The same woman

My daughter & me
When I am 91
Waking up in my bed on wide white sheets
Vanishing into the open question
At the end of my life
I am still a young woman

No baby suckles my breasts
Anymore
No tiny hand in mine
Brings me to the window
To hear the birds

Yet I am the same woman
Who wrote this poem
Long ago
From the foundering depths of
New motherhood

I am also the baby girl
At the beginning of my life
Held by my mother
To her breast
Giving me her milk

Yearning
For the work of her career
From the depths of motherhood to be
Doing important things
Her real life

This I absorbed this into my cells
Keeping me
For a long time
From the things I loved
Especially myself

As I nursed my baby this morning
On the wide white sheets
I prayed
For love to guide me

Thanking God for the grace
To leave aside my work
For a while
For the important things
My real life

Even as she sings the alphabet
In the next room
And stammers along the floor
To find me

My baby is the grown woman
Who will bring to me at 91
Her motherhood, her children
Her children's children
And I will remember myself

Scandal

It is an act of self contempt
That I pull white hairs from my head

Leaning into the mirror
Scanning for the inaccuracies
In what I wish to be
My youthful appearance

This is not just a denial of the truth of my age
But a metaphor for my existence

These unruly sprouts
Arrived at this late hour to
Express the essential inobedience
That has defined me all my life

Is it any wonder
The child who learned to pluck from me
What was weird
When weirdness was wrongness

Has come to be
The Grim Reaper?
Culling
One by one
The zany kinks
In brilliant white
Who boldly stand apart from my crown
Immodest in their announcement   

There is a slaughter going on
Though fruitless against
The merry revenge of
The Hydra of age, as
Three more sprout
For each brilliant spring that is lovelessly snatched

When will I grow up
To love
The ageless rebellion in me
That wills itself
To live
Against all odds?

The Choice

Image taken from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317555.php
There is only one answer 
I want to hear
When I ask each day
To myself
Can I drink ever again?

Part of me believes
I have a choice
Can you believe
That I can't believe
"I'm an alcoholic"

I know
Wine is my drug
I must remember
It is the great lie that
Addiction comes looking the way I think

Not what you've read
Drunk, poor luck, addict, abuser
Not you and definitely not me
We are quiet drinkers
The fun never stops

Yes I am one of the secret collection
Built this way
Having the same glass of wine again and again
Who in the mirror
Cannot meet my own eye

I have this image in my head
Of a future scene
That didn’t happen
It is my daughter

My age now and I am much older
She sees me
At dinner
Not drinking

As she always has
Nothing different
Nothing remarkable
But what she does not know is

There is another reality
A different future
That never happened
But was once inevitable

In which she sees me at dinner
Enjoying wine
As I always have
Nothing remarkable, nothing different

Except this time, she wonders if I 
Have a problem
This sucking question 
Will possess her every drink at her own dinner table:
Will my daughter inherit this from me?

It will be her choice
Just as it is mine
Beginning today
As it always does
And always will

My daughter will lack this question
Free from the parasite that didn't take
Seeing herself as she is
Looking herself in the eye
Never knowing another way

God Washes Away the Devil


I used to I used to 
I used to know
Who I am
Chaos
(Turn)

Doesn't the devil do his work?
Under disguise
Pain is dependence

(Turn)
Listen 
Go In
In in in, friend
Down down down
Light call it 

Relax soft
In call in the light 
Down down down
Let it fill tendency
Pain is the opening
Tenderness
Of God

You are right 
This is who you are
Remember
God washes away the devil

Arizona

How different we are 
If different is the word 
For your dirty feet 
Nestled sweetly together 
Two tired pigeons
The sun bakes the heat into the pavement like a griddle
Searing any skin it touches
Not fit for a human 
To walk here

Under this overpass
By the concrete park 
You are grey dust 
Grey shirt grey mess hair
In a haze of busy avenue shadows

If it's the great eternal sleep you seek
No one knows when it will come

My baby and I
Unnoticed in our walk's chirping and song 
Toward the bright books of the library
        Where the AC’s on
        Where babies babble and play
        With puppets and toys

You’re asleep 
I hope not dead 

Has no one has looked you in the eye 
To tell you the green trees 
Against the blazing sky?
Have you seen the purple sunset?

Perhaps there is a place in the city 
To walk
Where you can hug the shadows 
As the sun dips

All day
The desert cooks the colors
Lifting from the traffic and cactus 
Bruised light into the sky

A watercolor of grey-purple grey-pink
You wouldn't think such moist life would survive this heat

You just have to look up
To know you're alive
Did you know
That’s what we’re famous for?

	

Compassion doesn’t make appointments

Why did I cry during the teleconference?
I opened my mouth and
Knew
The tears would come

As you spoke about the death of your father
I see myself on the screen in
What listening looks like:
Shiny desperation mixed with refusal

I have a primordial itch
The deep "next"
Reaching out and away from myself
To anything else

This is not suffering

"It's good, basically good. That's my life: the simple things"
The waves of pain wash you
As you tread gracefully
Accepting the world as it is

On my turn to talk
Having been touched
I can feel myself again
Your pain is all pain

My heart, speaking for me, is
Red-faced and her voice wobbly with emotion
I am a contortion of grace
That will not be silenced

Remembering to return to
The bed of fear
(Free-falling as it does)
I do not hold on

This is surrender

Under the Black Moon

I.
Mercury / black moon
Breathe

Little cat gripping the walls of the tub
Start over and trust that I can

II.
I wasn't old enough to even buy
cigarettes
Sought out trouble
The black sickness

Crouched over the hypnotic whirr of the ceramic wheel
My hands lost
in the curative water of clay slip
The clay demands perfect balance
or else warps off center

I allow perfection to emerge
from me
Until the darkness leaves once and for all

Welcome I and II

“Rose Cottage” by Helen Allingham
I.

Three crows greet me this morning
Hopping in place on the fence
Strange friends
Crowd around

They stay close
Eyes stop as I pass
And meet the winking black gaze
Of the closest

A fourth alights
On a far wall: the witness
Then a fifth
Late to the murder

What had they been waiting for?

Is it me?
II.
If I must quit something
Quit what separates
Feeds the gnawing doubt
Casts a darkness in the center

Quitting drinking
Is the path of renunciation
Admitting I have lived but half my life
Only part of each moment

I lose the old familiar questions
To the admission of my inheritance
The cycle of hiding
Ends with me

Gaining my wholeness
That needs no assurance
The seeker finds she is
Already home

The Vulnerability of Birds

Image result for feather
I. 
Feathers follow me where I go
And show me the way
A confirmation from the other side of the veil
I’m on the right track

Wine is a thief
Who steals from me moments
Yes of my life but more importantly
From yours

Today on our walk
My first day after giving up wine
We saw so many feathers on the ground
II.
It’s time to quit
When my day looks forward to
The serum of anti-presence
I wonder for hours whether I will
Pour the glass

Even knowing your tiny eyes
Will watch
And learn from me the lie
That there's someplace better to be

A bird's nature is gentle
It does not wish for another moment
It will fly, build its nest, feed its young
Thinking of nothing else

Even an animal who would ravish it into oblivion
Rending the bird wing from wing
Cannot take its grace
As you can plainly see
In the forgiveness heaving from its tiny bosom
Each wisp of breath
Threatening
Mercifully
To be its last

There is something heavenly
In the way it lays
Surrounded by shredded plumage
A scattering of its life
Not clinging
Nor afraid
In surrender
III.
In your deep way that babies have
Of not just looking
But seeing
Softly lacking the ability to assess the meaning of it all
Not wondering about the mess of feathers
You simply inhale the world
As it is
Like a flower or your mama’s smile

Wiser than I
To the present
You teach me about the birds and
Suddenly
There's nowhere else to go

IV.
You don’t yet know that
These feathers are little omens
To me from the ancestors
Who, in their wisdom,
Alternately heal and warn
Drawing them to me
And me to you

Would it be too much to tell you
That you are my reason?
Swirling the air with your hand as you dance
Your silhouette hesitating akimbo in the doorframe
as you devour the landscape

I am your ancestor
Let my life be pure
Protecting your wholeness

We can spend the evenings on the swing
Drinking in the air & the sunset
Looking for the crow who calls us
From the top of the swaying pine
Whom we answer