aging · disability · life · ME/ CFS · poetry · writing

Travelling Solo

Chill and fog
cloud my senses –
effective distraction
loneliness holds no sway.

Others speed past,
while I advance,
slow, steady –
drawn by an unknown

Presence, who may
or may not receive me well
at this road’s end
I cannot tell.

Pray indifference
does not await me –
have suffered enough
no stomach for more.

Must stop a moment
and rest…darkness
brings its own brand
of cold… I am weary.

Tomorrow,
I’ll begin anew,
perhaps not so alone,

But loved ones
are preoccupied
others long gone

So the task remains
mine singularly
to further this journey

With faith to carry me
and a prayer for clear
passage to see me through.

(Image from personal collection.)
 

health · ME/ CFS · poetry · travel · writing

Desert

Take me to the desert
with mountains at our side,
walk with me in shadows,
let nature be our guide

We’ll stroll amongst the cacti,
pay homage to the quails;
take me to the desert
help me gather tales

The seasons are passing,
we’re running out of time;
take me to the desert
to heal this heart of mine.

***

By the time you read this, Ric and I will be on the road, headed south.  Texas and Arizona proved to be places of healing for me last year, and I hope that this journey will continue that process.

 

aging · life · poetry · travel

The Journey So Far

From the North we travelled,
left just as autumn’s brilliance
retreated under the startling
white of winter’s cold breath

Drove through towns grayed
by overcast skies, witnessed
a reversal of seasons, return
of burnt oranges, rusted reds

until green gave over to desert
hues – chalky yellow hills with
dusty, low shrubs, burnt umbers
and muted violet prickly pears

Westward we drove, over wide
open spaces, followed rivers
into mountains, tracked birds,
wildlife, the mystery of saguaro

Encountered red rocks and black
mountains, the Colorado, and
further expanses of barren land
desolation betraying hard times

Continued on till highways widened
and the congestion of civilization
startled us out of our desert sedation
tossed us back into urban bustle

Then we turned north, headed back
to the mountains, now green, rolling,
promising milder temperatures and
the reassurance of flowing river beds

In time, we’ll turn eastward, set our
compass for home, knowing that
there will be disquiet, this lust for
wandering settling in old bones.

(The image is from my personal collection.  To read more about our adventures on the road, visit me at One Woman’s Quest II.)

life · poetry · recovery · spirituality

Letting Go

One hand clutches expectations
while the other clings to walls,
desperately seeking purpose

I have prayed for direction,
a driving need for acceptance,
a longing to be acknowledged

look for openings to procure
success, willing to commit
to hard work, self-sacrifice

have dreamt of a doorway
backlit with brilliant promise,
radiance waiting for release

Am I on the right path, will
this stumbling hope lead me
forward, help me find the way

I could not bear another fall
hands too full to stop the hurt
I am burdened by this quest

Not paying attention to the ground
before me, hit a pot hole, lose my
footing, knees buckle, arms flail

hands release their coveted hold
reflexively reach out, I am down
forced to look up, shame burning

startled to witness a single ray –
a beacon of light in the darkness,
signalling a turn in the road ahead

I pick myself up, hands smarting,
feel the openness of heart and mind
renewed inspiration guiding me

(Image: jackeavesart.deviantart.com)

adversity · culture · life · poetry

We Are Voyageurs, All

(Note:  This is an edited version of the poem Self-Delusion, originally written in May of 2014.  The imagery was inspired by a dream of a wagon traversing the prairies carrying the individuals described.)

Obsessed, she presses onward,
feet digging in, body sweat
blackened by relentless dust
swirling in the prairie heat;
she is fatherless, widowed –
charged with the command
of horses, and everything,
and everyone – she is a pioneer
bent on delivering her cargo
to a promised land.

Wounded, a body lies
curled, shamed –
only straw for a mat –
teeth clenched in pain
determination overriding
suffering – feigns sleep,
braces against jolts,
stifles gasps – bravery
a necessity – longs for
a destination, an end
to the bleeding.

Laughter bubbles up
between bouts of fear
and boredom – children
bear the bumps, try
to be good, but the ride
is never-ending –
youthful spirits yearn
for cool waters to splash in,
ache for games of hopscotch –
cannot control the spontaneous
bursts of adventure – bear no
sense of responsiblity, trust
unwittingly in the journey.

A young man has visions,
sees beyond the confines
of wagon walls – senses
purpose, smells gold,
passion raging –
a fighting soul,
willing to strive,
fearless – rails
against the trappings
of obligation, held
captive by elders –
is overlooked.

The faithful seek inspiration,
all-believing, hopeful,
prayerful – caught in a web,
pleading, asking, forgiving,
accepting and wondering –
What can I give of myself?
What does God want?
Am I not good enough?
How have we sinned?
Are we being punished?
Must we bear this cross
to be received in Heaven?
Help me, they pray
to be more worthy,
more deserving,
when Judgment Day comes.

A mother worries,
cares, hopes for the best,
caters to all – in many ways
still a child herself – bears
each experience with borrowed
strength, selflessly focused –
drawing, drawing
from a well seldom replenished –
tired, oh so tired
she carries on.

Frail, the aged are wise
have endured adversity
surrendered to the knocks
know that in time all things pass
guard their wisdom with silence
acknowledge the value
in each journey
in each interpretation
understand that delusion
is commonplace and
destination is temporary –
recognize the power of now;
are patient and accepting
that life is as it is.

creativity · disability · dreams · health · life · passion · poetry · recovery · spirituality

The Ocean Awaits

This old house wraps itself around me,
radiates the warmth of memories,
a solid testament to the passage of time,
offers space to grow,
a hospitable and loving place,
I am safe here.

In my dreams,
the ocean awaits,
a rhythmic keeper of time,
reflecting clouds, moonlight,
raging with the storms,
in quiet times, calming –
a blessed, imaginary,
companion.

The rains have come,
swamped our intentions,
forced us indoors,
inconvenienced play,
turned our solid ground
to clay – a soggy tribulation –
they will subside
and new growth
will follow,
I tell myself.

I am an eternal student,
in love with life,
education unfinished,
a stumbler,
not a scholar,
temporarily lost,
seeking direction
in unfamiliar territory.

I am a neophyte,
longing for guidance,
recognizing my vulnerability,
a delicate balance this
emotional wading,
mindfulness needed.

I project the mud of the past
see only insurmountable hills
outside these walls,
anticipate setbacks,
fear a lack of tenacity  –
abhor my own ugliness;
rally myself with hopes
of solid footing ahead
and the ocean beyond.

On the other side of madness
stands a mighty fortress –
a castle to hold court –
we have all passed that way,
the passage is well-marked,
communally served,
I have committed
to the descent, am
Earth’s child.

Life is but a station,
a temporary stopping place,
we are all time travellers –
destinations varied –
called to take action,
choose a route.

I have been distracted,
missed signals,
opportunities,
find myself left behind
shamed, alone, uncertain,
aborted my search,
preferring retreat
need to reorient.

The kingdom harbours
an abundance of offerings,
sustenance abounding,
fruitful, flourishing
delights, uniquely
appealing, perhaps
an acquired taste.

Spring, like a faerie nymph,
draws me in, a harbinger,
hopeful, playful, promising
new adventures,
calling me to indulge
in fantasies, dine on
wild imagination,
recreate myself.

I am wondering
if I can accommodate,
fulfill my soul’s longing
know the wonders of
heaven, play host
to the mysteries of beauty
without ever leaving
the warmth of this old house.

The ocean calls me,
from the dream time,
will not let me sleep –
her tidal pull a magnet
for this weary sojourner,
beckons me to rise,
to strive, to succeed.
She is my destination.

life · recovery

Love? Really?

“Love,” my grandmother told me, “is a four-letter word.”

“She was beautiful as a young woman, and everyone wanted to court her,” her sister explained. “Our parents were heartbroken when she chose Charlie. Charlie was a farmer. She could have done so much better. We were city girls, you know. I don’t think she knew what she was getting herself into.”

“He could make me laugh,” Grandma said. “Played a damn good fiddle too, and he could dance. How we loved to dance.”

“When I think of my mother, I picture her standing over the woodstove cooking, always cooking, and crying. Seemed like she was always pregnant.” This from my mother, her daughter.

“Every time my fool husband hung his pants on the bedpost I was with child again. Carried ten to full term. Three of them died young.” She said it matter-of-factly, as if that is how life goes.

“Do you miss him?” I asked. “I mean, he died young, did you ever consider remarrying?”

“Hell, no! When he died, I started living. Took up drinking and smoking. I’d let a man buy me a drink, take me for a twirl on the dance floor, maybe walk me home, but that’s it. Let them in and they are only after one thing. They’re not getting that here!”

“Just don’t go putting the cart before the horse,” my mother advised me when I asked about love.

I knew she was talking about herself; I was born just three weeks after she married my Dad. I assumed she was telling me it had all been a horrible mistake.

“Were you in love the first time you got married?” Unwilling to give up on the notion.

“What did I know of love? He was handsome, drove a motorcycle and paid attention to me. Sure, I thought it was love, until I learned that he did the same for every other woman he met. I was the only one stupid enough to marry him.” She reflects for a minute. “Must have loved him, ‘cause I sure was crushed when he left me for my best friend.”

“It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is a poor one,” my eldest sister cautioned, but I knew she was just cynical. She put the proverbial cart first, got pregnant while still in high school, married and was divorced two years later.

“Can’t imagine who would ever love you,” Mom told me often. “Men don’t like smart woman.”

Watched my sisters bounce from man to man, in and out of their beds without discretion, slandering the bastards for not respecting them. Knew I didn’t want to follow them.

Decided I wanted the kind of love that Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw had in Love Story. When it didn’t come along, I began to believe that love is meant to be unrequited as in all the great romantic classics. My heart ached with a longing I couldn’t control.

“You’re just waiting for your white knight to arrive on his trusty steed and scoop you up,” a school friend accused.

“Am not!” But she’d struck a chord. Maybe I was.

Married the first man who was willing to stick around (pretty sure it was me who asked him). Joined my sister in the divorcee lineup less than two years later.

Began to think my mother was right – I was not loveable.

Finally swept off my feet six months later – a man of my heritage, a man who wanted to make me happy, who made my heart beat with excitement. Disregarded the short courtship and fell in headfirst.

“If you really loved me, you’d take better care of yourself,” he told a bedraggled version of myself, pounds heavier after bearing three children in five years.  If you really loved me, became code for you are not good enough.  The point was driven home frequently.

“I never really loved you,” he told me seventeen years later. “I just stayed for the children’s sake.” He left me for a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to my younger self.

I was certain that my mother was right. Love was an intangible notion unintended for the likes of me.

Love yourself. The message trickled through the airwaves. New Age, talk shows, psychobabble, it was all the same. Love yourself and love will find you.

Love myself? I was forty-years-old and had no concept of what that might look like, couldn’t even remember a time where I’d felt loved, actually accepted for who I was, without criticism or disappointment present. Knew there were no models in the ravaged hearts that surrounded me. Had to dig deeper.

I started with what it would feel like to be loved. Daydreamed about the feeling, experimented by buying myself flowers, doing things that made me felt good, cherished.

Learned that love calls for defined needs, and the ability to set boundaries – two things I had always denied myself. Recognized that in the realm of give and take, I was afraid of receiving, felt more comfortable giving (more in control), discovered the dark side of me.

Opened my heart once again and for the first time felt loved. Took my time, and

focused on the moment, not the long term. Allowed genuine affection to grow naturally, nurtured respect.

It’s not perfect – no relationship ever is – but it’s a start. We’ve been married ten years now, and love is still growing.

You see, love is a four-letter word (not the cursing kind) and works better as a verb than a noun. It is a process, an opportunity; not a static concept that passively sits by.

I think I am finally catching on.