Reclaiming Self

(Note:  The writings on this page represent this woman’s quest to reclaim self:  a journey to salvage treasure from the wreckage, and hopefully, in the end, to appreciate that the beauty was there all along.  Poems will be posted in reverse order with the first or early poems appearing at the end. Check in regularly for new creations.)

10.   Superwoman’s Dark Side

fine-cut crystal, silver and gold
sparkle and entice: a table laid
for guests galore.

savory aromas conjure visions
of sumptuous gravy, delectable roast,
crisp-cooked vegetables, and decadent desserts.

she’d stop to admire her handiwork,
but the children, tired and hungry
and bored with the waiting, tug at her hem.

Waiting.  It is her greatest strength.
Prepare, prepare –
Then wait.

they’ll arrive shortly, noisily
full of their days, faintly aware
of the backdrop, happy to have left the babies.

and they’ll sit and be served
and remark on the deliciousness
and gobble up seconds
then push back their chairs
and wander off for a kip
or a smoke

and she’ll linger for a few minutes
picking at her congealed
gravy-covered mashed
unconsciously dabbing at
the red wine stain on the tablecloth
marvelling at how she
accomplished it all
once again
without bitching
without protesting
a trouper till the end …

What’s that you say?
She’s sounding a bit like the martyr?

Oh no, you’ve found her out.
Superwoman has a dark side.

9.  Martyr’s Lament

I wake before dawn and
drive through blinding
snowstorms, for you.
If lost, without faltering,
I alter course, and when
I can drive no further,
set out on foot, navigating
treacherous snow and ice,
risking my life, pushing
forward against all odds,
for you.

So you can get where you need to go.
So you can succeed.
I risk it all for you.

All the while I keep you
by my side, so
you will be safe,
so I can ensure your arrival.
Know that I grow weary,
and my body sometimes
will not go on, and
all I ask is for a little rest,
so I can catch my breath.
But you, you move on
no hesitation in your step,
no looking back.

Can you not see me suffering?

Can you not feel my sacrifice,
hear my pain?

Finally, you stop,
and look back, but
it is too late – a barrier
has grown between us:
like an eight-foot, chain-link fence
separating you from my protection.
You look at me –
that gaze of exasperation –
as if to say, you
should have done it on your own,

But wait, I say.  Wait!
This wall may seem insurmountable,
but I can do it!
I can do it! Give me time.
I’ll just climb up to the top.
It’ll be easy! You’ll see.

Don’t walk away!  Give me
one more chance
to prove my love for you.

I do it all for you!

 

8.  Divine Spark

The emerald waters
of my crystalline personality
are only a reflection
of an external light.

Below surface lurks
the murky waters
of self-deprecation –
creating further illusion.

Dive deeper –
beyond the cold chill
of darkening thoughts,
and threatening despair,

weed through the silt
of bottomed out desires,
and find an opening –
black and foreboding.

Enter with an open heart
and find the chest within
rusted from neglect,
unguarded, with open latch.

Brush away the cobwebs
and with respectful caution
lift the dusty lid
and behold the divine spark –

my true essence,
tucked there in the darkness,
an eternal flame,
vibrant and vital.

Release it for me,
be so kind,
to light this dismal patch
and set my waters aglow again.

So that the emerald waters
of my crystalline personality
will once again reflect
an inner glow.

8. War is Hell

Oppressive gray smog hovers
over the scarred landscape,
a hot smoldering battlefield –
ravaged reminders of war.

Spawned by uncertainty and fear,
spurred on by righteousnous
and intolerance of imperfection
the futile fight persists.

Defenses garner strength,
subtly, imperceptibly, renewing
confidence with experience gained –
opposition will not be silenced.

War is hell.
Unfair, biased, blinded,
deceitfully sacrificing
innocence: potential slain.

War is hell –
especially when…
the combat zone
is the Self.

7. Underlying Connection

There’s a river runs between us, you and I.
Our thoughts, like tears, are liquid
carried effortlessly by the current.

But you and I, we stand on opposing banks,
oblivious; ignoring the connection,
proudly touting our individualism.

Still the river flows, and all you’ve ever suffered,
and all I’ve ever suffered, or dreamed,
or imagined, or hoped, flows with it.

Step into the water with me; feel our
connection – do not be afraid
for it is sacred.

Wade deeper and know you are not
alone, for I am here with you
in this river that runs between us.

6. Multiverse

In innocence, I first encountered her –
I, a mere child of five,
wide-eyed, curious, unafraid;
She, a creature of Nature.

The woods where I wandered were hers,
densely foliated, untamed.
She me espied me with bewilderment,
this untamed sapling in her path.

With feline instincts she stalked me,
considering her moves –
I was hers, undefended –
and so she took her time,
waiting for me to ripen for the attack.

She followed me through
the fields of adolescence,
pacing the perimeters,
and I, with growing awareness
came to understand her threat,
And picked up the pace.

Into adulthood I ran,
seeking safety in the concrete walls
of business life, and fast-paced living
and like a cat with a mouse
she toyed with me,
knowing I’d be hers in the end.

She shrank back into the shadows
when motherhood became my calling,
no doubt a Mother herself,
and compassionately courteous –
but he never gave up.

Into old age I flee, but
the cougar grows closer,
her senses fully alert;
she smells my fear, and
fully powered, she leaps
towards me
and even
though
I seek
the safety
of my home
she easily
penetrates
the ineffective
doorways
of my
mind
and
pounces….

The Tao says that we live in a universe
of multiple perspectives –
a multiverse –
but when your life is spent
in survival mode,
in constant flight,
always looking behind –
it is difficult to see the vast horizon
that lies ahead,
or even dream of possibilities.

5. Self-Delusion

I am driven,
a woman obsessed,
feet digging in,
body pressed forward,
the sweat on my brow
blackened by the relentless dust
whipping around me
in this prairie heat.
I drive on,
fatherless,
husbandless,
solely responsible
for my cargo,
the horses heeding my commands,
everything, everyone
I treasure,
on board –
a pioneer
delivering us
to the Promised Land.

I am wounded,
bleeding,
my prone body
curled on a mat of straw,
back towards the others,
teeth clenched
in silent pain,
determined
not to show my need.
I will not be a burden.
I feign sleep,
and brace myself
against the jolts,
trying not to gasp.
Lie still!
Be brave!

We children are both
afraid and joyous,
the ride is bumpy
and never-ending
and we try to be good
and not to complain
but our spirits long
to play,
to be free of this wagon
and find cool water
and splash,
or play hopscotch
in the sand.
Obedient, we
seek laughter
in small things –
our own company –
believing,
trusting.

I am a young man,
and I have goals,
and dreams,
beyond the confines
of these wagon walls.
I envision a life fulfilling,
with purpose
and gold-
ready and able to fight,
willing to strive –
fearless
of the unknown –
yet, I am trapped
held captive,
overlooked.

I am the faithful,
God-inspired,
all believing,
hopeful,
prayerful,
trusting in a Higher Power,
caught in a web
of pleading, asking, forgiving,
accepting and wondering.
What can I give of myself?
What does God need?
Am I not good enough?
Have we sinned?
Are we being punished?
Are our needs only trite,
and we selfish?
Must we bear this cross
to be recieved
in Heaven?

I am a mother,
worried, caring,
hoping for the best,
catering to all,
barely a child myself,
bearing each experience
with borrowed strength,
selflessly focused
outwardly drawing, drawing
from a well that is dry.
Tired,
oh so tired.

I am an old woman,
frail, but wise,
enduring the rough ride,
surrendering to the knocks
knowing that, as in all things,
this too shall pass.
I am silent,
guarding my wisdom
for the imploring only,
acknowledging the value
in each journey,
in each interpretation,
understanding that in the end
we are all deluded
and the destination
is in the here and now
not tomorrow,
not at the end of some dusty trail –
In each moment we have arrived –
and so have I.
Patient and accepting.
Life is as it is.
Amen.

 

4. Role Call

Ego calls to her cast of many:
“Listen up troops!  Can we have a meeting?
I picture a cavern, roomy, with high ceilings and a fire that creates a warm glow.   A crowd is gathered, and I visually push them back, clearing a space in the light.

“Who will step forward?”

A small figure, about three or four years of age, steps into the clearing.    Dark curls of hair fall in disarray about her shoulders.  Dragging a stuffed animal by her side, she rubs her big, brown eyes with her free hand, as if just waking up from a deep sleep.

“Hello, Little One.  Welcome.”  I am delighted both by her innocence, and her bravery for being the first to step up.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch more movement.  It is a twelve-year-old version of myself, who steps in to take the little one’s hand.  Ah, responsible me.  I know her well.

An older woman steps in next.  She is well-groomed, neat and trim.  Her hair is white, and obviously long, but caught up in a bun.  Her face is long; not my face.  I don’t know her.

“Welcome,”  I say and she nods approvingly.

“Anyone else?”

A pregnant version of myself steps forward.  Not the new mother me, but the woman expecting her third child.  The established mother.  She looks tired, but not unkind.  She has brought her babies with her.

A shadow darts across the opening, then fades back into the dark corners of the cave.  I try to see where it went and see a figure trembling there in the darkened crevices.

“Would you like to join us?”   The figure is slightly hunched, hugging herself tightly.  “Please.”  The others reach out their hands towards her.  She moves to the edge of the darkness.  Her long hair looks tangled, dirty.  Her eyes are cast down, I can’t see her face.  It looks like she is holding a blanket around her.  “If you are here, you are part of us,”  I offer.  “We’d like it if you’d join us.”  She looks up and it startles me.  The pain in her eyes it so real my breath sticks in my chest.  She steps forward and I see she is naked under the blanket.  She is my violated self.  “I’m sorry,” I whisper.  “Please come into the light.  I want you here.”  The others move to surround her.

The shadow darts again.  Is that a little boy?  I follow the movement.  There is a tall, proud, Aboriginal woman.  She is wearing some ceremonial costume, although nothing I recognize.  She steps silently forward.  I like her energy. Then three figures push out of the crowd to join in.  They too are of different ethnicity and race.  Arms locked like old friends they are laughing and jostling; a happy presence.  Another woman pushes forward, directing a young boy before her – the darting shadow.  He has a dishevelled mop of hair, and dark mischievous eyes, reminding me of pictures of my father as a child.  She is a big bear of a woman, very motherly, and obviously very much in control.

There’s a boy here?  Are there any men? I wonder. I look around.  Many faces still stand on the periphery, and yes some are men, but none have come forth….oh, wait a minute, here’s one.  A whiff of pipe smoke hits me first.  Very professorial.  Tall, thin, with greying hair, and kind eyes.  A thinker, I’m guessing.  Another young man steps forward.  Dressed immaculately, and carrying a case, he looks driven by ambition: fearless.

“Okay,”  I say.  “It looks like we could do this all night, but we need to begin.  Can we get started?”

The big bear of a woman steps forward, with the little boy in tow.  “The goal here is to find some harmony,” she states.  “I think it would best if everyone could be heard.  State your concerns, and also what you bring to the whole.  I’ll start.  I am Mother Earth.  I believe in the unity of the whole, and am big and strong enough to hold us all together.”

Cool!  I am liking this exercise.

The white-haired woman is next.  “Well, I am wisdom, and I believe this can work also, but I am a little concerned about how ego is running the ship.”  She looks directly at me.  “We won’t live forever, you know; be a little mindful of how you take care of our body.  Some exercise would go a long way.”  I gulp.  Yes ma’am, I’m thinking.

“What do you have to offer?” Mother Earth asks.

“Perspective,” is the response.  “When the ego needs direction, and is willing to listen, I offer perspective.”

“Thank you,” I say.  “Good to know.”

The professor tilts his pipe towards me.  “Don’t forget intellect.  You have a good mind.  Use it.  No concerns right now, as long as she keeps learning.”  Fair enough.

My mother self just beams at me.  She is happy that the babies are still coming.

The twelve-year-old, still coddling the little one, gets my attention.  “Don’t forget us,” she says.

“What do you mean?”  I ask.  “How could I forget you?”

“But you do.  You often do.  We need care too.  We need fun and new discoveries, and most of all we need love and affection.  Well, not so much me, but the little one does.”

I have to smile, because I’m sure she means both of them.  “Of course you do.  Don’t I show it?”

“Not very often.  You spend far too much time worrying about the future, and where the next dollar is coming from.  You forget that we need attention and just to hang out sometimes.”

The little one nods, as if she understands.  She puts out her arms and I hug her to me.  She is so tiny, and pure.  “You are precious,” I tell her.  “I would never want to lose you.”  She snuggles up and leans into me.  I offer my hand to the twelve-year-old.  “I would like for you to let me be the adult,” I tell her.  “I appreciate everything you have done, you have a great sense of duty, but you also need to just be a kid.”   The look she gives me is undecipherable. I look to Mother Earth for some direction.  She nods at the younger me.

“Go ahead,”  she says.  “Tell her.”

“You have made promises to us that you do not keep.  We don’t know what to believe.  Little One needs to feel safe and secure, she needs you to be consistent.”

“What about you?  What do you need?”

Her lip starts to tremble.  Is that a flicker of anger I see behind her eyes.

“You can tell me.”  I try to keep my tone calm, and reassuring, but my heart and mind are racing.  “What have I done to this child?  Then I understand.  “Are you angry with me, or adults in general?”  I ask.  “I know you’ve been hurt by many.”

“I don’t know who to trust,”  she begins.  “I try and try to be good and make things better, but it’s like I don’t exist.  It’s unfair.”  The floodgates burst open.  “I feel like I don’t matter.  No one notices me.  No one cares.”  The little one runs to her and they hug again.  “We need to know you care.”

“But I do care!  Maybe I just don’t know how to show it.  Please, help me to understand what you need.”

“When you were us you knew what you wanted.  You promised that you would not put up with injustices, and you would make us count in the world.  You also promised that we wouldn’t need anyone.”

“I know I did,  Honey.  But that is not a healthy response.  Relationships are a natural part of life, and while I haven’t always been able to protect us from harm and abuse, I have made better choices, haven’t I?  I do care very much about you, and I know you have been hurt.”  There’s so much I want to say, but she does have a point.  “I’m sorry.”

“And what about her?”  They both glance in the direction of the young woman in the blanket.  She is too wounded to be angry.

“I made a terrible mistake, and you suffered for it.  I am so sorry.  I don’t know how to lessen your pain.”  Then, “Mother, I have stumbled through life, and made poor choices out of fear, anger, and impulsiveness.  I see now that I have hurt all of us.  How do we find alignment without trust?  Have I ruined our chances?”

“Of course not, Child.  There is always hope.  This is a good beginning.  We are talking, and you are listening.”

“I am listening, but I feel so responsible, and inadequate.”

“Oh, you are not inadequate;  far from it.”

“What we need,” interjects the Warrior Princess, “is direction and leadership.  You,” she is speaking to the young business man, “need to take a step back.  While your ambition is appreciated, it is not always in line with the common good.  Your energy and spirit are good, but you serve us better by working in the background.  As for you,”  she turns to the three friends, “your lightheartedness is wonderful, and we need you as a constant reminder of the need for tolerance and harmony.  Young lady,” she says addressing the twelve-year-old.  “You are mighty strong and that is admirable, but you are yet a child.  I invite you to be open to the future instead of always fearing it.  We need your youthful exuberance to power the movement.  And you, Little One, you are indeed precious, and we never want to be without your sense of wonder and innocence.  Professor, Wise Woman, you know your roles.  Young Mother, you are much appreciated right now with these new grandchildren coming.  As for you, Young Man,” she turned to the little boy with the hair.  “You have the very important role of looking out for possibilities.  You have just the right amount of restlessness, coupled with curiosity and daring.  Every good team needs that. Now there is just one more thing to do.” Opening her arms, she gestures for the crowd to form a circle around her, then she invites the wounded girl and myself to join her in the middle.  Silently, she positions each of us facing one another.  I offer my hand to the girl and she takes it.  I clasp it to my heart.

“There is a lot of strength in this room, and I want you both to feel it.”  Although the room has fallen silent, and the faces are all somber, we can sense the truth in what she is saying.

“There is also a lot of hope, and love in this room.  Let that be with you, also.”  We both take a deep breath in, and I can see my wounded self relax her shoulders a little, though she still clutches her blanket close.

“There is no movement within a community of blame, only heartache and pain.  I want everyone here to release any blame that their heart may be holding.  Take a deep breath in and as you let it go, release any blame with it. Replace the blame with love for the whole.”  All chests rise on the inhale, and collectively we exhale a sigh of release.  Breathing in again, we begin to feel lighter.

“You are so beautiful,”  I tell my wounded self.  “You didn’t deserve this.  None of us did.  We all hurt for you.”  A murmur of agreement circles the room.  “And we all pray for your healing.”  The murmur becomes a rumble.

The Warrior Princess raises one hand in the air, placing her other palm on the Wounded One’s forehead.  “You are not alone,” she says.  “You must not carry the burden of this pain alone.  Let us each take on our share of the burden and lighten this young woman’s load.  Open your arms and receive her.”  All bodies push forward to embrace the Wounded One in a massive hug of energy.  From within the circle there is a heart-wrenching sob, then a flow of tears that passes from one self to the next until there is a palpable shift in the air.  Then, as if on cue, everyone steps back into the circle, giving us room.  Our eyes meet, and the most incredible thing happens.  The young woman lets go of her blanket, and standing straight and proud reaches her hand out for mine, and clasps it to her heart.  Her whole being shines with such radiance and light that I am not embarrassed by her nakedness.  She is beautiful!

I am beautiful.

We are all beautiful.

And in that moment we are so wonderfully aligned that we feel the perfection of our being, and the miracle that is existence.

“Thank you, all.”  I whisper, not wanting to break the reverie.

3.  Baggage Check

Pardon me, but in order to repack my bags,
I will be dumping them out here,
So you might want to look away.

Wow!  What a pile of stuff…
Really, who carries all this around.
Apparently me!
Where to begin?

Is that a pillbox hat
with full-face black lace veil?
Oh, I know this one!
It’s the veil of self-loathing.
I’ve dragged that one around for a long time.
It keeps me humble, I tell myself.
“Compliments mask ignorance” it reminds me.
“You are not what others think.”

Oh, dear.  This task might be a little overdue.
Good thing I decided to check before moving on.
I’ll set that little tidbit aside.

Ah, there’s my graduation cap,
and teacher’s credentials.
I need them!
My mother’s apron –
always a fixture;my reading glasses;
a writing pen;
a friendship necklace –
all keepers.
Oh, and that teddy bear –
all Grandmas need teddy bears.

What’s this big, wooly, grey thing?
It’s heavy and stinks
of cigarette smoke, stale alcohol, and mildew.
It’s stench is degrading.
I’m not sure this is mine,
can’t even remember when I started carrying it.
This needs to go.
I’ll just put it out in the trash.
Better make sure the smell hasn’t lingered.
Sure enough, it has!
My case is saturated with it.
I’ll need to air this out.

Wait a minute!
What’s that in the lining?
Something is sticking out.
It’s silver and pointed –
looks like a brooch.
A very delicate piece:
silver leaves swirling around a Peridot.
Is this mine?
It’s beautiful, but I don’t recognize it.
Just my taste though:
more silver than gold with just a touch of colour.
I wonder how long it’s been here?
I don’t have anything to go with it,
so I’ll just tuck it back away for another day.

Will you look at that!
A pile of mismatched sockettes!
So like me, to carry around odds and sods,
hoping to make sense of them eventually.
Thing is, nylons are passe,
so all these do is date me;
I think it’s time to let go.

My goodness, what is this?
It’s a rusty old paintbrush.
Oh, I used to love art –
even won an award once,
but was advised against pursuing it,
not intellectual enough –
so I set it aside.
Glad I hung on to this though,
I might still have it in me-
that creative flair.

A feather?
Oh, I know why it’s here:
I used to believe in something once,
something bigger than me.
I need to revisit my faith.

Um, cookbooks –
new recipes would be welcome.
Here’s an old ship in a bottle.
It’s pretty dusty,
its contents covered in cobwebs.
A dream whose time is past?
No point lugging around that anymore.
Time for new dreams.

This is kind of fun.
Can’t remember the last time I took inventory.
Here’s some comfy yoga pants –
those need to come out more often –
I can hear my body screaming Yes please!

I can see a few more things
I’d rather deal with in private.
Hope you don’t mind if I carry on without you.

2.  Intent

Intention
cannot be trusted
in a house where
chaos
and
confusion
reign
due to
the abuse
of the
single-minded
male figurehead
whose
soul purpose
(pun-intended)
is to obliterate
all semblance
of peace
dragging
us
into
his vortex
of destruction.

Nothing can be trusted to turn out the way it was intended.

1. Thorns

Thorns appeared at an early age –
before the flower bloomed-
born of clenched fists,
body coiled like a fetus,
sobbed-soaked pillows –
ignored.

Emotion has no place
in a war-torn house.

I don’t need anyone!
A hollow mantra,
preceding self-castigation-
longing always resurfaces.

Unsatisfactory coupling
demanded deeper defenses:
I don’t need anything!

Useless proclamations –
suffering continues.

In retrospect,
is it life
or thorns
that created
dis-ease?

I write to heal.
One by one,
stripping away
these thorns.

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5 Comments

  1. I’m so pleased that you left me that message in my About, where nothing was there. I’ve been following your writing and you are very talented. I hope to see you in more poetry forums out in the world.

    Like

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