Tuesday, January 10, 2017

On holidays from growth

On the weekend I went to a women's circle, where one of the rituals was to speak our desires for the year out loud. We were asked the question 3 times, in different ways.

The first one was easy, for the mind: "what do you want?". I heard words like love and dancing and creativity and exuberance exiting my mouth. Talking about how I already had so much. The woman who was witnessing me pushed a little: "so do you want a partner?" I admitted I was a little afraid to ask for that. When I'd finished (or rather run out of time), her reflection was "wow, you want everything".

The second question was for the heart, and made me feel a little uncomfortable to begin with: "how do you want to serve?"  This time I was witnessed by a different woman, a radiant friend. My answer: I want to bring beauty into the world. I spoke of wanting to balance out all the pain I've observed, of being a mirror. Of knowing that words are my gift, of naming the unspeakable. Of letting out all the fierceness that paces, caged in my chest.

The third time, a question for the belly: "what do you want to receive?" This time witnessed by a different friend, one who shares my sensitivity to the world. And this answer, slowest to come, least expected, with a crack in the voice: I want rest. And comfort. Then, through shared tears: love where there has been fear. Peace where there has been battle.

And now that my body has spoken, I can feel how tired I am. How everything from my heavy eyelids in the morning to the dull heaviness in my chest and the uncharacteristic ache of my left knee... all asking for rest.

I have been busy, so very busy, for two whole years. Feeling unfelt feelings; learning to inhabit my body; crying myself to sleep; making connections; relating in unfamiliar ways; excavating habits; understanding truths; loving uninhibitedly; letting go; crying until I grew tired of it; loving carefully. Grieving, grieving. Healing furiously.

I'm exhausted, truthfully. From all the intensity. From first having to find reasons for and then explaining my heaviness; my tears; the not showing up; the too much or too little of one thing or another. From conversations where I am trying to prove to that I am interesting and interested. Puzzling over why someone's words can be so enthusiastic and their actions so absent. From all the self improvement, exploration, trying to be better. The peculiar pressure to be self-aware and accepting and mindful.

All the wants I can articulate are true enough, but they are not what I need. Which is to cocoon. To wrap myself up in restful friendships, quiet sensations, gentle dreaming and the kind of calm and steadiness that can't co-exist with constant growth. Doesn't fit with stretching my boundaries. Clashes with "putting myself out there".

So, halfway through summer, I am hunkering down as if it were winter. What a relief, to step away from all that intensity, all those agendas. In its place, quiet. More writing and reading. Creating and soaking up art. Dancing without intention and focus, for the mere pleasure of it. Lounging. Cat naps. Picnics under trees. Floating on water. Rest.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

An unplanned tribute to Leonard Cohen

If cracks are how the light
gets in, I must be beaming
glowing the carmine temples
of my ventricles, twinkling
the elastic of my tender lungs,
radiant like I've stored decades
of sunlight in the quiet
honeycomb of my bones

If love is kintsukuroi to the
vessels of my clay palms,
threaded into my porcelain
back and belly bowl, holding
together the fallen vases of
my calves - I am treasure, now
fit for a pirate. Come, beloved
plunder the gold in my heart

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thoughts on charm and endearment

It's easy to rattle off a list of adjectives that describe what we like, and seek in other people. Particularly in dating. But in practice, "honesty", or "good manners" might mean something different to you than it does to me. And how they relate to each other, when one is more valued than another, can vary wildly from moment to moment and person to person.

Honesty for you might mean pointing out that the nail polish on my toes is flaking and really needs a touch up. Good manners for me might mean not mentioning it, so as not to make someone else feel self conscious. Good relationship is how we navigate the waters in between.

So when it comes to quantifying what I seek, and am drawn to in other people, I find myself looking for moments. Snippets of daily life that tell me something about another person, that give substance to the names we have for characteristics, behaviours and things we find charming.

So... in no particular order, a non-comprehensive list of things I find appealing, and endearing, in other people:

- umbrella awareness in crowds on the rainiest of days

- asking how people are with feeling, as if you really want to know

- licking the froth off the inside of your takeaway coffee cup lid

- melty, long, warm, wrapped-up hugs

- the ability to commit to small things, like when I will see you next

- chasing rubbish that the wind blows away from you

- asking quirky questions about how things work, such as "is there an equivalent of a car wash for aeroplanes?" and collecting the answers like little pebbles

- admitting that you wanted to lick the plate after a particularly delicious meal

- being prepared for the usual eventualities... always carrying a handkerchief, a spare umbrella in the car, snacks on a bush walk

- the ability to see how someone is in a given moment, and respond in kind, even if neither person has words for it

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The arsonist

I have burned
so many bridges
I'm surprised
there is anywhere
left to go

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

All the rage

I'm not going to tell you it's all
in your head because it's not only
there it's your stomach that tightens
like a hermit crab ducking into
the borrowed shell of your bones
it's in your blood - can't you
see it? your veins are blue
waterfalls of fury plunging
back towards your heart

it's the solar flare in your eyes
that burn in the cheek that betrays
the furnace of a mind tended
too well, stoked to an inferno with
no chimney to breathe out

tucked inside these warehouses
we call bodies nailed onto
the train-tracks we name memory
scorched into the moorings of
this ship     this boat we have bailed
        out so many times       still floating!
is that electricity that crackles up
the rod of your uncoiling spine
   is the lightning still looking
for a home outside itself
   is all the rage brother

and not for all
the love can I
stand in it
    for you

Monday, January 2, 2017

Litany for the clumsy

My heart is made of glass or maybe
it was fire.
     Forged? Metal rooster crows
like windchimes, like blacksmith's hammer songs.   
                     I forget.

Or maybe it changed from day to
day (I am alchemy after all. How
else could a chameleon
like you find a mirror in me?)
Anyway I took it out of the cabinet.

Pried open my ribs with the crowbar
of your affection and placed it
gleaming, crystalline     now fingerprinted

into your hands. Such hands.
Masculine like
the back of your calves and that thick neck
I loved with my mouth and every other part
of my cabinet. I mean body

my body loved you and yours.
     Still does, but nobody is asking that question.      Out loud, it's impolite.

My fingerprinted heart in your clumsy hands. Your clumsy heart. You eager bull
to my shop of fragiles, bucking 

the bonds of love. How dare I think to rope you! So

much shattered glass to sweep up after.
I tell you some of it was old shit
nobody was going to buy it anyway. You call my bluff.      Or did you buy it?

A hesitant no is still not a yes. There's no alchemy to be had there.

And I'm still picking splinters out of my feet. My fingerprinted heart back in 

it's cage, I'm picking splinters out with my teeth because my hands are bound. You are still holding them, begging for another 

pass at the shelves. What kind of fool keeps cattle in a china shop anyway?

This is an invocation for reprieve. Forgive me

I have not forgotten you yet. Glass does not forget, only cracks. Spiderwebs under pressure

crackling in the daylight. Scuttle back under the rock I came from. The sting in my tail. Water bearer you are more dangerous than God gave you credit for.


      Just stop.

Glass doesn't bruise, so why do my lungs hurt? Maybe this is alchemy still transmuting into flesh.      There is no china shop, no rodeo, no splinters, only bruises yellowing
like sunrise.

I always mix metaphors because I was never clear about you
except when you kissed me on that mountain. How dare you use the sunset against my defenses
my prison-window habits. I wanted out and you busted in
like you owned the place. Nobody wants to hear this story
again. My heart. Your clumsy. Fingerprints.

We still don't who left more evidence.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Still the girl

This week three men wanted me. My year turned on the hinge of their desire.

This is a language I understand. How it begins is how it ends.

My answer, three times.

I am not for you.

Don't they know I'm still the girl on the beach with thighs twelve years too large, flesh bulging against the chicken-wire gaze of her father and uncle? My bicycle dubbed the gate to acceptability, to shrinking those meaty fillets down to a size that might make me invisible to scorn.

I am not for you.

Don't they know I'm still the girl, fifteen with billboard breasts proclaiming the ripeness of my sex to every man that passed. Before I had learned how to open the long library vault of my mouth. How everyone in a foreign country thought I was my father's wife, in that daisy dress made for a church I no longer believed in?

I am not for you.

Don't they know I'm still the girl in the warehouse, far from home. Seventeen so green, not a colour a person should ever be. His twice-my-age fingers moved like vine tendrils, brushing my waist, tucking in the tag of my shirt. Into my body a tree trunk, like my sapling self had always belonged to him. Curled in my grandmother's shower with shame.

I am not for you.

Don't they know I am still the girl, twenty-one and never kissed. The first time, my teeth were bars and I did not want to unlock them. His kisses tasted like ash and held a key to the library he would never enter.

I am not for you.

Don't they know I'm still the girl twenty and eight, when moan was just a word and pleasure an idea. Whose virginity became a trophy she was tired of carrying, fox-weary of the steeplechase, the sniffing hounds. So threw it to a pale-fleshed creature who did not understand how twinned desire and fear can be.

I am not for you.

Don't they know I'm still the girl whose no turned limp, fell like a body in a waterfall when he pushed and pushed again. Drowned when he said it was my fault. Two years gone and I'm breathing again but the timber of my belly is still waterlogged.

I am not for you.

Don't they know, I'm still the girl with a canyon named father in her chest? With a trickle, a creek called love in that chasm signed man. With a bear in the belly of that canyon. She roars at all the strangers stumbling in. There is no haven in this body, this tree trunk is not home.

I am not for you.

To the men that wanted me this week, and the ones that are waiting for me next week and the ones after that.

You can't fill in my canyons with the soil of your masculinity. There isn't enough of you to make it solid ground again. Didn't anyone teach you how earthquakes work?

When it rains, sometimes the creek floods. Sometimes the canyon is full and love washes the stone ledges clean. There are always traces of earth left behind. Maybe we can plant a garden in the crevices together, grow something that hasn't been here before.

You can't fuck my history out of me, can't rescue me from fires that razed long before you arrived. I have not been waiting safe in a tower for you and your steed. I have not been waiting. I have not been safe.

Forests always grow back after fires.

We can't dance if you are always stepping forward. If you move in the only place I can breathe is away. Don't chase me into the canyon.

I am still the girl that dances on the Sabbath day. Dances at midnight. Twirls in her skirts and howls at the sickle moon.

This is a language I understand. How it begins is how it ends.

If I am for you, remember the girl. Learn her too. I am the bear and the canyon and the flood and still the girl.