don’t fly off

I am standing in the basement with two men who have come to help. The dirt floor has gone to mud. We are all looking down. Something is stuck and will not flow. The men agree they’re going to have to dig. The one with the beard goes off to fetch a shovel. I ask the other one for an estimate of cost. “Oh,” he says, scuffing the floor with the toe of his boot, “this is rocky ground. I expect it will cost as much as it did before.”

It cost a lot before. More than I can now afford to pay again. I think I will just have to give up and go.

I go back upstairs, to the array of rooms so bright and clean and empty. I open my suitcase and stare down into it, wondering how to make everything fit.

The man with the beard finds me there. He comes in a little breathless, and I look up, surprised.  “We want to help,” he says. “He had no business quoting you a price. That’s not our job, to estimate cost. We’re here to help.”

“Do you think,” I ask, still worried about costs, “Do you think I could just dig it out myself?”

“Yes,” he says, “I think you could.”

“This is my grandmother’s house, you know?”

“Yes, I know.”

“I thought I would find her here, but I can’t find her. I’ve looked everywhere but still.” I look down at the suitcase and all my black clothes rolled and stacked inside it. It’s nowhere near full. “Did you know that once there was a spiral staircase in every room of this house? A staircase leading up through a hatch and out onto the roof and the sky. Direct access to the sky in every room. But they’re all blocked now except one. One still remains. I’ve been looking for it, but I can’t find it.”

“Don’t fly off,” he says, the man with the beard. “The work is messy, but not hard. It will only take a little digging. All we need to do is hit water and we’re good, everything will open up from there. And you saw how it is down there, it’s saturated with water. It won’t take much more doing.”

“Ok.”

“Don’t fly off.”

“Ok.”

So I go back down, into the dark and dank of the basement. I take up a shovel and begin to dig. I am opening a trench to run across the middle of the floor, a channel for the flow. It isn’t long before I hit something hard. I think it must be the rock the other man warned me about. But it’s not. It’s bone.

Protruding from the unexcavated bank of dirt is the arm of a skeleton, an arm and a hand holding a crystal ball, holding it out over the trench as if offering it to me. I am overcome with grief. Here I have found my grandmother.

I lay myself down on the dirt in the mud over her bones. I lay myself down to mourn, but the tears pass quickly. The feeling that rushes up to me from the bones is not sorrow or suffering, but gladness. She has been waiting for me. She lay herself down here knowing I would come, knowing I would find her. She wanted to pass her crystal ball to me and this is how she chose to do that.

I accept the ball from her. It is full of her wisdom. It is full of light and warms me through. I press it to my solar plexus and it passes into me. I will carry it there. It will light my way.

I leave the shovel and shift the dirt with my hands gently off the bones of my grandmother. She is wrapped in bright jewel-toned silks unmarred by the rude burial, emerald greens and sapphire blues. She is so happy how it all worked out. I sit on the ground beside her.

There is water seeping in through the rock walls, water running in rivulets over the floor. I understand now what must be done. I let the water’s natural flow wash all the mud away until the bedrock is revealed and all that remains is water running over stone.

The water finds it’s own way. It takes no effort, no effort at all.

 OOO

Posted in in the house of my grandmother | 4 Comments

all the words unhomed

I am so glad to be here. I am weeping. Tears jewel my hair. I know that I am beautiful. I know that I am.

I am draped in midnight blue. The drape of it flows off behind me, infinitely. That river of blue.

The bear and I go walking. Not with any goal or purpose, but to move through the trees and light. To take the air.

Someone steps out from the edge of the trees across the way. She is ragged, shy and naked. She has been unhomed too long, with no one to receive her. Her cropped hair stands ruffled and contrary off the top of her head.

I dress her in jeans, a man’s shirt, loose and untucked, half-buttoned over an undershirt, and the sleeves rolled up. But no shoes. She refuses shoes. Her feet need the feel of the ground. I understand this.

She digs in her pocket for something. The stub of a pencil. She scribes words on the skin of her hand, in the dirt, under rocks. Words spill out of her like ninja stars, small spiky things. She is exhausted by the unending, unchanneled flow of them.

I take her up, wrap her in my blue, and she falls asleep, the words spilling out with her uncalculated breath, staining the blue, cutting fissures in the fabric, making starlight of me.

Posted in the light that opens in the dusk | 8 Comments

medicine woman

I am underwater. It is black and deep. I lie horizontal just below the surface. There is struggle in my stillness. The surface of the water is covered in a kind of skin like black rubber. I cannot push through it. It burns against my efforts, suffocating.

I think I might as well sink down because I cannot rise up. There is friendliness in the depths. There are hands, lit blue, open like flowers, ready to receive me, to hold and honor me. Hands that lighten everything.

But I do not sink down. I stay pressed against the black skin of the surface, held fast there. It’s painful. I am coursed through with the pain of it. I cry out for help. “Please, please what medicine will relieve this suffering?”

The answer comes swift and certain, It’s not about you.

The words bring a gentleness, open a distance between myself and the suffering, a first breath. And then, You are not the suffering. You are the medicine.

Something in me clenching, lets go at that. I release hold of the pain. It releases hold of me. The tough resistence melts away and a light is re-kindled in me, a yellow flame in the arch of my rib cage.

I shift upright, my feet sinking down, touching bottom, received by the soft firm welcoming mud. My head rises high in the blue air, the light. The black water skirts out from my middle, just below the flame in me, carrying that light. I open my hands. I breathe.

OOO

Posted in When I touch the pain I become the pain. And then I remember myself. | 3 Comments

Lest you think I have forgotten

Sometimes I think I have lost my tongue.

But it isn’t that.

I have journeyed so deep into unknown territory, so far out into the world and the real, where everything is strange and wonderful, quick and momentous; I don’t know the words to cup these ways in yet. I don’t know the arc and tell. I haven’t got the rhythm of it yet.

But I will.

Every day I lean into the song of it. I taste and savor, hum and suck and spit. I will learn to tell this.

In the meantime, I wanted to say: I remember you. You are the breath that softens my solitude, the laugh that escapes the throat. You starlight the vast. I am glad of you there. Even in my not-telling, I am glad of you. I wanted you to know.

OOO

Posted in long gone walking | 3 Comments

return

The rider comes on through the gathering dark, leaning into the cold, horse and rider both blowing steam, hoof-fall on hard ground setting a complex beat that wakes and lulls and wakes again.

There is wind in the trees, blacker than anything, and singing, but no moon.

She is waiting, safe from the wind, four walls gone silver grey, a table, a cookstove, the light that breaches the window glass. She lifts her face toward bootfall on porchwood. He is returned to her.

He brings in with him the smell of the wind and of distance travelled. She lights the lamp and lets it rest between them. He stamps the cold from his feet. She spoons out supper. He bends his face to the steam of it.

Later, under her mother’s quilt, his knees tucked into the bend of hers, and all the time apart, before them and behind them, pressing down on this singular perfect presence, she thinks she hears him breathe her name in his sleep, and in her sleep, she answers.

OOO

Posted in a point of nourishment in the fathomless black | 2 Comments

nothing more to be done

She is small and her coat is black. The sky is low and white. She is alone in the woods. Her coat is black and her stockings are black and her boots are black too. Her hands curl into themselves for warmth. She is lost in these woods. Her hat is black and her face is white, frail moon in a tangle of trees.

She walks without direction, every way the same, the hiss of cold leaves underfoot. There is slope, but it doesn’t tell her anything, turning her left shoulder to the heights. She is here and no one else is. She is here and no one knows. Nothing holds her. Nothing reaches for her. Nothing calls her back. She moves up the slope through the silent ranks of black trunks. She moves and stops and listens, moves and stops.

Even with no words in it, the breath she breathes veils her. She turns her face up.

She is not frightened. She knows what happens next. She is ready.

The woman in white comes down through the trees, a swirl and glimmering, no sound but a hiss and patter in the leaves. She leans in close, opens her arms, and folds the girl into the protection of her still, black heart.

OOO

Posted in the way runs out in winter woods | 2 Comments

storms and shelters

The Wellspring sees me studded in blue lights. The lights aren’t actually embedded in me, but hang in strands, a little off my body, running from my head to the ground, a curtain of lights. They bump and rattle as I move.

I climb the hill to the cave of days. The weight of what I carry solidifies around me as I enter the cave, becomes part of the mountain, and stops, trapping me in the seal of its angles. For a heartbeat I am lost, then I sift out of the containment like dust through seams, I drop free.

I leave everything behind and walk away.

I step through into a great wind. Howling and blowing grit. I bend into it. It is impossible to tend to what needs tending while exposed to the force of the wind.

Princess Brainiac takes my hand, guides me behind a rock where it is sheltered and I can breathe again. There is a cave entrance there. I go into the small cave. It’s good there. I can do what I need to do, undisturbed by the gusting wind. I sit. I shell my peas. It is good.

Then, without warning, the rock collapses around me. I am trapped, buried in rubble, my peas scattered. I think for a moment that all is lost.

But all is not lost. Though I cannot move, I can see my right hand in the darkness before me. It emits a blue light. In the pool of my hand’s light I see a single pea. Nourished by the blue light, the pea roots and sprouts, growing swift and certain. The pea stalk twines through the rock and then lifts the rubble up with it as it grows, creating space around me and organizing the stone into new walls of protection, a living shelter.

I had no idea a pea could do all that.

OOO

Posted in under the protection of the work I set myself | Tagged | 2 Comments