Conversations with a Human Heart.

Tag: this is how we grow.

bury me with the lilacs.

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I had an angel wing surgically removed last week, the burden of one thousand lifetimes extracted with it. feathers plucked, one by one hundred, two by two thousand, three by angry fistful—blood, flesh, and soft memory encrusted.

it rests between a lilac bush and the house of my former self—where insects and swallows make use of the remains.

unceremoniously I watch these little pieces of me vanish to an existence of usefulness I could never afford them. the vestiges of a former life built into new things, pretty things, the composted soul, renewed.
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bottle of red.

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the neighborhood shifts with a man, tested, as his partner wades her way through moments of celestial bargaining—the should-haves stacking higher than a breathing malbec, higher than a set of strong shoulders, higher than the lofty ideas being sent to mother moon.

tonight she witnessed the rough edges of just-one-of-those-days pierce the tender flesh of lovers’ hearts—a thunderclap of the universe’s most spine-strengthening temperatures.

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the preacher man.

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on a Tuesday I woke to a preacher preaching.

he dipped figure eights inches from a hazel gaze—spreading the good word of salvation.

I felt myself transform that morning—the womb keeper of sacred secret things. and I carried his gospel through weeks of quiet ritual, days upon days of bible thumping. and the truth, it would set me free.

I saw signs like diamonds break through the grey shades of my deepest fears. I listened as blessed truths sweetened the breath of the daily hum.

but on a Sunday the crimson came; wiping clean the pages of well-intentioned prayers. the preacher man is dead, and the good word’s gone with him.

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mercury, you saucy bastard.

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mercury and I are friends again. we’ve buried another bloodied hatchet, rank with the death of yesterday’s order. encrusted with the spoils of another silent war. times will arise when we must bow to the might of otherworldly tempers, to the foxing of forces insistent on out-foxing.
it all happened so fast, the dissolving, bending, breaking me—try to keep up, child, you know I cannot wait.
so I took my licks like I take my coffee, unadulterated and strong. I folded to a wiser man, the street smart king of wicked games. white flag, you saucy bastard.
the cleverest move I had up these too-stretched sleeves was inward, to a place of wait. home base. safety. fled. we’re not weak in these moments, as cutting loses can free hearts of buried bruises; and time away from a battle field can restore shards of hope—to be reinserted in the privacy of home. stay low, sweet warrior.
because after the reconnaissance I emerged the humbled one, and my foe took note and put down his sword. the hard work of wisdom-bestowing finally done.
artwork: street art news

—this post was grown on the gram

the mothership is coming.

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this earth is a tricky place to call home, and it isn’t unusual for me to feel like I’m being called from faraway places, some parallel universe where hurting doesn’t hurt so much and the fear doesn’t shut this heart down.

there’s a version of me out there, somewhere, that calls across galaxies to say, “settle, child. it isn’t all that hard. you have me inside, somewhere. just keep listening and I can guide you home.”

because I have some inside information, you see: the mothership is coming. but not to carry me away. no. not like you’d expect.

I’ll stand in a quiet field at twilight—when the sun clocks out and the moon clocks in and there’s a moment when the earth forgets what colors go where—and I’ll wait to feel the shift in the trees. and there she’ll hover, out of thin air. and my heart will race and thoughts like what-the-hell-is-going-to-come-next will spin wildly, entangling themselves in my hair.

but i’ll steady my stance and grip the grass with my toes and wait for it to hit me.

and it will—WHAM—hit me. a tunnel of light so fierce and so powerful.

I’ll search for things to write down when it’s all over, for words (the right ones) to describe this light, but all I can come up with is, “it’s so fucking BRIGHT.” my arms will lift outward until I’m a human letter “T” and I’ll think for a moment that maybe (maybe) I’m a savior too—maybe a girl with freckles and really loud laugh is going to set the world free.

but as I wait for liftoff, I’ll feel my feet maintain inexplicable contact with the ground. and then, the me that’s out there, the one who whispers kind words when I need them most, will speak out, “she’s not here for you, child. but for the heavy things. it’s time to set them free.”

and so in preparation, I’ve been working on letting go.

because life can seem so heavy if you let it; the weight of the everythings you endure, building and building and building. we let these things take over from deep inside, these things that are here to teach us—maybe about courage, maybe about truth, and maybe (definitely) about love.

coffee moments.

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early morning coffee-drinking porch moments:

of all the things I’ll miss when our little family leaves this tiny, happy home, the long stretch of porch with its chipping grey paint and mismatched chairs will be what I miss most.

long ago it was here that a man first told me he loved me; it’s been the stage for late-night heart sessions, where life’s problems were ironed out with the hot, smooth edges of conversation; it’s been our refuge from the monotony of television or computers—though on occasion, it’s been a mobile office, too.

this porch used to collect the fatigued ash of cigarettes, but now, water guns and empty coffee cups.

I’ve witnessed a certain kind of evolution here on this beaten porch, how our family has blossomed; how my relationship has overcome so much—how we’ve loved and admired and challenged and supported each other, and oh, how we’ve laughed.

but of all the change this space has seen and nurtured, it has been me that’s transformed most of all. to a woman who howls fiercely to the moon, who sits in honest peace with the morning songbirds, who grows stronger and braver every single day, whose heart has guided her to her moment of truth, in which she proclaims to the open air: let the empire building begin.

 

—this post was grown on the gram

She Came From the Stars: A Story for a Perfect Baby Girl

vintage pram

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a soon-to-be momma and papa bear prepared for the arrival of their perfect little girl.

Baby would be perfect, they knew in their hearts, because she was made with such love and the most-tender care. She was pulled from the stars and grown from the earth. She was infused with the delicacy of the wind and would shine, like the rising sun.

Baby had a room in their house and a room in their hearts. She devoured their thoughts and wishes and hopes and intentions. She made them smile and plan and laugh and think—all before she was welcomed into this world.

She had a family waiting, too—a great big family with grandparents and uncles and aunts—who couldn’t wait to hold her tiny hands and coo at her tiny face. She would stir ancient feelings in the hearts of the women. The men would soften and smile and remember how lovely life could be.

And cousins! So many little cousins who waited patiently for their new friend to arrive. They waited so they could tell her about all the wonderful things in the world: how happy and perfect this family could be, how much love was passed from person to person, an endless circle of bleeding hearts that pump the same precious blood.

She will know celebrations, how exciting and overwhelming they’ll be. She’ll feel joy and eagerness. And all the things in the world will be new to her darling eyes, everything will sparkle as brightly as the stars she came from.

And so, they waited.

One night, not so long ago, Baby slipped into her parents arms under the cover of night. As she took her first breaths, she stole theirs away. She had the twinkling eyes they’d seen in their dreams. She had perfect little hands that wrapped so easily around Papa’s great finger. She took up the perfect amount of space on Momma’s chest, where she felt safety and love for the first time in this vast, new world. And they trembled and laughed and cried because she was finally here, where they hoped she’d be for all these months.

And soon, not so long after she arrived, the doctors and nurses whisked her away. They checked fingers and toes and her little heart beats. They used their magic to check invisible things, too.

When they talked to Baby’s momma and papa next, they brought heavy words that took their breath again; but not they same way their princess had, this was a heaviness rank with fear. And their hearts fractured for their sweet child, because this wasn’t the life they had promised her, this wasn’t the plan they had set forth.

The foundation had shifted beneath them and they cried new tears of pain.

And the news of their heartache traveled to family, near and far. And their hearts ached, too. But the ache turned to love and reassurance and courage and hope. And they sent these feelings straight from their centers, over the miles, into the hearts of these hurting parents with a message for Baby:

Dear Baby, 

You are magnificent and perfect and everything we could have hoped for; there is a great big family waiting for you in this great big world. And you will know us and we will know you.

We will listen to the doctors and learn about how special you are and we will watch in awe as you grow and thrive. Because you don’t know this yet, but you are destined for things, incredible things, that we can’t even fathom.

You are destined to transform the hearts of your parents; you will worry them and make them laugh and make them feel more deeply than they knew they were capable of feeling. You will make warmth surge through their bodies as they watch you smile. You will babble and drool and it will be the most beautiful music they have ever heard in all their days on this planet. 

Life will be strange. Life will seem unfair at times—you didn’t ask for hardship, you didn’t ask for ‘different’ or limitations. But I promise you, Baby, there will be great wisdom in you, too—all because of your special brand of ‘different.’ You will meet other people in your little life—some who share the same precious blood—who know similar hardships; and they will reassure you again and again that you are perfect just the way you are. 

Do not fear the challenges, Baby, because life will be full of magic, too. In the midst of your challenges you will find beauty and wonder waiting for you in every corner. You just have to be brave and curious and daring enough to look. You will discover the magnificence of your inner strength. You will detect the power behind your sweet voice. You will unearth words—perfect words—that will express the deepest secrets of your heart.

You will learn of love—and there is nothing more magical than that. 

And so, Dear Baby, welcome to this enchanting, spinning world. Welcome to this great big family. Welcome to your parent’s hearts. Welcome home, baby. We love you and we are so glad you’ve come. 

 —

 [photo: via somewhere, including here]

Conversations with a Human Heart.

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The piece to follow originally appeared on elephantjournal.com. You can visit it at its first home here

“Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” — Poe

In my weakest moments, when I succumb to her worry, I am sure I will die of a broken heart; not of unrequited love, but because my heart breaks slowly for herself.

Last night, the familiar sensation inched down my sternum and burrowed itself inside my lungs. The delicate intercostals did their best, but were permeated with ache—the sting that moves so gracefully through this tender cage and nestles into these porous lungs.

If it wasn’t awful, it would all be quite beautiful: the way the pressure bleeds down tired limbs, the way the tightness weaves slowly, symmetrically, toward a constricted center. A sinister ballet, choreographed to the timid beats of my center.

She bellows out, my heart. She pleads, not tonight. Not again, not tonight. She quickens in anticipation. She knows the pain creeps on—determined, resentful and proud.

The lungs, they’ll make way over time. They’re delicate and shy and don’t care for confrontation. They need to be nurtured. They need space—so much space and light and air and all of the beautiful things that I imagine as absent in this thoracic cavity.

And the thought pirouettes through waking consciousness: My heart chakra is a vacuum.

So the pain, it moves inward. It moves now from those obedient intercostals to the delicate lungs and it moves slowly, with grace, to wrap itself around a courageous heart. She’s brave. Belligerent. And terrified. Stuck somewhere between desperation and admiration, I use up each ‘wish upon a star, blow out the candles’ kind of moment for nights that aren’t tarnished with frustration.

When the pressure finally encapsulates this living drum, she still cries out, but her tone has changed somehow. Ringing truer than her words is her pitch—the quality shifted, turned untrustworthy; and I mourn another loss.

I hate her at times for what she’s done to me, for what she’s made of me—subservient, dependent, changeable; just as she quietly hates a piece of me for having this disease. It’s tiny, a mere sliver, caught in the side of her left foot. She doesn’t notice it most days; but then, it gets aggravated and she wonders how she’ll ever get along with it—how can she possibly endure?

I’ve witnessed similar slivers of harmony with her; but much of our time is spent arguing over the constitution of joy. The moments of continuity—though rarer than we’d like—remind us of our vintage selves. We celebrate when these shadows arrive. We dance together—strangers unaware, but for the radiating joy that can be glimpsed through hazel eyes.

She beats, though inconsistent in pace, even when this body of ours defies our unified wishes. It is in those allied moments that I know the meaning of pride. Though her tempo may waiver, she’s not yet concerned with keeping up with the world; for now, she settles for more reasonable markers of success: a morning without sadness or an evening without fear. The forever-goal. The exception.

With these fickle, waking hours, her beats quicken and slow as the messages that move between us expand and recoil like breaths. The conversation is not always clear, it rarely comes easily. But even when we quarrel, each evening she waits. And when the sleep finally comes, she unfolds in hopes that dreams will dissolve the memory of our pain.

I see it clearly on undisturbed nights, the image of perfection I’ve craved for so long. Not the teenaged-version of starved beauty, but the heart-longing. The song she taught me so long ago: freedom.

But it escapes me now, I can only sense the edge of that melody. Residual energy. The psychic imprint.

human-heart(2)The first sound—the ‘lub’—is made by the mitral and tricuspid valves closing at the beginning of systole (SIS-toe-lee). Systole is when the ventricles contract, or squeeze, and pump blood out of the heart.

The second sound—the ‘DUB’—is made by the aortic and pulmonary valves closing at the beginning of diastole (di-AS-toe-lee). Diastole is when the ventricles relax and fill with blood pumped into them by the atria.”

But none of that makes sense to her or me or anyone anymore. Her song is not the same.

Her lub used to comfort and ground when the strain of being was too much to bear. Her DUB used to free, melt through the darkness to let the light pour in.

On the good days, her irregularities aren’t a flaw or symptom. They’re tracks—changing rhythm, key, cadence—somehow unified. All undeniably hers, her beautiful productions, but she longs for that final song—the one to which I used to feel connected; the one he can hear because it spoke to his heart too.

Other days she betrays the words that are delivered by this tongue: I’m fine. It isn’t so bad tonight. And I can feel her shrug, disgusted. In retaliation, she weeps and she struggles and she pulls me down below the depths of what is comfortable, tolerable, safe.

She demands her audience. She screams a song, distorted. Like something feral, she lashes out and I’m left to define and redefine my commitment to her. Remember why all of this work matters, I say to the space I’ve found myself in.

Today I try to care for her, as I try to care for me.

Loving this heart means speaking to her, even when I’m unsure she hears my voice.

Knowing this heart means trusting. Believing that in her deepest fibers, she still sings a song and the song is just for me.

And then it becomes quiet. The message she sends with every beat arrives:

You must listen, actively listen. You have to sit still and listen. Be patient. We must heal in a way that is raw and full of discomfort; but it can be beautiful too, if we let it. We must accept the agony of growth with the ecstasy of being. Remember what it means to listen, and to speak my truth—because I know fear like you know fear. Even in pain, harmony can exist.

There are lessons deep inside her chambers. The heart has four, but they don’t know that; they are unaware of an identity independent of the whole. I imagine them as drifting voices. A vignette of song and pulse.

We must recognize what makes us independent, then cast it away to allow for magic. We are music makers when we surrender to the rhythm that drums steadily inside of us. It’s there. We need only listen and trust.

When I give myself over, she sings a new song. Her new song is gentle, yet imploring. She sings of honor and trust and faith. She sings of honesty, of reckless truth.

There is irony in clinging so fiercely to a freedom. Imprisoned by the notion of what was, what should be.

Let go, she whispers.

Freedom doesn’t mean traveling anymore. It doesn’t mean skipping between concerts or breaking up with lovers. Freedom means knowing that a physical affliction does not have to destroy a spiritual bond. Freedom means seeing her and I as chambers of the same beating drum.

Some mornings  I wake up and realize the pain is just physical. She isn’t distressed, isn’t confused. And on these mornings, I whisper to the DUB, thank you—not so loud as to startle her, just loud enough. So if she is softly resting, the words might find their way into her memory of me. On those mornings, I let words spill from my center, words she sends to the open air up above—words like these—to remind me that she longs to restore this marriage too. In those beautiful moments, she can sit with it, composed and firm, as it inches toward her sacred space.

And so, this heart has been on my mind a great deal lately: her physical function, her spiritual implications, how she grows and heals.

My heart has hurt a little; pulled between what my spirit wants and what my body is willing to give, she struggles.

This helps.

These words.

This intention.

Acknowledging the gap that I (we) want to mend.

This helps—always (always).