Year of yin: lying fallow

February blew through like a dust storm blindingly hot, chaotic, and brief. There are pieces of it in every crevice in my body and buried deep in the roots of my hair and teeth. Excavating my remains from the sudden dry blaze of February is not an option, we have become one red bare plane as far as the eye can see. As the night lays cooly across my temples I can feel my heart rattling in my rib cage like wind through the bones of hollowed out trees bleached white in the sun. Fear abates as stillness of night falls in the badlands. It takes a sturdy kind of folk to navigate this arid soil. I’ve been blessed with many who have receive my rough and raspy heart with boundless love and affection that nourishes my tired dusty soul. Road worn I’ve seen better days. Tireless heat and relentless wind have all but scorched me into the earth. In times of crisis survival is the main focus, when shadows are long and time short. Buried waist deep in the parched dunes time seems to hang frozen in the crystal clear night, but just above all the toil in the inky black there is an infinite sea of stars, that is just waiting to be wished upon. 

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The snake who swallows her own tale

“If this love is only fleeting” she laughed “then I want to immortalize this feeling”!

Sucking the sticky ripe juices off of her fingers she dangled her heart precariously between her thighs on a white gold chain. 

Useless metaphorical organ. What care had she for sentimental affliction when there was such lust for life to tangle with?

“I must be careful how I immortalize you though” she whispered, eyes gleaming in the moonlight. “Build The Beloved into a shrine and surely end by sacrificing myself on the alter”. 

As she reminisced plucking the edge of the sacrificial blade  sumptuously a cool breeze collected at her feet.

The reckless recluse lay helpless and bare in the hot summers eve. Afraid to move lest she accidentally squeeze him to death under her heavy eyelids. 

She lapped up his harsh sincerity lavishly while her gold scales unfurled her longing one drop at a time.

They lay together thus ensnared in unending midnight as a snake who swallows her own tale. Bewitched by love eternal; the self sacrificing goddess.

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Epilogue /// in quiet thoughts

Let me be your whipping boy.And elevate your pain.

Too few people can accurately grasp how meaningless they are.

Opting either for the Grandeur or the obsolete, laying their lives at the feet

Of mass uninterest and disillusion.

I am but a simple child

Prepared to take your beating

Place your pain and persecution on my tender flesh

Give me a reason to keep on going

**********

 I keep cutting my finger in the exact same place

As if in a futile attempt to bring awareness into my finger tips

Each time the searing pain commands my focus to this forgotten bit of flesh

It slides back just as easily to the darkness behind my unarticulated thoughts

Lost deep beyond comprehension I bleed 

Think of the power I would command

If I could only remember where my finger begins and ends

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Waking up from dreams of death 

I dreamt that I carried your body to the day bed all dressed in white. You who had always been so much more grounded, muscular, steadfast. In my arms so fragile and warm. You gave me the key to the door so tiny I could barely pinch it between two fingers. As you seemed to disappear under the piles of blankets I was scared. Scared that I would loose you and all you meant to me. Scared that no one would notice. That it would happen with my help or not. In the dark of a burnt out streetlight I cried for you. As the tears came flowing more quickly fear transformed into dread. A ceremony of unknowable darkness was about to begin, I was being beckoned for it. The air was thick with anticipation as she led me away into the darkness. Calling my name, but never directly looking at me. In a cabin in the woods far, far away from possible help she met me to play a game. Fate hung in the air, tight around my throat, as my eyes struggled to see in the darkness. If I could only win for you, but I knew this was a game of no winning. She left me alone in the dark to choose my fate. Even in this cold expectant darkness sticking to my teeth I fought my consciousness. Crying “no, no, no, no, no, no, no” while I rocked myself into existence under too many covers sweating from exertion. Mind finally awake, but sure I had set into motion the awful game and we all would surely die.

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These spiritual window-shoppers, who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking. 

They handle a hundred items and put them down, 

shadows with no capital.

 What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping. 

But these walk into a shop, 

and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment, 

in that shop.

 Where did you go? “Nowhere.” 

What did you have to eat? “Nothing much.”

 Even if you don’t know what you want, 

buy _something,_ to be part of the exchanging flow.

 Start a huge, foolish project, 

like Noah.

 It makes absolutely no difference 

what people think of you.

Rumi

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Dreaming of Dear Devotion

I had a dream that I was living in a very old house all mahogany and brass. A house full of gentlemen with business just out of sight. Where every ornament in the house carried weight of hundreds of years of legacy. Each handshake would last a lifetime. I played music even though I knew not how to play it. On a large, beautiful twelve-string instrument that looked like a cross between a sitar and a viola in deep mahogany with gold accents. I plucked out notes, made the shape of a D, I scratched my fingernails up and down the strings like Okkyung Lee. As I pulled out these low strange sounds from it I began to speak “Fair is foul and foul is fair” whispering it into the f-hole so it resonated deep inside of the instrument. As the dissonant sound grew to a crescendo, I flipped the instrument over and began to bang out a rough and steady dirge and sang high and effervescent a hymnal from memory “A Light On High” that was chipper and girlish, almost, save for the heavy dirge rhythm underneath. Then I returned to plucking the belly of the instrument as my husband returned home from important work. I played him the roughly hewen melody I had carved out. At first it pleased him. The sexual energy I had harnessed was great as I channeled this huge magnetic creative force towards him, but as I started to play and scratch and moan he became uninterested. What would the guests think? He was tired from long days work. Be careful that I not wreck this important instrument in the sea of important ornaments. It was not to be played like that. I carried on anyways as he disappeared into the party talking in serious low voices to his father about impending business deals that must not disturb the rest of the house, but would surely impact future generations for years to come. Men would do better to wear their grievances on their sleeves I thought as I played mournfully away. Simultaneously filled with power and grace and transforming my longing into a beacon to call to me the power of Yoko Ono, Okkyung Lee, of Julie Taymor, of Tanya Tagaq of women that were not afraid to create, and create ugly, create sad. This was for them.

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A personal history of sexual violence

I am five years old playing at the park next to my house with a little boy. I tell him I have to go home to pee. He tells me that I’m not allowed I have to pee on the tree in front of him. I tell him no I want to go home, and he gets mad and throws a truck at my head. I have a goose egg for three days. I have to tell my parents what happened, they are mad, but I still believed it was my fault for making him angry.

I am seven years old attending a backyard BBQ. I am excited to wear my new red sheer top from value village tied up at what is suppose to be the belly button but hangs down past my waist on my tiny frame. As I step out of the car one of the boys runs by and yells “Slut!” At me before disappearing into the party. I am instantly devastated I hide in the car for the next ninety minutes until the one of the other girls coax me out with a t-shirt and a wealth of clever insults her mom taught her to yell back at rude boys. I am too shy to use any of them because secretly I think the boy was right.

I am eight years old and all I want in the world is a boyfriend. There is a boy who lives across the street who agrees to be my boyfriend if I kiss him and show him my tits. I don’t have any tits but I let him watch me change anyways. We play house and I kiss him on his way to work while I take care of the kids. He never wants to play with the kids he always wants to play nighttime when mommy and daddy go to the bedroom. Eventually I break up with him and he yells at me and tells me that I’m not allowed to and grabs my arm and twists it when I try to leave. He isn’t allowed to come over anymore but he still yells at me from across the street.

I am eleven years old walking to the ice cream store with my little brother, my friend, and her little sister. As we get near 33rd street a car pulls up beside us and starts following us, a man in his forties rolls down the window and starts calling to us “where are you going? Can I give you a ride? How old is your friend?” I walk faster and pretend it’s funny so as not to alarm the younger kids. I laugh at him, and tease him, and pretend not to hear his questions, when we finally get up to the street he turns right and speeds away.

I am thirteen there are men yelling at me and my friends all of the time where ever we go. There is the homeless man who asks me to marry him in the library, the teenagers at the bus stop who offer to give me booze in exchange for party favors, there is the boy at Sunday school who tells me all pretty girls are bitches because they won’t date him, there are the two old men in their sixties sitting in a red pickup truck who yell and honk at me and my friends as we hug on the street corner, there is my dad telling me not to yell back at the cat callers because it only makes things worse. I develop thicker skin, I stop making eye contact with people on the street, I learn to not accept kindness from strangers.

I am thirteen and my boyfriend tells me he will break up with me if I don’t have sex with him. I hold firm to my position, but I spend considerable time calculating how to get out from underneath him if I had to. His feelings are hurt so I try to comfort him by agreeing to do other stuff until his mom comes home.

I am fourteen and my new boyfriend has friends over upstairs. He convinces me to come to the bedroom with him to help him look for something. He tries to take my clothes off and pushes me against the wall as he keeps saying “you like that huh?” Even though I’m insistently suggesting that we go back upstairs. His friends take turns bursting into the bedroom, but he made no effort to lock the door until his dad came home. He broke up with me two weeks later because he had a bet with his friends that homeschoolers are easy and I didn’t put out.

I am fourteen it is New Year’s Eve and I am drunk on too much Amarula. I am lying on the couch, the room is spinning, while my friends are out smoking. My best friend’s boyfriend comes and sits beside me I can’t quite make him out, he is talking to me telling me how he’s always liked me, as he slides his hands up my shirt and under my bra. I can’t comprehend what’s happening I just keep saying “what are you doing?” Over and over while he pulls at my jeans. The outside door opens as everyone comes back inside, he is across the room before anyone knew what happened. We never talked about it.

I am fifteen and there is an older man interested in my acting career. He convinces me to stay at the after party past when the buses are running. He keeps buying me double rum and coke. We go outside for a smoke and walk six blocks through residential alleyways looking for a garage that doesn’t have a sensor light. He holds me so tight against his beer belly I couldn’t escape even if I knew where we were. I go limp like a doll and let him undo my jeans and grab my panties. I start muttering about “I have to go see my boyfriend” and he laughs at me “everyone is sleeping” he said “it’s late”. He follows me as I walk home and tells me what we did was innocent, and that I shouldn’t make a big deal out of it.

I am fifteen and one of the older boys at the party starts flirting with me and giving me drinks. He corners me in one of the bedrooms and pushes me onto the bed. He starts taking my clothes off while the other people at the party peer through the window. Someone finally gets through the door and tells me to put my clothes back on. I get lectured, he gets high-fives.

I am seventeen and working nights in the kitchen at a restaurant. I get off at my bus stop at 11:00 pm every night and walk two blocks to my house. Regularly there is someone who follows me home half a block behind. I walk faster with my keys in my fist and turn all the lights and tv on when I get home to try to make it seem like there are lots of people home instead of just me again. One night there is a man who tries to smash the living room window in while I am watching tv. I check to make sure the doors are locked and turn the tv up and try to show no fear hoping he will get bored and go away. Eventually one of my neighbours calls the police and scares him off. The police never come. I sleep with my light on that night.

I am twenty-one and my boyfriend tells me that he will leave me if I don’t have sex with him. “What is the point of having a girlfriend if I can’t get laid?” he says unironically. He convinces me that there is something wrong with my libido and that I need to fix it in order to save our relationship. I scour the internet for advice from sex therapists to marriage counsellors. We agree on a sex schedule, I push for once a week, he pushes for four, we meet in the middle at three so long as I will pleasure him in other ways when I’m not in the mood. I’m never in the mood but we learn to have sex anyway “for the health of the relationship”. I didn’t think of it as rape because I had agreed to the conditions under duress. When my depression got worse I blamed myself.

I am twenty-two and recently single. I still believe there is something wrong with my sexuality. I sleep with the first person who shows any interest in my body. He lives in my first boyfriends house and I have weird flashbacks. He gets me drunk and chokes me when I’m not expecting it and cums in my hair. I thank him for agreeing to sleep with me, and vow not to let this happen again.

I am twenty-four it is valentines day and I am alone and drunk at the new club waiting for my friends to arrive. This guy saddles up to me with a bottle of champagne and is coaxing me to drink from it. I’m not interested, but he’s persistent and my friends aren’t here yet. He says that he works here and he wants to give me a tour of the place. After reluctantly leading me around by the hand while I pretend to care he ushers me into a bathroom stall. He whips out his dick and pushes my head down. He videotapes it on his phone. I leave the club confused and disorientated. On the cab ride home I run through what happened in my head over and over again wondering why I didn’t fight back, or yell, or tell him to fuck off in the first place. All my friends tell me it’s not my fault but I can’t help feeling guilty anyway. I slip into a deep depression and start having panic attacks and carrying my keys in my fist again.

Inspired by Belle Jar: http://bellejar.ca/2015/12/03/being-a-girl-a-brief-personal-history-of-violence/

my wounds do not define me

i am a survivor

 

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