The greatest courage

There exists no greater courage than this:
To love
with no guarantee of requitement
To trust
with no guarantee of safety
To strive
with no guarantee of success
To believe
with no guarantee of satisfaction.

There exists no greater valor than this:
To create
with no hope of immortality
To speak
with no hope of listeners
To stand
with no hope of change
To live
with no hope of survival.

We can scale murderous peaks
vanquish impossible Goliaths
in a hostile arena
run fast as a gazelle
with steel blades for feet
migrate whole civilizations
and rebuild entire cities from the scourge
of plague or maelstrom.

Yet there exists no greater courage than this:
to allow the heart
to be our ever-changing compass
faith our engine
and divine Wisdom
its fuel.

© S. Rinderle, 4/20/20

Tethered

You make cigarette smoke
tasty
drunken nights sacred
and faith justified.

You give me space for anger
my insistence on lies
wrapped around
your awkward truth.

Your long, sinewy arms
have been there all along
snug
around my torso
as my entire ribcage
breathes.

Your long, sturdy legs
hold you up
as you navigate a treacherous world
uncertain
yet they always
bring you back.

You are a love in slow motion
a benign hurricane
that took months to build.
I didn’t know you were coming
but I see there’s no need
to board up my windows.

I want to bury myself in your hair
not like a schoolgirl
nor a mother —
like a she-wolf in a meadow
splayed out in the sun.
Somehow you always
smell like home.

I never thought
you’d say yes
never thought you’d say
you missed me
ten minutes after you left
Never thought
you missed me at all.

I could bask
in your amber eyes
for days
not getting lost
but being found.
This is not worship –
it’s grace
we meet halfway
in the space
between.
There’s always something
to say.

You make the distasteful
tolerable
traits I loathe elsewhere
I adore in you
not because I’ve abandoned myself
but because you make it worth it.
I will spend
one of my remaining heartaches
on you.

You require no collar
or leash.
No matter where you go
or how far you wander
we’re already tethered
at the heart.

© S. Rinderle, 4/4/20

Echo

You remind me of someone
I’ve never met
like a memory
I can’t fully recall
that makes me question
whether it was lived
at all.

He is elusive like mist
that fogs my vision
but avoids my grasp
dissolving with every advancing step.
He is evasive like an echo
that beckons
but fades
as soon as I reach the place
where I heard his voice
calling me.

My phantom groom,
you are compelling and necessary
like gravity
so I wander in search of your soul
pulling the masks off promising strangers
looking for your eyes
shouting:
Yes! This is Him!
I recognize this feeling!
I think:
Finally!
At last
I can put down my walking stick
remove my own mask
and rest
entwined with my beloved
at our wedding hearth.

Yet after a few drinks and dreams
I realize
he is not you
and I cannot make him be.

But that one fleeting taste
so exquisite
the waiting so eternal
I simply cannot return
to death
and hollowness
so I cling
to hopelessness
pretending I can live
without you
pretending I can live
on these sorry scraps.

I seek their embrace
out of loneliness
but I know it’s just an oasis
in the desert of your absence.

My Love,
I have been away from home
far too long.
Please recall me
from exile
for I cannot find you here
and my arms weary
of trying to hold space
around your constant
and inexplicable
void.

© S. Rinderle, Feb 2019 – Jan 2020

Resolution

I am resolved to sweetness
to waiting for what’s next
to being pliable like bamboo
to dropping the oars

I am resolved to look Beloved in the eyes
to soften my gaze
to allow the rattling sabers
and mushroom clouds
to pass through me
like the rainbow prism
passes through glass

I am resolved to wait like stone
cool at night then warming with the sun
discerning between those who can
and those who can’t,
letting them go

I am resolved to soften my shoulders
as well as my resolve
letting everything in
but keeping only jewels
relishing the long loneliness
in between.

© S. Rinderle, 12-17-19

Structured Perspective

I want to look at old people
the way I look at old buildings
I want to remember
they weren’t made this way
Windows weren’t always dull and broken
Eyes not always vacant and cloudy
Walls weren’t always chipped and faded
Skin not always flaking and bent
Grounds weren’t always
littered, cracked and overgrown
Life not always wild and untidy

Maintenance takes time and effort
A newly painted surface requires little care
like the fresh, plump cheeks of childhood
With the passage of time
routine becomes major renovation
and likewise
Yet it doesn’t have to be

Old buildings and old people
aren’t what they once were
But why must they be viewed as ruin?
Broken windows frame playtime for birds
Peeling paint invites light
and awe of texture
Hooded, flecked eyes
twinkle in remembrance
and flash with insight
Wrinkled faces
declare the accumulation
of deep thoughts
and thousands of repeated smiles.

Time is an unmatched artist
Sculpting all structures
shifting perspective
For all life is meant to be
wild and untidy.

© S. Rinderle, May 2015, Cinque Terre, Italy

9 Regrets

one
that I coaxed his childhood
to lay on mine
But more that I never made him
the wooden car
I promised in exchange

two
that I never returned the wooden hanger
a kindly neighbor lent
to scavenging teens on a mission
on condition of its return
I said I would
I proved a stereotype

three
that I never risked being slapped or ostracized
by talking back
speaking true to power
when it mattered
I was already bruised
and pariah

four
that I missed her stormy adolescence
preoccupied by my own trauma
of premature adulthood

five
that I didn’t lose my virtue
to my beloved at 18
I let years pass in yearning and hope
only to find him again
changed

six
that I didn’t turn around
go back down the ramp at LAX international
fleeing home
borne by honest tears and indignation
abandoning him in response
to his abandonment

seven
that I didn’t give Margarita
my silver hoops when she asked
it was so little to me
so much to her
she’s 35 now
or died years ago
when her people rose up

eight
that I didn’t leave sooner
give up more easily
say no more often

nine
that it’s taken this long
to know I was right
all along
and all my regrets
were pauses.

© S. Rinderle, 11/2015

Muertos

This year
I have built no
altar to the dead.
For the first time
in half my life
I’ve gathered no
keepsakes nor mementos
of those already gone
lit no candles
holding vigil for the death rattle
in what I hasten
to pass.

This year
my life is my altar:
Lost sense of place,
of belonging
and any striving
to make it so.
Lost friends
lost foes
both still beckon
my attention like ghosts.
Lost illusions that people
are anything other than they are
or chose.
Lost hope that I am anything
other than I am –
unrelenting, broken,
tender
and bold.
Lost desire to pretend otherwise.
Lost faith
in my role in progress
my power to
change anything
other than my
self loathing.

This year
my body is my altar:
207 years of legacy ending
my mother will have
no heirs
I only regret
I never wanted them
enough
never trusted
never felt a tribe
of sturdy shoulders around me
knew
it was only up to me
and it was the one thing
I couldn’t do alone.

It is Samhain.
I fling my belongings to the winds
burn letters to ash
under a full moon
merciless and unforgiving
remembrances now hollow and thin
like abandoned trees.
I lay waste to the past
cauterizing
my rotted flesh.
I must be buoyant and
aerodynamic.

I weep
only because of the smoke.

I urge the months on quickly
seasons to pass expeditiously.
I’ve had enough of deaths.
This year
I lay my barren womb
and stubborn ghosts to rest.

Next year
I will have come back to life
my essence revived
resurrected from ash
by the sun.

Next year
I will be
phoenix.

© S. Rinderle, 11/1/15

 

Sacred Heritage of X

Despite what you’ve heard
women run the world
and everyone knows it
except women

Men need women
children need women
women need women
The World has ventured too far
past the point of no return
we are the dying canaries
choking in the coal mine
the ragged spring honeybees
searching in vain
for nectar

Listen

We are your women
Our bodies bear witness
to the multiple failings
of The World
our thyroids fade
where our voices strain
our cells turn cannibal
devouring our Selves
we falter, exhausted
stumble on, pharmaceutically
we forget names
of loved ones
yet still expected to remember
all of his-story

Understand

Our granddaughters will re-member our bones
with pity and awe-full pride
just as we ponder our grandmothers
wondering – how did they do it?
Endure, push forward, maintain
stay sane, sometimes thrive
manage a smile
wear those uncomfortable
garments?

Wonder

What will our granddaughters say?
We are not machete, plow
or icebreaker
clearing a path
for others to follow
We are tangled forest, fertile earth
abundant ocean
standing firm
between path clearings
Our generation
holds back further erosion
toxification
desalination
We are neither stone nor rocket
We are catapult and launchpad
critical yet quiet
we hold steady
and wait

Recognize

We have tried to write the whole book
honor our deprived mothers and
illiterate grandmothers
make up for their lost time
now in our mid-summer
our change
our charge
is to get our paragraph right
prepare for irrelevance
we are but a bridge

Know

Our granddaughters will marvel at our bones
our stamina and courage
their hardier flesh and nimbler Spirits
will know
they couldn’t have made it without us
even if their minds forget
because
they will be too busy
running The World.

© S. Rinderle, 2015
~ For ka ~

Lonely Hollow

I know you, emptiness
I’ve tried to fill you with distraction
denial
and bad habit
still you appear
unexpected and uninvited
at the most inconvenient hour

You show up even when I’m strong
stomach well-fed, limbs well-rested
mind stimulated by discovery
heart nourished by laughter and confession
my friends are many and dear
I enjoy my solitude

You show up anyway
a hollow in my torso
that crowds my heart
an uneasy absence
a misplacing of something
I can’t remember
an unanchoring in my timeline
I float
unaware I’ve drifted

Loneliness

A most particular yearning
an easy smile to come home to
or greet in my doorway
that accepting gaze to relax, unravel in
that does not look away
reliable shoulders to share this yoke
of grinding minutia and terror of change
eager arms to welcome, contain
like yin and yang
curl up silent and safe
when all goes dark
that kind voice
to bring welcome surprise to my monologue
needed stability to my see-saw

Loneliness
I will leave a light on
invite you in
I will prop this hollow open
with stray beams and intention
lest I fill you with too many meditations
too much activity and resilience
I will hold your space
lest I allow you to collapse
under too-tight agendas
despair, or common apathy

I will allow you to be
so he has a place to enter
a space to fill
I will allow you to ache
so my stories don’t turn
into lies
I will allow your emptiness
so my gratitude has a place to reside
leaving room for abundance and joy
when he
finally arrives.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

the meaning of life

My life means nothing
to the world

White men still murder Black women
in church
even after sitting in their pews
Confederate flags still fly
at full mast
in the aftermath
Politicians still lie
with their black eyes
and gun powder lips
Dim-witted masses
still cheer wild and blind
for their Savior

They want me to think
my life means nothing
to the world
Their gnashing teeth savor
my beaten-down bones
and tired flesh
My fierce optimism and tender heart muscle
nourish the fiery acid
of their putrid bellies
like forsaken bodies
in concentration camp ovens

I will become poison in their bowels
refuse to break down
kick my way out the other end
intact and fortified
I will shake off their filth
like a muddied dog
The growing throng
of kind hands around me
will midwife my rebirth
the pushing out of this rotting membrane
of constriction and intimidation
I will continue to speak truth
now turned up louder
I have been forged in the crucible
of their patriarchal terror
their shortsighted self-serving
smallness

I am Bigger than that.
We are BIGGER than that.
They are a blip
on the radar screen of history
a burp
during a long banquet of progress
long view trajectory over time
of increasing freedom and equity
We are the future
we won’t live to see
it doesn’t matter because
#OurLivesMatter
to our children

I don’t know what happens when we die
no one does
those who profess this knowledge
accept a comforting deception
to stave off this uniquely human affliction
this recognition
we are mortal

Meanwhile
if my life means nothing to the world
I will make it profoundly meaningful
to me
It will be a radiant statement
that NO I was not complicit
in our self-annihilation and
YES I was afraid but

NO!

I was not silent
and I did not lie
still.

© S. Rinderle, 6/20/15