I woke today in a yurt with a bee in my bed. Curious, I snatched him up assuming lint or thread or something soft and innocuous. He moved and I placed him on the pillow next to my head. Unafraid Unharmed I snatched the quintessential symbol of childhood terror between thumb and forefinger Intimate and safe we shared my pillow in the hills of West Virginia As I prepared to visit my father's grave As I nursed my hangover As I treasured my solitude and wished, more than anything, for a friend. I call him Carl. How long have I dusted around fear? (and what silhouettes are awaiting my courage) How long have I left this pain untouched, afraid of its uncurling in my mind afraid of the space it would take of the Heather it would consume of the Heather it would leave behind. Today I am curious and picked Carl up to look more closely. Today is, apparently, the day I examine fear. Perhaps today is the day I give it, too, a name.
This isn’t poetry, but it’s part of the journey I began with 2019 Napowrimo and exploring my relationship with my dad.
I’m leaving soon on a pilgrimage, three days traveling alone to sit at his grave and read my poems and mark a moment of closure? maybe?
It’s an attempt and I am, right now, terrified it will fail. Terrified that I won’t have the strength to really look into the dark of this. Terrified that I will liquor up on whiskey and suffering and shut down. Terrified that it will all be for nothing. And it occurs to me that even if it is for nothing, I’ll just do it again and again and again until either it becomes less important or more healing.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. One bit at a time, one moment and one breath and one tear.
There’s a portion of him I want to keep
tucked in a pocket, warm and safe and secure.
Tears dried and hurts soothed.
There’s a portion of him I want to keep
in the palm of my hand, twitching and sighing.
Smiles and astonishment.
There’s the esplanade and the bluegrass
the summer rain and the dragonfly
the national treasures I didn’t know about
and The Dance that I am meant to paint.
There’s the rejection and the hurt
the confusion and the frustration
the feeling disposable.
the sound of his voice.
I can’t keep a portion
He is not a chicken to be quartered
the white meat discarded for the far superior dark
He is the whole bird
more than my plate can hold
and I miss him.
a small distance scented with sage and sandalwood a soft silence begging for a reach for a touch for the right angle for the perfect moment when he won't derail when he won't run when he won't reject when he will let me have what I want and be unafraid and be bold 'let me have what I want' is not the makings of care is not the root of the tenderness I feel for him it is the byproduct of my smallness the Vegemite of my creation salty and bitter and hateful and wanting and greedy and powerful I reroute disappointment, reset tracks a figure eight of self loathing that ensures he won't be hurt by me while I eat myself from the inside out wondering why chewing and swallowing my pale skin my stretch marks my too loud laugh my never feeling quite good enough my ignorance my endless questions my lack of experience my vulnerability He is something to me something powerful something important I will find a way to care about him and not hurt to reach for him with a closed hand to not want from him to not take to not harm to listen until his truths become louder than the sound of my chewing
I’m finished with this project for now.
In some ways it feels like I did what I set out to do. I looked at those experiences closely and lived them more thoroughly than I had previously and most certainly felt them more honestly than I was capable of at the time … and I let him in, even if only a few times and they were awkward and difficult but that will get easier.
I have started something and I think now it’s time for me to let it sit on it’s own for a moment. Some recovery is needed before I can come back to this. I feel like continuing would just be creating hurt for myself and that’s not at all what I want to do.
No, I did not make it until the end of April and I have feelings about that, but I have done so much more than I’d ever even considered before and I have learned so much and seen so much and felt so much these past few weeks … I need to stop now. But I’ll be back, to revise and revisit and hone.
the blooming season new growth soothes hot skin sweating aching under the labor of change longing to recline into certainty that the earth turns that I have done well that I can rest that I am not too late fearing I've missed something am missing something am hurting someone am not doing enough have done too much have said too much am not enough am too much unsure what will they grow into what have I done when can I stop I want this to be tidy and finished I want to lean on someone and feel safe being unsure today, I miss the silent dead of December today isn't an adventure and all my fault I started everything
slowly twisting history I play measuring compassion and fear by the moment I move in pilgrimage toward freedom a spectacle of failing fathers lining the street as I pass heavy and plodding and never-ending wondrous, the legends of men who have stayed I marvel at the ease with which legendary men are made I ask each what pain is it that let you run? what did it take for you to believe that drinking yourself to death killing your wife abandoning your children was your best option was your only option was an option? a parade of Heather moves forward their faces turn away as I pass soft and fierce and never-ending what strength is it that lets me stay? what love is it that brings me here?