The uninhabitable spaces between us

still in my heart

why are you there?

you have sold me out
more than once
disappeared when I was sick
returning when I was better
long after I stopped being contagious
and noted when the news caught up
with what I’d been saying about opiates

she’s been talking about this
you say to others
I realize that you did not believe me
until the news agreed

another with words
“If you make me choose
I will choose her.”

I think “you just did.”
do you hear?
that is a threat
to shut me down
to shut me up
to shut me out

you won’t choose
I choose now
I walk away from your threat

another tells me to visit
and talk about her dead

she has refused to talk about
my dead
to me
for five years

how can she ask me
to talk about hers?

I walk away
kicking the falling leaves

I carry each of you
in my heart

as the space between us

widens

 

For Mindlove’sMisery’s Sunday Writing Prompt #288.

Over the Rhine: All of my favorite people.

bravery

There is more than one list of seven virtues. Courage, or bravery, goes back to Aristotle and Plato as one of the four cardinal virtues.

What is bravery to you? An extreme sport? A warrior?

My sister endured cancer treatment for 7 years, over 30 rounds of chemotherapy. She said, “People say I am brave, but they don’t understand. I don’t have a choice. It’s do the therapy or die.” It’s still brave, though, isn’t it.

The person who comes to my mind for bravery is a woman, a long time ago. She spoke Spanish and we had a translator. Her son had had rheumatic fever and they had gone to the pediatric cardiologist for the yearly visit. Her son had a damaged heart valve that was getting worse. He was somewhere between 9 and 12.

“The heart doctor says he needs surgery. He needs the valve replaced. But the heart doctor said he could die in surgery.” she said.

I read the notes and the heart ultrasound. “The heart valve is leaking more and more. If he doesn’t have the surgery it will damage his heart. He will be able to do less and less and then he will die. If he has the surgery, there is a small chance that he will die. But if he doesn’t, he will be able to grow and to run and to be active.”

She said, “I am so afraid.” But she returned to the pediatric cardiologist. And he got through the valve replacement surgery and did fine.

That is courage to me. The parents who take chances for their children: get into boats to escape war. Search for treatments. Fight for their home, their children, their loved ones. It is both men and women, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and people who have no blood relation to a child that they reach out to help. Adoption, volunteering in schools, supporting a student, supporting an organization that helps children grow and thrive.

For the A to Z challenge….and last year.

 

 

 

 

Heart call

I am lying in bed and missing my heart.

I prayed to the Beloved to fall in love and I do. I happen to be terribly sick because the Beloved is teaching me to take time off and not just work harder and longer to avoid grieving. This is the second lesson. Or the fifth, depending on how I count it. The previous one was two months, this will be ten.

But early on, before I realize that death is standing in my doorway, I am at a picnic. A sports picnic with parents and teens and some younger children. I see a man who has been flirting with me be nice to a tween girl. My heart falls out of my chest and attaches itself to him. It follows him home.

He is quite spectacularly wrong for me. I know it but my heart doesn’t care. And he is a liar, manipulator and a slut. Familiar ground, just like my family. I go to his place and try to catch my heart, but it is stubborn and skitters away from me. It is covered with sawdust, cat hair and motor oil. Also rabbit fur. He raises bunnies for meat and kills them. I cuddle the babies and then he does too.

My heart is brutally stubborn. I tell it it is stupid, it will get hurt, he doesn’t want it, all the usual stuff. I think the Beloved is laughing at me. By January I revise my prayers. Ok, Beloved, you win AGAIN, I am STUPID, now I want NOT ONLY to fall in love but to fall in love with someone who loves me back. I am so stupid I can’t believe it.

The Beloved ignores me, since my heart is already gone. Damn it.

The man tells me a dream. He dreams that his son is stuffed inside a giant teddy bear to keep him safe. He is fighting a war alone, being shot at and shooting a multitude of enemies. He tells me that his son is trained. If he needs to come out of the bear, he will be angry and he is trained to kill. Another dream is of zombies coming up from the shop and attacking the door. He and a teen or two are trying to hold them off.

There are no women in his dreams. At least the ones he tells me.

Uh, Beloved? Shit. I dream of angels, as many angels as there are stars. I meet with my minister to challenge his ideas. “The people in dreams are aspects of ourselves, ok, but not angels right? I can’t have that many angels. I was raised atheist, damn it.”

“The angels are aspects of yourself.”

And zombies…well, we’re well matched on a psychic level, right? I have enough angels to handle any number of zombies and more.

I connect with his small child self, because our small child selves are so alike. Abandoned at the same age and afraid and with desperate courage.

His pattern is obvious from the start. Mapped out like a constellation. I tell my heart, but it scurries up ladders, into boats, down the metal stands, under cars. It plays among the tools. I tell it to be careful of the saws and tools and it ignores me.

He lies and ignores emails and lies again and avoids me when he’s done something that will hurt me and like, obvious, duh. I get angry, but my angels map a new path to his small child each time. Boundary after boundary after boundary.

And now I am in contact only by text. Only by distant virtual message. He is showing up again, of course, because that’s the pattern. He has tried so hard to make me angry and make me abandon him in rage. I don’t really care. He fixes the leak on my boat that I asked him about over a year ago. He texts about installing the bilge pump. He offers to bag up the cushions and put them in his loft.

No, I reply. I have room in my house.

The only things left at his shop are a broken outboard, pipe clamps that I inherited from my father and my heart. I will go to get them.

I lie in bed, thinking of getting the motor and clamps. I think of asking for my heart too. But he has never noticed that he had it. I didn’t tell him. It was obvious. And he didn’t want it. So why would I tell him now?

And then I think, I can just call my heart. I don’t need to go in person.

I call my heart. Come home, I say. He never noticed you. You could stay, but we have done everything we can. He is still fighting the zombies, he doesn’t know he is fighting himself. He is fighting his own feelings. Come home.

My heart comes home.

It is in my chest. Filthy, sawdust, bruised, motor oil, banged up, with old tears that I mended with ribbon and dental floss and sewing thread and artificial cat gut.

Welcome home, my heart. Welcome home.

This is for the Music Prompt #63: Daniel Powter Bad Day. I took the photograph on the train from Chicago, in the evening in a storm. Prayers for those hit by the hurricane and other disasters.

Harden

harden my broken heart, please, Beloved
not against you I am openopenopen evermore
I have no enemies nor none to hate
openopenopen transparent like glass they step
on my heart glass it shatters again ow shards
pierce through me all over it takes time for each
clear piece to work its way to the surface I need a
harder heart then glass how do the bodhisattvas do it I
don’t know, oh, Beloved, yet I want to remain
openopenopen even if glass is the only heart I have
I pull the shard from my bleeding chest and back and
this is not a job for sewing or ribbon or lace my
friend gave me tape with a spine printed on it I tape
my heart with boneshards it doesn’t matter anyhow no matter
how I wail and tear my clothes it is all longing

for you, Beloved

my photo from the 2012 US Synchronized Swimming Nationals

remember, the lifts are entirely swimming: no one touches bottom

submitting to Ronavon’s beWOW

Open

O for open: open water and open heart, for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

I kept thinking O for ocean, but the photos that I want to use are not of the ocean but of a lake. My daughter and I were there in 2012. She was a synchronized swimmer for seven years and then joined swim team in eighth grade. We went to the lake and she practiced distance swimming. She is used to a 1950s 20 yard pool. She started at the lake by swimming to a little island we call Kidnap Island. I canoed while she swam, and my cousin’s daughter came along on the first trip. They left the lake soon after that. My daughter swam farther and farther every day, with me in a canoe to ensure that no power boat would run her over.

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We were on our way to the parking lot one day, when a power boat slowed. “Long way out, aren’t you? All alone?” said one of the men. I was in a small one person canoe that only weighs 18 pounds and is really tippy. I wouldn’t take it out in any sort of nasty weather.

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“No, I am with my daughter.” I pointed to the water.

“She’s swimming? Where did you start?” he said.

I pointed back to our cabin. Far enough that he couldn’t see it.

“Really? She swam that far?” He and his friend watched my daughter power along.

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“Yes. Swim team.”

“Is she swimming to the parking lot?” The cars were still really distant.

“Yes and probably back, too.”

“Wow. I thought it was a long way for a canoe!”  They drove on, shaking their heads.

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Open water and open heart. It takes practice to swim that far. I swim about two days a week, about a mile in the pool. My daughter shakes her head: the swim team swims three to five miles at each practice, and she swims six days a week in the season. She considers me a wuss. I consider her a calorie burning machine.

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It takes practice to keep an open heart. That is what I need in my rural family medicine clinic. An open heart allows space and expansion and time for people to open up. To say things that are bothering them or frightening them or grieving them. I am back at work now for two weeks, but by the end of the day yesterday, I was tired, tired, tired, as if I had swum across that lake. I need to rest sometimes…..

Move

M is for Move in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Move

Blessings on you

Take care of my heart

I know I’ve left it with someone kind

You don’t have to do anything with it

No giri

No obligation

You can set it anywhere

In a corner where it gets dusty

And covered with sawdust

Under the couch

In the woods

The kids can play catch with it

I don’t care

I am armored up

I am ready

I am ready to move

In the direction that I have chosen

Stand aside, please

I don’t want anyone to be hurt

Power up, armour, sheilds

I pick my sword back up

Obeisance to the Beloved

I move

38314-m