Sunday, August 27, 2017

Unexpected

I want to peel off my skin
Undress the worries and fears
Stand naked in the insecurity of breath
Fold back the layers to the space between the cells

The air we share
The thoughts we try to claim as our own
But that are fragile,
tissue paper thin, like butterfly wings.

All I can do is stand still enough
to let this moment land lightly on my shoulder
whisper in my ear
before it flies away again.
I want to inhale it.
Soak it in like the earth embracing the rain
after a parched summer
ground ravaged by the heat
dirt cracked, split open.

 I want to let myself be soft, wet, receptive.
Swell with life.
Allow it all to just be.
Right now.

No expectations.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

For O’Keeffe & Frida

I traveled to the desert to find your spirit still alive and breathing in the rusty rocks.  A cathedral of stones I walked through like prayer to find your searing look blazing through time to meet my eye.  

A pilgrimage.  

Back to Mexico, your self-styled Oaxacan sister in long, bright skirts dares us to pity her.  She reaches through the thick paint letting her pain drip raw and unapologetic.  She prevails defiant and unflinching.  The throbbing ache of her broken body, loss and betrayal only serve to fan her flame.  She rides the heat as it laps up higher, burns brighter. 

This too is my heritage. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Labyrinth

I’m apprehensive as we crawl into the cave, cool and dark.  A stark contrast to the bright heat of the dusty Mexican summer outside.  The curtain swishes closed, and there’s silence.  Just the breathing of strangers like pulsing spiders on the walls.  Women I didn’t know just a few days ago.  Our challenge?  Pure emotion.  No stories, no spinning.  Just let the feelings flow through us without holding onto them.  Spontaneous chanting starts like a low hum, vibrating somewhere deep in my core.  Some are singing.  One woman lies plastered flat on the dirt floor.  I’m aware that tears are streaming down my cheeks as a gut wrenching sorrow envelopes me like delicate fingers.  I’ve seen this look in my eyes before.  Somehow the darkness reflects it back to me like a mirror.  LOSS.  An emptiness in my belly I’ve learned to ignore swells outward until I feel I might burst.  My skin pulls tight like the rubber on an inflated balloon, like stretch marks.  And I realize, I’m back in Angelito’s country.  Though his tiny body is buried under an adobe floor high in the mountains of Oaxaca, his spirit can still find me here.  It permeates my whole being.  I’m not done grieving.  I can hear my own hollow voice crying out “Why did you take my baby boy from me?”  The intensity of my plea startles me.  But before I succumb to the familiar tug of heart ache, I hear a calm voice, “Story.  Stay in the sensation.  Where is it in your body?  Let it pass.  Don’t cling!”   Then it rushes like water, washing over me from a deep underground spring.  Fresh and clean.  Peace.  My legs spread, knees high, palms open, head tilted back on the cool earth of the wall holding me.  Ready to give birth...

                                                            ---

The bell sounds, and we tumble out into the abrupt glare of sunlight.  Pour ourselves into a labyrinth carefully designed with stones and crystals.  Stumble upon carved faces staring up at us along our path, pick our way past ant hills and wandering turkeys.  One by one, we make our way, lost in our separate worlds.  Now we let the stories unfold…  Follow the unwinding threads… “I’m not worthy to be a mother.  I failed my son.  If I blink, let down my guard, mess up in any way; I might lose my children now.”  FEAR.  “I was being punished for leaving my spiritual path.  I lost my way, cut myself off from my source…”  Hmm... a creative miscarriage?  Ahhh, that’s how this is related…my writing.  “This is how we keep ourselves from flying!  It’s such an old story.  I can’t believe I’ve fallen for it!  Samsara smoke.  Take away our stories, take away our power.  This is why I must write!  Give us back our voices!”  ANGER.  “Why have you been complicit in keeping yourself subjugated, subdued, submissive?”  PAUSE.  Wait.  That’s another story!  You are still beating yourself up, judging, tearing yourself down.  COMPASSION.  This goes deeper than you.  This is a long, deep HIStory of denigration, my HERitage ripped from me.  A systematic GENDERcide.  Stop the cycle!  Retell the story.  Pick up the pen.  Reclaim your space. It’s TIME to let Eve off the hook.  She’s been the scapegoat long enough J

                                                            ---

I am the earth in which you bury your seed.
My breast nourishes the young.
You take and don’t replenish.
I grow tired and listless in your depleted soil.
It’s time to gather my strength.
Call in my power.
Feel the ground tremble,
The sky slice open.
It’s time to reclaim my sisters, my daughters, my MOTHER
Feed the earth with our laughter as well as our tears
Hand in hand we grow strong
Dance barefoot around the fire,
Match its energy so we can walk across hot coals unscathed.
Relish the soothing cool of the wet grass.
We’re coming home.

                                                            ---

Now for clarity, TRUTH at the feet of Guadalupe.  Integration.  You must know pain to truly know love.  Must be broken to be healed.  None of this was a mistake!  You are being molded exactly as planned.  Each spiral, each revelation, just closer to center.  There are no detours.  Just training.  I can feel the energy swirling up from the earth rejoicing as prodigal daughters return to their rightful place in the sun.

                                                            ---

Last stop.  Set your INTENT.  I write LET GO on the wooden shaft of an arrow and again on a block of thick wood.  Hesitantly point the sharp end of the arrow at the soft indentation of my throat.  Shaking, I look for reassurance in my own written words on the block and then lock my sight in the blazing determination of my new TEO sister’s eyes.  They are gathered around me, giving me strength.  I lean into my intention.  It is time!  From deep in my core my whole being cries out “Let go!” and I hear the arrow snap as I fall into the arms of a new me. 


HERitage



I had a dream I was riding on the back of a black panther.  
I could feel her strength like muscles rippling under the earth thrusting mountains into the air, 
boulders and rocks tumbling as her padded feet silently brushed the ground.  
We poured through the dark night, dried grass swishing, cool air in my face. 


***

In Teotihuacan, Mexico they recently discovered a new tunnel under one of the pyramids.  They were looking for a buried king’s tomb that would finally “explain” the origins of this powerful city.  But instead they found two stone female statues, conch shells, pyrite mirrors, cat bones, obsidian knives and mercury.   It appeared to be a complete recreation of the outside world but underground, deep in the earth’s womb, beyond the touch of time, where it all began.

I’m reminded of the powerful Tonontzin surviving hidden in clear sight of the conquerors but shape shifting in the guise of the all compassionate Virgen de Guadalupe watching over us from Tepeyac.

I think I’ve found my missing heritage.

Re-Membering Me

It’s odd that I had to go back to Mexico to find myself again.  Gather up all the pieces that I somehow left behind, like lost change.  Not discovering the hole in my pocket until the bits of me had already unraveled, leaving me in tatters. 

But now I find myself head bowed, reverently climbing the tiny little steps up the pyramid of the plumed serpent, Quetzalcoatl who bridges earth and sky, water and stone, dead and alive.  But instead of peering into the mouth of death to be digested and spit back out, I look into the face of my 28 year old self traipsing around these stones 17 years ago with my young dark skinned fiancé, giddy and affectionate, not a care in the world.  I had sold it all, thought I’d left it behind.  My heart throbs for that girl.  She has no idea of the weight she is about to inherit, have heaved on top of that small, feisty frame.

My skin tingles, feels porous.  I’ve crossed some portal where time has warped, somehow overlapped, folded in on itself.  I am peering through the lens of superimposed realities.  I am an observer, suddenly aware how carefree I once was!  So beautifully naïve.  Ashamed how I’ve judged her all these years, blaming her for what happened.  Like somehow I should have known.  Should have been wiser and chosen better.  But look at her pure spirit!  Her unshakable faith to follow love over the border, throw caution to the wind and plant herself like a wildflower wherever she lands.

“Congratulations!” the serpent hisses. 

I’m taken aback still instinctively feeling I’ve screwed up somehow, failed, stumbled and fallen from grace.  With an asthmatic’s concaved chest, I’m still groveling.

“What did you say?” 

“You did exactly what you were supposed to do!  Become exactly who you were supposed to become!” 

I stand up from where I’ve unknowingly slunk to the ground.  Dust off the dirt, tiny stones still clinging to my pale skin.  Mouth open, brow furrowed. 

Then like a thunderclap, my mind clears.  I’m giggling, laughing at myself.  Expecting a lashing, I got a hug!  How me.  My own worst enemy.  Humbled, I devotedly gather my little bits about me like a skirt and feel the wind lift this burden I’ve carried for far too long, suddenly aware it’s just been a case of mistaken identity.  This was never mine to bear in the first place!  Now I’m playfully peeling off gravity, reversing the aging process as I skip back down the steps.  Reclaiming my place in the universe.  Wondering why I ever forfeited it in the first place.   

Throwing my double at the pyramid of the Moon

I begin to build my double from spit and memory.  She’s timid at first.  Not at all ready to be thrown.  In fact she begs me to carry her like a child.  I can feel her tiny hand in mine.  But I remember the poem I wrote at Ghost Ranch about my childhood, “I was formed in the shade of a sycamore…” so I start tossing in images of riding bareback in sticky, sweaty jeans.  Acknowledge and hold the terrified 17-year-old girl running alone through a southern Spanish city after being attacked in a park.   Smile at the defiant Wesleyan feminist.  Sit with the Sari clad young woman, peaceful in New York City at the feet of her guru. And I find I am falling in love with her, this woman I’ve been.  This woman I’ve become.  And my double is growing stronger as we walk.  By the end of the plaza, she’s now eager to fly.  And I am finally ready to LET her GO, breathe into that space again.  Like the end of a pregnancy when you know you can no longer hold your child in the safe dark womb.  Your belly stretches full term and is ready to know its own size again. 

I’m finally untying the agreements that have kept me knotted up, shackled and bound.

I am learning to use venom as medicine.

I can finally see all of me and find I love her fiercely as she soars high above me!

FIRE WALK

My past continues to bleed into my present.  There is no longer a clear line defining the two like they teach you in school.  The veneer is dripping off ancient walls to finally reveal its true identity, and a deeper purpose. 

Yes, I can see the thread now!  How all of these people I’ve been are all ME.  Thick painted layers peeling.  Churches built on pagan ruins.  Tenochtitlan lying dormant under Mexico City to be discovered by dynamite blasts for the metro.  Volcanoes erupting back to life, lava flowing, liquid fire.  IT IS TIME.

I stand before the blaze as it shoots into the sky.  Warrior goddesses tend the flames.  We tuck our prayers into the wood and watch them rise in delicate smoke swirling and disappearing into the night.  Chanting, clapping women.  Women I have grown to love over the last week.  Brave women who are willing to lay themselves bare in a community of healing.  Re-Membering ourselves through story.  This is what was meant by tearing your heart out in sacrifice at the pyramids.  It wasn’t to warlike gods or to subjugate hostile enemies, or a show of force of powerful men lording over the weak.  They’ve corrupted the story!  Under that rubble, in the dark, lies the underworld, female creation deities waiting.  Teotihuacan Spider Woman.  Coatlicue, mother of all the gods & her skirt of snakes.  Jaguar.  The re-emergence of the feminine has already begun.  We are no longer bowing our heads, but rising up bare arms, palms open to the sky.  In unity we join hands and walk the coals feeling nothing because we have become the fire.