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.

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/ )

Inside out

image

Between the wind and the midnight fireworks
I fell
Inside my breath
Watching it unfurl
Dance like the flame in the night
Ring loud like bells colliding
In this one moment
I watch it burn
The leftover parts
The shedding of skin
My midnight oil
Dividing days and years
I saw words scribbled without thought
Shriveling
Dispersing
Leaving trails of thin smoke
Of dragon’s breath
Of lungs of fire and throat of coals
A tongue of ash
Teeth of ember
Spitting out these last words
These last vows
Of tethered memories
Into the flame
Into the last minutes
With the cold air batting my face
My bare feet resting in soft snow
This is ritual
This is clean
This is the frozen time
Where intentions and lessons learned
Walk hand in hand
A destructive resurrection
My phoenix
My wildfire
I welcome you
I leave you and meet you again
In the orange glow
In the fragments of spark
I find that moment
Closed eyes
Words whispered
Extinguished
The wild winds come in like harbingers
A cathartic release
The last minute
The last hour
The last day
Come and gather the unconscious
The subconscious
The divine layers that divide and bind
The melting, binding fragments
Stirred once over
Paper fragments escape
Carried away
I open
I fall inside
The flame fades out