Point of View

Point of View
and if you wanted to drown you could, but you don’t...~David Whyte

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Daughters

  

I like to tell how she cried before she was born. Even before she emerged from the birth canal, she began wailing. And it is hard not to because she came second, after her sister, who was born silent. So it was the sound of her cry, like electricity, that connected us at the very first. As it was the sound of her sister’s silence that remains, even now, loudest, the way it lies just beneath the beating of my heart. There’s a thunder in that silence.

I was seventeen when the first girl came. Two days worth of labor. My water broke first and so they induced it. I was a tiny thing. Maybe one hundred twenty pounds eight plus months pregnant. They hooked me up to monitors, IVs, oxygen.

I was a child. “I’ve changed my mind,” I said, finally. “I’m not going to do this.” And I really thought I could just get up and leave. Someone wiped my face with a washcloth. Shushed me.

In the delivery room, the nurse who admonished me, “You wanted this baby. Now you have it!” was sent out of the room after I pulled her surgical cap off and broke the IV line in my arm, blood trickling behind it. I became an animal giving birth to a human.

A loss of consciousness, finally, and when I came to, a lone doctor in the room, perhaps an intern, pushing on my stomach.

“Where is my baby?” I asked, confused by the sudden emptiness.

“You had a girl.” He said. “Now push. We have to get out the afterbirth.”

I don’t know if it was days or hours before I saw her, my first girl.

She was born not breathing. While I lay unconscious, she was resuscitated, incubated, whisked away.

The second daughter was born in violence. Her father battering us the night before her birth. The only memory that dark room, my long hair, his fist in my stomach.

With the morning came my water and, because this had happened with the first one, I knew it was time to give birth. Again, I was induced. This time labor was fast. She was born within three hours after induction, screaming into the world. Born the same hour and minutes as the month and day. At ten twenty-seven on ten twenty-seven. She announced her arrival.

Daughters know how to break mothers. Or is it the other way around? We break each other. I was a child mother. My girls anchored me to the ground. Like twin soulmates they swirled around the satellite of me, their mother, and kept me from drifting into oblivion and space.

Daughters are not supposed to be the anchors. But mine were.

I don’t know how to say sorry for that. Because they still are.

I am the great grand-daughter of a witch, and so my daughters are her great-great- granddaughters. A lineage hard to come from, that of the designated witch. And that of child mothers.

One daughter has distanced herself from me of late. Both have broken my heart. My blond and brunette daughters, day and night, green eyes and brown. The loves of my life. Irretrievably, endlessly, broken.

When she was nine and I married their stepfather, the eldest said, “Now we won’t be the three musketeers anymore, Mom.” She looked steadily at me, her soul spilling from her eyes.

“We will always be the three musketeers.” I told her. Fiercely. But she wants nothing to do with me lately.

‘I am not your friend,” she recently said. She means she can’t take care of me. You see, she used to, child of a child mother. Neither of us are children now.

The second daughter calls to tell me her five year old girl’s latest antics. She is strong willed, like you were, I tell her. Like I was. We shake our heads a little, but secretly, we both take pride in her strength.

I can’t solve this mother daughter puzzle. My own mother is no longer close. I dream that, because my daughters each have a daughter, they will comprehend the way I love them someday. They will get it like a bomb going off in their chest. The stars will align and the universe will right itself anew. But there is no guarantee. There is really nothing but this river we come from, in which we swim, which swims in us, its tributaries of shame.

How I love them.





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

VOCATION

 

     With National Poetry Month in mind, as well as the start tomorrow to a poetry workshop, and an upcoming poem a day challenge, I pulled out some of my favorite poets.  This poem by Alice Ostriker struck me because it captures the fire that burns inside at the same time it shines a wide angle lens across a life halfway spent.  Writing is my vocation and called me when I was six.  Now I am sixty and have finally answered the call.  I try not to look back, but reading this, I saw the child, the teenager, the young adult and woman I have been. How small I was, in my own thin coat:


VOCATION

To play among the words like one of them,
Lit from within—others can see it,
Never oneself—


She slips like a cat through traffic,
A girl alone downtown
For the first time, subway fare in her purse,

Fear of losing it
Clamping her chest,
Wind whipping tears from her eyes,

Fried grease and gasoline in her nose, shoes and
Jewelry in shopwindows. a spike
Of freedom stitching her scalp—

Though she dreads the allergy shot at the clinic
She feels herself getting brave.
Now it begins to snow on Central Park South

And a flight of pigeons
Whim up from a small pile of junk in the gutter
Grey, violet, green, a predatory shimmer.

The marquee of the Paris Theater
Looks at the rapturous child
Through downcast lashes, condescendingly.

I watch her over a distance of fifty years.
I see how small she is in her thin coat.
I offer a necklace of tears, orgasms, words

                                                      ~ Alice Ostriker

- See more at: http://www.persimmontree.org/v2/summer-2010/poems/#sthash.rJUUllho.dpuf

Monday, February 2, 2015

And Here's What The Fuck I'm Gonna Do About It

Writing the Body Retreat with Jen Pastiloff and Lidia Yuknavitch in Ojai, California this past weekend, the title is a prompt given to us by Lidia. An amazing experience unlike any other. Believe it. #womanchurch #gratitude
 
     I will allow Source to carry me, to provide, to guide.  I will do what’s in front of me to do: the next step, and the next and the next AS THEY APPEAR before me.
     I will stand in this gorgeous light of my soul and nothing – including myself and my whiny ego – will get in the way.
     I will write this book.  And the next one. And the one after that.  And on – into infinity.
     I will drop the guilt that wants to suck me into the abyss. I will forgive all my sins – even the worst ones where I harmed another – to write about the way out for all of us, to show the great light that cracked me into this new life of passion, love, and ALL OF ME expressing.
    I will drop my hands, wash my face, and dance*, motherfuckers. If you do not see or recognize me, I will shake the dust from my feet and Let.You.Walk.

     I am here.  I have arrived. The big “I” of me, not the small and I am fucking tall. My heart is HUGE and it is big enough now, big enough for it ALL.

     I will not be small.  I am here to love everything. Don’t be afraid of me. I will release all fear like pebbles into the ocean.
     Look at that Big Water.  It has come for me and I’m going to ride the waves all the way to the tallest peak.  I will ride and go high and then descend as water droplets, as spray, foam on the very edges, god damn it. 

    I am every single piece of sand and I am the water licks at the edges. I am moving with the air and the rivers and the rain and I am Giving It Up.
 
    ALL of it.  I am not wasting a single fucking breath. Watch my fingers.  Moving on the page.

     *Bishop T.D. Jakes Let Them Walk

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Room Of Our Own


Passing It Forward:


I'm excited to highlight a fellow writer's work on KellyBlog. 
This piece by Jennifer Erickson made me howl.



An excerpt from:
Turning Shit into Gold (with apologies to Joseph Campbell)


Who can be a hero? Anybody. Yes, you heard me.

You don't have to be  perfect: you're human, after all. You can be old or young, rich or poor, and you don't need an education or prestigious job. You don't have to be charming or nice, although becoming a hero might require some painful introspection. Your life may have started out crappy, but that's actually an advantage, because being a hero is hard, and a miserable childhood can toughen you up.

A hero does not have to be male, by the way. Yes, in the movies women are mostly decorative, but in real life there's more to women than cleavage and painful shoes.

I'm going to warn you right now that becoming a hero will be the hardest thing you have ever done. It's not all ticker-tape parades and Oprah interviews. It's a long, difficult journey. The good news is that your  journey is already there, waiting for you, and you may have started that journey without knowing it. You just have to have the courage to finish.

The hero doesn't start out wanting to save the world. As a matter of fact, you can be a screw-up. One colossal mistake leads you in a completely unexpected (and unwanted) direction. It might be a drunk-driving conviction or a jumbo mortgage. Or there might be some sign from the hidden world that things are about to get weird, like your boss asks whether there's something else you'd rather be doing, or sewage comes up through the bathtub drain.

 Either way, you're not impressed, and not particularly keen to go gallivanting off on an adventure. You'd really rather watch American Idol and have a beer.

But after having decided to do nothing instead of adventuring, you start to see the emptiness, the meaninglessness of your life. You sink into depression. You're trying to figure out how to get out of your rut when something happens to remind you that adventure awaits. And this time you feel a little less afraid. After all, what do you have to lose? Your life sucks. Before you can chicken out, you leap into the adventure.

Immediately, you are submersed in a world of monsters and seduction and strange supernatural stuff. Often, an intimidating mentor helps you until you get the hang of it.

Eventually, you get a little cocky. What you don't realize is that this is just a warmup. Hero boot camp.

The real journey begins then, with terrors beyond any you had imagined, and even worse, your mentor isn't returning your calls. You're going to have to go deep, psychologically speaking, and it will be painful. Your old self will be annihilated, but when you come through it you will realize that you had nothing to fear all along.

You might think this is the end of the story, but really it's just the beginning. You must raise your level of consciousness to succeed in every new trial. You are growing up.

You start to see that all is one: you stop thinking of things in terms of opposites: you and I, good and evil, masculine and feminine, success and failure. You see the world in all its messy perfection. Everything is necessary to the whole, including this shitty journey you're on.

You master the world, but that's not where it stops. You realize that the whole world is in you as you are in the world.

Woah.

Yeah, but that's not the end of it. There's trial after trial, and the hero in you just lets it happen. Desires and hostility dissolve. Your soul is stripped bare. You lose everything. You might think you have had enough, but alas, no.

You step into the void, the world beyond the world. Finally, you are at peace, and you don't want to go back to humanity and opposites and strife and people with their petty little egos. Who can blame you? You worked hard to get this point. Even if you're in a coma, you're content.

The problem is, you're a hero, and the sacred duty, the destiny of a hero is to bring back your wisdom to society. So with regret you tear away from the void, where all was perfection and peace, and dive back into ugly, petty humanity.


And when you arrive with your hard-won wisdom, you're talking a little bit above everybody else's understanding, so nobody cares. Yeah, they call you a weirdo, a loser. It's even in the newspaper: "So-and-so sucks.". Your spouse takes the kids and moves in with your mother and you're not invited to Thanksgiving dinner. And so the trials continue. I told you being a hero would suck.

Find Jennifer Erickson at:  http://jenniferericksonauthor.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 23, 2015

Facebook









 
I got nothing.

No status update today.

Not even another selfie;

I’m tapped out.

I’ve been talking to you

Like you’re out there.

But you’re the 21st century

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

You’re the post post-modern

Religion; a prayer posting

Prison.

     ~K.Thompson

This poem was entered in the Writer's Digest Poem-A-Day Challenge in April, 2014 and was selected as a Top Ten Finalist. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

     I was born in the fifties.  It was such a confusing world, even then.  By the time I was six, it was the sixties.  Being raised in a religious cult-like sect made it even more confusing.  When I was nine we moved to the suburbs, a big deal.  There were about three models of brick homes, or homes that looked brick, anyway.  Ours was the plain vanilla box version but we were very proud of it.  We had a lot on the corner of  Linda Sue and Leonard Lane.  Since my father’s name was Leonard and my oldest sister’s name was Linda it was meant to be.  
     We had a fenced yard and an incinerator where we burned our trash once a week.  There was a clothesline where our mother hung clothes to dry and we kids made tents, flinging blankets over the line, shining flash lights in each other’s eyes after dark, telling scary stories. 
     Being a religious kid, I gawked at the sophisticated ways of neighbors, my mouth hanging open, greedily drinking in a world I couldn’t imagine, but secretly longed for.  We dressed like the Lord’s people, so I felt dowdy, plain, and even naked, next to Binky and Pat, the neighborhood party couple.  Binky was a pro baseball player and he and Pat had a sleek convertible parked in their driveway.  Pat wore silky scarves and dark sunglasses before Jacqueline Kennedy, looking glamorous with her nude lipstick and matching nails.  Binky and Pat threw wild parties with another couple, Lou and Betty, from the neighborhood.  Once, in the early morning hours, I saw Binky, clearly intoxicated, wandering down the street with Pat on his shoulders, whooping and hollering.  Betty and Lou stood on their concrete porch laughing and waving cocktail glasses as the rising sun cast a pink glow all around.
      I doubt my parents were invited and even if they had been, they would never have attended such a “worldly” event.  We were the chosen people, the implication of which made us better than others, people like the Binky and Pats of the world.  As far as I could understand, we were better in a sad sort of way, because we had to sacrifice a lot to be God’s people.  Instead of having fun, we had to be examples. 
    But at the swimming pool, I stole quarters from beneath other people’s towels.  I shoplifted candy from Duckworth’s, slipping it beneath the bathing cap I twisted nonchalantly on my fist. 
     I was that kid. 

     We didn’t own a television set, so I had to see the local kids’ shows in Denver like Fred and Fay, and others like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Leave It To Beaver, and Superman, at my friends' houses.  Once the magic box was on, light and shadows flickering across the forbidden screen, I was mesmerized.  My friends, accustomed to its spells, often had to physically pull me away and out of the instant trance I would fall into as soon as a favorite show came on. 
     “C’mon!” they might yell.  “Yoo-hoo!”
     They waved their hands in front of my face and laughed at my inability to see or hear anything but the sights and sounds emanating from the screen. Reluctantly, with much yelling, shaking and pulling, I would drag my attention away from the magic.
    “Huh?” I might mutter, eyelids blinking in confusion.  Sometimes they had to just go stand in front of the set or turn it off to release me from its spell.  I felt guilty then, as though I had just secretly masturbated or something worse.  As far as my parents knew, I was outside playing.
     We lived in a magic time.  We kids ran up and down the streets of the suburbs hooting and hollering, wearing towels like Superman capes, playing hide and seek, Red Rover, Mother May I, even as the street lights blinked on, dark fell, and one by one, we headed off to our respective homes and bedtime.  Every Halloween we went trick or treating. It’s all mixed up together, how the times were changing then. 
     President Kennedy was shot.  I was in fourth grade and we all laid our heads on our desk in a moment of silence.  I was too young to understand anything but the dead silence underneath the quiet sobbing of my older sisters as it echoed through the rest of the day, the weeks, and months, even years that followed.  It was like a warning, that silence, full of dread, covered over by the hysteria to come:  the manic flood of young people, the blasting beat of rock and roll accompanied by the drifting sweet smell of patchouli oil and marijuana, into the streets.  
     When relatives from small towns out of state came to visit, my parents took them for a drive down Colfax so they could see the long haired hippies.  They’d come home shaking their heads, muttering disgust.  I watched their consternation from the corners of my pre-pubescence, my stomach twisting with the clashing mores.  My head ached with wanting. 
     My friend’s brother was sent to Vietnam. She had scant information, garnered from conversations by adults not meant for her ears.  My sister skipped school and, in a family scandal of huge proportions, was featured on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News wearing a mini skirt and picketing to change the school dress code.  She had become sick of kneeling down before the school authorities to have the distance between the hem of her skirt and the top of her knee measured.  My friend and I had no words for the fear we felt for our siblings, unnamed worries circled our heads like vultures.
     One sister got married and moved away.  The other sister joined the hippies on Colfax.  I worried about the neighbors, who were going to hell, because they didn’t know the Truth, weren’t God’s people. 
     It didn’t seem fair.  Plus I was struggling, just like David facing Goliath in the Bible story. 
     When I went to Carol and Cheryl’s house to play, we got into their big sister’s make-up kit and I brushed mascara on my eyelashes, smeared lipstick on my lips. Their parents both worked so we had the house to ourselves. Carol and Cheryl put on records by Bobby Darin, again raided from their big sister’s stash, and we danced so hard to “Dream Lover,” replaying it over and over, that we fell, exhausted onto the floor, breathless with giggles.  Then I tried to scrub all the makeup off before I went home where my parents would see it. 
     I loved dancing to Bobby Darin, Chubby Checker, and James Brown at Carol and Cheryl’s house.  They taught me (or tried to teach me) how to do the Twist, the Mashed Potato, and the Frug, among other dances. Their parents weren’t religious and their older sister was an endless source of inspiration. I liked mascara and lipstick; I who had been forbade even clear nail polish.  Carol enticed me into playing girlfriend and boyfriend.  We placed our hands in front of our lips and fervently kissed. 
     Like I said, it was all very confusing.  Dancing and makeup were considered worldly in the Truth. My public face was kept scrubbed, clean of adornment.  Scissors, true to biblical instruction, had never touched my waist length hair. My dresses, hand sewn by my mother, reached the middle of my knees.  Man would soon land on the moon.
     Age thirteen, I huddled in my bedroom, listening to the Monkees, “The Last Train to Clarksville.”  At fourteen, babysitting, I discovered the Beatles and “Hey Jude.”  NaNa Na Na Na.  Hey – ay-ay-ay Jude, I sang. 
     I thought I might die, the way my heart pounded against my ribs day after day. 
    
  
     Everything, it seemed, was denied me. 
    


 This essay was first published October 1, 2014 at:  http://essay-a-day.blogspot.com/2014/10/lead-us-not-into-temptation.html

Monday, April 7, 2014

Seven Poems

 
 
                            for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life
                                                                    ~Rainer Maria Rilke
 
 
     Oh craziness become me.  I feel like an abstract painting, perhaps a Picasso, struggling to pull my displaced parts together.  My writing is not going well but my writing is going well. 
     Something has stopped me in the writing of the book.  In the meantime, it's National Poetry Month and I've written seven poems, one for each day of the month thus far.  I've tweeted stanzas daily.  Like this (from a poem entitled "Selfie"):



I would cut one of those apples, slice it

Wide open before carving my ear

Off completely, just to tell you

I am here.
 
     Writing is my dream life.  And because it is the heart of me, my deepest desire manifest, it is making me crazy.  Following my passion, my bliss, my heart of hearts, has brought my deepest fears, inadequacies, and insecurities out of the closet. 
     I wake up from a dream, to a volcano within, find myself sobbing.
     "I am a failure.  I have always been a failure.  And now I will fail at writing," I say when my husband asks why am I crying? 
     Woah!  Where did THAT come from? I am grateful that Wayne is my best friend, that I can show myself so starkly and raw, that he can just sit there and hold me.
     Wherever it came from was dark and deep, at the very core of me and felt true, seemed so real.  It is not a belief I can brush aside, not my usual delusion. 
     For days, I puzzle over it, the dark ring of truth.  "I am a failure."
     I have failed at many things.  And, dear reader, I know, you have too.
     Synchronicity. A link to an Ann Pachett essay from her book "This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage" appears on my news feed.  I read:
 "I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers.  Forgiveness, therefore, is key.  I can't write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing.  Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself." 
     Thank you, Ann. 
     I may fail. No.  I will fail.  However, life has taught me that it is not the failure that matters.  What matters, is that I do it.  I show up.  I keep writing. 
     I keep writing. 
     I write.  I write against time.  I write against hope.  I can do this.