Bedtime

Poetry

She smells of coconut, lavender, mint.
She smells of sweet warmth –
I burrow in it, inhaling deeply.
Curls, flesh, contentment.
Her eyes are mirrors that reflect back to me,
Sparkling with love and joy.
Her little arm hooks around my neck;
We hold each other close,
Cupped,
Connected.
Faint sprays of freckles like constellations
Adorning her smooth skin
So close to mine,
So close to me.
Rosebud kisses,
Again and again,
Each one a mark, a memory,
An imprint.
Whispers, giggles, secrets, dreams.
She takes my hand gently,
Fans out the fingers,
Solemnly kisses my palm –
Smiling, she places it on my heart
So her love is always with me,
In me.

Learning To Love Again

Memoir, Photography

After losing my beloved Odin to kidney failure a few years ago, I thought I would never be able to have another cat again. The story of that love and that loss is best shared another time, when I’m ready to sit with the grief and let all the memories and emotions wash over me and form the proper words.

Today is a different story; a new beginning.

The absence of animal energy in my home was rivaling the aching in my heart in the void left behind when Odin died. Something stirred inside of me, and I knew it was time – I was ready to love again.

Last week I went to the shelter at our local Humane Society. There I met a small and slender Russian Blue with whom I felt an instant connection. This is what I wrote to capture the sensations and impressions from our interaction:

Curious and cautious.
Inquisitive.
Comfortable enough to be
Vulnerable.
Large liquid eyes
Taking me all in.
Curves and contours.
Smoky gray,
Downy soft.
Stretching in permission and pleasure
As I stroked and scratched
Jaw, chin, head, back, belly.
Quiet and calm.
Trusting.
Soon we will belong to each other.

I called my partner, told him that I think this was it; that it felt right, and sent him this picture from the meeting room:

Go for it, he told me. Do it. So I did. I chose love. I chose LETO.

(Originally named Leo by the shelter, but I added the “t” in honor of the God Emperor of Dune.)

After the processing and paperwork, I discovered that Leto was born on my partner’s birthday this year… and that sealed it for me. We were meant to be.

I brought him home and surprised my daughter with this unexpected addition to our family. She was overjoyed, my partner was delighted, and I could feel myself thawing; slowly opening up to this new relationship.

Leto is a darling little boy – pouncey, playful, cuddly, curious, squeaky, sweet, lazy, loving – a quintessential kitten.

I’m making an effort to focus on what makes Leto unique, and not just comparing him to Odin. Although the other day when he started biting my book, leaving tiny toothmarks on the page, I couldn’t help but fondly recall the similar ways that Odin would demand my attention.

I used to worry that I would somehow be dishonoring Odin’s legacy and the love we shared if I adopted another cat. He was prideful and possessive, so I feared that moving on would be an affront to his spirit. I also worry that creating new memories would make the old ones fade and dissolve, like I’d be losing Odin in another way, until all that remains are photographs but without substance to their story.

But I don’t want to live in fear anymore. I don’t want to be a prisoner to my grief. I want to love again, to be loved again, even though I know that to love is to lose; that pain is inextricably woven in the tapestry of connection, braided with joy and gratitude.

So here I am, once again sharing my heart and home with a miraculous creature who brings wonder, delight, humor, affection, and inspiration to my life.

I’m learning to love again.

Remember

Memoir

I write in a private notebook constantly.

It’s cathartic, therapeutic, and creative.

Often my journaling will take the form of addressing myself directly, and this includes reminders to help strengthen and guide me in challenging times.

Here is one of those entries, which I believe can apply to all of us…


Remember to be clear and honest with your intentions, expectations, and actions.

Remember to zoom out and look at the whole picture with clarity of focus and honesty.

Remember that you can trust your intuition about what matters and what should not be dramatized, fretted over, or inflated with inaccurate importance.

Remember that integrity is doing the right thing even if no one is watching.

Remember how you do not want to feel, and that means not choosing the options / actions that result in these unwanted feelings.

Remember that you know your triggers and can use that awareness to control yourself.

Remember that you always have a choice.

Remember that you have the power to be a person that you look up to.

Remember to practice the qualities that you admire and appreciate in others.

Remember to keep it simple by choosing kindness and good orderly direction.

Remember that you are enough, right-now-as-you-are.

Remember that you are worthy of love.

See

Poetry

Look at me.
Do you see pain, fresh and unreckoned?
And scars like veins running deep?
Do you see all the strain from the weight of
Bearing so much love and fear?
Entwined so they are in moments where
The threat of loss stabs cold and cruel,
The only salve: the sweet mercy of gratitude.
Do you see an undercurrent of wisdom
And a sparkling in the warmth?
Do you see the haunts of shadows
That sometimes cloud dark eyes?
Do you see the light that outshines them?
Love made manifest through courage and truth.
Do you see strength?
Do you see purpose?
Do you see flaws and countless failures?
Do you see humility
And a process ever-evolving?
Do you see me?

Tired

Memoir

I’m tired.

Tired of the words COVID, pandemic, virus, wear a mask, wash your hands, sanitize, quarantine, lockdown, social distancing.

Tired of saying “I don’t know” to my daughter everytime she asks when this will be over.

Tired of hearing my daughter say “I just want this to be over.”

Tired of thinking “I just want this to be over.”

Tired of frustration and impatience.

Tired of feeling drained, demotivated, disconnected.

Tired of lethargy and loneliness.

Tired of uncertainty.

Tired of crying.

Tired of pacing around the apartment, going from living room to bedroom and back again.

Tired of walking the same loop in the neighborhood around the lake; the same little path in the neighborhood woods.

Tired of sitting on the couch.

Tired of wondering when I will be able to see my loved ones around the country and across the world again.

Tired of wondering when my daughter will be able to be around other children again.

Tired of wondering when our family will be able to vacation and travel again.

Tired of seeing people not wearing masks and not socially distancing.

Tired of feeling angry and judgmental about those people.

Tired of having the health and life of myself, my loved ones, our community, our world endangered by apathy, ignorance, and selfishness.

Tired of a reality that I didn’t cause or create, that I don’t deserve, that could have been avoided if we had actual leadership and if that leadership had acted with rationale, empathy, and responsibility instead of denial, greed, and a flagrant disregard for life.

I’m tired.

Empathy & Honesty

Memoir

I have put off writing this.

Put off, put off, put off.

I have avoided, delayed, distracted, made excuses.

First it was about privacy; my discomfort with sharing my thoughts and experiences with strangers – justifying to myself that sharing my poetry was different because I was somehow removed from those words and the feelings they expressed due to the form and structure of the writing; that the writing was abstract and not too personal or revealing.

Next it was about my state of mind; my depleted energy – the despair, loneliness, sadness; the anxiety and uncertainty. I couldn’t find the will to write, not after a full day of having to keep it together for my job; for my daughter; for my partner. Hours and hours of having to find a way to interact, to smile, to normalize, to strategize self-care, to avoid the feelings of entrapment and resentment and hopelessness that were closing in on me.

Then it was about comparison – who am I to bemoan my situation when I am still healthy, employed, sheltered, fed, and loved? What is my suffering in light of the agony of the sick, and their loved ones, and those who are abused and oppressed?

Finally it was the guilt of privilege that kept me silent. The privilege of having the access and technology to share this post; the privilege of having the education that afforded me the skills to be able to write it. The privilege of having steady employment, income to pay the bills with money left over, a safe home, a vehicle, a phone, clothes, food, entertainment. The privilege of having access to a library brimming with free books that can slake my thirst for imagination and information. The privilege of options. The privilege of safety. The privilege of not having to fear or fight, or my child not having to fear or fight, cruelty, discrimination, hatred, injustice, systematic oppression, violence, murder because of our beliefs, ethnicity, orientation.

But the words refuse to stay bottled up and pushed down inside of me.

The words are in my blood and my breath and my hands now.

I search for a glimmer of promise that a world ravaged by a pandemic will soon find and distribute a safe cure to end this illness; that a world ravaged by fear, hatred, and intolerance in all its disgusting forms will actualize true reconciliation and reform to uphold the right to dignity, equality, and safety for all people; that apathy, greed, and selfishness will be replaced with compassion, generosity, and serious, sustaining action to heal and protect animals, the environment, and humanity.

Let us honor the experiences and feelings of others – amplify the voices of those who deserve and need to be heard. Consider the causes that stir your spirit and take action. Help to influence and implement growth and improvement – in your life, your home, your interactions, your community, your country, your world.

If you are reading this and feel angry, depressed, frightened, hopeless, but desperately wanting release, relief, and progressive change – you are not alone.

Share your story; I will continue to share mine with empathy and honesty.

Power

Poetry

You:
Ghost,
Phantom,
Spectre –
You have no power over me.

You:
Illusion –
You hold no sway over me.

You are a mist;
Not a membrane.
You are fog;
Not foundation.

You are smoke,
You are ash,
You are dust;
You are nothing now.

Wraith –
Your echoes are drowning out.
Hollow and emptied
In the wake of my resounding truth.

Shadow –
You are transparent now.
Obliterated in the blinding light
Of my eternal truth.

Your claws are extracted,
Your thorns are removed,
Your poison is leached;
You are nothing now.

Failing;
Fading…
You have no power over me.

Predawn

Poetry

The indulgence of predawn solitude:
The wind rushing through dancing trees.
The caress of crisp-cool breezes
So delicious and sweet on my skin.
Shadows and hues of plums and midnight-blues
Give way to silver-tinged clouds and slow-warming gold.
A galaxy of ripples electrify the water’s surface –
A landscape alive and ever-evolving,
Painted by the wind.
It tickles and teases in gentle wisps
While gusting in symphony throughout the trees
And in waves of light upon the water.
See how the world awakens,
Responding to the rousing wind –
Conjured in the pull;
The ancient call.

Bond

Poetry

We are bound in this infinite coil
Here in the tireless cycle of
Everything and nothing.
The weight of wisdom is
Forever in balance with
The boundless freedom of love.
We are the lotus that blooms in moonlight;
We are the life that grows from decay.
We are the gasp of electric climax;
We are the final dying breath.
We are sound and stillness;
We are sunbeam and shadow.
We are paradise and we are void.
Inside our deepest selves,
Muscle memory:
Eternal spiral.
We are flesh and spirit;
We are stone and sky.
We consecrate our death each breathless night
To be reborn in harmony with the glory of the dawn.
And so the circle is complete
In this eternal bond.