Three Love Lessons

My mother ridiculed me
for cleaving to one pair
of boyish arms
instead of embracing many lightly
and clinging less tightly.
Always more, always less
never enough
she always said.

It took five decades
to learn that my yearning
was as natural and good as heartbeats
‘cause burrowed between
that kind boy’s arms
was the first and only place
I ever felt safe
ever was truly held
ever could fully melt
into gravity.

Her critique
was but a statement
of her own self-hatred;
my elsewhere clinging
an indictment
of her maternal failure.

This is a lie:
“You cannot love someone else
until you love yourself”,
for we are taught to love ourselves
by being loved.

It took me four decades
plus five years
to first know self love,
after clasping dozens of boys
both kind and cruel.
On a high desert ridge
over an ancient valley
during waning summer
I imagined turning
the same adoration and tenderness
that gushed for my dear ones
back upon myself
like a rebellious river.

It was a Revelation
like lightning crackling down
upon Moses’ mythic mountain
I received Divine wisdom
suddenly grasping self love
like a woman having a real orgasm
after 1,000 nights
of hoaxes.

So this time
it only took two months
to realize
there’s a difference
between missing him
and feeling lonely.
I now recognize
I don’t miss what we had
as much as I miss
what we never had
I miss what’s been missing
my entire life.
I’m a lonely child
never truly seen
who studied to be Big
and Impressive,
who practiced having Presence
in Intellect and Form
so she would not evaporate
into the impotent,
dusty air.

I felt cradled
in the arms of a hungry ghost
who wasn’t really there
but it was enough.

I mistook his fickle affection
for love
his calculated walls
for good boundaries
his ambivalent loyalty
for kindness
his lack of stewardship
for whimsy.
I carried his baggage willingly
until their weight slowed my steps
and their rotting contents oozed
onto my shoes.

Our inconsistent joy
and his partial presence
made my long solitude
more bearable
A parched woman stumbling in the desert
needs a sip of water
from time to time.
His oasis quenched me enough
to solider on
alone again
across the dunes again
unable to give up
this yearning
for true gravity —
this searching
for home.

© S. Rinderle, November 2021

Photo: Three Hearts Center, West Allis, WI

Go Where The Love Is

Go where the love is.
Do not hate
the funny shape
that is you.

Contorting yourself
into some twisted turmoil
changes nothing
but your own happiness
proves nothing
but how poorly you regard
your true nature.
They have no right
to dictate or mold
your final form.
They have not earned it.

Remove that stifling mask.
You can’t breathe.
You know better.
Experimentation is for the young.
You’re too grown
for lies
and wasted sunrise.

Know this:
It matters not how you throw the pearls.
Not
how many
how far
to where
or when.
It’s got nothing to do
with your timing, technique,
or delivery.
It’s not you.
The problem
is that they are
swine.

You can shout louder and longer –
they cannot hear you.
Your hoarseness is in vain
for they do not
have ears.

Give up your useless laboring
Drop your arms
Stop striving
Change the channel
Inflate your lungs

Go where the love is.
Stop trying to make them
love you
or make yourself
their type.
Stop insisting
on what they cannot give.
You will fail.

Instead,
Embrace your gorgeous needs
Celebrate your worthy longing
Un-pretzel and re-discover
the sublime shape
that is you.

Go
Where
The Love
Is.

© S. Rinderle, November 2021

Sunday morning stroll

Grief is a Sunday morning alley
eerily quiet
in the early light
unclaimed baggies of dog shit
tossed about
overfilled dumpsters
of rejects
empty boxes
piled carelessly
cars parked partially
rocks strewn
from abandoned construction

in the soothing cool.

On Sunday morning
things look so different
from the dark drunken jubilation
of Saturday night.
More can be noticed –
visible dangers
that were missed
sweetness
that was hidden
surprising finds
among the refuse.
The still, quiet aftermath
allows a more balanced assessment
of the chaos.

The mess left by guests
after the party
makes the party no less festive
the guests no less welcome.
Yet we’re better equipped
to notice the toll
on Sunday morning.

Grieving
is like a Sunday morning stroll.
It awakens us
from our previous stupor
sheds a new angle of unfiltered light
on the familiar
introduces us
to new faces
reveals
what is emergent
or was always there
ignored
or once insignificant.

Grief is not a loss of love
but an exchange
of one love for another
the change
still disorienting,
vulnerable and tender.

Like a Sunday morning stroll
for night birds,
grieving shows us
that despite our fatigue
we can rise anyway
we might even find
our favorite fresh delights
more easily.

In fact, we may wonder
despite the difficulty of waking
why
don’t I do this
more often?

© S. Rinderle, September 2021

Most Best Lessons

Tonight
amidst the smoke and flowers
the primal beat and
boozy showers
I ached to tell you
to never doubt
I loved you, and
I love you still
just the way you are:
perfect.

I yearn to connect across the miles
and distance of our goodbye –
I think
maybe
my words might matter,
might make you reconsider.
But if my daily devotion
over hundreds of days
weren’t enough
to make you stay
forsake
those unfinished tatters
that get in our way
surely one call
won’t change
your stubborn mind
or wobbling heart.
I just hate
this you-shaped hollow
between my ribs
that makes all other men
thin paper –
a pale mockery
of our many best moments.

Oh
how do I survive
these whispers and shadows
of what could have been?
This time
I did not imagine
your possibilities –
they teetered on the cusp
of incarnation
but you could find
neither breath nor courage
to lean into the wind
instead
you fell backwards.

I am powerless
against your story.
I cannot
make you see,
cannot make you see
me
and so I cannot see
you.
I see myself
instead.

I cannot face time.
Most best lessons must be learned
the hard way.

© S. Rinderle, October 2021

False idols

Disbelieve your gurus.
They are no more enlightened
than you.
The monsters haunting their closets
are the same
that torture your nights.
They are just as addicted to fear,
just as prone
to peddling tired platitudes
for weary coin,
just as recklessly controlling
and un(w)holy.

They will gesture towards justice with one hand
and grab your ass with the other.
Their lips will adorn peace and equity one minute
and spew fetid hatred the next.
They will perform calm and virtue
while secretly gnawing off their own hands
with vice.
They are just as afflicted as we
by the virus of decline
and narrow self-preservation—
their ability to name it
doesn’t make them
immune.

Disbelieve your gurus.
Placing faith and power
in an external god
—whether human or deity—
is an old-world custom
gasping its last.
Divinity and Wisdom
have always resided in you.
Stop questing for that
which was always waiting patiently
at home.
Stop searching and listen
within.

© S. Rinderle, June 2021

Image: https://www.hinduwebsite.com

Terminal

This is the end.
No more arriving
No more striving
It’s irrelevant and futile.
This life now
was the destination.
It’s not a layover.
I will never be a rock star
Never birth a child
The man I truly crave
is not produced
by this culture.
I cannot make a living
doing what I truly love.
How sweet
these lowered expectations.
How precious
this humbled bar.
What welcome relief.
Once I accept
we all have a terminal illness
and today
is tomorrow’s memory
of better times
so much is forgiven
so little wasted
and good enough
becomes perfection.

© S. Rinderle, December 2020

Priorities

I reached into the closet of my heart
pulled loneliness off the rack
deep in back
and tried it on for size.

Months had lapsed
since I’d last worn loneliness.
I’d forgotten how heavy it sags,
how it weighs me down
like a woolen sweater underwater.
How it erodes my nerves
like an unrelenting
inaudible hum.
How it colors all my doings with apathy
and stupor.

Loneliness makes me doubt.
It whispers:
What’s the point of anything
if you have no one
you can tell your story?

I’d forgotten
the most important condition
for survival
is some measure
of knowing.
I cannot wander aimlessly
like a wolf in barren winter
with no sign
of my next morsel.

The sky is too cloudy.
The darkness too quiet.
Hundreds of needly teeth
gnaw my insides.
Time suspends in silence
like the interior of a
white, unfurnished cube
where the walls, floor and ceiling
melt together.
Its sinister void
unnerves me.

Yet bravely I whisper:
Of what use is this pristine, empty space
if not to welcome the
unpredictable chaos
of another’s personhood?

I was willing to give up certainty
and perfection
for a kiss.

I guess
I still am.

© S. Rinderle, June 2020

Speak

Speak
though your throat quivers
your mouth dries up
and its moisture reappears
in your tears.
Speak.

Ask the questions
that invade your mind.
Voice the doubts
that berate you.
Offer them to your love
with open fingers
though your hands
tremble.

If he is good
he will not punish.
If he is true
he will answer.

The success of your union
doesn’t depend on your virtue.
You alone
cannot destroy it.
But
if you’re the only one
chopping wood
and carrying water,
leave.
You are a Woman,
neither servile beast
nor maid.

Speak.
Let him meet you halfway
in the space between.
Allow him to step
into his manhood.
For don’t you want to be met?
Don’t you want a man?

Or do you need control
or victimhood
more than
love?

© S. Rinderle, June 2020

Tides

Expand and contract
Come together
Move apart
These are
natural phases like breathing.
Neither air
nor tides
not orbits
nor human hearts
follow any other law.

Question:
Can my ecosystem
likewise endure
the ebb and flow?
Can my heart tolerate
the changing weather?

The city burned that weekend
as did the juvenile hope
of our illusion.
We fall in love with the fantasy
then one day the full person
shows up.

I cannot force change
even with my passion
and formidable will.
To try
is to inhibit
another’s sacred rhythm.
To try
is to inhabit
another’s sacred sovereignty.

There is a softer truth
underneath the hard one
I’m afraid to feel.
True, I allowed my fear
to overpower my wisdom.
True, I have good reasons.
True, perhaps I’m
the damaged one.

I gingerly embrace
my vulnerability
and gift myself perfection.
I can access divine connection
any time.
I sense it even now
as order comes to roost
inside my flesh
in the shape of calm.
It was not my doing –
it was grace
invited in by my humility.

Loving truly
is truly terrifying
for in the wake of rupture,
follow repair
or removal.

Question:
What can I do today
to invite safety
to come live
between my ribs?

No matter what happens next?

© S. Rinderle, June 2020

The Black Hole

I used to pay compliments
to coerce growth
from chronically shriveled men.

Now I pay compliments
to bless his triumph
to thank his generosity
to document my pride
to celebrate our separateness.

I used to clutch and claw
at my lover’s heart.
I wanted to suckle endlessly
at the teat of his approval
but I could never be satisfied.

Now I ask for permission.
I take just enough
and give when it’s my turn
because I can.

I used to insist on clarity
and guarantees.
I was too small to contain
the anxiety of all what ifs.

Now I surf waves
on the backs of dolphins
my open arms embrace allowing
and hold unanswerable questions.

The greatest love is this:
to heal one’s own heart
through radical acceptance
of our tender longing
and yawning pain.

The greatest love is to gently close
the Black Hole.

© S. Rinderle, May 2020