A Burning Heart

This week I am burning things to the ground.
I am fire where my feet touch earth.
It pools in my eyes and seeps
out of every pore.
I have been holding it in
with pieces of wrapped sinew,
waxed leather and lung.

Trying to breathe, trying to inhale oxygen, in a world where the air feels sparse and coarse.

I break relationships.
I break rules.
I break regulations.
This week I broke the surface of calm.

Just enough to scratch.
Just enough to shift
like tectonic plates.
I made mountains out of imperfections.

I set the trees ablaze.
Scorched the roaming hills,
until the landscape was naked.
Bare boned.
True.
Truth.

Nowhere to hide.
Open and unabashed.
I stand before you.
Freedom.
Free.

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An Interpretation of Pain, Joy, Want and Love.

I’m not fond of the word; I don’t enjoy saying it
I don’t enjoy living with it
It haunts me.
It disrupts me.

Pain:
It lives in the hollows
The temporary recesses between breaths
Traveling by way of map
Of neural pathways
Of circuitry following systems sending messages to each other
One speaks.
The other can’t hear.
Doesn’t respond.
Can’t.
Quite.
Communicate.
The way they should.

It stores itself in my spinal column
Cervical vertebrae (C4-C7)
Stenosis.
Bone spurs.
Degenerative discs.

Dystonia.
It lives in my cerebellum
Screaming to muscles in my neck and shoulders
“Tighten! Hold Her! Don’t let her go! She is our prisoner of war!”
And I am.
Handful of medicine each morning
Shots of botox every three months to keep zombie muscles
from involuntary movement
Like a marionette on a string
One string to pull my neck to the left,
To violently grab it
To shake it, contort it
Like a car accident
Like whiplash
A spasm here and there
A twitch

The pain lives in my muscles so deeply it tricks me into thinking it’s embedded in bone.
The accompanying depression,
the insomnia,
the ever present knowledge that there are far worse things
Far worse things…
Still I ache every day
There is no cure
This is not cancer
This will not kill me
And still there is no cure

It lives in a room of skin next to me,
Some may say within me
Some may say my body.
We are roommates here
Imprisoned
Life without parole.

Joy:
She lives quietly.
She lives quietly and neatly and she is guarded cautiously
Kept in a carved wooden box lined with silk,
tucked behind my rib cage
Squeezed between blood and breath.
She sees through my eyes and drinks in words like water
She longs to fix and create
To birth and rebuild.
Sometimes I watch her drowning…
She tires so quickly.

Want:
Wanted.
Wanting.
All these things
Gypsies.
They come and go as they please
Some sort of an open door policy where my body is used
as more of a vessel than a conduit
I want.
They want.
We want things together.

Material things like red lipstick and black leather boots, a garden full of flowers, a new couch, money for rent in my bank account.

Then I want the things that I can’t buy or ask for or even truly receive as mine.

I want the forest, and the sunsets I miss so much from Tucson, I want my son the age he is now and the age he was as an infant and a toddler simultaneously. I want the songbirds to still sing to me in the middle of winter. I want grass between my toes all year round, except I live in, and love this little state that refuses to conform to my wishes. I want a partner who wants me, but then knows exactly when to give me space and the right things to say when I’m anxious, and who can leave before I say, “Go…” I want a partner who sees the ugly and doesn’t run but dives right in and digs deep, past the bedrock to find the beauty and truth…and the love.
The love lies deep.

Love:
Molten core, primordial soup, deep. Once you have it, it’s yours. A fierce, unwavering loyalty. It is boundless and foolish and whimsical. It makes a thousand mistakes and has been bruised and battered and keeps getting-no jumping back up for more. Love knows it walks with all of us. Love is elusive, but ever present.

Unfair and unjust?
Yes.
Cruel and blind?
Yes.

Loves flows in my blood and its opposite is not hate, it’s indifference, ignorance and apathy. Love lives in my son’s smile and his laughter and the sound of him breathing while he sleeps. It lives in my arms and has given life through my breasts and shed tears of joy and sorrow, like silent tributaries down my face.
Love is a necessity.
Love is a verb.
Love is an element.

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

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/ )