Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paper fish

My sister teaches sixth graders in St.John's, Newfoundland. Her students are considered an "at risk demographic". She and I and our brothers would have been placed in that category as well if it had existed when we were young... poor, industrious, resourceful, tenacious, painfully aware of our subordinate status, our odd clothes, the unspoken expectation of being pathetically grateful.
She cares about her kids, my sister. That's her greatest source of anguish. We trade anguish stories all the time... just lately she 's been agonizing about how her students are aghast at the prospect of doing the bare minimum, much less what is simply required. At least they're not indifferent, I say to her...she is not amused. You'd think I was asking them to give me an arm or something, she says, and their parents... it doesn't seem to faze them that their kids can't read or don't get their work done... I just don't know what their chances are, what is going to happen to them...
( here it comes) Geez, I remember when Mom sewed a paper fish for me when we didn't have any glue in the house....
I smile at that. That is so Mom, I think...
...out of school herself at age 13, her generation of women relegated to caring for homes and men, no chances to explore her potential, she worked and cleaned and worked and cleaned, our home's spotlessness a balm against cold rooms, sparse furniture, and our steady diet of canned food. Dented cans, piles of blankets, and one warm room. If we were indoors and awake, we were in the kitchen...and if we were awake in other rooms, we were very efficient.
Our poverty was the context of her resourcefulness, and I never met anyone as brave as my mother...and I say brave and not fearless because she was afraid of many things. No skills, little education, less sophistication, but she toiled and learned and scrapped on our behalf... and even when I was mortified by her tactics, I had to admire her. She never put herself first; never. And no task was too menial, nothing was beneath her. She always seemed a little bemused at how things worked out... even now, her old age pension is an amazing thing...imagine, she says, getting money just for lasting. Pensions... the first steady, predictable income my mother has ever seen.

Imagine how that fish must have looked... one of my mom's labours of love, larger than life, a bright--almost luminous-- green, a strange and wonderful thing, beautifully cut and traced and sewn with green wool... exquisitely stitched...the mark of a family running on little but the essentials: talk is cheap; friends are better than money; unconditional love, no matter what the crime.
At the time, I used to wonder about my mother...now I just wonder at her. Her basic approach to life has not changed...she would happily pick grains of salt off crackers if my sister's son asked her to...no subservience being too low in the service of grandchildren.
I am terrified of becoming her, yet I am also proud to see so much of her in me... and in my sister. I want her kindness, her resourcefulness, her utter lack of pretentiousness, her gut level candor, tempered with absolutely no need to have the last word...or the first one....her immense satisfaction with the ordinary, mundane world. Thinking of her and the strange and wonderful things she would do for us almost always leaves me crying for all that I did not appreciate...every time I talk to her I tell her I love her, and I mean it.

And what does that mean, to tell my Mom that I love her...for me and my long journey to integrity it means that love as a feeling is not sufficient. I have to be sufficient. I have to talk to her as a person who knows things, I have to be interested in her life, to take seriously her take on things. I have to disagree ( with respect ) when we differ, not surrendering to tokenistic platitudes, agreeing and smoothing for the sake of filling air time. My " no" has to be a legitimate response of preference, but I cannot let it be a response of laziness, convenience or dismissal.

I used to feel bad that my mom's sphere of experience was so small ....now I know that the everyday world, as mean and small as it can be, is teeming with acts of resilience, hope and craft... I guess she's taught me more than I realize.
I smile at that. That is so Mom, I think...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Word's undying intimacy...

I had to be told there was no bunny
bringing eggs
at an age when I should have long since
consumerist culture's
appropriation of imbolc and equinox.
It was a shattering revelation, as were most
adult kindnesses of my youth.
I remember feeling a similar incredulity being told
there were no faces in the curtains of my bedroom window
no jolly saints delivering gifts
& no faeries collecting teeth.
My universes of hybrid stories and unlikely partnerships
sublimated into other perverse forms...
expression and behaviour.
I was the child for whom corporal punishment was invented --alas,
to no avail.
Fantasy awaits me in hell
along with piles of eggs, teeth and reindeer poop.

But yesterday, I heard it from one of the creatures themselves...
new beasties have been spotted
gamboling about the streamsides and hillsides
foraging and grunting
in the bushes and puddles
poking and sniffing
the air
barely stopping for thirst
& then returning, wild nymphs
to their joyous labours...
poets on the loose in March...
the time of celebrating
undying intimacy
with earth


It was a night so bright
with moon
blue darkness
everything holding its breath
a herd of young deer stood poised in watchful attention
barely concealed
the grove of winter
more spare
for having neither snow nor leaf
as sanctuary

as if with one bold thought
they began leaping and bounding about
a gleeful and recklessly unguarded ballet
perhaps my breath caught in my throat
at the wild beauty of it...
and that was enough
they halted in mid air...

split second of suspended joy, more swift than anything human
scattering in all directions
white tails twitching
a final saucy remark
at my indigent voyeurism

that night calls me back
year after year
moon & sun
dancing together
tensions of light and shadow
dark and dawn
wildness and repose...
...their necessary intermingling
frought with yearning
riding the crests of pendulums
cosmic ocean
trusting the connection
to guide
the unfolding

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St. Anthony

Milly wears a strange plaid coat. It used to be a blanket and will likely be one again in another incarnation. Functional and ugly, it attracts unsolicited comments and attention ...even so, it buffers her as she leans into the wind's cold howl. There is no howling within the cathedral's otherworldly quiet. In this sanctuary, all the screams are silent ones ... a borderland patrolled by angels (and gargoyles, when necessary)...perched ingloriously, impotent wings unfurled, leaning off watchtowers into a vast nowhere. Discretion is the order of the day. Smoke from a thousand snuffed candles hangs listlessly mingling with the odour of incense and oiled wood. The only noises are the soft sounds of footsteps and clothing and the occasional vibration of strings on an instrument in transit. Choir has been an unexpected delight for Milly... a shy girl's discovery of rhythm, ability and joy... she makes her way along the familiar shadow path, under the unwavering gaze of the pitiless, unseeing eyes of long dead saints.
Milly was 16 the first time a man of god used a dead animal to frighten her; she was 12 the first time she learned to become dead. Francis was a man of god...her first. Thursday evenings' choir practices are the hunting ground, rooms buried in the warren presided over by St. Anthony, the last sentinel, this man of stone, protector of travelers, nomads and lost souls, sees nothing, hears nothing, feels nothing, cursing man cursing god, his arms hovering in a gesture that will never begin or end.
Milly's small strange form glides along easily as breath... or smoke... or leaves... the shadows open up before her, the tiles are stones across a dark and lovely river. A lighted alcove appears ahead, a small sheltered doorway to the left... the stairs to the choir loft off to the right... even before she sees him, she knows he is there awaiting her...her chin and her eyes move up in the direction of his face and she adjusts the corners of her mouth... supplication complete, she drifts into the necessary silence and quiets her breathing...
Milly barely feels his hands on her shoulders, just there, near her neck, his thumbs anchored under her collar bones...the rough of his garments scratches her cheek, she bows to the privilege of being one chosen, inevitable, disposable... and the certainty that his ragged breathing and shaking are another kind of sacrament. Her last thought before she dies is that after...after...he will reappear upstairs with words of welcome and gratitude she knows are meant for her, and she moves into the stillness and sinks into the dark river.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


is it an age or a stage
this obsession with holding on letting go
maybe there's more at stake
than putting a weigh across my back
and going through the motions of crouching and standing
( shitting in the woods)
with impeccable form
beautifully balanced feet await
buttocks leading the action
aligned, cantilevered
core engaged and unyielding
supporting a spine in/delicate
extension riding the relentless
rhythms of inhale
into preparedness
exhale into exertion
a bellows insistent on its own necessity
after all
what is more basic than breath
bone or gesture...
choice perhaps (?)
an entity vastly different from preference
and it frightens me
how much I have riding on that
heavy as the weight I go through the motions of carrying
a stubborn ass needs a stubborn driver
possibly the perverse appeal of squat
early on
I remember the anxiety of preference
it plagues me sometimes
how it plagues me still
unnerves me
although even that last vestige has given way...
softness beckons
... unexpectedly & delightfully
your kindness
touches everything
changes everything
begotten, beloved
I shiver with a deep gladness

if a work is mine to do
it will make me glad over the long haul
despite the difficult days
if a work does not gladden me in these ways
I need to consider laying it down

Thursday, March 12, 2009

(w)hol(e)y (e)vent

here's a slice of life - cake:
I adapt because I can.
For many of the people with whom I live and work, lots of things are not under their control...
for a whole host of reasons ( disability, age, illness, pain, addiction, alcoholism...) there is too much contingency, chaos, and crisis to manage...
hence, they do not " adapt" because they cannot

and so the past 24 hours have not been all that unusual...
a woman on the slow-- but probably inevitable --COPD slide into respiratory failure...
an eleventh hour vigil at the walk -in clinic for an emergency prescription...
a mom who will lose her son because she cannot stay off the booze and the drugs...
another mom who wonders what to say to her seven year old who was called a motherf@#&er on the ride home on the school bus...
a young woman sent to emergency for a tetanus shot after the child she was working with bit her hard enough to break the skin...

tears, fears, shame, dread, weariness, desperation, indifference...
calmness, compassion, cold quiet rage...
silence, humour, acceptance, solitude, gratitude
if only I could practice a little impulse control when I spill my @#$%@! coffee...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Something small...

there here
minimal familiar
gliding sliding
place time
routine ROCKS
words Body
connected connected
always always