A Different Kind of War

A Different Kind of War

It is a different kind of war we wage when it comes to love. For in finding our center of gravity we also let go of everything that ties us to the floor of certainties. We don’t realize how many puzzle pieces are missing until we find the soul who owns them. Within this completion is a sense of peace unheard of. Within this wholeness dwell the innermost truths we never dared to whisper out loud, but only dreamed we would actually feel someday. And within this orb of unheard truths we step forward together, hand in hand, heartbeats syncing. We don’t know what is around the blind corners, but nevertheless, we do not let go of each other. Because if nothing else we have discovered that the world makes no sense if we aren’t together.

It is a different kind of war we fight when it comes to love. There are monsters behind those corners, and they attack our orb of pink gold light with weapons made of shadows. But I will fight back to back with you against these attacks and the dark places, those innermost truths my weapon. And if our light sputters and we lose some of the battles, we still press forward hand in hand: always stronger together. Perhaps a day will come when I am not strong enough to fight. When thick gray fog rises to obscure the intricate ties that bind our hearts and souls together. If this should happen, please find me again, and hold me in the home of your arms. Until the beat of your heart beside my ear heals all of the broken parts and makes all of those ties even stronger.

It is a different kind of war we face when it comes to love. As we continue forward we will glimpse peaceful cities and rolling fields so vibrantly green, and perhaps we’ll jump into rivers and dry off again under brilliant rays of sun. We will not always have to fight shadows and monsters. But if a day comes when we enter a dark wood and you should lose your way, remember that I will find you. Or if you find yourself facing an impenetrable wall on all sides, know that I will not stop until I conquer the wall brick by brick. And if it should happen that you fall inside yourself, trapped at the bottom of your soul, never forget that I will always reach for you and pull you back towards the light. One day there may be problems I cannot fix. But I’ll hold you as close as I can while I fight ghosts that haunt you. And keep you safe until morning.

It is a beautiful kind of war we declare when it comes to love. And we know it isn’t a constant war, and in the end, the plenty will outweigh the famine. Perhaps there will be days when I wear a white dress that tickles my feet, and we’ll visit hilltops or orchards of apple blossoms. Or perhaps we’ll find a peaceful library with a nook containing just enough pillows. You’ll read something French and I’ll stick to the Postmodern. And the days like this will make it easier when the white turns to red, and we find ourselves in battle again.

I visited a cathedral once. And saw rows of standards taken into battle. Flags that had seen so much death, and had somehow made it home. Now they hang in places of sanctuary and God. A testament to their victory, to the preciousness of what the fight was for.

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Phoenix

Phoenix

There was a girl who stood
at the top of the world
we all watched her rise
and some of us were happy

She stood there and glittered
clean and untouchable

And then one day the world turned
and she fell from that place
we watched all the glitter shed
off of her like skin

None of us were there when she
hit the bottom of the sky

I thought about her often
and wondered about her death
If it had been white, red, or black

White like a soul escaping
stretched thin by its separateness
and burned away before the sun

Or crimson red like a broken heart
stuck in a pattern of beats
until it surrenders to the silence

Though perhaps it was black
like the souls of men who put flowers
on the graves they’ve created

But maybe it was none of those
and it was only gray

Gray like the ashes of an explosion
that was so beautiful
it killed everything to live

I think those ashes covered her
becoming new glitter
trying to convince her
of her new place in the world

And for a very long time after
we could not see her

Out of habit, we looked for her skyline
and all the lights were gone
we wondered about the aftermath
what would be there
if the ashes ever left the sky

I imagined a ring of fire
around the crater where she lay
and her eyes were closed
below the costs of ash and smoke

But one day they opened
and they were full of so much fire
that all her condemning flames
shuddered and withdrew from true might

She rose from the crater
brushing ashes and glass off her skin
like words that didn’t matter

with every step that she now took
across her new wasteland
a hot wind blew at the edges
of a once blue dress

She reached her hands high above
to a limitless sky
empty of the reels and negatives
while she declared,
“You don’t need to save me.”

And the world grew back

Instead of a mountain where she stood
it was a wide plain
wide and free

To this place she rose
and here she will rebuild
something much more beautiful
than all the shattered lights

Space of Sky

If I lay very still, close my eyes, and breathe out everything that is crowding my head, one of two things always happens to me.

I always see myself somewhere. Every time. Sometimes I am in a green field. It is probably my favorite place to visit. It’s very beautiful there. And sometimes I see myself in a stretch of sky. Arms and legs outstretched, eyes closed. Floating.

Perhaps it is a form of meditation that causes me to go to these two places, perhaps my imagination. It could be any number of things, really. Maybe you have similar experiences, places that you go when you leave the world for a moment. And, like it is for me, maybe these places show you a bit more about yourself. And maybe they help you move forward when you come back to the world. And maybe they offer you the answers you can never seem to find elsewhere.

Whatever it is or whatever it may mean to you, to me these things that come to me are very special. They help me so much, and perhaps more than I even know.

Space of Sky

I am in a space of breathy blue and cloudy white
floating with arms and legs outstretched
filling the space my soul has already claimed
perhaps this space is the sky
but there is no box of ground and space
only me and the sky

Perhaps I fall very slowly downward
or maybe I rise
my hair ripples around me, my eyes are closed
peace and tranquility live here
it is as if every pore of my body and soul
is open to the space around me

It is the space of my higher self, I think
and such a lovely place
when it holds me in the embrace of stillness
I have no fears, and I have no doubts
every thought and feeling points to the same thing
if there are voices they whisper good things

Here in this place of soft light and sound
I am free from daily things
there exists no bubble inside of my chest
which holds all the things I do not say
no bridge of emotions instead of a diaphragm
helping me breathe forward

In this space of peaceful movement
there is no fierce longing for things unknown
there is no reckless passion
I do not ache for soil I haven’t touched
or yearn for words I haven’t found
I only am

When I come here, to my very own sky
I am empty, and also full
everything in my soul that I try to contain
spills over the edges and fills my sky
so that I am there inside myself
but also in everything around me

In this moment of my soul spilling outwards
and surrounding me
I realize that it is good
and fears are put to rest
it is as if all the bits and pieces can breathe
and my deepest self is clean

I see what I am
what I can become
I view time not in a line
but in a massive expanse of perspective
I feel the promise of eternity in my fingertips
I know where the truth lies

And for the briefest of moments
for the smallest of seconds
I am free
I am brave
I understand what I cannot
I am a soul ignited

Stop the Sun

stop the sun

i asked you to stop the sun
to keep it right there
before it left the dome sky
don’t let it touch the horizon yet
wait for me to cross the world
and stand with you beside the pond
where all the fireflies live
and then the cathedral colors
can fade into the indigo night
but it won’t matter that the
world is ready to dream
because i will be with you
underneath a blanket of stars
and there will be that soft
rightness of settling home
and that will be real

The Grace House

The Grace House

below the little house
at the top of the hill
are cottonwood trees
that cast shadows
across the silvery road
and for a moment they
hide all of the reasons
that I am driving
to the house

• • • • •

my sister’s hugs
have always been
the perfect balance of
fortress and lighthouse
comfort and strength
when I walk in the door
her excitement is soft
and she smiles

• • • • •

the guest room is
full of rosy light and
plump, gray pillows
Lucy wags her tail
and crowds my feet
as I leave all the reasons
in my suitcase

• • • • •

William has a red box
full of small Legos
that we dump out all
over the master bed
red, yellow, and blue
against white blankets
and he always wants
a house or a bike

• • • • •

Gus wobbles on tiny legs
sometimes giving up
to crawl even faster
other times he hugs
my legs tightly for
just one moment as
he walks by me in a
small second of needed
love amid play

• • • • •

two dainty, white cups
live beside the stove
after bubble baths and
bedtime stories my
sister fills them with
steaming water and as
the peppermint steeps her
husband smiles goodnight

• • • • •

our words mingle
together with the tea
and the cups make soft
clicking sounds
we’ll do this more than
once in the calm of the
night and unpack all
of the reasons

• • • • •

I have reasons for coming
and she for asking me to
but they all gather close
in a cup of herbal tea as we
transfuse both wisdom and
a special love that exists in
the realm where others don’t

• • • • •

she is older than me
but often asks for wisdom
I simply wish that
I could hold the soft
strength and love that
she protects me with

• • • • •

in the cool grace of her
home my sister repacks
all of my reasons
but now they are rose gold
instead of midnight blue
I help her weed the beds
of her reasons and reposition
the sun

• • • • •

she planted bits of lavender
that quietly spread until the
garden mists with purple sprigs
she presses her hands together
tightly and smiles proud and
happy excited for the growth
William does that, too

• • • • •

she holds a depth that is
similar to my own
a universe attempting to
fit inside flesh and bone
the spaces have collided
but know now that they
extend one another

The Pilgrimage Road

The Pilgrimage Road

At first we stepped onto it
because wilderness was less wild
and more uncertain
And we thought we’d been promised
enlightenment instead of fear
in miracle prayers

Protected by our blindness
we traveled the pilgrimage road
holding our trinkets
Prior to our journey we wanted
to transcend the uncertainty
we thought we might rise

They told us ahead was hope
urged us to forget the disquiet
in marvelous prayer
The road grew ever wider
and the stops became less frequent
soon we did forget

Memories were pushed away
because we no longer needed them
on this crusade road
Men, women, and their children
traveling the pilgrimage road
did not need reasons

The road became our houses
filled with our baubles and trinkets
we found new meaning
There was no need to look back
without mirrors or memories
just our daily road

But in the blind forgetting
a danger heavier than fear
more than confusion
Bright sunlight burned dark to ash
spread it under flowers we past
still we didn’t know

All along our faithful road
lay crates and baggage forgotten
soon to become ash
Abandoned by forgetting
we didn’t need remembering
we didn’t need fear

Boxes of why forgotten
and left where we couldn’t remember them
we did need reasons
By the time we remembered
too far down the pilgrimage road
it was much too late

Stardust and Ink

Stardust and Ink

We are trapped behind bars
of paper and ink. Defined by
the black and white. Destined
to form the shapes they call
letters and words. We hide
behind pages and let our
weapons dry in ink. We
count syllables and words.

And in doing so we attempt
to make the everyday count.
We write about things that
aren’t true in order to whisper
about the things we hold inside
us in boxes of pain and scars.
Boxes make the best stories.
So we count those, too. But we
don’t talk about any of this, or
anything really. We just
construct chapters, themes, or
stanzas to surround it with
binding. That’s how we tell the
truth. We present things in a gold-
rimmed goblet empty of the blue
that we turned into ice and when
it shatters we count the pieces.

I lined up bottles of ink
and watched them slowly
drain. Holding in my hand
things mightier than warfare.
The things that foster or
pulverize the peace. Across
the room shelves filled with
pages covered in my new
patterns. I turned my boxes
into pages because they were
taking up space in the corners
where the sunlight doesn’t
reach. Now they are bound
with thread, imagery, and
symbolism rather than lock,
key, and prison door. I’ll let
you read the stories they turned
into. And once the words leave
the page and enter your own
corners they’ll belong to you, too.

Phrases stick out and people pass
by, all with different contents.
And so we pull them apart only to
string them back together to form
the realities that you escape inside
of. Rather like the equations that
we chose this work to hide from.

We go to lands misunderstood
and covered in shadow: a race
of explorers with no guide but
the organ we are more inclined
to follow. We discover things in
these dark corners, things we
attempt to explain with a form
of permanence. But ink only tells
the truth it is shaped into. And
understanding what we find is
half the battle of immortalizing it.
There is no table of elements for
the soul, no way to categorize the
mysteries it never told.

The only equation that we really
understand is the one that created
our kind: write and bleed. Bleed
if you do not write, and bleed if
you do. Bleed in every color that
your jar of pens contains – stain
the pages (line or unlined
according to your preference) with
the ink that runs in your veins.
And when the words stop coming
you count their swoops and swirls.

There are shelves lined with words,
bound with gold or silver or faded
like the edges of a hymnal. Each
the delicate account of one traveler
or another. I’ve often wondered
why we let others read them.
Perhaps to help them – to spare
them from their own discoveries.
But instead of learning they escape.
And when they put it back on the
shelf it’s nothing but another check
on a summer reading list.

I visited a library once and
saw tall plastic shelves, a
spinning column of paperbacks.
You know the kind I mean.
Sitting near the door they were
nothing but an impulse buy.
Soiled virgins, millionaires.
Centuries of art reduced to
cheap ink and thin paper meant
to heat your skin rather than
inflame your soul. How many
read and returned in one day?
And what is the story of the
tree upon which this is printed?
Tell me that one instead.
Let the ink dry on the thick
pages of that rare truth. How
many rays of sun did it soak in?
How many raindrops? How
many leaves did it love and
let go?

I learned long ago that when
we write we choose a life that
requires facing the wounds.
Whether they be our own or
the still open sores of humanity.
As long as you can remember
the feeling of the cold floor
on your cheek from where you
lay broken, you can write.
Some of us turn that cold tile
into books with pink covers
and some of us turn it into
roads with no destination.
But the shelves behind the
spinning plastic columns hold
them all. Maps leading the way
to the truth of everything.

We are drawn back to the
writing desk on sunset days
when the turntable crackles
in a song fit for David to play.
Or sunrise days when tea
whispers over porcelain. On
days when the memories of
the cold floor rise from
whispered conversations. On
gray days when humanity is
weeping from the sky. When
headlines use their ink to
inform, and fields of flowers
can’t find the sun. We sit and
open those jars of ink, and
watch as it bleeds across the
page. Writing is like the love
that you always go back to.
The love that creates the tempest
of chaos as well as the only
real peace. Writing is like
that love. Paradoxical and
necessary.

A fortune cookie once dared to
tell me that happily ever after
does exist. And I chose to believe
it because through the snuffing
candles and endless mazes I can
see a brighter light that sometimes
grows faint but never fully leaves.
Stars shoot across the sky when
I look at an endless night, and they
seem to whisper the same thing.
My heart settles into this truth
and decides to hold on.

I’ve always hoped to know the
truth behind the majesty of a
starry night. But the more I try
the deeper it gets, the further
into the stars I fall. So far that
I get lost there and don’t wish
to return home. And then the
bright star with two tails picks
me up and takes me back to the
soft warmth of a summer night,
and it tells me something good.
And I believe it every time.