Within innumerable layers of fibrous, sinewy tissue, lie hidden hurts and secrets, hushed through generations.
Holding forever memories of pain and betrayal, when the mind does its best to forget. She remembers, as if this pain has been grafted to her bones.
As a young girl became a young woman, her muscles lengthen and strengthen over time, with experience, disturbing the delicate layers of tightly knit secrets – her most carefully guarded memories of hurt, of violation, of anger, guilt, and shame threaten to come unburied.
Countless times each day her muscles move through their precise anatomical dance of push and pull, and from this well-oiled machine memories are jostled, knocked a bit loose, come dangerously close to the surface.
Perfect stillness is the only way to keep the peace, to preserve the blissful state of ignorance found only in personal stagnation, to pause the war between body and mind. So much kept masterfully hidden away in desperate attempts at protection threaten to be revealed with any deep stretch or quick motion.
When years of tension are at long last released, the truth comes closer: old smells and odd sounds, grainy snippets of memories, deep instinctual knowing. Despite the mind’s vehement denial, the body truth of these revelations is undeniable; her innermost self recognizes their voracity, and her curiosity only grows stronger, her genuine surety unshakable, the more she protests. She must know what all of this means.
body of water
My sinking body held, I find my home in the water. I enter the effortless dance of buoyant levity and gravity’s crushing weight, cradled by their push and pull, reveling in a tender intimacy. Water’s greatest gift is freedom.
With its glassy surface playing serenity and immense depths in which questions unanswerable hide, the sea provides a mirror image of that which flows through me, the depth of experience and myriad paradoxes that form the truest essence of my being. Water is stillness, peace, creation and yet is also strength, power, destruction.
Simultaneously floating atop and sinking within, connection melts me, dissolving me into nothing more than a film atop its waves,one with all it touches. I’m rocked gently, my very soul soothed, as I stretch to reach the horizon. From east to west, nothing but a pool of jelly and softness, all pinpricks and rough edges long worn away. I’m ferried to the ends of the earth and back home again in an instant, filled with wise knowing and impenetrable peace.
I am the water, my own home. A bridge inextricable has been formed and I join with everything that mirrors the water’s light-dappled surface and darkened depths, with its magnitude and immense power. With a single breath I reach down to my roots, release every tension, surrender into ease. I am all that I am and ever can be, yet also nothing of my own at all; no longer set apart, I return to the well from which I have flowed.
Abandoned padlock decomposing, decades old
layered rust; this lone barrier remains.
Creaking and groaning, resisting every
turn and thrust; it must have forgotten my key.
With one last scream it gives in at last, yields
to reveal a decaying hoard hidden in shadow;
an entire lifetime buried, cardboard shrouds,
mildewy damp and crumbling under passing time’s weight,
a catacomb of cinder block.
Overhead a lone bulb buzzes, hanging seductively
from a delicate noose, dangling
a ratty pull-string to tease and to taunt, promising
more as it remains the lone barrier between see-er and seen;
threatening to shatter darkness and shadows.
Temptation builds, the urge burns and sears;
curiosity unbearable, resistance now impossible:
with just one tug, there’s no going back.
After trekking through dense woodlands, the quickly-approaching clearing is a very welcome sight. I wipe the sweat from my brow — despite the morning’s chill I’ve worked up quite a sweat. The ground beneath my feet is soft with mossy ground cover still wet with dew and peppered with smooth lichen-coated stones. The morning sun streams through the few boughs overhead, a spotlight on the one large pine centered in this clearing. All of its beauty, from its thick scarred trunk to its long, slender boughs and their delicate fanning is heightened to the point of the sacred in the morning silence, as if being highlighted by the heavens. Nearby I spot a stump, dressed in lichens and moss and fungi of its own, a fallen friend of the still-standing giant before me. I take a seat, filling my lungs with as much of this fresh crisp air as they’ll allow, and this pause also gives my heart a moment to slow; I’m now at rest. The gulps of cold water are more delicious than anything else I could imagine in this moment as I revel in the luxurious sensation of quenched thirst. I’m utterly consumed by this moment, drenched in deeply rooted peace and keenly aware of a profound intimacy between myself and the world around me. I have nothing to offer but my respect and reverence as I commune with the earth here, drinking in all the wisdom and peace this moment has to offer me.
Home is choice, blissfully free
as the wind that blows with reckless abandon
and full to bursting with possibilities: a night sky, endless
ebony depths so vast, peppered with twinkling ivory,
fervently beckoning, guiding us on our way.
Home is protection, the deep river of calm
found in the warm embrace of a partner’s arms:
a mountainous landscape,
carved and chiseled from solid stone, landmarks of humanity’s heritage
dotted with striations so breathtaking in their imperfection,
peaks and valleys that remember
the balance to be struck between triumph and defeat.
Home is fresh and clean, deliciously lush
with new growth, cloaked in the luxurious scent of musk and damp earth,
of rebirth and renewal: a forest teeming with life amongst its foliage,
verdant and thriving, adorned with infant buds, together resting
upon the foundation of decay
that feeds it all; each breath taken
a poignant reminder of the timeless connection
linking all that is.
Home is the fire we stoke deep within, the gentle glow of embers
ceaselessly radiating their soft warmth: the earliest morning light
as the sun is just waking, delicate watercolor light slowly trickling
across the dark night sky, bringing us a new day of fresh beginnings;
a glorious ritual uniting all that lives.
Home is where you’ll find love
in its most authentic form, extravagant in its simplicity;
home is wherever I find myself with you.
the secret garden
Passing through the garden gate, the world of dull grays and monotonous noise fades away in an instant as I’m transported to an entirely new reality. The air is thick with humidity, soft and soupy, enveloping me in the comforting pressure of a loved one’s hug. Yet despite the humidity, the air is that refreshing cool of a July evening, only heightened by the gentle breeze that continuously caresses my skin with its sweet perfume of honeysuckle and jasmine, the scent of summer’s abundance and possibility. Wispy white clouds drift lazily across the sky, ablaze with sunset’s pink hues, softness and ferocity juxtaposed in perfect balance. Taking in my surroundings, I notice the twinkling of fireflies playing at the edges of my vision as they dance their whimsical dance, transporting me back to the innocence and freedom of childhood summer evenings — all dried sweat and dirty hands, hot asphalt under bare feet, shouts of joyous laughter and jars of captured light. The world around me, just a moment ago so lifeless and mundane, is now wrapped in the warm glow of twilight, its diffused sunlight softening all edges, erasing harshness and sharp angles, including my own.
to the end of the earth
The windshield, seemingly miles away from the cargo hold in which I sat, was the only portal to the outside world, our only way of knowing whether we were still alive on Earth. The world’s darkness was disorienting, all-consuming, absolutely maddening.
I couldn’t see the vapor of my breath hanging in the air, but I knew for sure it was there. The winter world outside was well below freezing and the metal shell of the van provided little insulation or protection against the frigid night. If anything, it made us colder, refrigerated cadavers of the living dead. The woolen blankets wrapped tightly around my fellow travelers and me rubbed and scraped against our nearly numb skin, itching and burning, that raw irritation the only way we could know our nerves were still somewhat awake, that we were still somewhat alive. This discomfort was the only comfort they could provide; they certainly weren’t warm, and were deeply permeated with a nauseating blend of stale cigarette smoke, sweat, and urine. We were disgusting, but alive.
Huddling together had initially helped to retain our collective body heat, but that had been lost long ago on this seemingly never-ending journey. The emotional comfort had also long worn away, as camaraderie and hope passed away into fear and hopeless despair. In this pile of humanity, we were each utterly alone.
I couldn’t make out the time on the dashboard clock, but it’s eerie blue glow illuminated our captors' faces enough to read the emotions that crossed them -- all quiet for now. Earlier in the journey I’d seen flashes of anger, overheard broken shards of hushed argument; it seemed they were struggling to find common ground, unable to agree upon the best route, the next stop, or our ultimate fate. By now, so many hours in, they’d settled into an uneasy silence, staring ahead at the road as it stretched on to infinity, surely to the end of the Earth, or at least my time on it.
Nervous energy, a childhood’s couch. No one else home, we find ourselves alone.
The thrill of danger heightens the heat of each touch, the whisper of every breath. Gasping air, like bellows fan a flame, tickles my neck. Pinpricks tiptoe down my spine with a feather-light touch, the delicate intricacy of a spider’s legs. Young and in love, craving touch, brimming with a ravenous emptiness needing to be filled.
Kiss and touch, nothing’s enough. The question posed once more, you arrive at diligent search’s end: yes.
Permission granted, jeans fall to the floor.
Long ago impure, yet still so unsure. The act the same, yet the moment as different as could be; questions swim in endless circles, my mind filled with these great pools of uncertainty as time slows like flowing molasses, my senses overwhelmed with every detail:
Where is the stench of alcohol and sweat to shock and gag me, or the slippery chill of
musty polyester to drown me, smother me, hide me away? Where is the thunderous
boom of my racing heart to deafen me, or the tunnel vision of panic to blind me?
Why does my body melt into yours, warmed by connection, dripping with pleasure?
Why am I unafraid?
Why do you kiss me, caress me, gently whisper I love you, as the curtain falls? As this moment pops like a bubble and the full scene comes back into focus with each jagged breath, I’m faced with the unexpected: your face resting contentedly on my chest, a soft smile playing at your lips, a warm tenderness filling your eyes. No rush or great hurry, no anxiety or fear to sully this sacred moment. My first lesson in love comes when you slip your hand into mine.
The laboratory remains locked, but inside the doctor hides
trays reflective caked and coated,
layered transgressions piled high;
forceps shut, their rusty jaws stuck,
cruel traps as old as time;
beakers cracked and crusted, still hold
their murky baths, formulations long lost,
forgotten failures past.
Previous lovers and old friends, left forever to lie
in the very same way that they died:
no second thought or passing glance,
failures already forgotten.
In this hell time stands still,
the breath of life long gone; stench
unholy, death and decay;
doors locked and windows latched.
The walls themselves sweat and bleed,
memories of those forever trapped, now released.
Nothing here again will see the light
of day, nor feel wind’s gentle caress;
ambitious laboratory in technicality, but cruel
prison in reality.
Black lacquer buttons provide the frame,
round voids holding infinity;
triangulated curves form the centermark with precision,
a delicate pin of sculpted blades pricking
all who dare wander too close;
fresh blood spills voluptuously into a velveteen bow,
the package complete.
Temptation incarnate offers a gruesome warning upon first glance,
if eyes were only willing to see.
Her spidery roots stretch below into deepest depths
running beneath bar and table,
winding through the hanging fog of lit cigar,
the billowing clouds of merriment;
all the while her expansive tendrils reach and wrap,
structural beams within her impenetrable fortress, stacked
poker chips— won, stolen, hoarded through time long past.
A timeless mystery, the embodiment of an age-old question,
evoking a fatal curiosity within the damned who cross her path.
Known of, but not known, there she remains
a statuesque fixture imbued with life’s breath—
cornered farthest from escape,
shrouded by specters of smoke, fleeting laughter,
hidden deep in shadow, obscured
by the mischievous tricks of candle light.