How to persist

      — bear witness

as the trees bear witness 

Forsythia Cento (using lines from my mother’s poems)

The body diminishes,

a clarion call becomes a whisper.

All I want is to light candles

and say a prayer of love.

Away from the arbitrary confines

of commerce and culture,

into the infinite, where edges

of molecules blur and sing.

Curling up with self makes vapors

of uncoupled body heat.

Lord give me words like salted

caramel truffles, tumbling out.

Words clothe me in velvet and silk,

rocking me gently to sleep.

body roots

where are my roots. this whiteness 

took them from me and from them 

before me. took them. took them. stole 

them. sold them a lie. a lie. a lie. a lie. a 

lie. survival through empty comfort. 

at the cost of violence. severance. loss. 

loss. loss. grief. buried. buried. buried. 

numb. pretend. pretend. just pretend.  it’s 

not there. the pain. the wound. the void. 

not there beneath this real not real way 

of being. living. relating. threads sustained. 

threads distorted. threads rootless. threads 

that blend. blend in. deadly blending. deadly 

survival. don’t be too much. you’re too 

much. contain your magic. your wisdom. 

hide it more. hide it more. hide it more. 

hide it more. hide it more. i can still see it. 

pretend to not know. stop with the trauma. 

victimhood. autoimmunity. heal already. 

just heal. just heal. just heal. just heal.

just heal. why aren’t you healed. survival. 

survival. narrative of survival. understandable 

obsession. but is this survival. what is 

survival. what is surviving. what about 

the stripping. lost sanity. complicity. rejection 

upon rejection upon rejection. rejection 

metastasizes. turns into loathing. curve 

hatred. hair ironing. nose cutting. control 

the children. don’t touch. don’t move. 

don’t wander. don’t wonder. be more. 

be less. don’t go near the grief. its too big. 

accept the flattening. the division. brokenness 

masked as success. success at what. success 

at what. success at what. intellect. striving. 

betrayal. dissociation. bodylessness here in 

this body. this body. this body. this body. 

this body. this body. this body. this body. 

this body. this body. this body. this body. 

this body. this body. this body. this body. 

this body. this body. this body. this body. 

this body knows these settler patterns and 

prayers are not right. keep our spirits torn. 

held hostage. separated from our humanity. 

this body knows these neurosis are not the 

only option. more is possible than this 

depression. anxiety. hyper-arousal. hyper- 

functioning. hyper-exhaustion. hyper-fixation.

obsession with not okay-ness. not enough-ness. 

too much-ness. cultural trauma lodged in 

nervous system. hair gone. no need to iron. 

but this body. this body knows. this body 

knows. this body knows. what’s real. what’s 

real. what’s real. body knows ritual. knows 

melody. knows how to sway and mend 

back to whole again. body knows pulsing 

blood memory of prayer. of meal. of earth. 

body remembers. body just needs time. 

give it time. give it time. give it time. give 

it time. it will come. it will come. it will 

come. it will come. it will come. the knowing. 

the knowing will return home. it’s already 

there. in your bones. there will be tears. 

let them come. let them out. let them breathe. 

let them fall. give them space to soak 

gratitude reverence relief into her lap. 

her. mother. her. grandmother. her. great 

grandmother. her. ancestor witch. healer. 

weaver. priestess. midwife. her. her. her. 

her. her. her. her. earth. her. goddess. let 

the tears come. let her absorb them. 

she is here. listen for her voice as you tend 

the altar of your softening heart. receive 

her nourishment. receive her forgiveness. 

her collaboration. her conversation. receive 

her reorientation. receive her moonlight 

on the path home to the motherland of your 

body. receive her wildness. her spells. magic 

incantations. her potions. tinctures. the salve 

of her caress. medicine to knit you back 

in to your wholly lineage. it needs you. you 

are not insignificant to these generations 

behind you. they are calling you back to prayer. 

inviting you to attune to what was and what 

wants to become. invitation to shape. a 

welcome to full body experience of aliveness. 

invitation to dwell in this body. reclaim this 

body. thank this sacred body. this presence. 

this container for the pleasure of presence. 

divine vessel. inhabit this temple. dance in 

the grace of its knowing. this. here. body. 

welcome. this. home. here. body. roots. 

Body Whisper

I have learned to depend on this Body

befriend its signals, sensations, yearnings.

I ask Her for forgiveness.

Together, we recover presence, 

yielding, coax it gently from the freezing.

I’m sorry, I say to this Body, 

for not listening to your whispers, 

not tending your desired rhythms.

I have learned to slow and be with Her,

sometimes awkwardly, sometimes gracefully, 

in restorative pauses, pregnant with possibility. 

Grief Pleasure

The most difficult phase of healing 

is grieving, which is also the best, 

relieving the pressure of survival 

suppressed sadness, giving way 

to space, newness, ease, infancy, 

innocence all around, and wisdom. 

Healing is a radical act of sustained 

imagination, surrendering to death 

and rebirth. So I mix almond flour, 

maple syrup, vanilla, eggs, baking 

soda, salt, dried cranberries. Practicing 

integration. Reprogramming the well 

worn pathways in my brain. Letting 

go of right and wrong, good and bad, 

victim and perpetrator. Allowing 

complexity and redemption to grow 

into previously consumed space. 

Flourless scones rising without yeast 

or gluten. A miracle treat without 

blood sugar spike. I eat them in 

multiples like tiny bite size meals. 

Am I self-soothing? Is that okay? 

I am not policing myself with hyper-

vigilance. What is enough? What is 

nourishment? What is indulgence? 

What is pleasure? What is moderation? 

Tomorrow will come. I will feel how I feel.

I will begin again. Surviving and healing.

Acknowledging all that is broken

and all that is unbreakable.  

Winter Arrival

Snow arrived on Sunday, first time since March. 

Dusting, quaint, super imposed on fall. 

Today the cold feels real.  A calm settles the city. 

Trees enter their ritual dormancy, evergreen bows 

weighted with snow — do they delight in even 

more grounding? The silence, stillness, slowness 

relieves my senses, nervous system, body. 

The change in landscape signals a permission 

to move on to a new phase of healing. A reminder 

that nothing is static, air, color, pace, quality, mood, 

pain. All that’s broken returns to its unfuckwithable nature.

Fallow Land, Tender Heart

The birds sounds are sparse now,

only the hearty winged creatures 

brave the cold season. The earth and 

sky are both white all day most days. 

Yesterday a flock of geese flew 

overhead with a striking momentum 

of flesh and chorus. The trees are 

leafless black silhouettes now. Only 

dry husks of plants remain, poking 

awkwardly from snow. 

The veil is thin these days, the truth 

of things more palpable. Exposure 

reveals tender wounds, the results 

of so much surviving. Bones and 

joints ache with a new depth this year. 

This is a reckoning, this mandatory 

somatic slowing. Each day, each hour, 

each moment, a humbling invitation 

to be the medicine. No where to hide 

means tending one’s heart so that 

whether or not visitors arrive 

there is a chance for something 

real to unfold.