Navigating the Sacred and Mundane

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quietly Sipping Tea

Uh-oh, I’m having a What’s it all for? moment. I drag myself to the café this morning, commit to edit the manuscript. I open page one. Ugh is not quite right. You’d have to add rolling of the eyes – me to myself – that is always more humiliating than if someone else did it. I flip pages. God. Jeez. I can’t believe you said that! Who cares?

I close the book. Catch my breath. I talk to myself: Can we have a civil conversation here? Could you just look at it with a thread of fairness? Come on!

I put on my feel sorry for myself hat: If you can’t even edit your own manuscript then what are you working on the website for? Why blog at all? Are all these efforts simply narcissistic ramblings? Does anyone care how many ways you feel amazement and fury?

I put on my feminist hat: Right, this is exactly how mothers feel – as if mothering were a suboptimal choice; indeed, that writing about motherhood is somehow frivolous, trite, and trivial. Frustration with editing is the awkwardness of embracing exactly what you’ve been taught to resist: that mothering is a sacred act. It deserves a voice, your voice, even though you might feel shame in sharing the revelation.

I put on the wise woman hat: Before I can think, she removes my hat, takes my hands and says, "Come now, my dear, let’s sit here together. Allow me to do the reading. You rest. Do you need some tea? Warm enough? Now, where are the plants? Let’s ask the Lavender to assist us here, Jasmine and Rosewood, too. Close your eyes and be still. Wait until the wind settles, your teachers and all your allies are just around the corner. Wait for their counsel. You don’t have to do this work alone. Find your prayer and speak it now."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Teacher Turns Two


The days have been long, the nights longer. Full days, little sleep, much held in cupped hands. My girl is two today and I just put her down to nap. Moments ago, her back to me, she glances defiantly, and refuses to surrender. Not until I kneel down and place my head lower than hers, does she acquiesce, allowing knees to bend, hands to unclench into small wings, outspread on the purple pillow. And then she pulls my hand to her chest, encloses it in both of hers, closes her eyes, and in ten minutes rolls a half turn sideways, bangs across her brow, lips like berries ripe on the vine. As I whisper my fingers loose, I think, my god, she’s lovely.

And it stings.

Her unexpected cooperation disarms my impatience; ready anger held off by the surprise of beauty. That kind of penetration – even the strongest, deft stubbornness bows before the skillful teacher. My teacher, a two year old willing to drop to her knees.

An hour earlier, I sit across the table from a friend. She looks up and says, “I hope this doesn’t embarrass you. Last night while making love to my husband, I was on top, and he very kindly asked me to move just a bit – he was having trouble breathing – my stomach….I was in the way. It was too big.” In the whir of lunch and toddlers and electronic toys, I stop and listen closely. “I burst into tears. Everything I’ve been holding just needed to release,” she confides. "So humiliated, I put my head down and cried...and at the end of it all, I realized that it goes much deeper than shame about my weight. I haven't been doing my practices. That's the real suffering." Her eyes brighten, "Whenever I remember to do my practices, everything feels right, deeply right again. I feel myself truly and all that other stuff doesn't have power over me."

And so begins a conversation about the body, having babies, our mothers, and all the women in our lines. Within sixty seconds we nod in agreement – the complexity of it all. I say, “When I look in the mirror now, naked, I see my mother. My body looks just the way I remember her. Painful.” She responds, “Yep, I remember looking at my mother with such disdain – disgust really, thinking to myself that I would never let myself get like that – and she wasn’t really overweight. How I used to force myself to work out, and the control around what I would allow myself to eat or not!”

I'm so relieved. “It’s good to talk about it together. If I was alone, my thoughts about myself would never be so compassionate.” Full with sisterly affection, “You are a beautiful woman and I’m sorry for your suffering. And I know…it’s difficult to be awake to all of our patterns, to turn around and see how they extend back through all those women.”

Have mercy for all the shame. Have mercy for the way we were taught to hide ourselves, and for the way our children watch us hide.


This morning River calls out, “Mama….mama….” and I reel out of bed, automatically find myself upright, out and across the hall. How to approach the morning from the night – my daily, predawn contemplation as I open her door. No words. I open my arms and walk slowly. If her head is up, eyes bright and awake, I am the sun, “Good morning, River!” all sing-songy. If her head is down, eyes still back inside, not yet up and in the day, I stop a foot out from the crib and wait. She sways a bit, my signal, and I make my torso into a blanket that wraps, warms, and eases the transition.

Today, “Hi-eeee, my two-year old, big girl. Good morning!” Holding her arms straight out, she wants to dance. Already. “Mama, eee wan pippa.” I lead the sway and swirl, and she tips her head back, bends knees to catch the wave of music between us. “You want pizza for breakfast?” She chuckles. “Silly girl!”

Into the next hour, pink fleece hat and coat in place, her purse filled (deliberate consideration) with a mama doll, two puzzle pieces, and a daddy doll. I drop her off at the new big-girl school (every time I say it she claps and says, yay!) and she doesn’t say good-bye. She’s off, she’s flying, into the day, the world, taking her place. The teacher laughs, “So sorry for all her separation issues!” And I laugh, too. Yep, my girl, strong spirit.

And I go forth, the day blank, and the drive to the cafe a good thing. Who am I without her in tow? It takes streets and trees and the sun, sky, and wild things along the way to call me out, to open doors in the back hallways of my heart. I find my way. I find my way into my time. And then, the writing, just across the shore. I'm so happy to be back.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Way of Medicine

The law commands us to do what we would do naturally if we only had love. The Way consists of finding that love, which then becomes the law. - Arnaud Desjardins

At a cafe in another town, listening to a song stream, "Breathe...just breathe... there's a light at each end of this tunnel. you shout cuz you're just as far in as you'll ever be out, and these mistakes you made, you'll make them again. If you only try turning around. Breathe, just breathe..."

This morning River grabs my pant leg in the kitchen. "Mama, come." Once in the living room, she pats the couch. "Mama, ein-tine. Ro Ro wan ein-tine." Ok, I sit her on the couch, turn on the DVD, Baby Einstein. No battles this morning. I can't afford a battle.

Twenty minutes later, I bring her raincoat, "River, honey, it's time to go. Time to put on your coat." It's over. The nice morning. It's over. She throws herself down on the couch, screams, writhes, slides down to the floor. Twisting limbs caught in my hold. We must leave to be on time. She kicks me in the face, slaps one cheek and then the other. I boil.

Exasperated, I throw my coat off and stomp out of the room. I kick the dining room table. Thoroughly humiliated, I move to the kitchen and kick the high chair. I go to the nearest door and press my body against the glass, but there's no getting out. No freedom from here. It's just a suffering to endure, one that I have inflicted upon my child and myself in one fell swoop. Past, present, and future tied in a perfectly, painful bow.

But there's something else. Trauma in the body is not only devastating. It also provides doorways to other realms. Quietly spacious realms of peace, where I whisper myself back. Impulses blaze and yet...there is the rain, and the green palm out back. Red shoots flower from the cactus. Banana leaves hold sprouting tendrils in a graceful arc. I crack the door and let the green infusion find me.

Striped of comfort and any sort of presentation, I walk back to the living room and sit in the middle of the floor. I look at River with nothing. She looks into the emptiness, feels into the void, and moves closer to that silence. I do not place anything into our space, just wait. Tears down her cheeks, she eases in front of me, opens her arms, and pats my cheek. I place both hands on the bottom edges of her coat and look at the zipper. She looks down and eeks a wilty, "nooooo," and then surrenders. I zip and pull her gently into my arms and hold her. We find each other again.

I drive her to her last day of daycare. The door opens and I look at the women I love, for all that she has provided my daughter. The face that reminds me of all the prayer flags I have ever seen; in her eyes, reflections of the stupa that she grew next to in Nepal. She tries to talk but starts to cry. I try to respond but start to cry. She turns away and I say, "All I can do is leave. We'll talk later." She says, "Yes, Prema."

I go home to pack. I load the car and drive away, awkward tourist in my own car. It's the first time I am leaving River over night, two nights and three days to be exact. I call Steve to leave a million details about her favorite clothes, extra wipes, sippy cups, food, and plead for assurances that he will track and tend in a hypervigilant way like me. He just says, "Ok."

I arrive and sit on the bed at the hotel, not knowing what to do with myself. I manage to tell everyone in this small enclave of shops that I have left my daughter for the first time. One older woman stares up to the sky, "Oh, enjoy it. It will be ok. Enjoy yourself. Take care of yourself. Come see me in the morning before your workshop. I want to see how you're doing."

I'm here for a certification training in aromatherapy. This weekend I'll learn about the ancient art of anointing with oils. I used to imagine a perfect job and I saw myself opening a door, inviting someone to sit down, then anointing them with healing oils. What could be better?

I'm all turned around. Called to the medcine and a bit tortured for leaving my girl. I turn just now to find a giant wall clock, with a hand-painted message in the middle: Live in the Moment.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Through the Woods

I sit for thirty minutes and stare at the white page. Close my eyes. Open again. Gently swirling music entwines with thoughts of the beloved. It takes that long to make my way from the first syllable to the last: be-lov-ed. Thirty minutes. In that time - years, eons, temples, lovers, and the rage of birthing into a sensibility for partnership.

Partnership. Another twenty minutes. But, really, years and years.

My dear, beloved friend visits.

We’re driving across the bridge, headed for the woods. “I don’t let anyone too close anymore,” he confides, “I’m tired of merging.” With my eyes on the road, “What if it’s not about merging at all?”

I can’t see straight in the downpour, seeing instead a beautiful gilded chair in the center of the heart’s chamber. “What if you take your seat inside, find your balance, and then from that place, behold another.” He stares out the window, smiles, and turns to me, “Ok, I follow. I’m just admiring that you are able to do that.” I return the glance, funny now, “No, I suck at it. I’m just saying, what if you try…”

The conversation continues as we climb the front of the mountain, traverses as we cross the top in full fog, dropping over, dropping down the winding hill to the Redwoods at the bottom. The rain doesn’t let up. No matter, we enter the woods with delight. After walking for an hour, we peel back our hoods, tip heads to the sky, tongues out, drenched.

He bursts, “I feel completely high.” By this time I am jumping up and down, laughing, free. No longer a mother or a wife. Just me. My beloved friend and I haven’t seen each other truly for years. It’s been maybe this long since I have known myself in such a liberating light. But on this day, as we sip wine in the rain, pass chocolate, steady the slippery pear and knife, exchange slices of soft cheese, we hold a love that just keeps opening. In the midst of, around, and through the middle of roles and labels - straight and gay - this love endures. And we have no words anymore.

Days pass. We’ve seen coastal mountains, deep forests, bays, a wild lagoon, lush pasture, cities, bars, restaurants – complete with homemade chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, and bad TV. What I am filled with? A marriage of sorts.

Out of time and culture and social definitions, the soul.

My friend and I, we met at an ashram, two shawl-laden young people, chanting Sanskrit, so seriously meditating, and all too eager to break out, to speed down back roads in the Catskills, in hysterics about nothing in particular, riding high on life.

And now. We walk in the woods; I put a hand behind my head, “Oh, my neck.” He puts his hand on mine, “What? Your neck hurts?” I say, “It’s the weight of the hood. It hurts.” He stops. He looks at me. Nothing said, but he’s thinking, “Girlfriend, where have you been?” And I know. I look down and follow my feet, one step in front of the other, habit from heartbreak. I haven’t told the stories and neither has he spoken the unspeakable things between those days and these days. But he keeps his hand on my shoulder. In this way we will remain devoted.

Sun just up this morning and River says, “Bye, bye, Dim.” He leans in the window, “Bye, sweet girl.” She cries as he walks away. And we drive.

The day is about cleaning. Rearranging. Putting everything back in its place. “Mama, mama, mama.” All day. I am a mother. Four phone calls through out the day, and I am, again, a wife.

I say, “The sun is going night-night,” as we stroll through the neighborhood. Round the corner, we head home before dark.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Desert Flowers

At one of the best toddler parks in Berkeley, River looks at the swings, the see-saw, the slide. She glances over at the sand box, surveys the various cars, horses, carts, and appliances. One turn in the other direction, and she runs to the grass, down the open hill, to the small Redwood Grove at the bottom edge of the park. I yell after her, “River, come back. Wait for mama. Do not keep going!” She doesn’t turn around, hear the words, or care about the consequences. River runs for the trees.

I run behind her with a Rilke poem in mind. He says something like: Citizens, open the gates of your city. Step out. Don’t you long for the enemy to find you?

“No, no, no. River. Do not run away!” She reaches the first tree, towering grandfather, and leans into its heavy bark. But I can’t stop myself, “River, listen to me.” Pointing to the sidewalk, “This is the line. You may not cross it.” She stares at me for a moment, looks up to her elder, steps across the sidewalk, and heads for the creek. River runs for the water.

I catch up to her at the next edge. I want to keep appealing to nothing, but the trees and the water enchant me, too. And I get it. Of course, I get it. I want to run for the same things. I just don’t let myself anymore.

I hear another voice in the distance that questions, “You here alone? What’s a young thing like you doin alone on the road? You got a gun?” I look to the older man, he’s a hunter, I can tell. “Nope, no gun. I just felt like driving. Wanted to see the desert.” He shakes his head back and forth, slow disbelief, “Man –o- mighty, if I were yer daddy, I’d never let ya drive out here alone.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve been on the road for awhile. Not sure my dad knows where to find me. Can’t really afford to be scared. And anyway, it’s a beautiful thing to see so much space.”

The thing about the desert: it shows you what’s not there. Which reminds me of the title of a workshop that I took just days before the final demise of my first marriage – Getting Rid of What you Haven’t Got. Yep, a car accident, a workshop, a long road trip…that was pretty much the end of that! Sometimes it’s important to let go of people and places. And, sometimes, we look back a decade or two later and, sadly, realize that youth prompts us to clear the table of all contents, rather than confronting ourselves.

We learn. We age. We heal. Or not.

But if we want to leave the furniture in tact, it’s good to have friends. Not the nice kind of friends who support all of our decisions, but the ruthless (hopefully skilled) kind of friends. We cannot outrun anything. It’s really a matter of time. So, who are your friends and what are your agreements?

A good teacher is like a potter who holds the outside of the pot with one hand, while pushing out from the inside with the other. She takes us just beyond where we imagine we can go, holding steady, guiding our development. I fold my arms around her little torso. Little bean. “This is a creek, do you hear it?” She leans forward with a hand to her ear, “Mama, wa wa.” I point to the far end of a hidden, trickling inlet. “See through the branches, River, isn’t it magical?” She bends and looks for a minute, “Wah.”

I’m not in the desert. And I’m not at the creek. Sleep did not come to River today in the stroller out back or in the crib inside. After much protest, finally, her eyes closed five minutes into driving through an old, legendary park above Berkeley. And now I sit parked on the pinnacle of a hill, San Francisco across the water, the Golden Gate due West. Over a roof top the bay spreads out half way to the horizon. Turning my head far right, Mt. Tamalpais, black rising beauty. Behind her, down her back, the hills fall to the coast, outstretching to meet the ocean.

Trudging through the day, pained at my attitude in the midst of what I know to be open opportunities for peace. Some days are rain on the inside. Sun all around.

Standing over River’s crib in the dark, she doesn’t want me to tuck her in, no blanket at all. She asks for her car and her book, enfolding both in her arms, no kisses tonight. Almost to the door, I hear her say, “Sawry, sawry, sawry.” In the hallway I pause, close my eyes. I said sorry to her probably twenty times today.

I walk to my closet and take off my shirt. I scan and search, grab for the hot pink, black trimmed, flower motif blouse. All amends aside, the only thing left on my mind now is a drive across town, a small, swanky tapas bar, my beloved friend, and a dark glass of red wine.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Embrace

Today, no force. Harmful thought and deed, nowhere on the road today. Such is the stillness in these following evening hours.

I cannot speak to how this happened. It’s not mine to know. Perhaps it is in the ceasing to know, the slow putting down of the sword. And you wouldn’t guess that anything has changed. Small shifts, a momentary change of course here and there, just a time or two of going this way instead of that way – and yet the change is notable. You know you have let go when you are no longer trying to let go. You recognize yourself differently only after you didn’t say what you might have always said. Just after you don’t turn down the same familiar road.

Half way through our day, River sits in the middle of an antique Italian couch; blue-green velveteen motifs swirl around her frame. She listens to toddler tunes as I work on the computer. I glance over at her unconsciously and am struck by her gaze. “Mama,” she holds open her arms, “Huggies.” I am silent. I barely recognize her. She is no longer my daughter but I understand, the way trees understand, that I belong to her.

I drop to my knees and crawl across hardwood. Because I know what it is to bow, I become her student. It could be the walk of a lifetime or just ten feet, but I watch miles underfoot disappear and know that we are in another place altogether. Without pause, I rest my head in her lap, a whisper in the mind, why?

She places her hands, small petals, on my head and gently strokes from the crown, down the side, across my cheek. Four times she traces this path; each time I turn further inward. With each rotation of tenderness, we erase many moons of tension since the day she was born. I sigh, full of gratitude.

I have no idea who I will encounter, but I lift my head and look at her. Almond eyes, blue light, a poem to my looking. Softly, “You are extraordinary.” She cups my cheeks in her palms and smiles, “Nose…” and points to her snowman doll. Time collapses and we are back. “Yes, I see, River, the snowman’s nose is red.”

For hours afterwards, she plays and pauses, “Mama…..huggies,” and I go to her. She holds me fiercely, and I embrace that force. I don’t know what it’s all about and I don’t have a need to know. I’m here for it. I’m here for it.

Sundown, in the voting both, I connect lines in ink. An old man shuffles into the cue next to me. I feel him dying, the way I feel winter just around the bend. To my left, a woman sways with her baby, cooing as she casts a vote. I am juxtaposed, a brushstroke, somewhere between waking love and sleeping surrender.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Looking into Marriage

When I close my eyes: the outline of steeples, radiant neon against the black night of outer space. Opening, his eyes, steeples tucked deep in mossy green landscape. I look, finally, completely, because I have been invited. Together we lay, we look, we want to see, we choose ourselves, and for the first time, we choose each other. Our child sleeps fifty feet away.

In the beginning, we meet but we do not meet. We look but we do not look. We just want what we want and so. We make vows. We conceive. We birth and dwell and tend. We do not look.

This weekend a voice says, “Now turn to your partner and maintain eye contact. We will set the timer for five minutes. This will be terrifying for some of you.” I think to myself, Uh oh, breaking the rules. I turn my head and allow lashes to lift the curtain. True, it’s hard to look. There he is: new dawn, new day, new universe, this man I call my husband.

Over the hills of all the not-seeing, we look. And that’s enough.

Waves from that fire spread through the belly. Waves wash over quivering limbs, move through fields of nerve fiber, carried by rivers of blood. From the heart, a burning light, and we laugh; we can’t hold back the force of all the withholding, and we laugh. Laughter spills to tears.

The voice says, “Ok, if you have it in you, keep looking. This is a face that one day you will never see again.”

The waves pull back to sea, am I am pulled. I am leaving, returning to the night, and he recedes from view. Suddenly, I see owl, hawk, and wolf, looking out at me from his eyes. I see his people: Portugese, Spanish, Mexican elders. They bid me farewell and I turn quickly to avert death.

In an instant, through layers and years of anger, I encounter a grief so deep that it takes me back to the beginning. In the beginning, a spark of hope. I remember an impulse to love.

He looks at me still. Shades of light move in his eyes, passing clouds. A smile forms across his face, slow to find, full of heartache. Willing.

I do not know where I am in relationship. I do not know where I am. And by this truth, I begin to feel myself, in the wind, connected by blood and bone, solid yet hidden. So many years running on a beach, building bon fires, tracing SOS in the sand till my fingers were raw. Here I am. Find me. Save me. But now, I sit down. Right where I am. I forget about the elaborate stories, everything I have told myself about myself and about this man, and I sit quietly.

The voice says, “This is not about feeling better. That’s not love. Intimacy takes you to your knees. And your partner lets you stay there. That’s love.”

He continues, “My parents have been married for sixty-three years. I have taught about marriage for thirty. But it’s all I can do to sit across from them on the couch. They hold hands and discuss their burial wishes. I’m finally able to sit with them without having to say something……What are they going to do? What am I going to do without them?”

Walking back and forth, fifty married couples in silence, “That’s the thing. Marriage is devastating. It’s fierce. If you let it, if you allow yourself to desire, to want at all, it will kill you. And it’s supposed to. The real question: will you let it?”

My meditation teacher once said that the greatest act of love is when the ego allows itself to be transformed. Sounds romantic, doesn't it?

So I walk the streets today, unstable, coordinates all up in the air, nothing clear. But true. Uncomfortable. True. Willing to look.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rest in Faith

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, November 02, 2006

How We Shine

Listening to a song about the sun burning, as the rain pours to the pavement behind my back, out the window.

Yesterday, while sitting across from my amazing web designer, I began to cry. I really hate to cry, always have hated to cry, as far back as I can remember. Mid-sentence, answering questions about where I want to take this writing thing, questions about who I am, what I’ve done with my life, and what I see ahead, I welled up. I took a moment because I couldn’t speak; instead, I followed the image of myself as a kid, walking across the schoolyard, a group of kids behind me taunting.

My father owned a family drugstore close to my elementary school, and the kids used to make fun of me for having money (we really didn’t but I didn’t know it). Any time I walked out of the store with a toy, or came to school with anything new, they sneered. I didn’t let the embarrassment or shame show, I just became less visible.

In high school I was class president and played varsity sports. Just so that no one would feel bad in comparison, I failed most of my classes. I can’t think of one relationship I’ve ever been in where I didn’t make sure I wasn’t outdoing the people I cared about.

Instead of competing, achieving, excelling, I chose to safely remain just under the radar. Mustn’t shine or be too good at anything. It took me fifteen years to get my BA because I would always stop short of completion. I should have a PhD for all of the courses I have taken. And all the professional trainings that I have logged, but never allowed myself the certifications – it’s a shame.

Growing up in the shadow of a miserable alcoholic, who never allowed herself to receive proper credit for her aliveness, beauty, creativity, and skill, I withered. My happiness, especially my achievements, somehow made her feel worse. What to do. Had to get by, so I did it by becoming just a little crazier than her at any given moment. Can’t put that on a resume.

Anyway, nothing poetic to say today, can’t muster it. Just thinking about finally letting go of the habit and the story, and trusting that going with what I love will not truly hurt anyone else. And if it does, unbeknownst to me, then maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world either.

It’s so ironic. I thought I wrote in isolation because I was afraid of failing. No. That’s safe. Been there, done that. I am afraid to do well. Afraid to be bright.

Lots of prayer flags for this one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wild Horses

A million things today, but it’s late now. I stand in the dark, lean against warm tile, change the setting two to the right, arm up and dropped back, to send heat to the places I cannot see. And, funny, as the water travels down, all I see is desert. My eyes close because I want to go back to that land, that road, driving over a hundred on the highway, listening to Rumi’s poetry. Heat so intense, cars dot the roadside, broken down. But I fly. I laugh and cry, fast to the horizon by nightfall.

Speed turns to light, poems to music, music to crickets, and I am in Colorado. On my back in the grass, high mountain creek, a spot I choose in the morning and don’t leave until the moon comes up at night. I know I am above a canyon. I feel the void. Quiet trickle all day, sun arcs across the sky, and then the silhouette of my lover, who joins me in that grass. “I found your tracks. Took awhile.”

Arm in arm, legs entwined, we crawl into a nearby cave, and I am a thousand years old. He graces me that much. The mountain days.

In the water, hands smooth over cheekbones, checking to see how many miles and moons this body has known. No time forward, no time back – just waves. Guitar chords reverberate in deep recesses of memory – all the desire wound into eras of beat and tempo. This song, oh man, that time, that year, that man, that story. The heart reviews. And all those women folk singers - my angels, save me so many times I lose count. They find me now.

Hard day. Brutal around half-second morning turns. Tied in a bow during late afternoon. Turns sweet in the closing silence. Is this grace?

Tucked in bed, listening to Wild Horses over and over and over. Medic works, helicopter whoosh above; in the near-dream they patch me up. “It’s going to be ok,” one of them shouts through the dust. I lift, lift to the sky, and fix my eyes on him as he sings, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away…

Tonight we put River in her Bat Girl costume. All night she squeals, “Punkeens!” Driving through the dark hills, “Mama, Bot Goorl.” She cannot bear bedtime as I peel off her dress. “No, no, no, I wan bat gawrl,” she moans. Yes, my sweetie, I know. I know.

Music in my ear about putting guns down, taking off badges, leaving old places. Suddenly it’s me. I’m four, singing to my mother, “Mama put my guns in the ground, I can’t shoot them anymore. That long black cloud is coming down, I feel like I’m knockin on heaven’s door.” It’s still me, still singing, facing River. Turning around, my mother - in the shower, in bed, just me.

Feeling seasoned, stewed, a well-worn road. I do not wish for any other path. I wish, simply, to accept my own. Something calls from across the room, and I walk to my desk to find a quote scribbled on a scrap of paper. A gem to hold at the edge of sleep:

Beauty must be defined as what we are, or else the concept itself is our enemy.