"We're all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The View From There

source: Solar Farm University of Tennessee

It was a dead end street, in a small Illinois town.
Remarkable only for its ability to be so emphatically unremarkable.
I was skeptical, at five-years-old, of living in a town founded by people
whose imagination led them to name a town after a valley of coal.
And yet, that curved street end became the place I discovered I was alive.
A quiet inward child, I made friends with the large transformer
who towered behind the metal fence beside our house, sitting in a field of wild violets
that for the fence, I could only ever look at and never quite reach.
I would scramble up our small apple tree,
losing afternoons between its blossoms,
dreaming of where my life would take me, long after this town was behind me. 
It wasn't hard to imagine in the future something grander or more refined.
My mama did the best she could to fix it up nice.
Converting the old tire that had grown into the backyard into a sandbox,
until the stray neighborhood cats took it for their box too...
Mama, never daunted,
used what the good Lord had given,
planting tulips there instead with the free fertilizer the cats left behind.
My sense of self growing alongside
those bright red and cheery yellow heads nodding in the breeze,
guarded by a fortress of abandoned rubber.
My brother and I created alternate universes,
making them come alive in the nooks and crannies of that old house. 
That was, until my darling doll's hair caught fire. 
Turns out yarn haired dolls shouldn't be kept on top of hot water heaters. 
I hadn't known.  There was so much at five that I had yet to learn.
After that, we were told to find somewhere else to play.
That was alright. 
It was becoming hard to dream up new worlds
for the smell of burnt plastic and yarn still hanging about the place.
Then there was the time one of us accidentally broke the thermostat off the wall. 
The temperature inside the house rising and rising to near 100 degrees while the snow fell softly outside.
Mama called Daddy home from the live Nativity scene our church was putting on.
When they had picked my daddy to play Joseph? Well. I could have burst with pride. 
Now, as we sat, stripped down to our undies, waiting for the man who owned the house to come,
I realized that honor of my Daddy's really just smelled like the live donkey they had brought in to gather around the manger.
But still, there was magic to be found when you paid attention.
If you laid real quiet and the wind was just right,
you could hear the roar of the lions at the neighborhood zoo from our driveway. 
We could only go on Tuesday, when the admission was free. 
That was alright, because one dollar bought you a big bag of peanuts
for you to share with Kathy Sh-Boom,
the old elephant that resided there. 
She had been born in the wilds of India,
the adventure and mysticism still woven into her old trunk that she extended happily,
nuzzling my palm as I cracked the peanuts.
One for her,
one for me,
as I wondered...
how it was that we had both ended up in this place.

{Linking with Ann for #whereILivedWednesday, and Heather for Just Write}

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I held you tonight.
Pulled your body to mine, shifting limbs that spill out of my lap
until you are tight in my embrace.

Your tears are silent streams
running the length of my neck, pooling silently on my collarbone
as your body shakes with grief.

You had a dream that our dog had died.

You stood above the open ground
and felt the panic of how to write the fullness of life
on her headstone.

"One sentence Mama, to capture all that love."

I rocked you and asked gently if you had come to any conclusions.
You had sweet boy.
You said you would write

"My dear Layla, I loved you so."

I thought of the whole world outside our door
that would be so lucky, and run so differently
if they found that one line written on their slate by your hand.

As fresh waves took you deeper towards the pain
I did nothing to stop you from feeling the hurt.
I sat with you in my lap and your heart on the wire.

Because my darling son -
my boy of wonder, darkness, and light
you can't truly love without letting all that pain in too.

Your heart, forever wide lined with ancient wisdom, is made on nights like this.
It is these moments of despair and fleeting mortality
that has the gravity to sink you more fully into the belly of it all.

Let's you feel the heat of the life blood,
while you cling to the brown scruff of your faithful friend
as you explain that

she's been by your side since the day you were born, 
and you didn't know the world without her in it.

You wondered out loud why you didn't feel any better knowing it had just been a dream.
You lifted your head from my shoulders to seek my eyes
before you said

"Because it's not just a dream, is it?  
We are all really dying bit-by-bit.  
It's not today I have to say goodbye, but still there IS a someday.."

My own tears slipped out as I nodded
to this soul who had divinely quickened within my womb.
Who by the very act of creating, I had committed to walking life full through.

I ached to tell you that it would be alright.
That the monsters wouldn't come
simply because today, they weren't at our door.

But your soul, who so often guides mine
stopped me short of offering a silver lie
to get us through the night.

Instead, I wrapped myself more fully around you
allowed the darkness to hold us close
and listened to you wrestle and grapple the frailty of it all

until at last...the rhythm of your heart and your slumbered breath met.

And still I hold you.
For I can't keep those dreams, those truth from finding you
but for at least tonight, you don't have to face them without me by your side.

(linking with EmilyHeather, iPPP, and )