separation

This is one of the most beautiful and saddest photographs I have taken. It is my sister, about a month before she died of cancer. And her daughter, who was 13.

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On the last visit to my sister, she was in kidney failure, dying. We had conversations that were surreal. All I wanted was to stay with her.

One day a friend of hers, another mother and I, were working to make her more comfortable.

“I am sad!” my sister said, and started crying.

“Why are you sad?” I said, “What are you sad about?”

“I won’t be there! I won’t be there when she graduates from high school! I won’t be there for her first date! I won’t be there when she gets married! I don’t want to die!”

By now we are all crying. “You will be there!” I say. I am certain. “You won’t be in this form. You will be in another form!”

“I will?” my sister said, crying.

“Yes.” I said, crying too. “You have to go. You have to transform. You can’t stay. But you will be there for her.”

We cried and held her.

And I know for certain that she is there, she is here, she is with her daughter as her daughter graduates from high school, goes on a date, does all the things that daughters do.

Now and forever.

And the living children must be returned to the living parents. We cannot do otherwise and call ourselves humans.

 

protection

This is Ruth Merenda, one of the many brilliant faculty, from a Centrum Voiceworks class this week.

Ruthie was at Voiceworks with her husband Mike and two children. I got to trade jokes with their son William at lunch one day. I am listening to their newest album as I write this, Sunshiner. It’s good that only really hear the faculty near the end of the week, because we would be WAY too intimidated if they did the concerts at the start! William has an album too, Piano Nerd, that I have not tracked down yet. He was seven when he made it.

I took the first class of the week with Michael, his Song Doctor class. We each brought a song with problems to the class and sang it to the class. I did that class first because it was hands down no holds barred the scariest, so I thought best to get it over with. I sang Tree Boat a capella. The feedback I got makes me very happy, but the assignment is hard: now I have to learn guitar. Or mandolin. Or something. Accompaniment. Also it’s not my song alone: I wrote the poem but not the melody.

I took two classes with Ruthie. One was on music theory and chords. The other was a performance feedback class.

I had a rather surreal moment in that class. Ruthie has us close our eyes and visualize a protective sphere of energy around us. Now, I’ve been writing about trying to lose my armor suit. So WHAT am I to do with a protective sphere of energy? I thought of my story Good Girl and that gave me my answer. My protective sphere moved outwards, the entire universe. I visualize that protection as holding everyone in the room, gently, lovingly. My protective sphere is my connection to the Beloved and the Beloved’s entire universe and anything beyond that. And then I could do the visualization.

Blessings on Mike and Ruth and their children and on all of the teachers at Voiceworks. The week brought me tears of joy over and over and over: and tears of grief and tears of hope.

 

 

prayers for children

This is my daughter, five years ago, at Lake Matinenda in Ontario. I cried when I read about the baby thrown from the London fire.

Prayers for the children in the London fire and their parents and grandparents. Prayers for the refugee’s children, that they are not lost and drowned. Prayers for the Congresspeople shot yesterday and their families and friends.

Prayers for all the children in the world.

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.

mermaid

This poem is related to yesterday’s post about learning to keep my temper. I wrote it in April 2012.

mermaid

when I was born, they took my skin

i had no skin
i was frightened
i wept

a witch came
she studied me
i turned my head from the spoon

“Good,” she said, “You may refuse it if you want.”

She gave me the gift of anger

it was the only defense I had

but over the years
I studied and thought
and I found my tears
and I found my fears

i made my skin of tears
this took me many years
one tear for each hair

at last it is done
my skin
is complete

i smile at the sky
as i don it

i slip into the water
and i am gone