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.

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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.

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/ )

Naming the Bones

And he said to me, while curled up, head resting in the space between my clavicle, eyelashes reaching the stars, “mama, when you die I’m going to keep your skeleton. I’m going to keep it next to me when I sleep.” I kissed him gently and told him that he could be the keeper of my bones, of what will one day be left. I name them: his treasure. I name them love. I name them devotion.

Our beginnings are soft, malleable frames, dipped in fluid, an encased sanctuary. Islands afloat an embryonic sea. “You began like this”, I tell him, “I miss those moments sometimes, where you were everywhere I was. When we were one. When I knew you in such a different way” I name these bones: temporary, happiness, innocent.

Our ending is hard, frail, broken, chipped, worn. Life’s map of erosion. An artifact, a keeper of records. Full of love and laughter, of grass between your toes. Of loss and guilt, of dreams and years imprinting themselves. He is 10. He knows this. These bones. The ones that carry him, shelter him, the ones that gave birth to him.The ones that have moved and contorted, that have eyes and ears all their own. The ones that grind.The ones that can cut down and tear up. The anchors, the ones that hold, that stay, the loyal ones. I name them: a work in progress, a list of secrets, an unfinished story.

#liberatedlines #liberatedlinesamplify #poetry #writing#namingthebones #bones #life #stories #maps

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

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.

If

If you crack the sternum, forcing apart the ribs, opening like spider legs you will see rows of dusty books, worn pages, creased and bent full of years passed.You will smell a field of daisies I ran in as a girl. You’ll hear whispered words of love, echoing anger, the sound of loss falling like soft rain. My heart may tighten and recoil, lungs expanding like developing cities. Veins like an electric grid. The image of an iron bikini clad warrior woman riding a tiger, sword raised in the air, she lives within, guardian of the bones she spills over. An open window of flesh. This is what pours out. 

An open window, beckoning in the light, the soft filtered kind that sifts through curtains, that finds the scalloped holes in lace. A soft breeze, hibiscus tea, a shroud of burgundy silk to wrap around your organs, a needle and thread to mend the broken pieces, to sew new stories making patterns out of tissue and cells. This is what is let in.

New and old passing each other in torrents of escape and embrace. A big bang, a kaleidoscope. A window in my chest, only slightly ajar. The ever present motion. In. Out. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.