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black birds singing in the dead of night...

between the moon and fire

It's almost three in the morning and I can feel my arms and back burning from working in the garden all early evening into night. We've been manifesting firewood lately. It comes in buckets, or bags. I drove by an old spa store and saw a pallet by the dumpster - just sitting there, all that wood, to be thrown away. I asked the owner if I could have it. I didn't realize it would be impossible to fit it into my car at the time. A little corolla can only take so much. Once I loaded up about 20 cinder blocks (evenly dispersed for weight control) and I thought the car was going to just collapse a mile down the road. I didn't have string, the trunk was filled with clothes to be dropped for donation that had found their way all over the trunkspace like a little girl's messy closet floor. It was ok, messy but given with love! The owner, Arnie, grabbed his little battery-operated saw and cut the pallet down for me. We just stood there, him sawing, myself stomping on the pieces to halve them, the sky trying desperately to hold onto the sun in a way that made all the blues and yellows stretch and pull over the city. Then Rebekah's father stopped by with more crates filled with tiny pieces I would think were "extra" if I were building a bookshelf. Tiny ones, they burn bright blue. It's true, I picked up a pack of microbrews and we might have been smoking a bit on the porch. It's true that I don't wear fur and don't eat meat usually, except for the tilapia for dinner and the fur coat Rebekah brought me to keep me warm outside. She had been gone for awhile, inside putting her boys to sleep. Kai didn't want to stay outside, "too cold," she said, "my bones hurt," she said. I built the fire big, even had to move the chair back because I was getting rather toasty. My legs started to itch from the heat. I thought of how many people would fit around the fire. More than just one, more than me. I studied it for a long while, wrapped in a blanket, a fur. So quick it burns, I thought, think about the origin and journey of the wood that's warming you right now. Always think of the origin of things - this unites us and offers a universal understanding about the world nothing else can teach us. We mustn't define the origin so rigidly as much as we should draw our awareness to the fact that there is one and we are all from it. I find myself listening a lot softer these days. Rebekah's father Jim came with stories of Belize from twenty years ago. His friend had a vision to go start a church there and within twenty years he also established a hospital, orphanage and three sister churches. I'm not sure about all the church business, I've always felt conflicted about that. Is it really spreading good or just dessimating culture? No one can ever really "bring" god to people, can they? Well, of course just look at all of the oppressed cultures that shifted religion because it was assimilation or nothing. Plus, it bothers me when people mis-represent the true teachings of Jesus. I'm not even religious, at all, and I know what he was saying, I get it. Loud and clear, so what I don't understand is that if there are so many people believing in living by his words - just how is it even comprehendable that we are in the state we're in? You know, I hear people all the time talk about the ghettos they really have no clue about. They equate South Phoenix to a war zone, even though they've never been to either. I remember reading, I think it was in Inga Muscio's latest book The Autiobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil, about this Mormon boy who was on his bicycle spreading the word and he approached a 90 year old Mexican woman. Inga's watching this on the bus, from her window. And she writes that she remembered thinking or feeling she was witnessing such a violation. How could this boy possibly think he can walk up to this woman and preach to her? She's 90! I'm not sure, but I feel I'm making so much peace with religion lately. I was never at war with religion. Religion has been at war with me for a long time. And my mother…and my mother's mother. And my mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother….religion has been promising crusade and bad blood. It makes no sense to me. I don't see how people don't see this. In America I hear boneheads sometimes talk about Muslims and their suicide missions….and I think to myself…how can you justify kissing your rifle and strapping on your boots and praying to God, but you cannot justify kissing the detonator, strapping on boots and praying to God? Is it just me…are these things not the same thing? Maybe my scope of war will widen once I have seen more and understand more, I'm always open to that possibility. I just don't get what all the fighting has to be for. There's plenty of land, let's spread out. There's plenty of food, let's portion. There's plenty of names you can use to manifest something to believe in. I think that at the core of belief is a drive that compels us toward a sense of better, a grass is greener type of situation, if you will. Makes me sing Amos Lee in my head, "You know the grass is always greener in someone else's yard, oh and the world is so much meaner when your heart is hard…" I just feel like if we'd just stop trying to convert each other into ourselves we would really be able to enjoy more color and peace in this world and it would probably let earth rest for awhile since we would be collaborating and figuring things out. That's what is happening NOW.

I want the goddess energy back. I want the red tent resurrected. I want to bleed on soft towels and let my sisters massage me when I ache. I want to sing and speak poetry while working in the garden. I feel a very sacred energy was stolen from me and a whole history taught to me void of the goddess. The only words I knew for tending herbs and loving trees was "witch" and I knew what an iron maiden was and what the crusades did to women, so I stayed away from that one. It did lead me to reading intensely very early about witch trials, the role of religion in all of it and what has happened since. I think that's why I really have no desire to be religious. I love the earth, I commune with it daily, I give back as I take and I share what's given to me and that's why at two in the morning last night Rebekah and I discussed all of those things in front of the fire. Because we need to speak them and hear each other. I need to see her hands clasped in prayer just as she needs to see me light sacral chakra incense and then omm. We fed the fire and spoke honestly. Any other time I might have felt slightly exposed, but I curled up in that whicker chair and felt so warm that stories spilled out I had not spoken in a long while. I told her about my father who gave me a briefcase when I was a child to use for my "private treasures" he said. My mom found my diary one day, read it, gave it to my father and then he found the briefcase. He sat in front of me reading every single word on every single page and I could only cry or stare at the cracks in his hands waiting for him to be done. Last night the fire opened its mouth wide and let loose hundreds of burning embers and Rebekah listened to the brief case story. I think it is actually the first time in a very long time I felt like I was being listened to gently. I know my place is amongst women and near gardens. I know it is with music and poetry, guitars and violins. I was not raised to understand community, that is something I discovered on my own. I was not raised in a matriarch, but maybe collective memory just won't let it rest. Maybe the singing of the matriarch, of those mothers long gone, is the structure of my bones and hands. I feel like I'm always running into the open arms of mother earth - faceless, nameless, a light too perfect to be anything but the moon. I wish I had been exposed to more gentle men in my life, I'm sure there is more time and I hope stepping outside of America will help with that one. Or will it? All I know is that in front of the fire we talked for almost six hours while the kids slept and birds sang. I knew I would have to wake up in only three hours, but how could I resist? How often do you sit for six hours in front of a fire and talk about the condition of the world and transforming it one square foot at a time?

For awhile I wouldn't go to Rebekah's. Kai always went, she lived there practically. It was an alluring land five houses down. I wondered about the woman with flowers in her hair and squash leaves so big I thought they were lily pads. We were mysterious creatures to each other. I wondered if Kai went over there telling them I was a lunatic and if our tumultuous break up energy was being channeled into someone else's brand new perception of who I was. But, moments are enough to transform anything and when we met that's what it took. I'm no longer mysterious, she just really loves flowers and almost three in the morning we're curled up in front of the same fire saying things we may forget the next day but needed to be spoken in the moment. I wrote a poem once about a girl I loved who wrote while driving - reckless! I nearly died for some of her sonnets! But I love that sense of urgency, when you feel something so intensely you must speak or write or interpret creatively in whatever manner is most delightful for you… some of the best lines I've written came from a moment of life or death -figuratively - if I chose life I would express, it would be out of me and into the world. Death was like handing my most private journal over into the hands of someone who is going to read it, but it will only be words to them. The words won't sing to them. The words won't comfort them. The words won't validate them. That's how I feel inside when I'm not writing - as though the singing has stopped, but the pen is a mighty conductor and with even a letter, it resumes.

I've been working on a manuscript about birds, relationships and women. 200 pages over 6 months. I kept the same sketchpad, wouldn't type it up until I finished it. I knew whatever I was writing was alive and couldn't be contained. Now…I'm done writing that, but I don't feel done. I feel as though the manuscript has stopped, the journal is filled…but when I bought another journal and sat down to write it was just a continuation. I wanted to add more birds. I started to really think about the women in my life and what birds they clicked with in my mind. I have known for three weeks I must add one more bird. Add one more bird. I even made it the password for my work phone so every day I log in I have to type that. Add 1 bird. Who is it? I look at everyone with possibility and the person I least think will fall into it is my first black bird. I was just looking at her the other day while she talked to me and she turned her head a certain way, there was a sharpness in her eyes and then a black bird flew into the fountain outside. She smiled at him and said something such as, "He's beautiful, look at that sharpness." The Beetles' black bird song came into my mind at the same moment her lips moved and she began to sing it. Sometimes I just need one omen and find my hands full of them.

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Comments

Sharese's picture

Beauty in flight.

Thank you so much for this. Your words vibe well with my soul and make me feel as if I am someone safe with kindred spirits.

When you write "I just feel like if we'd just stop trying to convert each other into ourselves we would really be able to enjoy more color and peace in this world" my heart skipped a beat.

Thank you again, Please keep writing.

In peace and love,

Sharese

Mei Li's picture

Thank you : ) I always make

Thank you : )
I always make it a point to let the people who inspire me know they inspired me, because that, in and of itself, is inspiring :)

And I really do feel like that. Religion in my life has done little more than show me blatantly the oppression of women and ideas. I see large gaps in history, I want the gaps back. I want the stories to rise from the graves and fall from the sky, simoultaneously.

What's your story Sharese? What have you lived through that made your heart skip a beat when you read that line?

In peace and love to you beauty,
Melissa

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

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