Ancient Mother

2015-01-14 14.19.03

Ancient mother lives within,
Spinning up the tales of our soul,
Planting the seeds of future ideations,
Harboring the boats that sail on salty tears
Cried for past generations and future warriors

Laboring for love’s last breath on our lips,
She bears the fruit of victory over death,
Her last breath given to save us from ourselves,
Only to rise again from the ashes we created,
Strengthening the warrior inside

Despite the fear,
Despite the rage,
She frees us from our cage of self-imposition
And our bondage with the broken ties of past regrets

This love she holds is boundless,
Always available to mend our tender hearts
And set the broken pieces to sail
On the sea of her open, endless heart

©SpiritLed 2017

Thirty-Nine

Today I turn 39.  My last year in my 30’s.  If I had my nearly 4 decades to do over, I’d stay home with my kids, which is a total contradiction because I hated staying at home when they were very young.  Now I’d do it all over again and for longer, just for more time with them.  I’d go to graduate school the first time I had the chance.  I’d go back to that first relationship in high school, and I’d say no to that boy.  Yes, it would change the course of my life, but I’d avoid the pain of losing a friend.  I’d make and keep better connections with friends of my parents and my extended family.  I had no idea how much I would wish I knew them better as I got older.   I’d demand more of myself.  The status quo and self pity would never be in my coping toolbox.  I’d learn about self care early on and make it a priority.  I’d stop myself from picking up terrible interpersonal habits that negatively affect my relationships.  My poor husband really has to deal with a lot of baggage.  I’d let people get close to me, I’d be more vulnerable.  And I’d expect it of other people too.  I’d take back every mean word I ever said to my sister.  Maybe we were just kids, but I’m sure it affected her, and she’s the only sibling I have.  I’d set better boundaries for myself, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say no.  I wouldn’t find a sick comfort in relationships that make me feel bad.  I’d talk to my mom about her illness, I’d share my fears about living a life without her.  I’d snuggle up next to her that night when she asked me to.   I’d understand that in order to feel great joy and compassion, you also, at times, have to allow yourself to feel great pain.  I’d never stop writing.  Or dancing.  Or letting the world know how smart I am.  Or crying.  I’d cry a LOT more.  And I’d pray more.  I’d figure out early what makes me passionate and pursue that.  Or not stop pursuing that.  I’d have a job that I love, that fulfills me, that I can’t wait to get up and do every morning.  I’d force my foot into that Cinderella slipper and never let it fall off my foot.

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Happy 39.  It’s going to be a great year.

©SpiritLed 2014

Connections

He can’t groom himself
anymore, so I tenderly, gently
warm the rag, wash his feet and face,
administer his medicines and fluids
so that his last days, or weeks,
are comfortable and in his home.

He was never one to curl up in my arms,
but as he weakens he lays upon
my chest, his frail body uttering
a raspy purr, relaxing deep against
my shoulder, one eye shut, the
other squinted open, never drifting
his gaze from my face.

He is a story teller, a bridge-builder.

His eyes, green and almond shaped,
lined with white, then  black, like an
80’s hair band singer, now too large for
his face, cheeks sunken from the wasting,
scrawny legs and bony spine, not enough fat or muscle
to make a proper body.

“My teeth,” she cries, “are not what I ordered.”
Her teeth, rotted from the chemo, replaced with
a shiny new set, molded perfectly, fit her
before her cheeks lost their fullness,
ravaged by the cancer.  These teeth,
beautiful and white, fill out her face in comical style.
But none of us have the guts to speak about her
teeth.  The dentist simply makes more.
More teeth,also too big.

He is a peacemaker, a boundary setter.

Some days, he’s like I’ve always known him,
and others, he can barely walk, or lift his head.
And on those days, I drop everything,
call the doctor, spend more money to
keep him comfortable –what’s money
when it comes to one more day with an
old friend?  And I cradle him and snuggle him
while he retreats from death’s door
for one more day, or perhaps a week
by my side.

When the times does come,
he’ll  know I love him, that I
cared for him with every ounce of my being.
Does she know I loved her?  Of course,
I tell myself.  Because what else can
I believe, this many years later, after all opportunities
are gone?

She slept in a twin bed, piled high with
blankets, cigarettes, and at least 4 cats
at any given time.
“Come snuggle with me,” she said.
“Stay here with me tonight.”
It’s too crowded, I can’t sleep like that,
my dispassionate disinterest fell out of my
mouth.  Or was it that I could not get that close?
As if the cancer might rub off on me, or worse,
the sadness.  Either way, the words,
like hot lava that burned as they flowed
and could never be reversed, still hang
there in that room, heavy with cigarettes
and regret.

And I whisper to him “I love you”,
“Thank you for being my friend”, and
“You can go home any time you’re ready.”
And I never whispered anything to her,
Not even “goodbye”.

She’s exhausted from trying to survive
I’m exhausted from holding on so tight
What if I let her go?
Let loose the vice grip on the void
that is left on her absence
the gaping hole that I have so desperately
tried to fill with everything that will make the
pain diminish – jobs, marriages, false intimacy, booze—
vices of all kinds to lull me into the
deception that life is full if the void is full.

He is a teacher of unconditional love.

I look in his eyes and see my own soul.
That I can see him suffer and not hide, but
rather be healed by his love for
me, as he tells me goodbye in the
only ways he can, that is the miracle.

What if we walk into this sunset together,
hold hands and say our goodbyes,
knowing that forever is only a speck of stardust
making up the divine Universe,
unseen but always around.

In the end, a cat’s ashes weight about the same as a mother-urn,
and their weight in my heart, much the same.

© SpiritLed 2014

The Leaf

A red-gold leaf floats to the ground, and there
I pick it up, hold it gently,
flat in my palm, a mirror of my own hands,
points like fingers, lines and veins, delicate and strong,

lines that cast the story of the journeys we
make, to the precipice and back and, for some, to hell,
where we may stay a while, take up residence in our suffering,
until we either persevere or perish.

In these lines, on this path, these hands stroke children’s faces, twirl golden strands
between fingers, touch cheeks at night, through tears;
in the dark, these hands, solemn and life-giving,
belong to my mother.

These hands clumsily fiddle with a lighter, shaky and desperate,
light the cigarette, flip this way and that, dangle the stick of burning tobacco–
with an air of confidence, and yet those lines betray longing for one more tomorrow–
as ashes fall, unnoticed, to the ground.

Crackling against my skin like the rough and delicate fabric of the leaf, this path for once
becomes a burden, a stifling presence that keeps me from the joys of red-gold leaves on autumn days.
And so, with the hands we share, I crumble the leaf, release it to the wind, a weight–
long-held–removed, a crumbly, red-gold burden of the soul.

A leaf floats to the ground, and there I pick it up, and there my life begins.

© SpiritLed 2013

Mother’s Gift

I’m reading the book “Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions” by Robert McDowell, which includes various writing exercises to help with deepening the understanding of poetry and integrating it into daily practice. The poem below is the result of an exercise to write a rhyming poem, which I never do. It was great fun to stretch outside the norm and get the creative juices flowing in a different direction!

Children please go on to bed
Your mother has a headache.
Won’t you soon lay down your heads,
Lest nightfall turn to daybreak?

Children please now settle down
Your mother needs a night’s rest.
Put PJ’s on and tuck down tight,
For moonlight sleep is soul’s best.

Come now children, no more play
Your mother’s ire grows stronger.
Brush teeth and hair and run upstairs,
Night won’t be here much longer.

What’s this? Children in their beds?
Do your mother’s eyes deceive?
All tucked in and sleeping sound
The greatest gift to be received.

© SpiritLedBlog 2013