We must be clear about the risks.
There are people who imprint our hearts
like a rancher’s fire-heated brand cuts into flesh.
Accept your heart’s identifying marks ~
each beautiful, complicated, complex soul
who “branded” you with or without permission.
It is irreversible.
If death, or distance, or irreconcilable differences separate,
the absence becomes the joint damage from an old accident ~
not correctable by surgery, not erased by medication, not restrictive enough to keep us from being ambulatory.
But enough to make pain free walking a thing of our past.
We don’t speak enough of this Universal grief.
Watch toddlers who wail when a parent disappears.
They speak the heart’s language openly: inconsolable,
until they are taught to use distractions, a different toy, a sweeter cookie ~
to mute a grief that makes us uncomfortable.
“Missing” is not an optional “add-on” to a human life.
There ought to be places, besides country songs
to hold the unquenchable longing thirst to see again
a face that has disappeared from view.
A Hundred Years Old at Forty-Five
A hundred years old at forty-five,
she holds her purse across a crooked elbow
and with mincing steps along the pavement
moves her bony frame to my Subaru.
Once in, adjusts her turban down over her ears,
to cover wisps of hair that remain at the nape of her neck.
Will she be buried in the turban
or a wig, I wonder?
How to ask her preferences.
“Put your seat belt on”, I say
in response to the ding, ding, ding of the warning bell.
“Oh, I can’t”, she says, “it hits the tumor in the breast and it hurts.”
Not “my” breast.
I want to pound the steering wheel with my fists
until I’ve shattered the bones in my hands.
Does God understand how precious this one was at three?
With corkscrew curls and sky-blue eyes?
This fatherless girl?
This childless woman?
Might God not have looked the other way when parceling out the cancer?
But which way?
We ignore the ding, ding, ding
on the twenty minute ride to her house
and chat about her car troubles
which is why I’ve been called to drive her home.
Lifting her arm to open the passenger door,
she winces, reaches for her belongings
and shushes me away
before I can help her into her house.
I gather her to me anyway.
Not on the driveway
but in the poem.
Butterflies do not glance backwards.
Is butterfly obliged to remind herself and others
that her present day beauty is somehow diminished
by her former day unsightliness?
Is she any less beautiful or gifted because of it?
What difference does it make that she was not beautiful at inception,
but rather beautiful through deception?
The hiding off of herself,
and then, a very private transmutation, to arrive
fully equipped for flight.
If she has a memory of her caterpillar days,
surely as she is about flower business and the whispering of the air ~
surely she does not linger there?
She has earned her right to claim herself beautiful
in the only time that is real, if any time is real.
She is entitled to let the light dance on her wings.
She is caterpillar no more.
She will die, a butterfly.
It was no casual encounter.
I cut and claimed a hibiscus blossom for my desk,
though she seduced me first.
I am more easily seduced than when I was a young girl.
An autumn palette of color.
The hibiscus got my attention.
I grew expansive within her beauty
and sought to hold her closer.
I selected a miniature cut crystal vase
to support peach splayed petals
stained with cherry red.
I carried her up to my workspace
and several times heart-fell into her loveliness
without apology or regret.
Then, content, I moved on.
I forgot her existence until this morning
when I see she is spent,
curled in upon herself ~
a lullaby instead of a rock song.
I love her no less, perhaps more
as she folds up her canvas,
her art show drawing to a close.
I love her seductive whisper now, in this room.
Remember when there was magic in a backyard?
At five years old,
you are part of the enchantment.
Dandelion buttons sprinkle the emerald lawn
with puddles of sunshine by day.
Those you do not pick
transform under the night stars
into globes of silk.
Bewitched with your power
to release and rebirth
you scatter seeds like fairies’ wings.
Knees to the ground
you hover with bumblebee, sipping at
pink and white clover blossoms.
Taste alongside to learn
if one is sweeter than another.
You swoon on the scent
of freshly mowed grass and lilacs.
to join the ants who
track up and down the slender stalks,
crumbs, like boulders, in their jaws,
transferred from worker to worker.
You are not observing the world.
You are this world. You and it are not separate.
At five, natural born mystics,
with daily experiences
of what we now, seek to reclaim.
and we, unaware,
are part of the enchantment.
I was hungry for alchemy.
Every night, devoted to the quest for magic,
I went to sleep listening, through headphones,
to new age meditation tracks of binaural beats
hoping to entrain my brain to theta waves
like zen monk masters on the mat.
I listened as disembodied voices walked me through archways,
into golden temples
where Beings of Light waited to dialogue with me.
Every night I hoped for magic
and instead awoke, hours later, with headphones hurting my ears,
red light of the CD player interrupting my sleep.
No peak experience.
I wished for the embedded subliminal suggestions
to slip past my conscious gatekeeper ~
work deep in my subconscious
to ignite the law of attraction
in my life.
I listened to CD’s with titles like
Flow and Synchronicity and
Retrieve Your Destiny
I longed to be switched over to a guidance system
programmed from within.
Connected to Source with
a crystal clear path to happiness
where there could be no more missteps or misdeeds or misalignments.
I imagined it was a failed experiment,
as synapses of trust I could not see
were being laid down, reinforced.
New tracks in my old brain ~
I was not meeting Spirit guides in golden halls;
I was learning how to let go of desires and surrender.
But because I was expecting something more dramatic
I let the CD’s go.
Now, I am no longer looking for magic.
I am seeking, no, not seeking even ~
I am holding a space for the possibility of resting in
the Silence and the Everything I Am.
I am no longer using meditation
as a disguised goal setting trick,
to attract love, money, career, health.
Nor to set up a dialogue with a contingent of angels
well known and named by others, but strangers to me.
Nor to get a clearer view of my Spirit Guides,
hovering around me, special me, to advise, lead, encourage.
It feels to me now that all that kind of meditation
is still a seeking for something.
Still a construction of self,
to manipulate future self into better circumstances.
Insisting that NOW is lacking.
Which as every Buddha knows, is not possible.
Instead, I wish to drop down and trust
The Nothing That Is.
The mindful awareness that observes
with no judgment
all the thinking, feeling, emoting, story telling
that I engage in, but which is not ME
and not any more ME, even if I am conversing with angels,
spirit guides, or Ascended Masters.
I wish to drop down and trust
that regardless of the myriad experiences of living ~
the joys, the sorrows, the pangs and terrors
the blessings, the loves, the accomplishments and failures ~
that behind and through the cycling of that wheel of life,
my wheel of life,
is a spaciousness that will ever hold me.
This spaciousness that is the true Me.
This spaciousness that could never leave me.
Perhaps, decades from now, with one day at a time,
a Spirit Guide may enter my consciousness
and beckon with a hawk feather.
An Angel may illuminate and whisper a word of love.
God may enter every cell of my being and set them on fire with bliss.
But that will be the by-product, not the goal.
The day after the beckoning, the whispering, the fire
I will be back on the mat
practicing the emptiness of spaciousness once again.
Resting in the Nothing That Is.