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

 

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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 ~

FA-SO-LA-TI-DO LAND

I’m from here
but I don’t belong here
here
is not home
home
where I exhale
the set for my night dreams
my heart fit
this place is just fit
movie set
fast breath
big lips and small dogs
tight butts in tight jeans
skinny spandex, white teeth
tidy coiffed landscapes
and green
green
rolling in dough
(k)needed by mountains
of gold

As I wander
the trees root more solid
than I remember
all thickness, texture and joy
they invite climbing
and stretch beams
one gaze not enough
to harvest all their races…
bougainvillea in four flavors
hibiscus in two
bottle brush, lemon, eucalyptus
exotic pods and broad leaves
hummingbirds and gold finches
in November
palms of diverse size and shape
curious like Dr Seuss trees
whimsical
birds of paradise
this is paradise
to a spirit of stone
and sand

Yearning wells.
Things grow easily here
the desert is hard
desert people stark
cracks shift cracks
disturbing
the ancient sedimentary rock
of memento and heart
like the Whittier quake
I collect familiar leaves
like memories shaken loose
oak, magnolia, liquid amber, birch —
my mother knew them all.
She is a bird now
above I spy others
fly like her
I must have met them before
wild emerald parrots
up a spiky trunk
chatting atop slender fronds
unnoticed and mundane
yet I stand
cocked
agape

People smile more than I remember.
They say hello from their bicycles
sing while riding solo
talk to babies in strollers
cross the street with traffic
their grass is thick
sprinkled with tiny shamrocks
like abundant good fortune.
I wonder if they know what it’s like
to live in a desert
make sure everything is always locked
and held tight
middle class here is wealthy rich anywhere
I see it
but no longer believe that
all money is sin
all poverty virtue

I crave ease.

Maybe my parents were right
I waste and surround myself
with the not-good-enough
while the not-yet-good-enough
still isn’t

Things are now changed.
I root more solid
broad feet planted
trunk thicker
taller branches wide
eyes clearer
sternum forward
I’m ready now
I belong better
I still believe
just no longer sure where I believe it

Maybe it’s time
to come home.

©S.Rinderle, November 2014

On Anger

I’m angry
because my parents didn’t want me
like all children should be dreamed and coveted
I was the fruit of duty
conceived one spring evening
after church
I was born
on Sunday

I’m angry
because my mother didn’t love me
like all girls should be
adored and mentored
because her mother didn’t love her
the latest in a long matriline
of hollow faceless dolls
filling their withered daughters
with dry, empty breath

I’m angry
because I couldn’t run free
always the good one
trimmed of messy edges
neat and symmetrical
a patch in the family quilt
weakly sewn together
pulled in all directions

I’m angry
because no one could comfort me
and my self-soothing
dramatic pleas for help
sudden welts
closed-up bronchi
spasmed colon
and fits of self-mutilation
inspired rejection
instead of redemption

I’m angry
because my father didn’t
straighten his back for me didn’t
widen his shoulders for me
never taught me
to stand up protected
my boundaries too permeable
for safety or resilience
letting in all manner of
pestilence
virus, bacteria
free radicals
and human plague

I’m angry
because the world taught me
I’m a girl
I’m not allowed
beauty and brilliance
I’m not afforded
affection and respect
I’m second to any mediocrity in the room
if it has a penis
and a deep voice

I’m angry
because circumstance
was not the way it should have been
happenstance
rarely just or logical
so much imperfection and harm
easily avoided
or remedied

But as I reflect
relax my tightened triceps
accept
everything
was exactly
as it had to be
and I’m okay

I’m free

because
I’m no longer
angry.

© S.Rinderle, 2013

Without you

Mama
I missed you today
not an unnatural emotion
but unnatural for me
in the midst of a song
that’s not about you
contemplating my lover’s familia
there you were

smiling.

In 43 years I don’t remember ever
feeling this way
not even
in the 13 since you disappeared
I still recall
that 2 a.m. phone call
from 1500 miles away
the hardest phone call
my father ever made
his voice saying
“sweetie, she died”
and my roommate
who understood no English
lurching downstairs crying
because of whatever
was coming out of me
after that.

I stood in line at the airport
in my black coat
and by the time we got
to the tarmac at LAX
to sit and wait
for a gate
while they harvested your organs
in my absence
I’d had all my feelings.
Impossible to explain
what it’s like
to lose your mother
the one person you know nothing without
whose womb was ground zero
for your very existence
dawning.
Even though I sometimes hated her
often pitied
usually feared
and always mistrusted
I now miss the best she did
and the things she never gave
not because she didn’t want to
but because she was unable.

I wonder now if she didn’t love me
because I didn’t love her.
I’m sorry mama
I so wanted you to see me
my simmering rage
and oldest daughter’s pain
kept me from seeing you
seeing true
and now at 13 years of distance
and safety
I can finally admit
the garden of my life
is more thirsty, faded
and barren
without you.

© S. Rinderle, 2013