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.

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.

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.

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.