rituals of release

these days i have noticed how often ritual is really about directing my attention, towards and away from emotions, energies, lives, futures. tonight i need rituals.

this week i am in a place i love, which i must let go of without much agency. where is the ritual for grieving other people’s homes and lands that have also held your heart? where do you whisper into the dirt: “i fell in love with you, with this curve, this ridge, this stand of birch – you changed my life…”?

tonight is my last night here, probably forever. the moon still feels full, waiting for me to release, so i write.

i am laying in the room where my youngest nibbling was born, and i remember how the light poured in that day like the sun itself wanted to see her first. still when i first glimpse her bright gold hair i remember that light, her swimming to her mother and everyone gasping, crying with miracle.

i remember that winter, waking up every three hours to go down into the cold basement in layers and layers of clothing to tend to the furnace fire. that meditation, finding the spark in the ashes and blowing, feeding, waiting…the satisfaction of the fire roaring, knowing the baby, the mother will be warm.

and in the dark outside the window, just a short walk into the wood, lay buried the bones of the infant phenomenon, the little one whose spirit often visits me here, usually in the kitchen, dashing behind me, caught out of the corner of my eye. i hope the next family has kids for them to follow.

in the morning i will wake up to the small pond, one of millions, with its particular cycle of geese, winter ice, summer muck. this pond taught me the sacred gift of catching sunrise, it is so simple, and one of my favorite views in the world. it’s summer now but i think my favorite is fall, this same swath of trees bright red with change.

the hill between the house and the pond is worn bare by sledding, and i remember dragging sleds weighted with children back up that incline.

i will miss these gardens which i didn’t work but watched burst each year with abundance. i miss watching my eldest nibbling bend close to eat broccoli like a wild deer.

how many times did we rescue ourselves from the doldrums of a long day by going for a walk up the driveway, then the dirt road, left, throw rocks in the first pond, left, climb into the creek bed, race to the rock pile, leap over the tiny stream between the next two ponds, grunt up that first hill, run the ridge past the white trees until breathless, reach the fire pit, the yard strewn with soccer balls and obstacle courses and frisbees, populated with frogs that wanted to say hello. how many times?

how many times have i made the double batch of pancakes? in this kitchen i can do it without a recipe. in this home i have been a different me, barefoot, in an apron, satisfied with the work of love and care. covered in paint, flour, dirt, whatever the children had touched before they needed to hold me, hug me, be carried wrapped around my leg, or tucked in a wrap against the back of my heart.

i remember dancing, joy, laughter, building forts and bonfires, mayday poles, a briefly functional kiln. rocking my nibblings to sleep in the dark and then trying to not wake them when everything in this house groans and sings. my nibblings’ feet hitting the floor in their bedroom half a house away, racing to climb into bed with me, my middle nibbling all elbows and knees, the oldest telling me dreams, the baby complaining about the existence of morning.

here i crafted books about my nibblings, for them, like mandalas: take my heart, destroy it.

i want the babies to remember their naked wild years here, skin to soil to sun, safe enough to climb the apple tree and venture out onto the ice, country enough to beef with the neighbor over dog etiquette.

i wonder if they will recall their bedroom full of books, their bedding piled on the floor, rejecting comfort. the safe spaces they generated for themselves and each other.

here i learned about relinquishing control, flying alongside of parents, being kind while sleep deprived, the layered summer dance of dragonflies, the soundtrack of crickets, grasshoppers.

i know why we must go. even flooded in nostalgia, feeling the perfection of this patched together house that has held my family, i know our chapter here is done. i am trusting the universe that this release will honor a plethora of destinies. grief here is truly gratitude.

i grew up moving every two years. as an adult i am wary of any effort to bind me to a place, and yet i am so grateful for the parts of my life, my family’s life, that could only have unfolded on this land.

tomorrow i will gather dirt, offer water, burn words and pray for abundant release. nothing is permanent except the cycle of change, and this place is one of my favorite teachers of how life is unbearably beautiful and ever shifting.

goodnight, sweet home.

enough moments of love

when she becomes stone in my arms
i know that she is asleep

when he makes the room dance in his skin
i taste his sweet aliveness

when she appears to be made of smiling wax
i feel how she has left this earth

when he throws wrapped paper at the people
i see that he is a curse walking

when they slowly unbutton their shirt
i blush – the future is flirting with me

when her mouth drops because of this government
i suspect she is a true capitalist

when he says women only ever wanted authority
i wonder if men can know freedom

when they say ‘please call me this please’
i trust that they’ve thought through my questions

when she says to me hello how are you?!!
i am her child again, always

when he calls me i drop the world and answer
i’ve lost enough moments of love

when she whispers to me with her mouth just so
i forget there is time space between us

when i look in the mirror and pause
i see no shadow in my eyes

under the influence of lightning

laying here in the heart of a storm. thunder is rolling overhead and when lightning strikes it’s as bright as day in the whole sky. midwestern storms are extravagant.

today is the anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder, a day that holds its own distinct horror and grief, a day that changed many of our lives, grew us up in ways we never wished for. i pray in my way for his family and his community today.

i spent the day mostly offline, playing with my nibblings, noticing the ways in which they listen to authority and the ways they don’t. i have respect for the latter and try to only demand the former when their safety is concerned. today one nibbling said i was the bestest auntie, except…’you do get mad sometimes.’ i told them to notice why i get mad, and if it’s ever not about their safety, they should tell me and I’ll let it go. i don’t want to participate in getting them to listen to me ‘just because’. doesn’t work anyway. and what do i know, really?

i can’t remember if i should start counting when the lightning strikes or when i hear thunder, to measure the miles between the storm and my body. i like the idea that this is a crucial survival skill. and like most crucial survival skills, i only kind of know it.

i’m learning to trust myself under pressure, learning that i string together my random bits of survival knowledge when i need it, apologize and adapt when i fuck up. and anyway, perhaps the best contribution i can make is staying calm under pressure, which i inherited from the women in both sides of my family. calm allows me to discern who to trust when no one is quite right.

the biggest dangers my people face right now come from our government, and we don’t yet know how to survive it, not en masse. but we’re learning. as quickly as we can, messes and humanity in our wake.

it’s eight miles away now, the storm, counting from lightning to thunder.

watching the kids learn the subtle survival skills of being 4, and 7, and three days til 9, i see how we learn on yes. in somatics we know that, the body learns on yes. but we live in a punitive authoritative society. we conform in response to no, we try to control the base urges and wild instincts that make us unsociable as we are told to stop, quiet, take it elsewhere. but when we are invited into the world as whole complex creative beings, invited to contribute our truths and ideas, held through our disappointment and confusion – i am amazed at how kind the children can be, and prolific, and fun.

that’s true of every child i meet. i’m learning to hold this possibly for every adult, too.

the lightning is right out the window now, two miles away. but also maybe it’s just everywhere these days. it’s terrifying to be alive these days. it’s also beautiful.

a few things I try to say to the children, without words

I am not here to surrender to mediocrity

I am not here to deny the many ways of being
or anyone else’s pain

I know the water flows around obstacles
and I know it can get stagnant sometimes, need the heat to raise it up, to move
up and over,
or the earth to swallow it up

I am here to love deeply, to love beyond my means, recklessly and then like the sun loves,
into the void, no favorites, only orbit

I have no bottom, I am not separate from hell or heaven, they are in me, they are in this world

I am learning to dance with every part of myself
to leave nothing to shame
to declare my love from the inner recess to the stars, light years pound out of my heart
make me visible to the nebulae I love

I am not leading, I am experiencing
earthworm chrysalis snake skin
and the pond where the geese rest on their journey

I am not mothering a child, but I am raising a way of being, nurturing inside myself
a liberated self
knowing one day it will cast aside everything I have known as me

I am a beautiful detritus-to-be,
a candle wick in the molten wax
just smitten with fire
as it changes everything in me
convincing me that everything, with a breath,
can change