one – 57

there you sit like you always have

mug in hand, books stacked

pictures on the wall

just as they belong

as you pour another cup

and ask me to say more

always more, always listening

heart open, gaze downcast

knowing me

like you always have

across the table, leaning in

laughing

with eyes that hold a universe

you taught me how to breathe

I taught you how to love another

and the carrier pigeons

fly between us

like sparks and flurries

and fine lines of black ink

on soft pages

the notes of lives entwined

loosely

to hold each other up

and push the other out

into the world

we both long for

when the garden walk

is too short for such a long time

and papers rustle, pages turn

today is not all there is

tomorrow we will still love

not like that

like borrowed books

with penciled notes

that we will remember

and be whole

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a specter of you

eventually, I stopped counting breaths

moved into new head-spaces

trashed the pictures

deleted the words

went on dates and to bed

and to places far away

until you appeared to me again

unannounced

uninvited

smiling by the river

like it was yesterday

we’d gone berry picking

talking about fish and goats

and cottages in the woods

back before I drew a line

and you stepped back from it

before silence replaced poetry and songs

before him and them and everything

that wasn’t meant to be

and I keep the door shut now

I won’t let myself remember

where I hid the key

there is no going back

there is no future in that

only in walking forward

and remembering that ghosts

don’t scare me

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a prompt

they say write what you know

but all I know is what I don’t understand

of how hearts flutter and fail us

and I wonder while I write

why I can scrub the dirt from under my nails

but not from out of my heart

they say write what you know

but all I know is what I don’t understand

about living in a place for a decade too long

when all I’ve ever wanted was a home

but my feet are always running

towards things that hold no lasting comfort

they say write what you know

but all I know is that my words are jumbled

a mess of magic and mayhem

and I’m at a loss for how to find them ordered

while they tumble out on the page

and leave me so very afraid

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let go

Tonight, like most Tuesday nights, I went to practice yoga in a friendly little studio downtown.

The vinyasa class is always packed with people. Space is at a premium. Teachers from other studios often attend this particular class. The hour often runs over, and I never mind.

I flow through the poses, twisting and bending my body into shapes it doesn’t make in every day life.

I root into the ground, fold my flesh upon itself, and learn to move my body in new ways.

I am not a small woman. I never have been. My breasts force me to lift myself higher from the ground to achieve half-plank. My thighs make me reach further to find the floor in child’s pose. My stomach has to pull tighter to jump my legs forward from downward dog to forward fold at the front of my mat, as my wrists grumble at my body’s weight upon them. And through it all, my mind has to fight against shame. My heart beats against doubt in my abilities. My breath has to override my fear. And it does.

Sometimes I open my eyes and realize I’m one of only a few people who’ve managed to hold a difficult pose, even in this frame that many would never call a “yoga body.”

Sometimes I loose my balance and fall on my ass.

That’s ok, too.

Week after week, practice after practice.

I sweat out this life I live on a mat, in a room full of other people.

Tonight, we focused our practice on the broad idea of letting go.

“Let go.”

Two simple words.

And one of the most complicated concepts in the universe.

My life is full of loss.

As that Anne girl would say, “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

And though I may put on a smile and soldier on, it feels as though I’ve been forced to “let go” of so very much. And I feel it weighing on me every day. Or perhaps its the lack of weight because so much is missing?

Lost opportunities. Lost love. Lost children. Lost careers. Lost hopes and dreams.

Lost.

Don’t get me wrong.

My hands and heart are so very full.

I have two beautiful daughters who love me.

I have friends who will help burry the bodies.

I have work and art and a home and good growing things to keep me busy.

I have a faith that goodness and love will ultimately prevail, over all else.

But I cary around my losses like a sack full of stones, and I don’t know how to empty it.

I drown pain in the ocean. I move furniture around. I paint walls. I write. I cry.

I do anything to change my external space…

Because at times my internal space is so full of empty.

Tonight I left practice, got in my car, and began to drive the 15 minutes back to my house. I’m not even sure I’d managed to get out of the parking lot before the tears started to fall. Great face soaking tears that wouldn’t stop. I nearly pulled over, but managed to regain my breath at a long stoplight. Yet I cried until I pulled into my driveway.

And as I cried, I let go.

I was overwhelmed with how much was coming to the surface, asking me to release it. More than 25 years of sadness and loss. Things I didn’t even realize were still filling my heart with their emptiness. Hurts I didn’t realize hadn’t left were rising to the surface and bubbling out my eyes. Wounds so old I’d forgotten them were right there with ones so fresh the blood hasn’t stopped flowing…

This isn’t over.

I don’t think there really isn’t an end to this.

Because I know I’ll keep finding things I need to let go.

I suppose it’s got to become a practice. Like yoga. I’ll have to keep doing it, day after day, week after week, loss after loss…

Breathe in… let… breathe out… go… breathe in… let… breathe out… go…

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goodbye

And the there were three

The cats who live in our house

Tasha is gone now


We said goodbye to our dear old Tasha-cat today. End stage kidney failure snuck up and surprised us… our vet advised compassion in her state, but it wasn’t easy. I’ve never had to make a choice to end life for a pet before. But in the end I watched her fall into sleep and knew it was for the best. My girls helped my dig the hole, and we laid her to rest with wild heather and roses from the yard. She came to us in October, many years ago… and it seems, in some strange way, fitting that she leave the same month. 

drowning things

Under the water
Dying now to make all new
Wash the old away 


It’s October, and today I went to the beach. 

While my daughters chased gulls and searched for shells at the shore line, I took off my jeans, braved the chill, and went out into the water.

I let the waves batter me about… washing over me and taking my breath away. I walked deeper and lowered myself until I went under. 

Over and over and over… until all that was left was the ocean and me. 

In those waves, I drowned the things that break my heart. The things that kill people. The things that induce anxiety and shame. The things that destroy love. The things that separate me from peace. 

The sea is a kind of magic for me. 

Like baptism. Like resurrection. 

Like going home to my truest self.

Though the waves knock my feet out from under me, though I feel like I may drown… There is a safety in knowing the rhythm is natural. And if I relax into this rhythm I can ride the waves to shore, until the next time I need to face the horizon, and walk out as far as it takes to wash it all away.

erasure is a lie

Aren’t they an interesting things, these lives we lead?

Isn’t it strange to see things come and fall away – meaning the world to us one moment, feeling as far away as the moon the next? How is it a human can promise their whole life, while holding back vulnerability and truth? How is it we can throw our hearts into the hands of another, with the deepest of trust, only to have them trampled and left abandoned? How is it we do this, knowing the risk it always brings…

The weather is shifting.

The wind blows with change.

I don’t know what it is.

I don’t know if I like it.

No.

I know part of me doesn’t like it at all.

I’ve felt a sense of difficult change on the horizon for weeks now… and fight it off as I may, sometimes things die while we’re desperately trying to breath life into them.

It makes my chest cave in.

It makes my eyes overflow with tears as I wake, as I drive alone in the car, when my children and friends put themselves on rotation to check in on me and make sure I’m ok.

But I also know that the death of one thing, as painful and wrong as it may be, always brings on the life of another after a time.

I lead a life of tension.

Something is always passing away, something else is always being birthed.

I have made mistakes.

And often they are deeply embarrassing to me.

I’m constantly striving for perfection, and it eludes me more often than I find it.

But I don’t pretend my failings don’t exist.

No, my life is so very visible.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My friends, my community – they don’t love me because I put on a happy face and show them what they want to see. This strange collection of humans love me because they see me at every stage of my existence, and see through the pain and brokenness and the grief and the joy and the weird wonderfulness of my antics, and they love me anyway.

There is nothing hidden from my personal timeline.

In her book, Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott said: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

And I hold myself to this, as well…

Failed marriages? I have two. Both highly visible. Both rocked my world and broke my heart into pieces I thought could never be put together again.

Love affairs gone wrong? Oh, they have all been on display in living color, my heart beating wildly on my sleeve, my friends holding me when it all falls apart.

Friendships lost? Some never to be recovered. Some on the mend. Some returned to me as though they were never harmed in the first place. But always with honesty about my part in whatever happened between us…

My heart is a patchwork of mended pieces, and I don’t pretend that it’s anything else.

Triumphs or trials, I erase nothing and no one from my history.

Because each of these experiences make me who I am.

And I am not ashamed of my life or my choices.

I won’t pretend anything that happened didn’t happen.

I won’t make my life look pretty in an effort to entice someone new to think I’m a catch.

I know my worth. I know what I have to offer a relationship – of any kind.

And I know that if anyone is actually going to love me, they have to know me.

Not a sanitized and shined version of who I think will be desirable.

No.

I have said from the beginning, I am a mess.

I love hard and fast, and I will never apologize for that.

Because I also know how to love forever.

I know what it means to be committed, for good or bad.

And I know what it means when someone else won’t stand by their word, and ceases to chose me again and again – as I’ve chosen them. The pain that comes when they walk away because it’s easier, more exciting, and simply doesn’t make them face their own selves with honesty and humility and honor.

I know what it means to clean up the broken pieces, and repair my heart once again.

And offer it up again, flawed and fixed with hope and grace…

I don’t pretend my failings – or those who’ve failed me – don’t exist.

I don’t erase my past… to do so is to lie about the most basic of things… who I am.

And if I lie about who I am, how can anyone actually know and love me?

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baggage

my suitcase lies at the foot of my bed

not quite unpacked

like my thoughts

about a relationship

that brought healing like a miracle drug

and now cuts deep into flesh

that already bears scars

from such wounds

and I prayed to bleed

even though I didn’t want to

just for you to feel freedom of choice

because my choice would enslave you

I bought a dress for the wedding

then went and sewed another

because I wanted you to see the real me

alive and whole and exactly myself

and now it’s hanging, lifeless

on the back of the door

because that wasn’t enough

to make you see me beautiful again

to make you touch my cheek

to make you kiss my ear

and the silence isn’t golden

its become a cheap thrill at 2pm

it’s my naked thighs, bruised for weeks

it’s embarrassment because everyone knew

it’s a bedroom rearranged to give you space

and now, there is so much space

I am alone it it

with a handful of words

and an empty book to write them in

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homesick

in the early morning I wake

and feel the space that’s left

though I’ve filled it many times

today, again, it lies vacant

halfway

between life and death

halfway

between darkness and light

always halfway

to something I can’t grasp

and I rise slowly

eyes damp with morning’s dew

and remember

how it feels

to root my feet

into the ground

from whence I came

to feel the earth

beneath me

that calls me home

to something lost

something I can’t seem to find

or grasp

within my trembling hands

a place

where I am whole

and warm and safe

where hope lived

like the tides that wash me clean

my yearly baptism from shame

like soft moss that encircled my head

giving me a place to rest my dreams

like breathing in the pine

and breathing out the broken things

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hurricane prayers

my god

doesn’t leave things

unfinished and ashamed

and yet, there are my prayers

whipping through the trees

like terror

like grinding teeth

like the feeling of the chill

that runs down my back

as the rain runs down my face

and I struggle to manage

all the things that need managing

but I’ve always been alone

yet not

managing

my controlling nature

born out of a lack of control

and they help me

because they always have

since they could walk

they’ve been taking care

patting my head

drying my tears

and oh mama, be happy

is all that’s wanted

so we fold the towels

while the air fills

with hurricane winds of fear

with the smell of soup

with prayers for something more

with hope for another chance

and we watch too much tv

to hide the sound

not from our ears

but from our hearts

beating too fast, too scared

too much always alone

because we three are so much

for anyone to choose

and once again

we are all that remains