martin shaw’s drum beats between my temples, simple questions piercing the heart roll off the storyteller tongue.
the image of a hand stitching for a year and a day, embroidering brooding courting the heart, on the chest of a nightgown for marriage to the Great Devourer, the Beast.
yesterday i was doing just that, making whole and holy the holes, stitching up my mother’s jumper, That snagged on hawthorns and rosebushes While traveling on my back. I used a bee hive stitch, learnt from my sister years ago – a way to bridge gaps too large to simply be pinched back together. all of me pouring into the gaps left by the distance of the oceans the clogged years of half-truths, this triangle’s clumsy best efforts to meet halfway.
all afternoon, i willed peace into the spaces in between.
so as i beheld another seamstress, stitching potential into a dead end, the question echoes again :
where do you go to educate the heart?
the answers should be at the tip of the tongue, easy as breathing, the first-aid kit of evolving humanness. the familiar bread and wine of our years.
i still had to pause, sniff the air listen.
some answers burst forward, bearing triumphant the spoils of many years of digging.
still i prefer to avert my eyes from them for now,
and allow the question to hang pure in the clear air.
mmm, the process of making things. invocation, ingredients, inspiration from the weather and kitchen conversations. this is a picture from a collective drummaking where my role was to serenade. the pot on the fire, constantly brewing – that’s what i am tending.
i’m no stranger to writing, but something truly unlocked in me, in giving myself divine permission, divine request to just write, and not just in snippets, about everything i’m excited about. i feel like i’ve cleared a dam to a great river i never even noticed was clogged before.
“You may as well free a few words from your vocabulary. Why and how and impossible”, booms Rumi as he tops up my cup of tea.
this all started when I glanced over a handful of articles I wrote years ago, which made me pause. The writing was truly beautiful. It had reached so few eyes.
I offered up a simple prayer, that this dormant skill be a vehicle, a hollow bone for something gorgeous. I then sailed on and forgot about it.
i watch the pages multiply, in this endeavor to speak the unsayable. to just fucking give it my best shot. The focus pouring into it, night and day. The thrill of this new discipline – to write from the mystery. to let ever word surprise me. and they sure do.
i’m tingling all over while I pin down impressions about sex as a doorway to god, keeping up as the thing writes itself.
great idea joy. love you. thanks for making life so exciting.
Too often, the sheer bulk of what I do not know, and what I do not know how to express has stayed my hand, culled my voice.
When I first found myself wading neck deep in the subtle realms, I found that not only my understanding – my instruments also, had become irrelevant overnight. For a decade, I had communed and communicated with the world by painting – and the suddenly silent brushes simply fell from my hands. Words are a reluctant last resource.
Sharing experiences that defy imagining is a slippery business to me. The past has often cloaked them in heavy veils of symbols and silence – with many good reasons. It’s also too convenient to bow to that, and not take the risk of being seen, knowing full well that that was then, and today’s world is starving for crumbs of the present moment’s naked truth.
At the end of the day, it’s simple : the fire wants to be shared. Life is too exciting to hoard the flame for my eyes only.
Today the King of Wands spoke through me words I cannot take back :
« You are stepping into the role of the prophet. So get out of your own way. Listen deeply to the unknown.
– And speak. What the King has to say, everyone needs to hear.”
(Get It Out There Already.)
By the way : this message is also, clearly, meant for you.
I set myself this challenge to produce seven pieces of writing, for all the times I have skimmed over the hard work – of relaying back to the tribe the visions, with whatever broken shards can reflect even a glimmer of the unspeakable light.
I am sometimes splattered with Flailing attempts To find a safe path through, Projectiles of distraction Shame desire power games mind, Harpoons skidding when they realize This is surrender. Not a word,
i touch one of the animals caged indoors for so long, caged indoors of their minds for longer. i touch a heart frayed by hand sanitizer distancing lines on the floor agitation in the air
– and time opens. and we fall in love. and it’s so personal.
one man had skin and bones inflamed, bent, screaming distress, i cried when he left could have kept going for days bodies unused to having full permission to breathe sound, knees and shoulders and chests Shaped by years of crying
“why dont you listen to me?”
but they come because they do, and together we leave the century the crisis the clock, and glide into the warm womb where love is holding you. love is holding you.
love is holding you.
i kneel to this. to gently wake every forgotten inch of skin to sing the pleasure of being alive, incarnate
I will keep conjuring that word from their lips, that precious memory from their limbs.
I do not know how to change the world.
you will find me loving with devotion until something better comes along.
Domesticated beings Seldom spark a keen interest in me.
But oh, you… I could feel it coming, During the traveling years when I prayed every night
Please, A land I can kiss every morning.
“So how do we do this?” “Oh, just like everything. You give it all your love.”
I daydream of our raucous play With the outrageous tomatoes, The thick tongue of tobacco sticking up my fingers, And gently opening the delicate arms Of The Passion flower princess.
“But who will eat this?” “The earth.” The great devourer, happily scoffing Our eclectic, eager tributes, Ash shit and eggshells Rotten mud, intestines Broken sticks and fermented failures
you take it all with a smile, A voracious, versatile poet.
I’ve reveled in the daily divine play of “Look! Babies!” Salads poking up their curly heads, A sappling’s swollen first feijoa, Hanging proudly From a tree half the size of its fruit.
This enchanted neighborhood Where all the realms, All kingdoms converge – Black fingernails Grinning baskets full of life, Thoughts through the day trailing to Hide and seek with the pumpkins The infinite charms of rosemary, ingenious bamboo inventions.
The friends sweating side by side, The loud brothers with their shovels The broken hearts digging for a little peace.
Like a generous grandmother, None of us ever leave you empty-handed.
Oh honey, How can I paint for you The humbling beauty Of being one pair of hands, Welcoming a budding forest Into a green desert of caged cows…
I was alone on that day, whispering the first prayers As I Cut the waist-high grasses Of a plain marsh field That now sings in all the tongues of Lemon Boisenberry Pear The curliest kale Basil, celery, manuka…
I am forever filled with this garden, And she will forever be filled With So, so much Joy.
i bless this silence that enfolded me, unfolded me, this cocoon sweetness that held our hive for five days.
the natural outbreath of this dying season, the end of a deep dive, was postponed by half a hundred humans, busily alive in exciting times.
but watching the moon we resorbed, dropped the threads at last to feel our pulse.
to take our own initiation into this collective, alone listening.
time unravels in a landscape where i is always in the background of “how can i help?”
the sound of my heartbeat, its loud echo drumming through my frame, melts me back into every heart, that beats now or once did.
our contours fade where our energies blend, words failing to separate us.
every gliding hour, the euphoria grows, glows a brighter shade of gold.
i float in that expanding vastness of the space between thoughts, mother of bliss, child of wonder that raised me up in the morning, eased me back into ceaseless dreams, tossing and turning under the buddha’s smiling moonlight. listening to the tuis’ bearded hymns at the vigil around the fire.
later others reported feeling flames, light, my body perceived a celestial eros, currents of constellations that blew their musical tingling on every electric inch of my skin.
a curled-up hedgehog punctuates the vulture circles of money uncertainties, like a neighbour that quietly peeks into my window at night.
the loudest voice repeats :
“the stones need to be heard.”
to deepen the ties with the mineral kingdom, those songs that i hear clearer than many a human’s speech, demand to be sung.
Few things arouse me Like slowness does. That flavor of time spent, Dedicated, offered up. Like those days Where I slide into Deeper layers of service.
With every sunset here The intimacy grows, With the land, myself and my many other faces.
I came to give everything, And morning greets in me that quiet flame That asks every day How can I give more?
What is that sweet nectar That only I can deliver, For this lover that I am, Who will drink nothing but The finest of my elixirs.
This meditation on the purity Of the note within the symphony Guides me through The sweetness of living together.
I feel such an urge to share pictures of Our collective doings and beings, It’s like I can smell someone else’s hunger In the smoke of my cooking pot.
This is today’s goodbyes, Our tears of blessings Dripping down Through the forest of arms and legs. Another part of the sum of the parts
Detaches Branches out and Disappears.
Soul love can be that sometimes bewildering recipe : I would die for you. I live metres away. I feel you sometimes deeper than you do yourself. And – we barely hang out.
Yet in this familiar geography Of ships in the night, Stars in the constellation – What time we do spend in presence Only polishes the glimmer Of the first instant of meeting, That nodded : Yes. I am yours. In ways we will never understand. All is already said.
Then it’s back to weeding, Clearing our dining hall of Lagoons of Compost dog collars And funeral shrouds,
I sit and listen to the dark lake. The Scratch-under-the-surface, resilient face of this once marshland – The black mirror speaks plainly Its oracle :
Covered in blood-red at our arrival Its surface rusted, rotted, ripened, With every new tear at The flesh-masks of our “I am this”.
I prayed on Transformation While our fragrant, thorny queens of love Went into the ground.
Then the world of men closed its borders, Opened its ears.
Then a torrent of rain Filled the womb of the lake, and suddenly The mirror is clear, Back to its primordial black.
Then For the first time, After six weeks of co-existing, The women’s blood Is now starting to flow as one wave.
The lake Draws me to its edge And I Get lost, Melt into this vast slice of sky.
Under my skin I feel The cogs of chaos, The end of a spiral and its rippling Stillness.
The relieved “at last” To an ending long pending.
Every one of us has long ago chosen The company we are now Locked in with, Picked with care Every brick to seal away the exit, Every tile to shelter from the rain, Every poison and medecine lined up On our inner shelves.
And now :
Time to watch all we know disappear.
To bury it in front of the first gate, And free from distraction, To open to the imperative flowering Of the question :
I lay it all on the ground. The hunting knife, The telescope, The compass.
I lay down the trying.
On the sunset road, There’s a red woman, Dancing alone on the red horizon.
What else is real?
Bright pink flowers Brighten up a room Drenched in the smell Of sudden, violent death.
A green caterpillar, Inside a green tomato, Defends its home against an intruding finger.
I hear our caged parents, Scattered all around the planet, Have started to plant food.
The smell of cinnamon curls out of the kitchen While the mists unfurl, And the shadows meditate against the paling morning.
Here there are So many arms and legs, Wrapped around So many beating hearts. It seems the world has grown smaller out there, But i live in a forest of eyes and ears, A perhaps accidental ark Of precious animals.
An end begins, And I am caught here, Like a kiss caught on the wind – Speechless with wonder At watching us Teach each other to Make bread Raise goats Love deeper, Simmer and bubble in the creative cauldron
And Pray. Pray the dark into the light, The future into matter, The flowering of the chaos in our cells.
Pray ourselves open Into evolution, Dissolution.
“My only home is The unknown”.
I am so grateful to be aboard this ship Heading nowhere,
Yes highden. Lure me back in. I have not yet touched the land and I am Shaking sobbing Sleepless a low rumble I have ached for your grass and water pulling and tugging and dragging Parts of me flying past, Projectiles Whistling ahead for days now, You summon me and I am running to the pyre, Ripping skin off me while I go Like casting aside mourning black on the last dawn, No part of me but the Present Will make it through these gates. No part of me will make it back out. I run into the jaws of love that devours everything. I am ready, Breathless, Eyes wide open.
I have been indulging in An outrageous liaison with My inner monk. Oblivious to the outside world (But what is outside?) We dissolve into the divine Riding the words of poets And the horn building on my fingertips.
My body quietly allows As all hours of the day and night Watch us lighting candles on the floor Celebrating Union In bursts of erratic sound and silence. We pick up masks of god To show each other, giggling and weeping. “Know that one?” We are 4-year olds comparing notes On the shapes of the clouds, Giddy and absorbed in our serious business. Pouring the unsayable into chords And all the words hanging unspoken In clouds of rhyming radiance, Winking – are you getting the joke?
Unexpected birds swoop in, Pick their way through A colorful clutter Of razor-sharp heartache shards, Beams of light landing in the bathtub, The insisting pounding of fists on the door, a few miracles that have sniffed us out.
“Hey, we know you’re in there, Up to something!”
To learn about sound, sit in silence. To flirt with grace, sit with pain. To cultivate power, breathe.
Thank you for reminding me. We’ve been through some first times, Some first times in a long times, And when the thread got tangled I found I did know. I knew that taste in the back of my throat, That said “Enough.”
But oh, I had forgotten How the horizon opens, When my fingers let go of yours And the strength used to try and hold on Releases, Like a long exhale Of relief.
Love is the greatest teacher, Especially In the art of yes and no.
The sentence of waiting and wanting lifts, The low brooding clouds of the then and the someday Burst into rain and disperse.
I return all of me to the present, Surprised to find Songs of joy now pouring from my heart.
Because at the end of the day, When I give up and forgive us and walk away All that remains is The toothless grin of this weathered, resilient knowing :
“My every dancing atom remembers Your heart and my heart Are very old friends, Oh yes, very old friends…”
I go to the waters, To offer terima kasih banyak In flowers and cigarettes To the full moon’s gaze.
Almost a year later, Here I am again, Getting blessed On the brink. I receive the gift of Breath, And prepare to leave the incubator’s sacred waters.
Truth be told,
I do get a kick,
A smiling, compassionate chuckle,
Watching my mind
Scrambling to keep up with the
Split second decisions
Taken by my soul,
As it swerves to meet the rising wind.
Nose on a trail.
All I need is a hint,
And I get two.
“Outside, the freezing desert night.
This other night inside grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.
The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.
The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is there’s no news at all.”
This song was written to the love that lives in me. In you. That will still be there intact, long after we have all moved on.
How to share our most untranslatable moments?
Like the slowness of the cave,
Watching the rain
The gecko crusades on the wall.
At last, I let everything fall away.
Back to the breath.
Music fills my mind
Sound streams out,
Spiraling around my being
Like only spirits do,
Living entities pushing themselves
They fly out of my throat and fingers into
Soaring in circles around other minds.
My body demands raw flesh and
Simple interactions slipped out of my reach,
Telepathic wonders crackle on as usual.
Words read on a screen
Hang in the air,
Subtitles to my days.
There is no rush.
After this year’s
111 temple nights
I surrender back
To a different flavor
Of empty space.
To that face of devotion to the divine
In the chicken chatter,
What you are working on is gold.”
What glimmers from the depths
Is that bone-deep knowing that
All that matters
Is those who know how to tend to the earth.
Our self-worth, our children, our dead.
The love and hope we come back to in times of crisis.
The roofs over our heads,
Those who tend the
Fires in our hearths and hearts,
In our wombs and spirits,
Who feel and weave every day
The web between species
Those who know how to sing spirit into matter,
And listen to how it sings back.
I watch the cauldron bubble,
Drifting between dreamworlds
While life shuffles my cards.
Fresh off another gathering of Cliff-jumpers. The lessons that shine through Are the same as the ones So expertly articulated By the kids.
The Sacred needs no frills,
Just an invitation :
A big fat pinch of humor.
I watch again,
As years of pent-up
Distress and catastrophe
Into a soft sniffly smile,
Lift the dam – our waters’ only yearning is for
I worship again at
The cathedral of our bodies,
Did someone say
That is what we do here.
Roll around laughing helpless on the floor,
Yes bring it all in,
The merry carnival of
Every tear contraction fear wound,
The coins to pay for your journey into
Take a breath.
A risk. Take charge and
Do the thing
You’ve been running from.
When it’s that raw,
It curls up your toes as you
Stretch into a bigger, unfamiliar frame and
“Hey, let’s go to Earth and
We love ourselves!”
New game babe.
It only takes me a few hours to
Fall in love with
Another crowd of strangers
And their goddamn beautiful
That lead them through the minefields
To a pile of cute zebra cushions,
To be reborn in snot and come as
I have no words for the hum of
Of the ride,
Or the breath that then
Scatters us to the four winds,
As we say our goodbyes and the real adventure
Getting shorn. Or just another day of service to Love.
Finding the scent of
In the flowering of
The oldest rose of the rose garden.
The land has held us while
Oh god, deeper,
Standing in the fire.
We invited Chaos
All over our stunned faces.
We surrendered to Love
( again )
And it took us
( again )
( harder )
Stagged us (it’s a verb)
Blew me out of my atoms.
That dark light
Calls us in
Flips me inside out
Whew, it’s over.
It’s just begun.
Stones gaze at our
My wildest dreams
Did not dare to invent
With every new month.
Every time I fall over another edge of
Persevering in truth
STANDING BECAUSE I CARE.
I read a letter I wrote to myself
Go all in honey,
Nothing here can be spoken.
Only the sound of my breath catching
Every time the Mystery kisses my cheek.
The world sucks back out of the nest
The blinding lights of
Ripped open hearts.
The four walls around me.
I tend to exist outdoors.
I’ve long been a stranger to
Holy places built by the hand of man,
But lately I’ve discovered
The precious silence preserved inside churches,
And now the haven of the bathtub.
Oh, to be,
Not by a bird, a cloud, a fly.
Time stretches out like a lake with no waves.
I listen to the drip-down of blood.
How deeply can I let myself sink
into the tide inside.
Feel the lives that will not sprout
The roads not taken
As they slowly pour out of me.
My cherished illusions
The urge to act
I hand myself over
This marvel of human architecture,
The hair nails toes navel,
The astonishing radio between my ears,
All fades into the background
While the quiet ceremony proceeds.
The body of woman offers
Such soft experiences of dying.
Every entrance and exit
Uncovers a new path
I hold her gently, my partner of bone and skin,
I kiss her hands
Stroke her feet when she whimpers.
to the unspeakable tales
Of her eyes in the mirror.
There’s a tree-climbing kid I know there,
Other faces flicker
I do not know
I thank the blood
For reminding me
The greatest mysteries
Are not outside of me.
(But of course, nothing is)
No greater miracle
Than one more chance
To wash the past
From the bottom of my cauldron
And emerge to the open arms
Of a new day.
My favourite magic trick From the bag of the prophets Is Divine multiplication. I receive love give love Am love And then I spread it – Like throwing fat fistfuls of seeds to the birds. Then all around me happy birdsong erupts, It tickles the ear of a poet kindles his art Flares up a poem that will Set souls afire for hundreds of years to come.
Don’t pretend helplessness. Everything we do and don’t do Sends out a tidal wave, Birthing at relentless speed.
My pockets bulge with the love tokens of men and mountains,
They flow in and out of my hands
Like a stream of fresh water,
Soon dropped in another’s back pocket,
Sprinkled to the wind, lost
Or buried under a pine.
The leaves whispered to me that
When I pant in pleasure
They can breathe deeper –
Riding the same wave.
Ecstasy and oxygen.
How could I ever plead loneliness?
The open secret to magic is :
You remember the sun looks to you for light.
Each rose opens, yearning for your touch.
You remember your duty to remember,
Then act from there.
Alone at last.
There’s still salt on my cheeks
sand in my hair
Wind in my ears.
Hours roll by behind plane windows.
A rainbow spreads across the clouds
and the moon rises,
Full and silver on a blood red sky.
My body still remembers the goosebumps
Every time a voice speaks in the circle.
“I have never felt so welcome.
“To come here was is the best decision
Of my life.”
My eyes still hold that 360° horizon
corals, stars and snakes under our feet.
“Here we want your sexual energy.
Bring us your lower chakras.”
What does that look like?
The brothers walk out taller.
The sister’s eyes twinkle with magic.
How many first-time-evers,
How many freak coincidences rippling out to our loved ones?
No one’s counting.
Too busy having epiphanies orgasms high-fives catharsis – and then breakfast.
“Lure them in with the word “sex”
– then change their lives forever.”
I’ve spent hours walking rose quartz paths
Meditating on the bridge where
walking with naked feet
keeping an open heart
Both demand close attention to the environment.
If the mind wanders,
I cut my skin,
bump fragile bones.
With every step
The stones press their jagged edges into my flesh.
Nerve endings alight like fireworks.
I tread softly. No rush.
Protected feet power by mine, oblivious to the flavours of the land they cannot feel.
The sudden oasis of a patch of silky sand.
The cool water that licks my ankles.
The smooth volcanic wrinkles that warm my toes.
Protected feet walk blindfolded, focused on the destination – unaware of the journey.
Like prudent hearts, afraid of pain. Of breaking.
Like children afraid of the dark.
One thing I’ve learnt is
pain usually walks through the door bearing a gift of perspective.
I’d rather get the quartz’s lessons of
carved with sharp edges into my soles
Than lose my connection to the ground.
I had a dream a few weeks ago. Someone said to me : “Hey, there are queens all around you!”. I woke up and pulled a card : the Queen of Cups.
This week they’ve been relentless : every time my fingers would reach for my deck, one would be there, waiting for me.
So what’s your point, ladies? I mused.
What comes to my mind when I feel into a queen is : effortless mastery. Like a fish can swim and a bird can sing – that ease is the queen’s playground. She luxuriates in her element, like a cat stretched out in the sun.
Or ripping a head off a bird. Whatever the element is, in that moment.
Anyway – ease! Now ease is a quality I’ve been devotedly calling into my life. I’ve repeatedly, cajolingly serenaded to it in a number of languages. This court of queens now dancing around me seems like a simple message that I am attracting what I emanate. The last time I picked the Queen of Wands, I was struck by our physical resemblance, the light curls and bright yellow dress that I’d bought the previous day.
This ties in to the voluntary non-doing I’ve been practising for the last few days. (years?) Leaving some space and time for things to trickle down and filter after intense experiences.
In that space a memory came, of an exercise picked up in some fix-your-business book. It’s called the Billionaire Uncle exercise.
So your billionaire uncle dies, and leaves you mountains of cash – but first, you must fulfil two requests, for which you have access to whatever resources you need.
First, you spend a year learning something you really, truly want to learn.
Second, you spend the following year in service, to whatever calls you.
After those two years, the rest of the billions is yours – but hey, who are you now? How have these experiences changed you, and how has your path changed, now that survival is no longer an issue?
When this popped in my head again I realised I’d manifested this very situation in my life, pouring resources I never dreamt could be available to me into learning and giving. None of this happened through any effort or planning. It just… eased itself in, when I wasn’t looking.
I was washing dishes the other day in front of a poster proclaiming Do More of What You Love. That seems to be the only steadfast practice in my life.
Do More of It. Celebrate, in ecstatic gratitude. Repeat.
This is some full-moon love from a few days, a few decades ago.
I’m living micro-seasons. Super-accelerated cycles.
Two months of winter, for slow silence and music. Tears, goodbyes and a funeral celebration.
Then I hopped the globe, and bubbled and simmered for two months of summer. The sun warmed my naked skin while my identity imploded and composted a dozen times a week.
Then came 20 days of tropical bliss where the lightning stroke again and again, like a hammer on a blade. Charging, tempering with electric thunderstorms, the smell of dragonsmoke and the roar of waterfalls.
I’m now concluding a few weeks of fading autumn light, to harvest and prune. I make preserves of the golden juiciness – glass jars of long-lasting soul food.
Here I watch the red leaves fall on the Highden stones. Each one whispers its medicine : Choice. Surrender. Joy and Transfiguration. In a couple days I’m setting aside the builder’s tools to dive into yet another time zone, climate, language and flavour…
And I feel like I’m traveling with a bag full of laughing wind.
A bag bursting with treasure!
My head whips around, Where do I even start to share this?, a shiny trail of scattered loot follows my every step.
And who knows what will happen, when my hand pulls Something out of that magical bag.
I don’t know anything!
All I can feel is this current, running hot from my toes to my nose and pushing me forward.
Lichen – the sacred union between an algae and a mushroom, thriving together in a way they could not achieve alone.
yesterday, i took part in a woman’s circle.
last week, i took part in a co-created gathering.
two weeks ago, we had a party for my dad’s funeral.
with every opportunity to immerse myself in community, i feel my power grow. i feel the reach of my influence go further, wider, taking on new flavours when the seeds from our gardens cross-pollinate. when we can contemplate the mirrors of others’ achievements and stories, their ways of walking the path of love and pain.
the circle yesterday was full of powerful women. many of us travellers, gathered in front of the crackling fire before we scattered to the winds.
we had a ritual. i read somewhere we make rituals so we remember to remember.
to remember how powerful we are.
how much support we have to offer and receive.
how precious our individual gifts.
how strong, when we braid them together.
yesterday a woman played her whole year for us on the harp. we listened and wept. it felt so damn good. to wash her pain, that is ours, in all our tears.
the people from new year’s gathering are restless : “when do we meet again? how can we bear to live apart now? how do we channel all this energy into something beautiful, meaningful?”
i keep having dreams of one body, many heads.
alone we are but a strand of grass, easily trampled on, fragile, evanescent. Together we become braided sweetgrass, a ceremonial smudge that “washes the recipient in kindness and compassion to heal the body and the spirit”. (Kimmerer)
cards once told me, about a man i loved: “he is not ready for the funeral pyre of love. when he finds the support of a tribe, he will be.”
find your community, your hive. the nest that can hold your incubation.
hunt down the many whose open arms ache for your return. follow their tracks back home.
Among its other faces, I’ve noticed death puts mischief on my mind.
Laura, mad and I could smell it off each other when we walked to the underworld together. Fingers itching for trouble and nothing to lose.
“Shall we… burn a barn?”
Luckily we were isolated, and kept too busy to steal some car keys and go wreck some creative form of chaos on the sleeping hamlets.
The mad glint was back in my eye that sunset on the subway though. When the woman across me pulled out the Tibetan Book of Life and Death, I knew the game was on.
I tell her I once rescued this book from a rainy pavement, and made sure it dried, never really glancing at the contents. She tells me how the Western world is now just plainly unprepared for death.
“Oh yeah. Like my dad – complete Cartesian mind right, skeptical as can be of spirits and stuff. But this morning when he died –
– Excuse me?
– Oh yeah, 3h30, very early indeed. Well he shook my mother awake, “I’m leaving!” – while he expired in a deep coma, in another town. Cheeky bugger just couldn’t resist a dramatic exit – and he would never have believed that kind of story himself!”
Her eyes are still bulging while I sail off the wagon, whistling. I don’t get very far though – I’m stopped right in my tracks by the distinct scent of someone feeling playful.
Where are you?
Aha! Its the pink lilies. Their lush fragrance hijacks my brain. I tenderly gather them to my chest and carry them through the tide of black-clad commuters.
“You’re in a dancing mood too huh? You know, my father’s body looked 20 years younger – and his hair had changed color! The world is full of wonder and mysteries we will never ever understand!”
We whisper secrets and cackle all the way home.
Just me, death and the flowers – having us a whale of a time.
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the transition grounds. Tonight the night was the darkest – then no darker.
My father’s body lies in ice, waiting for the fire, then the sea. I watch my mother sleep at last, and slowly pick up the threads I’ve let fall to my feet.
My cauldron’s filled up with stillness, with “don’t fix it just be there”, cooking for one who doesn’t eat, being calm for one who cannot rest. Playing music for the living and the dying. The woods feel bare and still, like we do. The birdsong is louder when it colors the silence.
My fingers have bent branches of spruce and cedar into a crown. The ruffled spiral of green and red stands guard on the front door, attempting to ward off the well-meaning, empty words of neighbours.
“Do not intrude. Birth in progress.”
The doorstep sees gifts pile up. Soup, chocolate, tangerines, roses of every color, more than we can count, spilling out of every vase in the house swamped in mourning mess. Like the offerings left to Santa, the gods and all those who walk between the worlds.
This morning I watch the sun come up, and I know the light is growing.
On the video screen, Larissa’s arms are bare, snug in the Bahia summer while I am swaddled in jumpers. She picks a card for me as a gift. She clears her throat and reads from the explanation booklet :
“In the midst of the battlefield, when times are grave and tense… life sends you a marvelous gift. Like a special feather bestowed upon you, to add to your headdress and bear with pride. Share this blessing far and wide, that its light may touch the lives of many people.”
She looks up and raises an inquisitive eyebrow. I smile :
“Oh yes. I fell in love this afternoon.”
My loves used to be my secret garden – i kept them jealously hidden from the public eye. Like a magpie I burrowed the gleaming gold in the safety of my nest, for my eyes only. They were too precious to be picked apart by the questions and comments of nosy neighbours.
But I am shedding my old ways of hoarding. Why should i hide it? It’s not like any of this is mine.
Like death, love just perches itself on your shoulder, one day when you’re not looking – and nothing can be done.
So I climbed into my mother’s car and kissed her cheek, on our way to the palliative care home. And I dropped my old lying-by-omision act.
“What have you been up to, for two days then?
– I fell in love.”
Boom! For a second, spring was back in the air. She whooped and cooed and twittered, pestered me with questions without giving me a chance to answer. She basked in my light and rejoiced in life, her own pain pushed into the background for a little while.
“So what’s he like? Come on, you haven’t said anything, you little monster!”
Can you describe someone you love? The poet and I think not.
I grinned and shrugged, hands splayed, empty of words.
Love that’s shared grows. It’s nothing new, but its still magical, every time.
The phone was still in my hand. It lit up again. A different name, different storyline. It’s so unexpected I pick up.
A cheerful voice asks about my plans for the weekend. My mouth opens, closes.
“I’ve just learned my dad is dying. Like, ten minutes ago.”
I’d almost just hung up, but the numbness froze my default emergency protocol. Snuffed out the blinking lights that read : Tell No One. Hide until you’ve Processed.
So I just said it. Then said it again. To whoever really wanted to know. Spoke the words during the days my body felt nothing, alien, my mind a haze. I peaked from under the thick blanket of numbness, and found I had not landed in the hiding cave.
Someone played music and brought firewood. Hands stroked my ankles while I slept. I spent an afternoon spooned between a man and two purring cats. When I found I couldn’t cook, I was fed. I was taken to see the sun rise. I was held, sung to, left alone. I was seen.
I shared, and through the sharing felt the tug and tingle of all these threads, the soft red wool that with each day, pulled me back a little.