Sandglass

I am so tired, she says, a cavern
submerged in the watery light of morning.
Incrementally, she raises herself up from
the folded fulcrums of a blue grey blanket,
as tears are falling,
shattering like broken glass.

Methodically–because,
she explains
like an echo,
not to me or to anyone, really,
I’ve done this before,
hurried and hopeful,
but now I know: take it slow
or else you cut yourself

she crouches close to the ground,
sweeping up the shards.

Hope isn’t hurried,
she whispers (a cavern,
empty of some things
but not others),
to me, perhaps, or not to me or anyone in particular,
like an echo,
Breaking is so brisk, but–

She stops (she is tired, recall),
stands up,
and the creaking of her bones
are utterances:
Hope rises like the tide-
softly, simply, but always
it rises;
so, does she.

She moves with
sound strides that are
like the small sea swells of Puget
that wash away dead and dry
cracked shells,
shabby and shirked by the
hermits who’ve since moved on;
with strides like waves
that wipe clean the slate of a grey shore.

Toil is the deeply buried treasure,
but it is also the sand that buries it,
and today I am the tide.

What like a mosaic
her tidal tears make,
the lines on her face like lines in sand,
like sediment and sadness
telling the story of a heart
that will heal from hurts
and has no shame
for living life in the voluptuous bosom
that breathes and ebbs
in brokenness.

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upon speaking with gerard manley hopkins.

Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, “I feel the fell of dark, not day”

i.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours.
But which is being soured? The dull dough? The self?
Today, both; I feel the fell.
Breathe in, exhale.

ii.
The fear cuts through like a gale.
How can I stand resolute? I will lose leaf and limb.
Do leaves and limbs lost leave forever?
But wait! are my limbs and leaves the tree, or am I,
I, resolute with this trunk and these roots, these veins,
pied, stippled, counter, original, spare, and strange
The wind can strip me, but it will not fell me.

iii.
Yet I feel the fell of dark, not day–
yester was day, and I miss it.
I stumble until darkness lifts,
until dark rises instead of falls.
Veiled in these black hours,
I do not see what I would see.
Selfyeast of spirit, wait.
Wait and remember: glory be to God for dappled things
whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
–or why.

iv.
Admonish this panic.
It is neither of me, nor Him.
My selfyeast of sour spirit, this dull dough
will not be so forever

v.
nor will the gale uproot me.
I am the tree–without leaf and limb–
but I am the tree.

vi.
Catch your breath.
Stand up. Adazzle or dim, do not wait; rise.
You are the tree.

flare.

You ask me how I am, and I say, “Fine, and you?”

But what I really mean is, I can feel them creeping into my bones, the fibers of my connective tissues. They clang like cymbals in the pit of my stomach, loudly, forebodingly. They are in my head, gnawing, and in my fingertips, marching and parading, waving banners to mark their arrival. I can feel the banners throbbing and waving under my skin. I can feel the heat and fever of movement reaching the surface.

You’ve had a good week then?

“Yeah, it’s been okay. Can’t complain.”

What I really mean is, can I complain? Because if only you knew that I’ve been overtaken by unwanted guests, uninvited visitors that set up camp with no disclosed time of exit, the ones that rattle my nerves with their yelling and screaming until wee hours of the morning, the ones that doctors can’t seem to find, even when they stick needles right into the heart of where they’ve called homes, the ones that take me hostage and make me yell NO I CANNOT because I know what they will do to me if I say YES I CAN. Inevitably more banners of pain, more heat and fever, more of the color red–always red, and more of the clanging.

Got any big plans for the holiday weekend?

“Nah. The usual. What about you?”

What I really mean is, having big plans for a holiday weekend sounds a lot like throwing myself down a jagged cliff but still surviving the terrible fall, bloodied and bruised, and to be honest, I am carrying a lot of extra weight here, what with the uninvited guests entering my knees and elbows, my wrists and knuckles, and slowly making their way into my head and heart–ya see, they’re sort of big bummers to have around–and if only this holiday weekend hadn’t inconveniently occurred right as the uninvited guests showed up, and I tried to reschedule, they’re unreasonable, but thank you for asking, and your holiday plans sure do sound lovely, like a cliff.

I remember pointing at my head, shoulders, knees, and toes and laughing as I sang. I remember when they were just body parts not parts of my body’s pain.

Where do you hurt?

“Here, and here,” pen in hand, I circle places on a diagram, the head and shoulders, the knees and toes. “There, most of the time, but not all. And here. And there, too.”

What I really mean is, head shoulders knees toes and well… it is easier if I just circle the whole diagram, really.

Sometimes I wish my body could be seen in infrared, but instead of heat, it revealed levels of pain. Then you would know. Then doctors would see. And I wouldn’t feel so crazy.

What is your biggest fear?

“The dark. Fire. Being stuck with no way out.”

What I really mean is, I am often awake when it is dark when I want to be asleep and unaware of just how dark it is, and I can feel the fires kindling in my head, shoulders, knees, and toes as I sing the lullaby quietly to myself, and I sometimes feel fires spreading as I try not to move, stuck under the covers–no, too hot, out of the covers–no, too cold now–stuck because I know the uninvited guests will throw a hissy fit if I move again. No, perhaps I’m not really afraid of those things; perhaps I just hate them, so what I really mean is, I’m afraid of what happens next, and does the dark get darker, will the fire get hotter, and is there a way out, and will I always feel stuck?

What do you want to do with your life?

“I would love to become a teacher, and a writer. And a professor. And a mother. And.”

What I really mean is, God help me, I want to become all the things I want to become, and God help me, I hope the uninvited guests don’t get in my way, and God help me, can I answer the question about my biggest fear again because I am suddenly reminded of what mine is.