In the Deep

I’m fragmented by your absence.

Infinitely reformed.

I’m suffering love

the color of tears.

It is salty and dark

It is laborious to breathe.

I’m not afraid

of loving you

as I held you.

I’m conscious of the vulnerability

in which I’m submersed

from our severed physical connection.

My grief is a mere reflection

of our laughter, our conversations

distilled into our unwitting last

“I love you.”

I bring the best parts of us forward with me.

I will not betray our trust.

Your love is a part of who I am now.

No matter how deep the anguish,

There is no regret in cherishing

the you I knew.

Where I am now

Three years ago I experienced this:

Where I was.

Because of that, I became a different person, yet conversely the same. The one distinct difference is that I don’t feel lonely any more living in solitude. Well, it does and it doesn’t. It’s not the same as living with somebody who neglected me for their own comfort. It’s not the same as being in the same room with somebody and feeling invisible.

During that time three years ago, I was in a very dark place. I was told by someone I loved that I didn’t need to get help and shouldn’t have been in the hospital. I wanted to die, but my (then loved one) still discounted my experience. I was told “You don’t need to be in here, you’re fine.”

Upon my release, a couple months passed before I accepted an invitation from a friend of mine to visit my now current hometown. I spent time during the 18 day visit from the end of December through January 2020 with people who genuinely showed love and attention to me. Although hesitant, when I returned to Michigan, I decided I needed to get my shit together. I moved back to Tennessee in February 2020.

I was given unexpected catalysts to discover my own self. I did not move because of those but because of the support system that I have here.

It was confusing at first. I felt a deep sense of rejection, but again, not as bad as what I experienced in Michigan with me “loved one.” That “loved one” accused me of abandonment (ironically) with no intention of return, but I DID plan to return if conditions were met. They were not, so I began the permanent transition.

This past year has been horrific with catastrophes such as my car catching fire in February to, most recently, the death of my little dog due to malpractice. It still hasn’t been as bad as the loneliness I felt the entire time I spent in Michigan.

This year has been incredibly painful. I’ve done a lot of deep grieving. I have had legitimate reasons to do this. But, I don’t want to die like I did when I was there. I mean I don’t want to die at all. I just want to be able to live a life. My life. This doesn’t feel like the life I want to live, so I have no choice but to keep going.

My friend said, “The life you want is out there. I’m grateful you’re willing to keep going,”

I contradicted that.

The life I want is in here; in me. I am unearthing a lot of feelings of being unworthy, or a burden, or just too much. I am none of those things, but I commonly feel that way because that’s what I’ve been taught. I have been incorrectly instructed.

I started accepting these things when I woke up at 4AM. I started thinking about the incorrect messages I’ve been given for most of my life. The things I’ve been told and the way I’ve been treated by people who claim to love me. I allowed it because that’s what I knew.

My thoughts were reeling about in my head as I did dishes and swept my floors.

Then it began in earnest. Deconstruction. Revelation. Epiphanies.

It was a lot to take in at that hour of the morning but I think it had been waiting for me. Allowing me room to breathe, hear, understand, and to grieve. I came to understand that the unconditional love I have been shown here in Tennessee has been incredibly difficult to accept. It’s been difficult to even acknowledge.

I’m having complications while learning to accept that from others, but primarily from myself. I know that I am not alone. I know that solitude is completely different than loneliness. I’m not trying to fill my inadequacies with creatures that need or require my care. I’m not seeking to be accepted by others. I’m working on being accepted by myself. This is earth-shattering for me (or maybe ground-breaking) but I know it will be worth it because I am worth it.

Invisibility (Linda Looney)

I am an invisible person.

I’m sure you’ll disagree

But you’ve been well versed in

How to visualize me.

Maybe scorch-eye my belly

Disapprove my thickened thighs

Look down your nose at me ready

to allow me to be humanized

then possibly you’ll witness me

Become familiar and un-stigmatized

Spiritual Bath

Perfumed purification

anointed my skin

fragrant with absolution

My brethren

Blessed sisters;

Heart-bound lovers

Spirit-kin

My blood baptized

in the cistern of love

Forgiven to be human

The elation of redemption

damp against my brow

Dancing in broad circles

Breathless with abandon

the release of blissful beauty

For Granted

Cereal

The process of living:

retrieving the cereal from the pantry

The simple pouring of the cereal

into a bowl from the cupboard

with milk from the fridge

with a spoon from the drawer

pulling out my chair with the extra cushion

lifting my spoon from the bowl with a bite of crunch

Automatic conveyance without mindful grip

relaxing into the sensations of living, breathe in

hold and exhale gently while ingesting energy

Setting the spoon to ceramic bowl clanking glassily

DISTRACTION

lifting my spoon from the bowl with a bite of crunch

That little girl

That little girl under the table

that little girl under the table

scratching at knees as a mosquito might

pestering annoyingly enough;

but she’s not.

that little girl under the table

she’s not grown out of it

because she never left (even though she did)

Once in anger, once bereft,

grafting failure to achieve

something withered from the roots

Blood, not her blood, embraced her

brought her Polaroids of family blessed

as blissed as deeply remembered it to be

created in Tunes of resonant harmonies

The only home she wasn’t

that little girl under the table

who begged for scraps of affection

but the dogs eat faster, less furiously,

less needy than

that little girl under the table.

The Blessing of Venus

I’ve absolved myself of sin

of treating my body as a man’s

loving whomever I desired

again and again and again.

There is no shame between these thighs.

Sighs the ecstasy of night

Breaks the silence with Goddess song

Venus’ blessing; my kiss prolonged

Beckoning divine delights

Japanese Death Poems, II

Grief

One of the things I dislike about my time management skills is that I tend to attend to whatever coal is the hottest at the moment. Crisis in lane three, meltdown imminent! Wherever the smoke and mirrors of daily life are flashing the brightest, I find myself drawn to its spectacle.

And there sits the book. Judging me with not an ounce of its former tree self. I’ve caressed its pages more than the other many books on my shelves lately. It’s hard to concentrate when grief feels perpetual, even comfortable.

I experienced and mostly know what to expect with a normal bomb of grief. I understand that there is a loss of some sort, people get together and feel sad at the celebration of life, then, although time seems to stand still closest to the death/detonation, time continues to move forward whether we do or not.

I’ve been in grieving mode for what seems like decades, but lately, I’ve noticed a shift in how I deal with it. Maybe it’s because more people are experiencing the isolation, anxiety, anger, frustration, weariness, loneliness, and trauma that has punished my existence but now as more people are talking about it as the new normal, I got this.

I’m so familiar with grief’s handshake, that I, considering the pandemic, can only greet it from a social distance which means this is alien grief. This is not the grief I know. This isn’t that familiar.

Oddly, this feels like the moment I’ve been training for all my life. Because I know what it’s like to have your life ripped away because of an event beyond your control. I comprehend the feeling of “differentness” that suddenly sets you apart from everyone else by just enough to feel like an outsider. I really see the ones who think they’ve covered the gaping wounds sufficiently but the shock of life, like now, is just enough different to feel tragic. Almost like an imposition of force against one’s will.

These words aren’t meant to be analogous to any event in particular, but to demonstrate the way I’m hearing the quarantine be talked about regarding mental health. People are struggling to function by feeling the same things I feel every day. I’m hearing people feel hope slipping through their fingers like water. I know the depth of that well and yet I’ve never touched the bottom despite my efforts.

It hurts my heart to know how many that are talking about it are obfuscating the ones who won’t ever or don’t ever recognize the grief that comes from trauma, restriction of life, or the anxiety that comes from the fear that you may become ill among many others; the ones of the silent voice. I know for every voice that speaks, many tell the same stories in their hearts to their secret keepers.

I’m here. I see you. I feel you. You’re not alone. It will get better.

So, the book. I haven’t cracked it open, nor the other. I’ve been dealing with some pretty hefty events both positive and negative as well as inevitable. Things are, in my world, normal. I’m sorry. I’ll do my best. In fact, tonight I’ll bring it to bed with me and read.

There Gathered The Women

Home and Hearth

And yet, in the kitchen,

where life is rebirthed,

there gathered the women

Deep work of the hearth

The water is boiling

the rags have been torn

Love’s labor is roiling

the guides through the storm;

change the only constant

Lachesis sings then

the hist’ry of what was

Clotho the spinner

weaving fates justly caused

Atropos, the shears

ending life at her whim

The Moirai have weaved

The Fates genuine hymns

A Willow’s Lament

The willow boughs in comprehension

Lose track of the wind

on the mirror surfaced lake

christening the sky

with clear intent

Where is the coffin

but sky and earth

the heavens ornaments

of universal praise

And yet, in the kitchen,

where life is rebirthed,

there gathered the women

pottery deep into breakfast

the labor of reassurance has begun

the calm center of the maelstrom;

change the only constant

There is light

Light in the darkness

Light in the chaos

So is life with death

Born when it’s time to be born;

die when it’s time to die.

It’s movement, a process

where peace with time is in repose

there is an order of things

neither joy nor sorrow may take hold

Yet, Spring, herald of rebirth

has abandoned blooming,

it feels like Winter

Like the depths of the ocean

have suddenly become thick air

Upon this fleeting dream-world

Dawn is breaking

Even though some trees are bedecked

The willow boughs in comprehension

Acknowledging the bond

and where

the direction of love is not lost

the deeper treasure of sweetened time

will reap its own reward.