Tag Archives: prose poem

To All My Relations

August 28, 2011

On this small road winding through, it’s one step taken at a time. If my mind doesn’t remember the way, the blood in my veins pulses with knowing it, and the knowing of it courses through me fiercely, like I might burst with it, might fragment like broken pieces of wood, scattering.

I want to cry, I want to shout, I want to close my eyes, dream away the dark, dream until even my waking hours are of nothing but hope. I want to run, run and soar across this landscape howling with abandon, my voice flinging what eerie wails of sorrow and the sudden shrieks of joy only the earth beneath my feet and the sky above have cried.

I want to hold small children and comfort them, I want to stand in the middle of a field under a radiant sun, a warmth that could quell the chills that come with changes. I want to stand on a cliff so I can feel what it’s like to teeter on the edge of falling and not make a sound. I want to dive into a mountain pool, reassuring the water by my body turning cold that I am living, so my warmth can try to melt the icy past that causes me to freeze sometimes, even now, then rush to the surface, calling upon the wind to give breath to all that needs saying.

I want to know who I am and who we are, I want to hear my own songs echoed in others’ voices. I want to recognize myself in what others tell each other, I want to tell you my dreams. But most of all, I want to tear all I know apart until I come to the heart of the matter, speak softly, flail like an abandoned child, laugh until tears come to my eyes and the earth shakes with me, and hold you as if we were dying to live.

I say I am powerful, for I have made choices and will make them again, and I want to mold myself into words, spell them through my own motions, dancing them over and over, until, springing into action, I am whole and freed of standing still.

I say I am an ocean, for there is so much living within me, because I am gentle and strong, both crashing waves and tide pools hosting young. I am water, for I cannot be contained, I am the fires you lit on the hills, for I burn to rekindle the dreams we have lost, to leap into what is to come. I am drifting leaves, I am the cry of ravens and the lost and the found. I am the wind, for I will not stop rustling between the trees and around the faces of our children until I have carried all our tears and all our songs around the world. And I am the landscape that calls, that calls, which is why I must answer, speak for myself.

Strength is not just the courage of facing death, or hardship, or loss. It takes courage to love, to feel your own joy and the happiness of others engulf you and sweep you away, out of your own cocooned fur lined shelter you call your head. It takes strength to walk the path of those who have gone before, to weep with those whose despair has never left them. It takes strength to lie still, giving into another’s touch, to another’s dreams, and even to acknowledge needs of my own. I only hope I have that inside, when it is my turn to grow up, take my place in this world. And first I will return,and then, and then, and then, I cannot even imagine what will happen next. What will happen next?

Perhaps nothing will happen. Perhaps I will simply sigh with relief, or find nothing at all. But that will just mean more choices, more wondering, more wandering… and for a while now it has never been an easy thing to call somewhere home. It is all I long for. It is worth searching for who, for what you love, even if you never find it, even if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Trees do that: witness, become part of, the passing of generations. Why not us, then, rooted as we are to the earth, our hands reaching, many leaves reaching across many branches for each other, silently guiding us back to our beginnings.

Lessons In The Landscape

Change comes, in little packets of seasons. Each time one opens, it adds flavor to the landscape; salty or sweet depending on its mood. When I become the landscape, feet take on new importance to me. When I get stepped on, my rhythms stop, and I lie still like an ocean without an undertow. There will always be a landscape.

 

Sometimes, it is easy to sculpt like sandcastles peaking out from under grain, as close as the distance between two hands. Sometimes on a distant shore, I awake not knowing where I am, and wander for days until I find a river to trace back to my beginnings. When I arrive the terrain changes, takes on more mass, perhaps. It moves slower than I do and knows more than me. What it knows it cannot tell me, although I can always find it in myself.

 

I am standing with the trees. I am grounded under them. I am flying above them, carried by my wings. The wings are actually made of thread, and I fly because I will do anything to be a light beam.

 

I have a country all my own, full of particles with particular personalities. They don’t have good resonance, but their echoes do. There is always something falling—a leaf, a broken wing—and always feet first. Whenever I land on my feet, I assume I’m a child. Whenever I land on my feet, I am forced to remember that I have grown up.

 

I have never built a cocoon. I am somewhere between larva and butterfly, but don’t know how I got here. The people in this country never wanted me to change: they carved their hands into me so I couldn’t own my body, or my words. There are other children like me inhabiting this country who scatter like particles with no freedom to harmonize. Chaos is white in particles and dark purple in children. Children are purple because they have to hold their voices in like breaths, and lose life quickly. As a child who loved purple, I could never make sense of the world I was born into or why no one sees the signs that guide them back to their own voices.

 

Silences I think are clearer compared to reverberation and those haunting echoes that make me cry. If silence covers the land, words hand over their meanings and get sentenced to periods where they’re locked up in capitols—no rights are stated. Laughter dwindles into nothingness. Nothing always conceives water that forms its own music, breaking down silences.

 

Even the leaves and the dirt they become have voices. The voices echo throughout the labyrinth under the landscape where I found my string and wound my way to where I could skip like shale, though fragile, to the water’s surface. Somewhere under the water, there is the original source I would like to touch.

 

Whatever home I once shared, no one treads water like I do. I am your wanderer, that is clear; I have built myself from the cores of trees and the hold-fasts of the ocean floor. I have made myself walk through narrows, because I can find footing best. I can climb and crawl anywhere, I can get lost in a free world. I wove a rope from the string and tensioned my way all the way up the mountain to look down. There is only one mountain here and it lessens every time I climb it. Someday it will be a pebble glistening red on the sand.

 

I have been, in most conditions, a gray wolf, compact and wild, fiercely maintaining my territory. I defend my people, too. I am with people, but I have no people. For most of my life I have been left alone, making my way like a nomad across these fields.

 

Time feels as though it is being measured by the clock in someone else’s reference frame. Moments whiz by like lightning bugs; I cringe in a corner knowing I will be next. I am always last. I get dizzy waiting, standing still, so I go fast, dance until the wind carries me, and I catch light beams in my hands.

 

Why is it so hard to learn to trust again? I fought for my hand and my words and my steps, I fought for I have been trod down, I fought to move the figures in my head, I figured the objects would love me so much more that they’d give me a guide to worldmaking. I thought I could trace the contours of concavity, fill closed loops like smiles, use my hand to signal direction. I thought my hands became my eyes, that I would know even though this and that stand in the way.

 

I strain to hold my neglected child, I know I do not know, and I am lost, crying for you, flat on the floor with my hands stretched out flat against gravity, and fields and fields away from where I first met you. I must come to terms with my own darkness. How much have I given up to seek a definitive? Perhaps every object I ever loved will let me go. I am reaching for edges to grasp what it is to break out of a circle.

 

I am always looking for the center and never find it. I am the center.  The words come to me.  They wait in lines to begin their journey across steppes and cliffs and wetlands, many meters, and eventually home. When I reflect, I mirror the shadows. Darkness is just the absence of light.

 

To fill the silence that follows, I twine color through my songs, remember what I lost, and how to find it again. The truth is like a sphere, like parabolas and sine waves, like music and friendship—simple and everywhere. In wonder I reach out my hand, for myself, on my own. And light has been worth the destruction of every shadow; this is another way to find the center of it all.

 

I lift my song by hand and it shimmers through my hair like burgundy, comes out clean. I am usually alone, though you are welcome to find me here. You are welcome to experience everything, live with me in the peaks and troughs, mountains, and valleys of long incantations. In the place where answers are questioned, where silence speaks, where space is woven through our belonging and we have never left each other, you may fly between the chords. And home is what happens when you no longer throw yourself into living as if it’s a thing to chase after or prove you can hold, and just let go.  I let go, I let go, I am found again.

Not An Easy Thing

 It is easy to sit in a chair and think about battles.  It is easy to do nothing and wonder at how much there is to do.  It never goes away, the being done, the standing straight, the letting go.  It is not easy to move, to hold, to scoop up the piles of mud along the roads and build with them.

 

There are times when a moment inserts itself in between actions,  a breath between despair and determination.  It is hard to fight what needs to be done, hard to do what must be done.  And the in between, when decisions hold their breath: I can hear the hush of time standing still.  A dewdrop, teetering on the edge of a leaf in the morning, the leaf suspended, no longer attached to the tree from which it came, not yet given to the ground.  Darkness and light an equidistance away. 

 

I wonder whether I am really good.  The battle that I fight inside doesn’t seem to have determined any victory– just me, torn between slipping beneath waves or continuing to tread water.  Dreams are beautiful, the everyday details of harvesting them are not.  We want children, but what kind of world do we give them?  I wonder how helpful it is to eek out my small existence here in papers and hot footsteps and prepared meals and broken thoughts when all the time living feels so inevitable, as even the rhythm of tomorrow is already pulsing under the heartbeat of the present.  The future is taking shape under my hands, with every second.

 

I’m not sure why I don’t do what I think would make me happy.  I’m not sure what would make me happy.  I’m not sure why I cannot break out of the hollow stare that has become the monotony of daylight, the sign language of opportunities and the imperceptible sigh they make when they get passed by.  Nothing breaks this silence, not even the roar of the earth turning, or the pleading I am so aware of, that fills me inside.  I am shivering despite the heat.  I am caught between the struggle to accept my own failures, and my indestructible instinct to stay alive.  All the time common sense flees because it’s cautions are no longer useful.  Light is a thing as transient as living and I wonder if a particle dreads it’s transition into wave form even though it is all one and the same.

 

Hope is butterfly shaped and just as fragile, as intricate as a drop of water, pink as the skin of a newborn, just as much on the brink of dissolving as a dying flower.  So much joy and sadness can happen in an hour.  It is easier not to struggle, but just to feel.  At least amidst the changing colors of  the sky, of the earth underfoot, I may do what is right, or what is wrong, but at least I will chart a course through this world, take responsibility for the things I can make real.

To The Four Who Helped Me Heal: I Remember You In All I Do

I sit in my room in California at a computer with words in my head, and wonder briefly what you would think of this place Or of us, so starved of space and time,  so anguished to find purpose and meaning and a sense of our own measure.  With tears in my eyes, I am afraid that I am unable to mend the torn And shattered places where we  are full of pain.  Afraid that I will not know how to gather this screaming, ravaged and wounded world Into my arms, close to my heart like a mother cradles her child,   and with gentle hands and soft murmurings, allow it to remember itself  and let go, sob like an infant for all that’s broken within it. 

 

All I yearned to do out on a walk today was sit with back against tree so we could console each other, the tree and me.  Instead I walked without rest like a wandering shade because I could never come to a tree alone without getting lost. Because of how many violations of love do I have the privilege to live where I do?  Because of how many truths trampled in the clash of cultures, twisted within the bindings of forced misremembering, do I go out and walk this world?  I don’t know whether you’re gone to another world or whether or not we have all run from the startling possibilities you show us are always within ourselves.  If only we were not afraid of our own power, our own voices. 

 

They say you lie still, well met by those with the courage to turn their eyes inward, hidden within the caverns of Ériu, among the sidhe.  Within the underground passageways blocked and overcrowded with discarded forgotten ones, we stored the maps to our souls and we could not retrieve them.  We left all who dwell there to shine a light of their own ineffectively at the bare gray walls where no one living dares to tread. 

 

I heard your call, faint and distant on the wind, and answered you, journeying to that forbidding landscape, hushed with the heavy presence of an ancient imprint, where a traveler twice blew the Dord Fiann, but I found nothing there.  I tried to excavate shadows of what could have been.  I scrambled, falling and sliding,  along the limestone paths leading underground that spiral down, down, down.  I hurled myself into motion, and shouted what words you lived by– the truth against the world–, and gave an almost forgotten cry, and threw my wild defiant spirit so that it flew as high as the dome of the sky.  And tears fell on my hands like rain, but I could not recover all that lies dormant within us, or disentangle your memories from the snares and trappings of our history. 

 

So I stayed where you are, sitting down with you,, unwilling to fly like the wind when you could not now do so yourselves.  We exchanged stories, and though mine were few and yours were numbered as many to formulate an age, we found the grit and color of our everyday living had carved it’s deep lines into the faces of all of us in turn.  And slowly the sound of all things that happen resounded throughout all I’ve ever been, and all I am now. 

 

And then I realized  the cave was merely a projection made by this day’s obsession with fear when, in fact, we each are standing on the tallest hill.  Each watching the sun rise, so close we could reach out, hold each others’ hands, though our times here on this sacred ground are farther apart than a millennium. For a moment, our journeys crossed, and in that moment I felt the walls dissolve and in their place, Green and shimmering, hundreds of miles of fields, and a peace I never could have dreamed.

 

But I did dream, and have done better than dream.  In my dreams I have come to the land of the young, Tír na nóg.  In my dreams I have been to the places you once walked the earth, fierce with wise wonder.  I have spoken with you face to face and you stood by me unconditionally.  And despite the caves and the fear and the many running from who they are, those of us who still remember Rekindle the light that otherwise might have gone out of our eyes, and are not afraid to stand by our own experience, not afraid to blaze with every fiber of our being, burning with passions that never had names, shining out from the very core of our wild and wondrous, mysterious and majestic selves, like living stars.