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.

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Today

Today the wind is wild.
A gust that smells of electricity
of anticipation
Today I sat on the wood steps
Several tears fell to my dirty knees and made tiny muddy tributaries

Today I wait with the storm to break
To let lightning be my fury
To let rain wash me
Cleanse me,
absorbing
seeping through the permanent ink
The second or third layers of stories
when secrets and lessons walk with me
shadows connecting at my feet

Today I let the thunder do the talking
droplets of rain bleeding ink on the page
Feed on words and water like leeches
Sucking them dry

Today I try it on
This new layer of epidermis
Skin like teflon
Where your words
your silence joins my silence and we co-exist
Letting syllables and insults slide off me
Thoughts coagulate

Today I shut it down
The willingness to engage
to explain and unearth

Today I am alone (we all are)
The unseen
I pass by people
Hide in plain sight
Under this humid, heavy air
Time slow like honey
Sticky like the sweat on my neck, my lips, my feet

Today I wait for change to come and find me.

How the Light Gets In

The light bends
refracts through glass panes
Dancing in and out of shadows
Penetrating curtains
like parchment paper

Yellow, amber hues
lost warm sap slithering on the walls like snakes
Pores releasing
Absorbing the heat

Pupils contract
A mask across my eyes
Beads of soft fertile sweat

Humidity winding my hair up like tendrils of morning glories
climbing stairs
Reaching

This is how my skin should feel
Golden, bronzed
Warmed from 93,000,000 miles away
Traveling to brush my cheeks

186,000 miles per second
Hurling itself 8 minutes from the past
From the gaseous star bubbling, breaking space

Seamlessly gliding through the atmosphere
To touch me
To remind me how small I am

It bends, it breaks, it cracks
Creating new shapes
Creating negative space
This is how the light gets in.

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.

Slow Heat

It’s a slow heat. The kind that pushes you into the earth. A warmth that takes you back decades where summer was endless and each day became a week, where you played until your eyes fell shut, heavy and full of wonder.

A heat that makes languid limbs, stretched like swaying branches. Strawberry lips, blackberry kisses and water that washes over you. Soft and deliberate like a lover’s touch.

Enveloping your pores, cooling hot thighs, toes digging in the sand. Sweat drips thick like honey. 

Irresponsible heat that makes you forget what day it is. That forces you to play like a child. The kind of heat that reignites attraction, that brings bodies together, sunkissed skin, sticky and sweet.

A heat that oppresses you, calling you out of walls, climbing in windows, whispering to you in the night…come play, come dance and melt and drip with me…and you obey. Your body saunters. Hot flow. You are a servant of summer.