Tag Archives: autonomy

Dialogue of the Birthday Blues

What’s the matter, you ask, and why
With so much to love, do you want to cry?
As you’re still young with time to dream,
Life gives more to you than you need.

***

I will tell you what, I say,
Thirty-two’s two days away.
Two years more than three times ten,
Yikes, I’m older once again!

I worry yet that naught I’ve grown:
I have no family of my own,
I’m breaking every social rule,
And darn it all, I’m still in school!

So here I sit, bemoan my fate,
So many milestones, come too late
I should have been done years ago,
Instead I’m lost and rather slow.

I don’t know what I want to do
Once formal learning’s finally through,
Uncertainty cuts like a knife,
I’m not sure what to make of life.

***

Oh no, you say, and have no fear,
You needn’t agree with all you hear,
False expectations of a crowd
Who compare and judge … and talk too loud.

Why believe the things they say?
There’s nothing wrong with you, anyway.
Why hurry to fulfill a role
That’s not imprinted on your soul?

***

To heed such wise advice, I should,
If only I could claim some good.
Has come from all those years unfurled,
But I’ve changed nothing in this world.

Try to understand my gloom.
I rarely venture from my room,
And when I do, it’s such a mess,
A misadventure full of stress.

The trouble still remains for me,
That I take too long since I can’t see.
I’ve no accomplishment at which to point
My life appears so out of joint.

Or so say my friends who can’t disguise,
The fear in pity in their eyes.
How did I go oh so astray,
How could I have turned out this way?

They remind me I’m a Stanford grad,
And should not have it half this bad.
“Where’s the house, the job, the date?”
Protest my friends? “You’ll be too late!”

***

I’d question friendship of that kind,
I’d tell them so if I’d half the mind
But they’re not the ones who trouble me:
I care too much for you, you see?

Why listen to such knotted lies
They’ll seal your place with gilded ties
Just leave those should haves on the shelf
You are the author of yourself.

Too many values and ways to be,
Don’t foster authenticity.
So many making this mistake,
Turn from the chance to live awake.

Good enough, it can’t be bought,
Or given out as you’ve been taught.
Living well takes skill and art,
It’s not in tick marks on a chart.

Your worth is with you when you’re born,
So there is nothing here to mourn.
You are always where you need to be,
And share your light so brilliantly.

Lost Under Flesh and Bone

This is a poem I wrote a couple years ago after coming home from an ob/gyn appointment. Perhaps I should add that the doctor was actually incredibly kind, but that wasn’t enough to resolve years of trauma I experienced at doctors’ offices generally. I’ve subsequently done a lot of work on myself in healing, but this poem still captures a reality of the past that I remember vividly.

She took my hand
How did she guess
The depths to which I’d be afraid
If a connection were not made?

The landscape is full of craters and lost children
I close my eyes, though I’ve already gone within
She hands to me a prayer strand of beads
And they become a lifeline, from what’s mine to a distant soul, the deepest part of me.

It is the landscape that’s crying
While a substrate of hands are reaching, reaching
To name and to conquer, each sacred knot’s untying

Until I am no longer sure
Whether this is a laying on of hands for healing,
Or whether I am the frontier over which exploration is persisting,
For no boundary’s untouched by her endless insisting.

I lose track of which colonized countries I am mapping to my body,
And through thickets of gnarly briers I crawl,
Tumbling down the treacherous hills I climbed so young,
And though now I am not young, I feel very very small.

To the subterranean spaces, I dig down quickly,
Here I am alone, and no one can touch me.
The cave drips with water
So I let it drizzle echoes of my names.

The murmur at the bottom, is nothing but a river laughing,
I imagine it would not dare to laugh at me,
But giggles like a child,
A place to linger for safe abiding.

I am aware of a room and a distant conversation,
But I am in a salty womb, and have turned the grey tears warm.
Blood still pulses through my veins,
It would turn an angry red at the suggestion of exposure.

And it flashes through my mind, that day they cut the Glastonbury thorn tree down.
At least I will not be torn asunder, but earnestly I wonder
Whether I can demand the equality of silence, if I cannot be safe or sound.
I lie there still, an object for a while, wounded, unwound,

And forget I asked about existence
Or ever lived inside a song,
As the observations, voiced, are cataloged
And the search beneath a beating heart goes on.

I have forgotten that there or windows or that daylight comes in
My hands are fisted my face a warrior’s shield,
My true self, who I am, to this place, in this way,
I refuse to yield.

Reason left me at the door, with only a simple never-giving-in,
While what is happening is filtered through a sieve,
And all I feel is the fear:
Is it real, am I here?

And when I walk away there’ll be nothing to redeem,
No place to replant supplanted pieces,
No earth to catch a whispered scream.

I cannot hide from the person in the mirror,
I cannot hide,
I fill entire buildings with my taking space.
I long, in vain, to hide my face.

But my body is an earthquake and my foundations don’t hold
And that’s when I start to fold,
A tree into its seed.
Into my center I fold and enfold.

Moments march to mantras:
Oh I will not concede,
Oh this mothered child of new and old,
This is much more than just a loop of beads,

It is the acorn of a life I’ve wrapped myself around.
Far from the mountains under siege,
Mold me whole,
Keep me found.

And beneath the city walls
Far below the ground,
I send all those who can defend
The story that never should be told,

The song of myself
Belonging to the sky and land and sea,
The language of the wind,
The light that burns in me.

She not only seeks, she keeps, she asks,
She takes my hand, and what I was first, and what I am last.
And though I am now safe and sure and tall,
And unclench the fists, hand back a circle of beads,

I can’t imagine reaching out,
Yet do it with a smile.
For a while I don’t measure how far I had to fall.
In fact, for a moment I feel nothing at all.

But if ever I recall,
Each bead comes back to me,
Each a truth I long to cry,
Each a memory of something I lost silently.

Each a part of me,
That in the forgetting of the thing,
I simply left apart, behind.

And I don’t know how long it will take me to return
Back to myself, to the trusting of someone.
I, who am still lost under flesh and bone,
Retracing and reclaiming all I call my own.

For I know all about the duality of hands:
They can hold you, rock you, shape you, break you.
You’re a person or a thing,
Depending on how they treat you.

And they will make ruins of entire worlds,
Or rebuild them grain on grain of sand.
But just because, for a moment, they try to erase you,
It will never, ever, mean you’re theirs.

And some ancient people carved hands upon the stones
To make it clear to others where they dwell,
But I make my way solidly, and to myself I still belong.
And my place: surely it is ever I, the written carvings, and the song.