that sweet molasses, like stains of grass to your summer legs. These are the depths I mean. I want this. I ask for more of this please.

I don’t ask questions of deities, don’t clasp my hands or beg for forgiveness or mercy. I have a percentage of faith, i just can’t and don’t feel the need to name it. Some say atheist. I’m just not a hunter or gatherer of worship. It seems as though I learn exactly what I need, albeit often the hard way, but life has never been easy. It just doesn’t work that way. So I won’t ask for peace, or good health, because these things are by law of nature, only temporary. Life doesn’t work that way. Isn’t it beautiful and terrifying? Blissful and tragic? And somewhere between lies the magic itself.

When I ask for deep and depth I mean… remember that time when I was 8? Circa 1985? It was summer on the Cape. On the beach after a raucous electric storm had woken me half the night. The sea called me that morning. It was gray and wet, an ominous, cold day.

I climbed over wet dunes with winds still humming through the sea grass and stepped onto the beach. The Atlantic had washed ashore treasure from the deep. From depths I could never dare to swim. Creatures I had only seen behind glass. The beautiful and the terrifying. Deep like this.

The price for release from the sea was death. Secret, beautiful death along the beach. It may have been the first time I realized what irony meant. So surreal, the happiness at getting to be so close with these creatures and knowing the violent death they must have died, drowning in thin air, too much oxygen.

I found a stick and walked over to a manta ray that had found its resting place near the base of the sea wall. I half hoped it would be living so i could push it back to the sea. The stick broke under the weight of its fin-like wing. I wandered through pools of refugee jellyfish waiting for the tide to take them home, studying them with desperate fascination, picking up horseshoe crabs and sea stars, washed up, empty homes of shellfish. These were gifts or ghosts or messages from the deep. From the depths I could never reach.

This is the type of depth I seek.

2. A thank you.

A thank you for endless curiosity. For the everlasting quench to know more and explore and seek new things. Thank you for chances to be wrong and to learn from them. Thank you for realizing that I am a forgiving person, that I strive to be a forgiving person and that anger is a poison and toxin in my body. Thank you for teaching me to love, but not to hate. Thank you for a wonderfully flawed child who is my teacher and friend and who has shown me what it is to be a true warrior, to truly fight for justice. Thank you for my own flaws, being perfect would be exhausting and really there is no such thing. Thank you for this moment, for this opportunity. For knowing that I don’t know half of what I’d like to. Thank you for this life being a journey, a process we travel in our own ways.mary ghost

Ode to a Four Letter Word

Ode to a four letter word:

Own.
Your.
Shit!
Your secrets and opinions
your scars
your mistakes
your misspoken words
your hurt
your intentions
your respect
your flaws.

Work.
That.
Shit.
Moving Earth with every step
Every toss of the hair
Every flirty smile
Well polished on the outside
In the way you move
the way you carry yourself
Take notice
Work.
It.

Shit happens.
As if this phrase ever helped anyone.
Yes, of course shit happens
It happens to others
To people that aren’t as fortunate as me
It doesn’t negate my perception
My truth
Shit happens
as a dismissal of true emotion
Is this shit even relevant?

Enough.
Enough of this shit.
Your tongue churns out lies like they’re hot off the press
Like a record skipping
Hollow words
No depth
No meaning
Enough of this deadbeat dad shit
This nationwide epidemic we ignore shit
Enough of this poor single mom shit
This struggle to get by shit
Enough wiping my son’s tears
Crying for his father
For any father
For a man he will never know.
Fuck that shit.

About to lose my shit
Yet it always comes slinking back
Anxiety tightens the brain
and you run out of deep breaths to take
Teetering on the edge…
of what?
What would it look like to just surrender?
To just give up?
To just let shit go.

Quit.
Talking shit.
Pack that shit
Pass that shit
Light that shit
Smoke that shit
That green shit
That “take the edge off” shit
Quit.
Taking shit.

You tell yourself it doesn’t mean shit
(but it does)
You tell yourself you are
Over this shit
Done with this shit
Yet, you keep coming back for more
This shit
This waste
It camps out inside you
Gypsy traveling sadness shit
The wander the earth alone shit

The realizing
We are all in this together shit.
Rebuild shit
Reinvent shit

Stop.
Stop this shit.

Three Words

Three words

A silent scream
Feminist messages unfold
My origami womb
Keeps changing shapes
Folded, manipulated, locked.

My womb is
full of wonder
Heavy with ghosts
Full of emptiness
Phantom feet kicking

My womb is
a safe haven
A soft pillow
Lay your head
down and dream
Golden, swollen chrysalis
My womb a

home long abandoned

Keeper of secrets
Shielded by loss
It leads me
Speaks to me
It bleeds me

My womb is
a temporary graveyard
For lost souls
For those who
misunderstood the meaning
the word, NO!
For the burden
I cling to
For the seconds
For the minutes
For the hours
taken from me

You start to
Believe the lies
truths you were told
All parts rearrange
into faded images
worn out edges
Into stories without
a happy ending

A place that
once held life
once held hope
foolish little dreams
You wanted touch
that ripped through
ribs of iron
Eyes of steel
watching over me

My womb forgives
the improper entries
a naive girl
lost and longing
defiant and angry
I learned to
listen, patient love

I owe my
womb an apology
For ever doubting
For never trusting
My own instincts
For censoring expression
For leading it
the wrong way
For shed tears
For silencing you
For treating you
Like a sidekick
Like a kick
Like a thorn
in my side

I apologize for
too many years
for not fighting
back, when all
I saw was
Black, bleak, blurry
For my feet
that couldn’t move
For abandoning myself
For running away
For letting you
hold this space

For accepting this

For the escape

(inspired by prompts from http://www.isabelabbott.com/writing-the-womb/ )

Anchored

Anchored, I am tethered
Marionette strings,
I dangle
Abyss below
Eyes close
I am air
I am breath
Breathe.

Anchored, I am suspended,
weightless
The world rolling off my shoulders
The phantom planet tumbling
As heavy gusts lift me
Where memories fall soft upon your skin like snowflakes
Like warm rain.

Anchored, I am free
to roam and wander
to hold hands with spontaneity
I am exploration
Unmarked territory
Open space.

Anchored, I am
Silent.
I am lights off and shapes of shadow
I am arms wrapped tight around thoughts
I am a reminder
I am resurfacing and adaptation.

Anchored, I am
Safe in my skin
I am black and white
wooden frame on a wall
Circa 1983
Head falling back
Party dress
Feet almost touching the sky
I swing
Soft wind in my hair
Sailing through time on a tire swing…

Anchored, I am
That moment
That minute where gravity escapes me
and gently brings me down again
A slow, determined pull.
That kind of freedom,
Pine trees and blue sky.

Anchored, I am
limber,
arms and legs swaying
I am alive in these spaces
These random pauses
Between the love and the lonely
Between chaos and sleep
The flashes your brain captures
Snapshots.
Filmstrips.
A glass jar of stories mingling
Whispering eternally.

Anchored, I am
bone and flesh
heartbeat and fingertips
molecules and ribs
synapses,
muscle memory
I am tooth and nail
Involuntary electricity.

**(inspired by writing prompts from http://jenaschwartz.com/writing-groups/ )