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.

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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.

Equinox

Those thin lines between worlds, they hang like a veil, like a heavy gravitational pull. No borders between skin and air. Winds that wrap around trees like silk, turning branches and leaves to watercolors, ebbing and flowing.

A midnight veil, dividing day and night, as summer melts into autumn. Metallic air tasting like copper, brass, gold hanging under the silver moon, the platinum stars.

The midnight geese are calling, their trumpets echo, a symphonic rustling of leaves somersaulting, chasing time in the streets.

The cool air of dusk and dark enters through the window, like tendrils, it crawls along my neck and down my arms. It tells stories of migration, of black feathers meeting black sky, of synchronous wings beating, of spirits riding currents, joining the flock in unison, the trumpeters sing, “I’m coming home, I’m coming home”

To lay their heads down, the lost souls that touch my face, that take refuge in my heart, that settle themselves in the empty space of my bed. Let sleeping spirits lie, stretch their mouths and memories.

No borders between worlds, surrendered to the crevices between. The midnight geese, they call my name. The wild wind, she whispers…

Come home. Like the ghosts that guard the night, the ones who change the clocks and paint the seasons. When the dark arts coincide. Come through my window. Spin your worldly tales.

Where shadows drown the sidewalks and spirits thick like fog can walk among us, enter through us.

Autumnal migrations. You are coming home, to your insides, to your bones and breath. To a softer time of year where life gives way to death. Leaves falling at your feet. You are coming home.

#liberatedlines #liberatedlinesclear #wedontedit#noborders #equinox #autumn #spirits #poetry

What is clear? (Liberated Lines: Clear)

Clarity.The small space open in my window, letting the fall air drift in. Sweet smoky air, rich with dark clouds, sounds crisp and piercing. A rustle of leaves. The beginning change where humidity is chased by the amber hue of sunset, as if the air paints the colors seen through golden eyes. That light that lingers, that catches the last colors of flowers, petals drifting. Geese calling me back, echoing like ghosts, replacing songbirds who sung me to sleep in the warm summer nights. A stillness, a space. A moment frozen between seasons. Senses heightened. Thoughts muted, mind unfurled, stripped like branches tapping on my window.

Writing from Our Word (response to shamanic drumming and visualization)

I intended to be in the forest, sitting down and looking up at the trees, feeling my smallness in comparison. As soon as the drums started and I closed my eyes, there was a flash. I immediately become a red-tailed hawk, not entirely; I can still feel my human body. It enters me. I am a hybrid, human and hawk. My chest rips open (I can see through first and third person at the same time, which is often how I dream.) My ribs expand to be a broad chest. The energy flows down my arms, expanding to wings. My bottom half remains- legs, feet dangling. I am floating above the forest, near the sea. It isn’t a familiar forest, or sea, but one that feels as if I know it inside and out. My eyes are sharp and crisp. My face changes, my nose to beak, my eyes gleaming yellow. I circle the woods. I circle a fire below. I feel the wind run through my feathers, lifting them. We are one, the hybrid. I can still form thoughts like a human, yet feel everything as a hawk, my human body just resting inside. My legs disperse into a tail, spreading, stretching. Wiry legs sprout from my hips. My heart beats differently. I have consumed the hawk and it has consumed me. It runs through my blood. I start to lose balance, the earth seems to shift. I fall. I am diving into the sea.

As soon as my arms (wings) touch the water I am heavy, diving deep, pressure building. I see from outside myself. I see a humpback whale. I am that whale with my sensual curves and ripples, my haunting eyes. I dance in the water so gracefully and open my mouth, breathing in the water. I roll over and thrust myself upward, pushing the water to the depths. I glide out of the water, feeling the water drip, feeling the cool air. I am soaring, the hawk and the whale separate, yet one. I fly over the forest, back to the fire. I touch the ground. I circle the fire, still feeling, yet also seeing the hawk and the whale. I feel the fire. I circle it once more. Transparent faces shoot in and out of the trees. They flicker like fireflies. Ancient faces, spirits- they are here to watch us, to witness this ceremony.

I walk, looking down at the soil, this perfect circle of barren soil carved out of the forest. The fire. My feet. My feet are paws. The hawk and the whale sway opposite the fire from me.  I feel my teeth (sharp and strong.) I feel fur. I am regal and wise. I growl from deep within, like an echo in a cavern. I am a wolf. The wolf is me. I lift my nose, a familiar scent wafts over me. A deer steps close, I can almost taste it. I look to the whale and the hawk. We begin dancing, spinning in circles around the fire. I feel the weight of the whale rocking. I feel the wings of the hawk stretch and twist, moving in rhythm. My paws kick dirt and I move low to the ground. I roll my head from side to side, my shoulders grinding deep. I drop my hips. I move seductively. I stalk.  I JUMP! Antlers burst through my head, growing like the branches of a tree. I see the wolf, the hawk, the whale. They see me, they KNOW me. They hear my heart beat. The beat grows faster . I stomp my hooves (my feet.) I feel bare feet for a moment, inside and outside the hooves. There is no space between bodies. I can’t tell where I end, or begin. Do I end or begin?

I walk with pride. Tall, methodic, I dance. All animals dance around the fire. I see all the animals from outside. I see my feet with pale skin in the night. The air touches my breasts, my hair. I breathe the animals in. I see a smokey form of each of them rise above the fire toward me. Their bodies remain dancing around the fire. They have given themselves to me-the hawk, the whale, the wolf, the deer.

It is dark night. The fire burns bright, setting a tree ablaze. It picks up its roots and moves into the circle, slowly and calmly burning, as if it were meant to be on fire. It stands still, towering above us. I am alive, electric. I am sensual, my hips grind. I feel orgasmic, my body light. A wave of warmth comes over me. My legs part, my vagina is hot, panting like a dog. It smolders like the fire. I swallowed the animals; their smoke selves… and now I birth them, the same smokey apparitions emerging from me, becoming one with the flame, and sharing space with the smoke.

I climb into the wolf. I snarl. I hunger. Without thought I lunge at the deer. I grab it by the throat and pin it to the ground. As soon as it touches the ground, before I can taste blood, its flesh is gone. No meat, no skin, just bones. It lays- perfectly intact skeleton, its heart resting, its heart still beating secure in an empty ribcage. All animals fall like dominos. Down go the whale, the hawk, and then the wolf. All skeletons, all hearts still beating. I am now removed, watching from a distance. The skeletons rise and stand, animated. They dance and circle the fire, drawing closer. My flesh is glowing orange. I feel the heat. We, I, they, us walk into the flames.

We burn with pleasure. We have no fear. We disperse, molecules separating. Time slows and electrons spark, molecules swirling and merging with the smoke.  The smoke rises and changes shapes. The fire cracks and shoots up like a geyser, falling swiftly back. The smoke is me. I am the smoke, still dancing. We are the hawk, the whale, the wolf, the deer. The tree still burns. We take one shape. We rise in curls, in tendrils. In little clouds we gather, we form. We become leaves of smoke inhabited grass sent to the sky. We grow into a flower, a fern, we continue to rise.

The skeletons now lay in a circle around the fire pit. The fire sucks them in. They are fuel. We are fuel. We burn bright. The smoke becomes a geyser, shooting to the stars. The fire goes out, the smoke lingering with the stars. The sky falls. The night is pitch black. The stars litter the ground like fallen leaves. The sky lies with the soil. There is only soil and sky. I, me, they, us are nothing but soil and sky.

Heat Rests Here

I feel the heat of my pulse like syllables, traveling down my arms. Sometimes singular syllables, sometimes strings of them forming words my lips don’t dare speak. They leave my hot empty breath and force themselves to the carved space of my collarbone. From there they warm my shoulder sockets, rotating. Crawling like an army of ants inside my flesh, making their way to my wrists entangling themselves with nerve clusters.

It is a flowing heat, never burning, but reminding. Pouring out of my hands like open floodgates, traveling through tributaries in the lines of my palms. Stretching to my fingers, to the delta of heat.

Pulsing, putting those syllables together, forming silent sentences from the hollow within. My fingers do the talking for my weary voice. They carry the responsibility of holding pen to paper, pushing electronic buttons. My words are incubated here, fed and manipulated. The heat rests here. It settles like the sunset. Like each finger holds a single eternal flame.

Practicing the Art of Opening

Open like a field
Grass between my toes
Brushing against my shins
Every insect alive with sound
Wings buzzing
Legs rubbing together
I sing with crickets
Their rhythm like the beat of my heart.

Eyelids jump like grasshoppers
Arms stretched like a praying mantis
Skin tight like a chrysalis
I sway with the wind
Bending like branches
Lips wet like morning dew on petals.

My thoughts carried on the thorax of ants
Twice my weight
Heavy and with purpose.

I open like a meadow from the forest
Streams of sunlight bursting through shadows
Translucent skin
Hot sweat
Sweet like nectar

Words fall like pollen
Dusting my tongue
Dispersing like cottonwood tufts
Seeds traveling high above my head
Free to find new homes
New roots
To share fresh soil with my heels.

A robin’s nest in my belly
Eggs as blue as a summer sky
Incubating
Hatching in my left ventricle
Wings erupting
Breaking my heart open
Spilling out of my chest
Resting on blades of bright green
Cutting me open
Like a wild raspberry bush
Aggregate fruits

Symbiotic mutualism
Every organism connects to another
Like veins
Like spiderwebs

Open like
Laws of thermodynamics
Energy cannot be created
Or destroyed

I am circadian rhythms
Evolving entropy
Carving out my niche