On a bus

I am in a bus. The driver is a man and quiet. It is night and I can’t see much besides road. I am standing by him.

“You have strong emotions.” he says.

“I am so glad that I can be myself with you and not hide them.” I lean my cheek against the back of his right shoulder. He doesn’t answer but what I feel is acceptance.

I wake up. It was a bus but I don’t know what or who else was on it. I don’t know where it is going. I am worried that I did not have a seatbelt on and I am just standing in the front of the bus. Unrestrained. Unrestrained emotion?

Once a woman says to me, “Your emotions are too strong.”

I think, “My emotions are too strong for YOU. They are normal for ME.” I avoided any discussion of emotion with that person for two years.

The people in dreams are aspects of ourselves. The quiet man is an aspect of myself and he is driving the bus. Emotion riots around but is not driving. Life is rather like that bus. We don’t always know where we are going or what is next.

I have had a very medical January, working to help three other people. I talk to another friend yesterday. She says, “You are being called back to medicine.”

I frown at the ceiling since I am on the cell phone. “I guess so. I am thinking about how I want to do it. I don’t know yet.”

She is off on a trip for three weeks. “You’ll figure it out.”

And where will the bus take me next?

I wish I had an ambulance that unfolds into a clinic.

___________________

I had rather a grand time pulling out action figures and dolls from the basement to set up scenarios with the Barbie Ambulance. Here the baby has a facial rash. Probably 5th disease, parvovirus. This baby’s rash resolves when you wash her face with cold water. I am pleased that Barbie Doctor has a mask.

Petty lie

What old deep wound causes you
to hurt me and other friends you’ve had
in past. What terrors hidden in that brew
make you glory in making others sad?
You boast to me of throwing people out
of your life forever, never friend
again. You don’t explain what crimes reroute
your heart to where you never speak again
to him or me. How many people discarded
from your heart and at what interval?
How many “friendships” have you departed?
And yet you boast that others call you spiritual.
“Friends forever,” you said. I wonder why
you tell yourself and me that petty lie.

______________________

Sonnet 8

This too two to

This two too to I want to remember.
Licking? Touch for certain, together.
Warmth and safety and rest and trust.
The trust eroded as you run away
over and over. You say always but
you say other things that I can’t believe.
And yet my heart is stubborn still.
This two too to I want to remember.

____________________

Poem series: This. This too. This too two.

Winter bless us

Winter bless us year end dark and freezing
winter turn us inwards prayer for joy
prayer for joy for young ones all are seizing
others mourn loved deaths, eschewing toys
darkness let us settle loving all
silence let us turn our thoughts to peace
walk in wind and birds, iced trees so tall
few are out to gently walk the streets
the frozen ground holds lives that lie in wait
in freezing seeds hear the call and know
let every human drop their arms and hate
while seeds lie in wait to grow
let winter’s silence fill our hearts with joy
let peace descend, war melt to children’s toys

____________________________________

A poem for Christine Goodenough after reading her Winter Delights.

Reconcile

I have been thinking about family a lot this week. My mother’s family has been gossiping about me now for a decade and not one of them has ever talked to me directly about my father’s will. They have a story. They never checked it. It stars me as a villain. They seem to think I controlled attorneys, which is laughable.

I forgive them.

However, I think a decade is enough. I forgive them but I no longer want to reconcile. For ten years I hoped that they would talk to me. I have asked them to, more than one person, more than once. They say that they want to believe what they want to believe. I offered to send copies of bank statements to back up what I said. No. And a cousin silenced me by saying, “Don’t make me hate my sister.” The message is that I can be part of the family for some of them, as long as I remain silent as a tomb on this topic.

No. I won’t. And it’s just like all the silencing that goes on over the world. People say they would not stand by while someone is hurt, but my family sure seems to enjoy having me be the silenced gossiped about villain. I am sick of it. They can go to where ever it is that karma will take them: gossip, after all, is a sin.

And so I am reconciled. I am reconciled after a decade to adding these people to my list of dead. Our friendship is dead, my family feeling towards them is dead, I am not asking or waiting or hoping any more.

Forgiveness is a solo job. We forgive others.

Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation. You should not take an abuser back. You should not let someone treat you badly and refuse to listen to you and refuse to apologize. I know one person whose apologies run something like “I am sorry that you took offense to what I said/did.” Um. That is not an apology. That is putting it on me, it’s my fault for taking offense. The person has no intention of changing and does not actually care how I feel. I am not okay with that. The person is forgiven but there has not been a reconciliation.

With my maternal family, I am letting it go. I would like there to be more peace in the world but as long as people cling to having villains, to believing gossip, to perpetuating gossip and hatred and meanness, I do not think we will have peace in the world.

But in letting this go, I have peace in my heart.

Peace you and please peace me.

Catch and release

The chances of you changing are quite small.
I know from very early in our time.
Why God makes angels that will one day fall.
We could be sent to teach each other rhymes
or something else. I wonder at it daily.
My heart opens like a flower even so.
The candle just at dusk burns quite palely.
I wonder what excuse you’ll use to go.
It’s a comic denouement I see at last.
You denigrate my knowledge and my skill.
After exposure you refuse to wear a mask
or test. I rise in anger at ill will.
It’s comic that I’ve liked your busy mind.
Respect for mine is nil: you elk’s behind.

Ogre

I am now a full grown Ogre

We mature at a different rate
than you humans
I don’t really pass as human
but since I am 5’4″
no one guesses I’m an ogre

I have been an Ogre since
before birth
my mother ill
attacked by antibodies in the womb
luckily the illness does not cross
the barrier of the mixed mother daughter
the placenta
but the antibodies do cross

I am born with my immune system
red hot and ready to fight

my maternal grandmother is an Ogre too
she cares for me while my mother heals
you are right to refuse help she says
you may feed yourself
and she lets me
I am four months

Two grrl cousins are also stressed from birth
one arrives early and survives
smallest child to live in that city
all they have for premies is a warm box
her parents are warned
she might be slow

the other is born in Bangladesh
mother very ill
mother damaged by illness
she survives too

three Ogres?
No
different mitochondria
from three different mothers different immune systems different parents

Ogre, dark angel, and martyr

And the others wonder why we fight

A woman says “I like you when you’re well.”
to me when I am sick
and my partner disappears
he says, “I can’t have a disabled partner.”
I snarl, “I am not disabled.
I am just on oxygen.”
But it is not true
I am disabled
And very annoyed

I avoid the woman for a year
and think about it
I am never “well”
if it’s an antibody disorder
and if I got it in the womb
what would I be like if I did not have it?
no one knows
and I don’t either

So I have done well
in the end
to survive a chronic illness since before birth

Ogres take longer to mature
but once we do
we are hell on wheels

And at last I accept it

I am happy being an Ogre
and I will be the best Ogre I can

And it will be fun
At least, for me

Which?

For a long time I think I am a werewolf, but I am not controlled by the moon. But I can get angry. And then I remember this poem and think “Not a werewolf. An ogre.”

_______________________

Butterfly Girl Comes to Visit

She is so beautiful with her wings
multicolored many splendored lights caught and multiplied
as she flutters

I freeze
I am an ogre
Huge and clumsy
I know from past past many times
Not to touch you
My rough fingers have brushed the tiny feathers from your wings
You cry in pain and your flight becomes erratic
My kiss is just as bad
Rough lips
If I move the wind of my passing blows you against a window
You fall stunned

I hold and crush
the box of feelings that can hurt you
Sorrow, anger, fear, dismay
Even fatigue turns my aura red
And scorches your wings

I hate to cause you pain

Fly butterfly girl
My baby needs me, my pager rings
My ogre husband stirs
The effort of holding still plain on his face
I can’t hold still much longer

Butterfly girl
Fly on home

My mom loved me

I struggled after my mother died of ovarian cancer in 2000. She was 61 and our love was complicated. Two years after she died I hit an emotional wall and had to go find help. My marriage was showing cracks too. I have written about Adverse Childhood Experiences, but there can be love too, even in a difficult household. I wrote this poem during that time.

My mom loved me

It’s herself she didn’t love
She didn’t love her anger
She didn’t love her fear
She didn’t love her sorrow
She didn’t love her shadows

She packed all her troubles in her saddlebags
and rode forth singing

When I was angry
she felt her anger
When I was scared
she felt her fear
When I was sad
she felt her sorrow
When I felt my shadows
she felt hers
I hid my shadows

I hid my shadows for many years
and then my saddlebags were full
They called me

I dove in the sea
I rescued my anger
I rescued my fear
I rescued my sorrows
I rescued my shadows

At first I couldn’t love them
My mom didn’t; how could I?

But I loved my mom
I loved all of her
Her anger
Her fear
Her sorrow
Her shadows
Her singing and courage

I thought if I could love her shadows
I could love my own

It was hard
It took months
I looked in the mirror at my own face
And slowly I was able to have
Compassion for myself

I am sad that my mom is not
where I can touch her warmth
and tell her I love all of her

I tell her anyway

I’m finding many things as I surface from my dive
Sometimes I feel the presence of angels
I was looking for something else
I found a valentine
that she made me
No date
Many hearts cut out and glued
to red paper

I am so surprised

My mom loves me
shadows and all
now and forever.

__________________________

My mother used to quote “Pack all your troubles in your saddlebags and ride forth singing.” Does anyone know where this if from? I have not found the source. It could be her mother or her mother’s parents.

The photograph is my father, the year my sister died of cancer, 2012. He died in 2013.