Autumnal Collage

greenworld1.jpg

Let us go then you and I (1). You crawl onto my lap and pull me to you. I sit and stare at the November afternoon. Its grey seeps through me in sullen dampness. When the evening is spread out against the sky, (1) my mind travels back, sifting memories, words, poems. Outside golden yellow leaves hang in a sporadic and precarious dance against time. The wind is whistling through the now almost naked branches and the rain is gushing down in sheets.

We walk beneath the tree. You look up. Inquisitive. The tree’s black bark speaks out in stark contrast with the matte whiteness of the autumn sky. Large raindrops balance like bubblegum bubbles reaching the maximum of their capacity before they glisten and drop, on my hood. Patter, pat. You smile at the sound. You notice a dog walking toward us. You point at it.

I notice the coat of trodden leaves, summer’s release.
But why make so much of fragmentary blue,
in here and there a bird, or butterfly, or flower,
or wearing stone, or open eye? (2)

I notice the leaves now kneaded into a burgundy-brown mulch. I wonder if you notice them too. You like holding and twirling them. On the surface a few just fallen maple leaves, blood orange, saffron gold, lemon yellow create a pattern, almost a mosaic intaglio.

I find my heart going back to memories of summer. So many walks brought us down to the lake’s shore to bathe in its mermaid green coolness. We were inseparable during those heat-drenched days. You and me linked by the hip, the heart, the breast.
The heart can think of no devotion greater than being shore to the ocean—holding the curve of one position, counting an endless repetition. (3)

I think of these days with you. These first months turning into a year. I think of the intensity and the flow. The sublime beauty and the hardship. The lack of sleep. The aloneness, which is different from loneliness. I think of the absurdity that in our culture mothers are silos each one to her own, working just one in a home, doing the work that used to be shared by many hands, mouths, hearts.
For I am the first and the last. I am the honored one, and the scorned. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. I am the mother and the daughter, and every part of both. (4)

I miss that. The companionship, the help, the support of other women close by, living life together in an every day kind of way. Sharing tasks. Cooking, singing. The tapestry of our own stories.

Yet even in my own life there is a rhythm, a kind of silent meditation which happens each day, each month, that brings us together especially in those dark nights of rocking.
Watching the moon, at midnight, solitary, mid sky, I know myself completely, no part left out. (5)

Let us go then you and I. (1) You are calling as I write. Pulling me away from these words, jotted down, haphazard on the screen. My life becomes a mosaic of time, fitting in the missing pieces. Finding delicious short moments to write, in between other moments just as sweet with you, to sew together a few words into a fragmentary piece.
The gauge of a good poem is, the size of the love-bruise it leaves, on your neck. Or, the size of the love-bruise it can paint, on your brain. Or the size of the love-bruise it can weave into your soul. (6)

 

1. TS Eliot, from The Love song of J Alfred Prufrock
2. Fragmentary Blue, Robert Frost
3. Devotion, Robert Frost
4. Thunder: Perfect Mind, Gnostic Gospel, Nag Hammadi Library, Women in Praise of the Sacred
5. Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirschfield, Women in Praise of the Sacred
6. The Size of the Love-Bruise, Hafiz, Translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Subject Tonight is Love

Advertisements

Overlooking a Cliff

Wonder by Alex Grey

I look into your fifteen-month eyes,
blue opals of swimming water.
In them my soul bathes herself.

Each day you bring countless
smiles to my lips.
Each day you push me to feel my edge.

Overlooking a cliff,
I have choices:
I can soar.
I can plummet.

In the first I find the sky. I face
life, enveloped in lightness. The blue air
tingles on my skin. I am present to each moment.

In the second I trudge in coarse gravel.
A weight pulls me down.
My patience is tried.
I feel sorry for myself.
I react impetuously.

Each day I witness the mystery
of your little body growing.
I see your uplifted hands,
the pink softness of your feet.

I secretly want to take small bites from you.
Maybe because you suck life, in milk
out of my body. Just nibbles.

I hear you forming new words. Each sound
a puzzle piece for the communication
forming between us.
Language, is another marvel.

I tend to you with tireless
limbs. I stay present
with all my strength.
Expanding waves ripple
from my heart.
A love so large it is
nameless.

I think my heart and everything surrounding it has gotten bigger

_MG_1352

I cannot think of a day as a mother when I am not tired. When I don’t have some major overpowering worry or doubt that freezes me stiff, or seizes me in a bout of anxiety. Just yesterday, the baby came in on the babysitter’s back, her forehead leaning in, pressed into a wool coat. As she came up to look at me, I saw red and white clouds drifting across her countenance: a dance of splotchy spots. I assumed it was the pressure of raw wool on soft skin. Yet, four hours later, the marks were only redder, deeper, angrier. The baby looked flushed, and her innocence of what to me looked like some terrible disease, made her even more endearing. I fluttered into a chest paralyzing fear. What could this be? How could this have happened? All my questions had no good answers, except perhaps a reaction to kiwis. My mama soul ruffles into a protective swan, neck arching defiantly, wings outstretched.

I think my heart and everything surrounding it has gotten bigger. There is a fine-knit, and enhanced, cloud enveloping my being, my ears, my eyes, my sense of smell, and simply all my senses. They are all on their tiptoes alerting me of their surroundings while I pour myself into the role of mother and care for my young child.
Some days I wish I trusted my intuition more deeply though. For if I pay attention, it is there, within me all the time: an energy that only need be woken up carefully and paid heed to, like a special voodoo doll guiding me in my pocket.

I can hear through walls, and up stairwells, detecting even the faintest of sighs, cries, or sneezes. Through the stillness I am clued in to that particular silence that is foreboding of mischief or danger. Like the day I looked over while chopping carrots and saw the baby content sucking on the i-pad charger, with a look mixed of pride and innocence.

My heart is on high alert when an ambulance goes by, or someone raps loudly at the door, lest the baby be woken. I can see a wobbly foot leading to a fall, sense danger looming around the corner. I simply know when the baby is sick, or when she is in a good mood; when it’s time to go home and she has had too much of even a good thing.

Some days I pray to our angels to protect us. Some days I envision myself gently wrapped into the mantle of Mary. The indigo folds tucking me in warmly, while the golden leaf stars twinkle in the dome above my head. In her arms I rest like a lamb. Some days, I imagine —for lack of a better name—my mythological mother coming to me when I call upon her. I smile to her. She gives me strength. She knows how to support me. She listens me.

It is dream acts like these that allow me to move forward. Acknowledging the power of being alive, despite days on days of sleep deprivation. I move into the heart of being a mother. Each day a little deeper. It is the most important life lesson I have learned to date. It is a 24 hour-long meditation (just pause and press repeat each morning) involving patience, compassion, pure love.

Of course there are those moments when the thought of throwing in the towel lumbers across the screen of my mind. I see it coming like a freight train with no brakes. Then I hop off.
I see my baby trying, with every fiber of her being to stand up, holding on to our bookcase; the back of her downy head covered in fine blonde hair; her short arms flailing and waving, as her legs wobble, and she does a flamingo dance, aiming to hoist herself upward.

My thought abdicates. My heart, my widened mama’s soul, takes charge, sending all other sentinels to lunch. It fires me into a rosy love that extends to the outer posts of my existence.

Gratitude Prayer

IMG_3182

Today is one of those sparkling sunny days that makes me feel slightly drunk on life.

It’s also the day before Thanksgiving. Selina and I went grocery shopping this morning. I thought to myself how crazy it was to attempt that the day before the major eating holiday. I also was a bit afraid: of the crowds, of doing this with her, managing stroller, cart, loads of food, etc. But it turned out to be a pleasant experience. I would even venture to say an adventure that we shared together. She ate slices of pear we had brought from home, and pointed at things making that guttural sound that all children who can’t yet yell “I want that”, make… a sound that used to frustrate me. Later we placed the food in the car and went first to the playground by the lake and afterward to the library. As soon as we got there she shouted: “Anna, Anna, Anna”. Anna is her doll, that my friend, by the same name, made for her. I looked around and all I saw was a humongous monkey sitting on top of the bookshelves. I think my child calls all dolls, including huge stuffed animals, Anna. That elicited an ear-stretching smile from my face.

It may be trite to feel an overwhelming dose of gratitude today, but that is the case with me. It hasn’t been an easy year, this first of being a mother. First, going through a difficult birth left me with longtime healing to do while I had an infant to take care of immediately and all the time. It’s only recently that things have begun to shift, to feel smoother, softer, less difficult. I realize how long physical and emotional healing can take. I notice how much being a parent heals me also from ancient wounds. It re-parents me.

I feel gratitude first and foremost for my daughter. She brings a smile to my face every day. She is the hardest and most beautiful thing I have ever been responsible for. There are simply no words for the sentiment I feel for her. Then to my husband Josh, who is always there for us, standing with integrity, compassion, and wisdom. Always. To my mother, Milena with her love and unflinching support. To my many friends, and teachers. To the rest of our family of blood lines and chosen. To my doctor who told me that I have the tools to stand my own ground. To refuse the omnipresent voice of stress, and worry that surrounds our time.

I choose to stand in the light and in the love. I move forward, even in these dark times, toward the solstice, knowing that the light shines within me.

In the words of poet Robert Frost:

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean –
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

The happiness I feel when I see Selina

IMG_3158

I feel so happy I could explode. (Sleep is a miracle that works wonders).
The happiness I feel when I see Selina:
Her nose scrunched up in a smile.
The light in her eyes.
Her expression of delight mixed with a touch of roguishness.
One hand pointing: “MMMM” (Gimme that) she shouts.
Back-a, BaBa, DaDa.
A dialogue in many acts.

We nestle and snuggle in the morning, after the long night.
We play and explore in the afternoon.
She splashes in the tub in the evening.
A wave of love connects it all together.
Her heart to mine.
A conversation that spins tapestries of meaning.

Connections woven by her imagination.
She pretends she is drinking from a cup.
The cup on her head becomes a hat.
Her left brain naming, labeling, compiles information, sounds, shapes.
A bus pulling up and lumbering to a halt.
An ambulance wailing by.
A motorcycle puttering.
A plane flying overhead.
Crows cawing.
The bark of a dog in the distance.
Her right brain sings and wallops back to the left in exultation and recognition.
It layers longing, imagination, fondness, attachment, sense of self, and other.

She is beginning to speak. In English and Italian.
She says “No, no Numa, when our cat, Numa, scratches the couch.
“Adie” (for Grazie) when she hands me the cat’s bowl to wash.
Mama, Daddy, Bye, Bow, Ba(ll), (D)Ow (Ciao). Baby.
She sees a flower.
A bee.
A butterfly.
She smells the lavender and rosemary in our garden.
She is careful not to pull flowers off their stem.
She learns to climb the stairs in both directions.
She sucks the butter and jam off her tiny pieces of toast discarding the rest.
She devours salmon skin.
It’s her favorite thing it seems.

She follows and lopes after me whenever I come home.
She makes the milk sign and indicates her favorite chair to sit in.
When I see her my heart leaps.
I melt.
In love.

My Name

2013 copy

I searched and found that I have a name of kings. In an ancient language it means gift. It was chosen because in my father’s mind it was associated with outlaw. My parents were smitten by the rebellion and freedom-searching of a generation that wore flowers in their hair.

Along with my first name—a short name with lots of sound, a boy’s name in a girl’s body—came my second, or middle name. This was a cool sip of water that had Gaelic origins, and whispered and sighed, saying yes to unity and divine power. It welcomed all the gods, and spoke of its feminine gentleness.
Together, I was one. Clad in both my costumes, I became whole. I contained the sun and the moon, the male and the female. I had strength, frailty and awareness. I was the giver, and the taker. The fountain of life from whose source clear water sprung for others to drink. The one who also drew in and absorbed, and perhaps often, redistributed in one form or another. Sometimes form became ethereal, and in its diaphanous shimmering it sang into the moonlight, evoking an echo from a distant land that resonated over time. Who are you? Speak my language…
Growing up I always wanted to be a boy, and yet have come to find myself in my woman’s body and mind. A revelation in happening, I became who I was meant to be. I have walked on many paths, and am now finding the road that leads home. In its authentic moment of genesis my destiny was chosen and prescribed. My identity was written in my name—short sounding and sliding in its simmering emphasis.
Followed it was by a long whispering and secret sigh. This word was humble, and yet stood apart defining the identity of that which came before it. It made me a woman in my boy’s garb. Somehow it was my true calling and, if I could, I would have chosen it as mine—as a way to make myself known to the world around me. Not as a boy, a bandit, but as one who spoke truthfully, who in her wholeness contained wholesomeness. Who could describe the rainbow in its evanescence, and sit by the side of the river contemplating the passing water, and its shore. In that relationship—of shore and ocean—I found devotion, and also my true love, whose name speaks of salvation.
It was later, when I discovered in the gift of my name a most profound essence that had meaning beyond words. It signified that I was the bridge between opposite shores. I could speak both languages and make hands shake. Peace was in the making. I contained the power of the gift and was able to receive it.

Language


speak my name
over the air waves
a sudden rainbow
arcobaleno dipinto
a verse in time
una favola
a bedtime story

I came into the world
hearing sounds from different tongues
meaning attached and words unknown
repeating—discovering
I forged my own shell
hard and soft
geometric and uneven

sometimes irreverent
wading through phonics
turning tunes into imaginary dialects
I jumbled the stories you told me
and painted my world yellow with nicknames
flying elephants
pink flamingoes
green Iguanas

“Perché il Black Cat è andato via?”
I would tire you endlessly with
my two-year-old questions with no answers
“Why did the Black Cat go away?”

Why is the sky blue?
Why am I your daughter?
Why did I pick you?
Why am I lonely?

Crocheting a rope
from a magic toy mushroom
Funghetto magico
I would sit for hours
staring at the chickens
listening to their cackles

I watched the sun rays streaming into my room
they made beautiful streaks on the ceiling
what is the word: soffitto

Sounds in multiple languages
sifting through my mind
in time meaning comes into focus
an ever-increasing discovery
of self
of thought

The endless possibilities
an inside world that can express what you fish for
terse and dry
intense and focused
widespread and colorful
emotional and dramatic

Once I closed the doors behind me
I found I was inside the world of words
Parole parole parole

symbols—sounds—metaphors
onomatopoeia

endless creation