dear child

i had hoped to keep you
innocent
so much longer
told teachers to leave you be
told you to explore and run and play
you, who loves to dance
and sing
you, who i knew
would be bored
in school

yet,
here we are
you have been found out
not by your family,
because of course we knew,
but by that grade three test
and then the other ones that followed,
to make sure…
and how proud grandma will be
and how terrified i am
for with genius
comes a curse

dear child,
you are more that your big brain
you do not have to be the smartest
to be loved

i love your terrible temper,
and hope to help you master it,
though for now you are so young
and a reliably sore loser

i love your too-loud
off-key singing,
the way even as a baby
you swayed to music

i love the way you love yourself,
parading in front of the mirror,
styling your hair and checking out
your own wiggling bum

i love your stubborn refusal to pee
before the cottage drive,
and the inevitable
highway-side pit-stop

i love your sense of humour
creeping into my room
at 5 am
in vampire teeth

i love your refusal to go to bed
always “scared”, or “hungry,”
thinking of any excuse
to prolong the day

i love your cuddliness
always leaning in,
climbing on,
draping over…

i love your honesty
earnestly confessing a misdemeanor
and your attempts to lie,
red-faced and guilty

and yes,
i love your too-big brain,
but don’t let it define you,
my child, my love

i am afraid
of the peaks and caverns
of your over-charged mind;
afraid for you

the line between genius
and mania is blurry
too many ideas
competing for ascension

the clamour
can become dark
and dangerous;
depression

you have inherited a gift
and a curse
that not all your ancestors
have survived

but i hope
fervently, feverishly,
that you will remain
innocent

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

Part 5: Found

IMG_2019

skip ahead three decades
and you will find her,
calm and filled with wonder
her hands having become tools;
fingertips alive with a seventh sense
able to feel the barest palimpsest
engraved in dark places

the journey has been long
and she is tired,
having released many incarnations of her soul
to create this opus:

the angry girl burst
and disappeared
after she forgave herself;

the scholar dove,
swimming like breathing,
on instinct;

the lover was troublesome,
with a penchant for rescuing broken souls
thereafter enabling all manner
of bad behavior
for which she paid dearly;

becoming a mother healed her,
for in mothering her children,
she mothered herself;

within the mess of life and release,
she grew her spirit
until one midsummer day,
she awoke,

tears streamed down her cheeks,
not of sorrow,
for she was love,
in its purest form

her soul vibrated,
rippling over her dear one,
asleep beside her,
caressing her two
beautiful boys

she felt everything;
she crackled with life,
and would have roared with it
had it been morning,

she awoke
to the present

now

she is calm and filled with wonder
for life is love
and love is life
and she has found her place
in both.

1Sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2017

outside the spectrum

just outside the spectrum
of visible light,
the child spins, arms hanging,
not helicopter-like…
gazing up, and right,
in the direction of his spiraling
imagination

the mother casts his name,
luring him back;
siren mother singing
her absent son
home

the child hears all
and everything
his name a murmur
buzzing bee-like;
an annoyance
he ignores

the child laughs
and returns,
hugs the mother,
looking up into her softening face,
proclaiming “I love you,”

she asks him where he went
but he was nowhere
and everywhere
all his senses more
and bigger
and oh, so much brighter
than hers
he was feeling the whispers
of laughter on his skin,
the old monster,
Seam-In-The-Socks
attacking his toes
and all the while wondering
if he had saved enough allowance
for a new video game,

there, in the half light,
the child blinks in and out
of existence
tethered by love
ready to fly away…
the mother whispering
incantations,
prayers to Whoever
that the boy will grow
roots.

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2017

Fragments

incessant pounding of cartoon
noise, canned music,
whistling birds
battering themselves into walls
why is my child laughing?
I push a stray hair
off his forehead
and search those hazel eyes,
feeling sadness
like a slow break-up,
already nostalgia is setting in
I miss these cartoon days
even as they play in the background
simultaneously looking
backward
and forward
time fragments into snapshots
my child,
laughing
I long to freeze the moment
already
gone

1Sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

Stillborn

thoughts spiral
the crown, whirring and popping
images burned onto retina
upside and
down
deep where the scan glows red
blinking out a memory

why can’t this collection of neurons
forget her face
whose lips were accidentally,
reflexively,
sloughed off,
with that no-longer-quite-sterile gauze?

she was meant to breathe

her.
not breathing.

eclipsed sound
burst eardrums
made deaf and mute,
senseless
good as a knock-out punch
but worse
knowing it was coming,

not fair
to promise life
and give,
instead,
the end of everything

1Sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

wise woman

now i am a wise woman
having learned that
i know nothing
except how to take their hands
and lead them through the maze of pressure
and blood
up winding mountain paths
urging them forward though they want to rest
finding a safe place to shelter them;
“rest now,” i whisper,” just a little,”
offering sips of water
though they are not boxers
and this is not a ring
i am wise to the ways
of love and birth;
know that it is a worthy journey,
and they are ready
having discarded boots and gloves,
bravely digging toes into the damp earth
their fingers find purchase
in rocky places
and i am there to rub their hands,
tell them “yes, it hurts, like love,
like life, and you are strong,
your tribe is all humanity;”
i am blessed to make this journey
many times over
to know the terrain,
to jog along easy summer trails with
the hurried ones,
birthing like breathing,
to grapple and belay up arduous cliffs
met unexpectedly,
but fearlessly
by other parents,
their brows furrowed and sweat-soaked,
but hopeful, so hopeful,
for the waiting joy;
i know life,
how it hangs precious
in the gaps…
i wait for it,
coax it,
sometimes bargain with it,
i am firm with life,
commanding it,
i am soft with it,
easing precious new being from warm
uterine cave,
to place on exhausted parent’s chest,
and smile,
and whisper
“welcome, we have been waiting for you.”

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

 

wise woman

now i am a wise woman
having learned that
i know nothing
except how to take her hand
and lead her through the maze of pressure
and blood
up the winding mountain path
urging her forward though she wants to rest
finding a safe place to shelter her
“rest now,” i whisper,”just a little,”
offering sips of water
though she is not a boxer
and this is not a ring
i am wise to the ways
of love and birth;
know that it is a worthy journey,
and she is ready
having discarded boots and gloves,
bravely digging toes into the damp earth
her fingers find purchase
in rocky places
and i am there to rub her hands,
tell her “yes, it hurts, like love,
like life, and you are strong,
your tribe is all women;”
i am blessed to make this journey
many times over
to know the terrain,
to jog along easy summer trails with
the hurried ones, birthing like breathing,
to grapple and belay up arduous cliffs
met unexpectedly, but fearlessly
by other mothers,
their brows furrowed and sweat-soaked,
but hopeful, so hopeful,
for the waiting joy;
i know all
about life,
how it hangs precious
in the gaps…
i wait for it,
coax it,
sometimes bargain with it,
i am firm with life,
commanding it,
“breathe, little one,
even if my fingers are beating your heart,
and i must force air into miniscule lungs,”
i am soft with it,
easing precious new being from warm
uterine cave,
to place on exhausted mother’s chest,
and smile,
and say,
“welcome, we have been waiting for you,”
as she crests the summit and smiles,
tears streaming down her face.

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

More than the sum…

More than the sum . . .

I am a mountain,
The rolling foothills
Of my soul climb,
Float,
soar
To the summit
Bursting storm clouds,
Battering my northern face.

I am a river
The rushing waters
Of my blood
Churning the earth
That cradles me,
Mother-like.

I am a wild and thorny rose
Full bloomed and fragrant
Softly, sweetly, fiercely
Defending
My
Self.

I am a woman
Grown strong in my
Weed-lot life
Meandering un-beckoned through
Fences and flagstones
Tenderly encircling
My dandelion children,
Purple loosestrife sisters,
Whispering
“Grow . . . grow . . .
For we are the creators
of life.”

1Sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

Part 2: Daddy

Rewind:

Sifting sifting through the muck
for signs of love
i find you, Daddy,
in bed on a Saturday morning
two little ones wrapped around your torso
i am the one clinging to your shoulder
jeffrey is trying to ride you,
you snort and whinny
toss him high
screeching with laughter.

Fade…
hopping over egg-shells
through mud and worms,
falling into a stormy sea
and you
you are a buoy
we cling to
marking the perimeter
of sanity
but you are a slippery savior
one minute solid,
the next shadow in mist
and then gone
and we four splashing, cling solemnly, uncrying
best we can
to childhood.

I channel you
singing softly to my babies at night
rub their ear lobes gently to wake them,
as you did,
they call me Mommy,
and gaze up at me full of hope and love,
but I am more you than her.

You were beaten down by her too
monster-mouth mother wife
she made you dumb
you gave up the fight
but here’s the thing, Daddy

You did not protect us

And I understand,
because my babies
are in a stormy sea
and I am their bouy,
though they don’t yet know it,
and every other Wednesday
I abandon them,
And I understand now
that sometimes it is out of our hands.

1Sagefemme All Rights reserved 2016

Part 1: Mother

imageHere goes,
Gotta touch my tar soul,
Figure out where
The road began.
Bipolar mensa mind
Ignoring river-rush labour
Finished her exam,
Aced it,
Added baby to the book pile.

What did I call you then?
Surely not
“Mommy.”

Reach, reach deep into the pit,
Sift and churn
Find no memory of her arms hugging
No soft fingers wiping tears,
No smile, no tender,
No motherish love.

Smart girl, that’s me,
Anxious to please
And protect
Belly burning hot like coals
I was a poor substitute
For Her.
But learned to mother that younger brother
and sister and other brother…
And thank god really for the one who flew away
Because it would have just been too many.
Wish I knew then
How to help them
I knew nothing,
Except that we were burdens,
Too loud, too needy, too messy, too
Human
Too
small.

In my head, a constant rat-a-tat
Tongue clicking, throat opening
scream.
“You are a stupid girl
for such a smart girl.
Can you never stop babbling,
So useless, never thinking of me,
This house is unclean, and I work unseen
For you all, you all,
all you ungrateful children…
STOP, do not touch that. Do not eat that
Do not jump or run or fly or laugh or cry,
EAT IT!
Stand, sit, sleep,
Why are you still in bed,
GET UP!”
March, march, march
To school
And pretend that you are loved.

Flashback:
A small child sits in her mother’s lap at the mall
The mother is stroking her hair,
kissing her head,
The child smiles up at her.
I watch and do not understand
Why is the girl happy?
Why would she want to sit in her mother’s lap?

Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat
Scurrying rat-girl, that’s me
Straight A’s
Because gym doesn’t count
And She is proud
Her genes made those marks,
She is a Good Mother.

I feel something like pride, then
Smiling Mother,
Whispers of grade-skipping, SAT’s
“You will be a genius, like me,
A Doctor, like me,”
Yes Mom, yes,
A genius
Like you.
Are you a genius?
Because you seem more like a monster.

Bipolar years begin in earnest then,
I’d like to say I remember,
But that would be an exaggeration,
Two years compressed in my middle-school mind
Two years of cold and lonely,
Washing blood off underwear at 2 am
Not to burden Dad,
Please don’t cry Dad,
Nobody cries in this house, Dad.
Mom says you’re useless, Dad
Useless, not-so-smart Dad
I will be strong for you.

Flashback:
A little girl sits in her father’s lap,
Sucking her thumb
Towel wrapped around wet hair
He reads “Peter Rabbit,”
I listen and rest my head on his chest.

Flashforward:
Mother in the hospital,
Will they fix her?

Fixed,
Medicated,
Mended,
But still monster-mouthed.

“You have grown rude and ugly, girl,
Do you embarrass me on purpose?
How dare you tell me how to parent?”
The coal-belly burned too hot,
and we fought, and I began to block
No more blows landed past my forearm,
And it was time then,
For me to go.

In the way of good, smart girls,
I went
Without looking back,
Not once,
Into the devastated face of my youngest brother
Watching out the bedroom window
As we drove away…

1SageFemme All Rights Reserves 2016