Duality

there are moments of astonishment and resignation that hold me forever in debt and bondage to the memories I harbor from living a childhood in a small, factory town,
in a family in constant battle

I belonged to a family with a fatal attraction to intensity,
to instant gratification,
to outrageousness of response

we were instinctive, not thoughtful,
connoisseurs of fight and flight,
never happy unless we waged our own private war against the rest of the world,
priding ourselves in our ability to survive

and the war just repeated and repeated itself,
only revealing itself to be a war against ourselves,
lives in constant, unrelenting tension,
always dancing with blind risk and driven by fear of exposure,
a life composed of ice and falling rock

these frequent moments of surprise and consecration center around a singular fear –
a fear of emptiness in life, nihility, boredom,
the hopelessness of a life devoid of thoughtful action;
it is the death-in-life of the masked perpetuity of middle class,
the fear of the kind of deep dive that brings forth truth which sends a shiver through my soul

I often try to ground myself,
remembering the days so long ago when I buried my tiny bare toes in the clean grass,
the fresh smell of rain seeping through the cheap wooden screen door as I stood, listening, with my innocent forehead pressed against it,
and I try to duplicate it –
if I walk my tired bones before the sun rises,
take the time to breathe in the silence of the air and feel the moonlight on my face,
I am sometimes able to connect myself to the deep hum of the planet,
inject life into the marrow of these papery bones

but if I continuously turn on the television or bury my face in the rabbitole of my phone to avoid an evening alone with myself,
it feels as if I am admitting my membership with the living dead

it is the humble, messy, industrial town part,
the splintered, chaotic part of me that is most quintessentially and fiercely alive

those small town, tumultuous memories are the ones that infiltrate the entirety of whatever authenticity I continually bring to light as an aging woman

it is an intricate duality that exists –
they can both fuel and extinguish my flame if I let them

Miracle

it was one of life‘s miracles,
the way my body was home to us both as we grew,
this body becoming larger as it rearranged itself to make room for you,
my self transforming into someone I’d never been,
someone I wasn’t even sure I knew how to be

but that grew, too,
exponentially larger than my belly,
stretching to fill all the open spaces of possibility;
it fed us both

and you,
from a tiny spark into a beating heart,
one that beat because mine had beaten,
one that gave mine new life

I still fed you when you finally made it into my arms,
your soft palms stroking the bareness of my chest,
fingers grasping at my own,
a lifeline only we could share,
a bond I didn’t know I needed until just that moment,
and I never wanted to let you go

now, all these years later,
you’ll be leaving soon,
out into the world to find your place,
stretching to fill all the open spaces of possibility,
another of life’s miracles

Delicate

what do we allow to lie, hiding,
in the margins of our silence?
in the sinking absence of all impetus?

autumn leaves change not by choice,
but by necessity,
a silent, inevitable reaction to all time passed,
to all interaction that came before,
an inherent response to the wholeness of their surroundings,
to their experience of living

first, it is a slow loss,
almost imperceivable,
then a maelstrom of many stimuli at once,
eventually becoming the catalyst to something so beautiful and transforming,
it feels extraordinary,
because it is

then, there is a necessary letting go,
a freeing and frightening fall whose landing transforms into something fertile,
something that slowly,
not painlessly,
decomposes to feed their own roots,
to prepare them for days to come

what do autumn leaves know that we do not?
what lies in the margins of our silence,
in the delicacy of our awe?