Under the surface

For the Daily Prompt: mope.

Mope. We think we should not mope. Go down, be down, downer, don’t go there… but sometimes we have to let ourselves feel, and feel deeply, even if it’s not the popular feelings.

I was grumpy four days ago driving with my daughter for a skiing vacation. She gently told me not to grump at her. By the next morning it was clear why I was grumpy: an awful cold had come to visit and I was not going to ski. And I probably got it from her, but maybe not, and it doesn’t matter. I moped a little, but was mostly proud that I rested for two days and did not try to push through it, power through it, feel the burn…. I’ve done that too many times and then gotten really sick. I rested for two days and slept for twelve hours daily and moped a little. And yesterday I did ski for part of a day. Then we drove home, my daughter driving most of it, and I hurt all over by the time we got home….

If every feeling is a gift, a visitor, sent from the Beloved, as Rumi writes… welcome them all. This body is a guesthouse, says Rumi. Welcome moping and treat it gently and with kindness and understanding, as we all long to be treated….

The Guesthouse.

 

The dead are with me

I am at the lake. There are younger people with me. We go to the graveyard. The earth is soft and loose. There are no markers or stones. We do not need them.

“I can feel the people in the earth.” says one of the younger people.

“Me too!” says another.

“Of course.” I say. I name the people under the earth and introduce them. The young people are amazed. I am surprised that they have never felt the dead. I think the cities and concrete and phones and television and computers: all of these must block the signals. But we never allowed electricity here. The phones don’t work. Candles, aladdin lamps, propane stoves and heat with wood in old cabins. Thin shacks where we hear the wind and water, and tents, lying in the embrace of the earth.

We leave but when we come back, the young start to reach down into the soft earth, arms length. “Did they die young?” one asks. “We want to know more.”

“You must be patient.” I say. “Don’t push the dead.”

Later I return a third time to sit quietly alone with the dead. Dark falls, moonless, overcast, no stars. I stand to return to the cabins and my flashlight dies. I know the paths well, but not the path to the graveyard. I tie up my long skirt and kneel. I feel the ground gently. Yes, I can feel the path. I start to crawl slowly, stopping to feel the packed worn earth. I think of wolves and cougars but none have been here for years. It is not cold enough for exposure. It is just dark and slow. The dead are with me and approve.

Watercolor

This is for the Daily Post Prompt: retreat.

I have been changing the art in my clinic with the seasons. This is by my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway, and is currently up in the clinic. This is her largest watercolor, of the Olympic Mountains, painted in the last few years of her life.

A retreat into beauty….

birth

Reading about drugs

LSD
and that people re-experience the terrible trauma of birth

but wait: terrible trauma…

I had the grace and delight and sometimes terror
of catching babies, new and slippery and surprised
for nineteen years

they do not arrive traumatized

an older obstetrician
always gentle
when I would ask for help
deep calm and sometimes
he would wait for the newborn
and not rush us to the operating room

and if the child emerged
he would say “girl ears”
or “boy ears”
he always guessed
frequently wrong
his small tickle of humor
and the mother too busy at that moment
to notice at all
except that his voice was calm

I think of the one forming
in the womb
the sounds of mother’s heart and guts
dark and sounds
of father brother sister other

the first time I see
the new baby in clinic
I imitate the sound of the doppler
swish swish swish
and the newborn alerts, and knows my voice too

I think of the one forming
in the womb
and my daughter
who tried to come early
confining me to bed for three months
and adrenaline-like terbutaline
continuously
my hands tremble
my heart rate at one hundred
I knit to channel the figdets
six sweaters
and my daughter is worth it

I think of the one forming
in the womb
out of room
the space is too tight
can no longer stretch or kick
head down
ready

I think of the one forming
in the womb
saying now
I need more room
now and the cascade starts

we don’t know what starts labor
the baby or the mother
or both

now
I need more room
and the infant pushes towards the door
towards more room

and I have had
the grace and delight and sometimes terror
of catching them
slick and messy and bloody
as they emerge
into the light

open their eyes
and breathe
startled
at light and room and air