Mother

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Mother is there at the beginning

Mother is who you came out of

Mother is food

Mother is sleep

Mother is love

Mother is the first teacher

Mother is nature

Mother is nurture

Mother Nature is Mother

Mother is who I need to separate from to become me

Mother has a wound

Mother is who’s wound I must heal

Mother is who I trust

Mother is who I roll my eyes to

Mother is almost always woman

Mother is taken for granted

Mother is who rejects me and I reject

Mother is who I feel smothered by

Mother is who I am

Mother and daughter

Daughter to my mother

Mother to my daughter

 

May I feel all the wounds

May I speak them

May I heal all the wounds

May I heal my mother wound

May we give back to all mothers

All women

May we give back to Mother Nature

May I give back to my mother

May I give a new future to my daughter

Mother is the beginning

The rhythm of breath

The strum of the heart

Of all that is me and isn’t me

Of unity and division

Mother is the beginning of love

Autumnal Collage

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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

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.

Sing into your light

 

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Sing into the deep December darkness.

Sing into your light.

Walk, one footstep at a time,

into your heart.

Feel the pulsing beat.

Know that you are alive.

Smile because it’s a gift.

Skip because deep down you

still are a child.

Look up, see the moon, the stars,

the forest, the mountains, and the ocean.

Thank them deeply: they are a part of you.

Embrace all of creation, every being,

every human, and animal.

Soothe your caustic tongue.

Walk deeper and past, out of anger.

Feel the love, the deep appreciation,

the belonging of one and all.

Gratitude Prayer

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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.

Violet

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Violet, I watch you come to life.
You open outward from a pearly,
bud. The motion of life written
in you, a spiraling, curling beauty;
always reminding me
of the mysteries that lie
in the sacred.

Yours isn’t the linear line dear
to Man and the rational mind.
It is the Mother’s way.
In you Nature shows
her hidden power.

I watch your majestic purple
unfolding over days. You move
as though a creature
asleep; curled in on yourself,
a timid child with rounded fists
hovering over her eyes.

You glisten. Your velvet stem
of emerald and magenta,
has grown fine hairs
that whisper against the light.

Each day you peer
out a bit further.
From your head a cup of leaves
unfurls to protect their golden,
inner treasure. Deep, royal violet,
fresh and cool. In them the thirst
of life moves visibly through veins
of love and hope.

I hear your music. The melody
sounds in my ear, singing
the beginning of renewed life.
In your presence I remain
in awe each day a little deeper.

The apple blossoms pink and white

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The apple blossoms pink and white.
We sit sprawled out on a blanket
that belonged to nonna in our backyard.
You are eight months old.
Your whole body is round and lovely.
You have soft full cheeks and the bluest of eyes.
You play busily, observing the world,
flowers, bees, branches, specks of dirt.

Interspersed into every action
are the looks you steal at me, furtive, gleeful, curious.
There are moments when you laugh
in short staccato ha-has,
your whole face puckered in an impish grin.
I am imbued by a love so wide and deep
words fail to paint its full picture.

I look at the apple blossoms, and wonder
whether we will have apples this year.
There is a serendipitous connection
between my fertile outburst and the trees’.
Life moves in mysterious ways.

You are holding up one of the pieces of the rainbow,
the yellow one, thrusting your arm
back and forth in happy motion.
I look at you, at my life.
I feel complete.

Birth Story

pregnant-jesse-0628-15August 23, 2014

The last days of pregnancy I felt full. As the moon was waxing, my feet, ankles, and lower legs were swelling. Everyone was calling, adding a sense of tension that the baby “was late.” Then, in the last week, my pressure went up to high readings. My midwives were worried that I would surpass the limit in which they could assist a home birth. The clock was also ticking as I was now approaching 42 weeks at which point, I would have to go to the hospital.

Sunday August 10th was full moon. All day Saturday I felt irregular contractions, with many other signs that pointed toward labor. But as Sunday came, all the symptoms subsided and that night, although I thought the baby would come summoned by the moon tide, we slept more soundly than we had in days. This was a restful preparation for what was to come, but I did not suspect it at the time, and I woke up disappointed.

Monday evening we were scheduled to see our midwives to place a balloon catheter in my cervix, which was to aid dilation. However, the first thing they did was measure my blood pressure. It was higher than expected, and they told me I could not be in their care anymore as I was at risk now. They suggested I go to the hospital that night. Lynn called UW Hospital. But they had no bed for me. The full moon, and barometric changes were causing many women to give birth all at once.

It had gotten colder and a storm was on its way. As we drove home, I was surprised by how calm I was despite the turn of events. On the highway it started to pour. We made the necessary phone calls, prepared things, and set off to Swedish Hospital. I realized later the turn of fate was putting me in confrontation with my worst fear: to go to the hospital, and the one with the highest C-section rate in Seattle.

We checked into Labor and Delivery, met at triage by a nice nurse who was also very respectful and knew Lynn (her sister dates Lynn’s son Morgan). They began running tests. They found a high protein content in my urine, my pressure still high, and various values off like creatinine and kidney function.

We waited for a while. It was past 11pm by now. Dr. Eggers came in. He was a bear, burly and arrogant from the start. He told me he did not want to release me. (I wanted to go home and try to sleep; in the event labor were to start I wanted to be rested). He said, “you have the disease” (pre-eclampsia), and I should stay there. The baby was overdue, and the sooner I delivered it, the sooner symptoms of pre-eclampsia would disappear. I was a bit scared to start an “induction” program, but I consented to stay there and follow through, especially when I heard that, if we returned in the morning, they would have to start the tests all over again.

We were finally given a room around 1am, and at 3am the balloon catheter was placed. It was supposed to help dilate my cervix. It was to stay in for 12 hours. In that time I was monitored hourly for blood pressure and blood draws. I didn’t get any sleep, and felt agitated. Around 3pm the next day (August 12th) the catheter was removed and we found out I hadn’t dilated much beyond 2cm. I became very discouraged and started crying, feeling my body was letting me down. With all the hospital testing, I felt things were being “done to me” rather than being allowed to happen. Also, it did not help that we suddenly had a nurse who from the start misunderstood my situation (she thought my back was fused from C2-L2!!) She was arrogant, and couldn’t remember what was taking place.

At this point a synthetic prostaglandin called misoprostol was placed in my cervix. It was to act in 4 hours, or another would be placed to ripen the cervix. It was now around 7-8pm. Lilly had just brought us some food delicious Thai food. I realized I was feeling down. But as I checked in with myself I realized I was still in charge. This was not the birthplace I had been visualizing for nine months, nor by far the kind of birth that the calm, secluded ambiance of a home setting could provide. But we still could have a beautiful, and safe, outcome without much interference and medication. This made me happy. I told Josh we should try to have fun in this time. I wanted to dance.

The first “miso” (as they called it…which made me think of soup) didn’t dilate my cervix much further at all. So, around 8-9pm a 2nd one was inserted. Then, with a (great) new nurse, Caitlyn, who understood our need for sleep, we were finally left alone with a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

Around this time I received reassurance from my close circle of women friends. The message was that they had faith in me and were with me in prayer. I called my mother to comfort and reassure her that I was ok. Then Janis sent a message asking me to join her in a meditation on the opening of a blossom and to think of my poem “In Love.” I pictured being in love with my baby, being in love with my body and having not only trust, but faith that I could do this. I drifted off into sleep invoking higher powers to preside over me. I also visualized in my mind the image of a lily bud, soft pink and veined with green on the outside, slowly opening to show its speckled pink inside. As it unfolded it became. It yielded an open blossom. It shed its interior beauty to the world. I drifted off into the waves of sleep.

I woke up at 1am feeling darkness around me. The beeping machines. The beating of my own heart. And a sudden strong pain piercing through me that came and went. I suddenly heard, or felt, a pop from within and a gush of wetness pouring down. I stood up quickly thinking I had peed, and realized the water was not stopping. My water had broken. The pain was now much more intense. The nurse came in, and at the same time Josh was up. Everyone was suddenly aware that my contractions were coming strongly and regularly every 2 minutes. I got down on all fours on the floor with towels under my knees that Josh helped me place, while he called Lilly and my doula, Dolly.

As the rushes came, my body knew what to do. It took over while my mind slipped into the background. I was breathing rhythmically, low and hard into the wave rising within me. As I felt it surge, I rode on it like a surfboard, letting it peel and soar. Then I rested for what seemed split seconds, before the next one started.

Josh was at my side, breathing with me, holding me, giving me fresh water and coconut water, caressing, massaging, and giving me love. Soon Lilly and Dolly arrived. I remember Dolly complimenting me.

They were all there with me. Partaking of the waves of my emotions, with the exception that, being nighttime they were tired, while I was wide awake. I was riding high in the throes of adrenaline, altered by the indescribable sensations. As I continued, each surge came as a wave of unwavering force, taking over my whole body, making thinking impossible. The only thing to do seemed to release into it with low toned breath, allowing myself to be at one with the energy.

I remember spending most of the time on all fours. Between the surges, what seemed like seconds of respite would come. During that time, it felt so calm and blissful that I forgot about the pain. Only to feel the distant hint coming on, a reminder for which I prepared for by renewing the breathing deep into my belly.

I soon went in the tub. I had the belly band on that held the monitor in place. The water was warm and felt good. The contractions were so strong I almost couldn’t speak. I only emitted grunt-like orders: “Lilly, coconut water…“

We were well into the night. Either Lilly or Dolly went to get coffee. I never saw the cups, but could smell the pungent bitterness on their breath, and didn’t like it. It distracted me.  I could also distinctly detect each of their breaths. For one moment I imagined crying out loud that I didn’t like the coffee smell and that they should brush their teeth too. But then I was able to bring my mind back to focus on what was taking place, so holy, within me.

When the nurse checked me what seemed minutes, or years later, I was 5cm dilated. I was disappointed, and blurted “Only?” Dolly told me not to do math around this. At 6am and 6cm I started having the absolutely irrepressible urge to push. It was completely impossible to resist, yet the hospital nurse was telling me not to! I felt like cursing at her.

Dolly suggested we change scenery and walk in the hall. In a spurt of humor I told them they weren’t very nudity-friendly around there, and Dolly said “let’s give them a show!” We all laughed. It was harder than hard not to push. Even in the hall, standing up, I was getting the urge. Dolly said the only antidote she knew was an epidural, but that would also delay the process. She wondered whether I was tired enough that I would welcome the possibility to sleep for a few hours. She asked whether I thought I had three more hours in me. I think it was around 9AM. I had been at it since 2 AM. I didn’t know. I started to waiver and felt I couldn’t do it. Dolly recommended I go back in the tub. I felt so tired. I was falling asleep in the seconds between my furious contractions. Dolly again said it was time to have a conversation about epidural or perhaps narcotics. I said I was fed up. I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore. I got out of the tub impatiently and Dolly asked if I wanted to be checked again. I was, and I was now miraculously at 9.5cm! So close to pushing that the nurse from Swedish said she didn’t recommend pain meds now. Two contractions and you’ll be at pushing, she said.

I was on all fours again and then sitting on the bed using the mattress to counterbalance my desire to bear down, with Josh holding my arms while I swung back, going through the surging pain. Suddenly they said the baby’s head was crowning. They all said I could now push. With enthusiasm they said I could give it all I had. I remember feeling tired, and also elated, but wondering whether I had it in me to go any further. I focused and began to push. Bearing down, screaming high pitched and strong, then low in my gut, pushing, heaving from deep down within.

Suddenly there were more people in the room. The OB, Dr. Eggers, was putting on a blue suit with head and mouthpiece. The thought that he looked like he was getting ready to set off into space flitted across my mind. Again the humor. There was mention of squatting. I turned around and a bar was placed on the bed that I could hold onto while squatting. However Dr. Eggers had other plans. He asked me to lie down on my back. He said “we Americans are not a squatting people, like the Orientals.” Even in my altered labor state, I remember thinking it was appalling he just said that. I didn’t have it in me to show him what I was capable of. I saved my belligerence for pushing out my baby rather than arguing with his arrogance. I curled my spine in a C-shape, against multiple recommendations to not compress the fused bones in my back from other doctors. In the midst of all this, I suddenly became aware of panic, and a beeping sound in the room. My pressure had skyrocketed to 220/180. Fear around me was tangible. I was told I would be given a pressure lowering medication intravenously to avert a stroke.

I was urged to “push, push, push” repeatedly by both the doctor and the nurse. It seemed I wasn’t acting fast enough and they were worried. But I felt with the pause between each push the baby sliding further down and out from me. Dolly whispered in my ear that the baby would come anyway, whether I pushed that fast or not. I remember that made me smile, and it resonated with what I already felt inside. She and I knew the female body, and were letting mine be in control, while all around me, the doctors and new nurse were spurred by fear that something would go wrong.

I now felt the baby gliding down and I took my time for the next push. They put up a mirror at the foot of my legs. I started to see her head coming out while my vagina stretched unseemingly wide and a circle of fire spread through my perineum. The head just kept getting bigger. For a few minutes it was as though time stopped. Then the head slid out, enormous, followed by the whole slippery baby. I heard movement, talking, and then the baby’s cry sharp and distinct.

I closed my eyes and lay back, catching my breath. I had done it. I was a mama. Dr Eggers clamped the cord immediately, despite our request not to. Next he was on to getting my placenta out. He said it was stuck to the uterine wall, and he was working on it. I asked if he wanted me to push it out, but he said he had it.

They passed me my beautiful baby girl. She was large, perfect. Her closed eyes and features were so peaceful. Her skin was pink despite her trajectory into this world. She felt very heavy to my tired limbs. I was told she weighed 10lbs 4.6 oz. It was 10:10AM.

I received a gift of heaven

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I received a gift of heaven
wrapped in glowing light.
Within it breathes in silent wonder.
With each breath it connects me more deeply to mystery.
Waves transport me, dark and warm,
mauve tones of rose,
unfurling with passion
in regions of my soul.

To connect with myself in my heart.
Through my outspread body.
Knowing that I am my higher self.
That I carry a spirit within.
A gift that develops faith
and trust in the process
of continually being in the present.
Being in love.
With myself. With the divine
Being harbored in my womb,
This kernel of pulsating life.
* * *
Stripped
the onion unrolls
its fine pink shell
made of tears.
It sings into the earth
a song of beginnings
and arduous passages.
It harbors small forms
wings of angels.
Arching deep opalescence.
The surrender of
small fish rising from silver waters.
• • •
I look into the big void.
Sometimes there an echo resounds.
Casting names yet unknown.
Shadows foretelling movement.
A stronghold of life.

The smell of rain unfolds around me.
In the stillness: a pounding heartbeat.
Like galloping horses.
African violets continue to bloom.
I think of matter borne into dust.
Particles into particles,
Flesh building in blood simple facets.
A mystery so old
It holds me locked in silent wonder.

* * *
Silver fish spurt in droplets
from sidewalk puddles.
I sit and sift strands of feelings,
from my womb to my heart and back.
I hear an echo.
A mysterious mermaid,
a siren in the still deep.
I listen for its call.
It resonates with the crescent moon.
Alongside still water
a shadow casts its beauty in silhouette.
How can one voice be so pure?
I follow the movement of the heart-opening notes.
Hands united in prayer,
I sing my song to all the goddesses.
To the angel wings, feathering.
To flowers and animal spirits.

In meditation I saw
Deer, wolf, lion and whale.
Each mothering me.
Each showing me the way.

One gentle and fierce nuzzle
at a time.

The Secret Gift

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The foothills of the heart loom large
among shadows deep and purple.
I climb the winding path
through silver sage, and elderberries,
the song of the stream whispering in my ear.
From within a hermetic voice, a friend
I have not listened to in a long time:
timid, yet hoarse.
It speaks the truth, and flies on a winged arc,
glistening in the mystery of the folds.
Uncovering, discovering, recovering.
Flaming leaves rustle in the twilit breeze.
In the palm of my hand I hold a secret gift.
I will carry it to the mountaintop.
There I will bury it, release it, give it new life.