To the Woman Who Came After Me:

Do not forget your lineage
where you fall in the chronology
I am the one who prepared your way
cleared a path in the tangled thicket
of his heart
filled and smoothed over potholes
in his healing
cleared ragged cobwebs
from his mind
my body was a bridge
between his pain
and your happiness

If you breathe deep
you’ll detect my scent
on everything he touches
it was his broken words to me
he picked up
and handed to you
whatever pleasures you share
we practiced first
we rehearsed
the scripts and lines
he utters now
he called me Love
long before you

Remember your place
He only beat me to the end
I only regret my patience
He is a garment
a not-fit
I do not miss
but first washed, mended, folded
and put away
If I pine it’s only
for loneliness
not for him

I neither want nor need
your pity or sympathy
just your acknowledgement
I had as much to do
with your life today
as he does
that I called you sister
before you called him lover
that I washed
the dirty laundry and
weeded the garden before leaving
that my heart bled
into the sacrificial chalice yours drinks from
that my very flesh
served you
warming your nights
cooling your anxiety
that I
perfumed your entrance.

It was I
You will never be able
to repay your debt to me
so pay it forward to she
who comes
after you.

© S. Rinderle, 4/2016

Grief (the second movement)

Ending things
before hatred sets in
requires releasing hope
those things will improve
which requires relinquishing
another piece of that relentless optimism
that makes you
you

I believe anything is possible
What stands in the way
is their will
Since I can’t control their choice
I control mine
and choose to stay
patient
longer than reasonable

I’m not a gambler
except in this
each losing hand proof
the big win hides in the next
I’ve lost years at this table
feasting on scraps
as years grow scarce
like bargaining chips
I finally fold

Better to end things
before hatred sets in
before too much is lost
like faith and stamina
sometimes optimism thrives better
at a distance
than under constant vigilance

Life is too brief
my wiser heart finally knows
I can bear the grief
as well as I stomach the rage
and grief
is quicker in passing.

© S. Rinderle, 2016

Elemental III

But
I’d turned down the volume for you
dimmed the light for you
spoke in hushed tones
plumped the pillows for you
waiting for you
to finally come home
You never did.

Now the mute button is off
pillows tossed
and I light up like firecrackers
4th of July
the day your rocky façade began to melt
fast and messy
like cheap birthday candle wax
when the wish takes too long

I have returned to fire and earth
Your weakness no longer my burden
your cowardice no longer my guilt
There is still love
but also consequence

I have reverted to stone
yet I am weeping water too.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

Elemental II

My fishlove
you weren’t ready
you were the water
I drank, at first refreshed
for I was the rock
solid and sure
you would cover me
fill my cracks
linger in my dented depressions
make me the centerpiece
of your calming pool
while I grounded and contained
your evasive fluid

Instead, you were runoff
unchanneled
flowing away
gathering debris
pulled by gravity
downhill

So I became alchemy
transformed into water
to match your chaos
slacken your fleeing
with countercurrent
a river round your stoic rockface
to nourish and moisten
your stuck stones
to free movement

Instead you broke apart
when winter threatened

I guess
it’s not the fault of the water
for shattering the rock
when she follows the seasons
and freezes inside
nor the fault of the rock
for his ancient fissures
formed by heat and stress
over time.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

Elemental I

You can’t force the visionless to see
they have to be ready
You might pry their shielding hands from their eyes
they will clench their eyelids shut
You peel open their scaly eyelids
they turn away and shudder
double over and cower
to block the intruding light.

You can’t make the uncherished feel loved
until they’re ready
Your hands may soothe beaded brow
lips dry teary cheeks
arms cocoon tender insecurities
honey eyes perceive, unjudging
yet they refuse
shake it off
like unwanted moisture
numb and unconscious
to their stubborn armor.

You can’t convince a skittish child of safety
until he’s ready
Contemptuous, anxious mother
impatient, hard-to-please father
the game is long over
the lonely, dutiful child still hides
defers himself
you seek, prefer his Self
draw near, yet he fades
into misbelieving shadows.

(c) S. Rinderle, 2015

Sirens

I navigate this ocean of men
in my rowboat
a cool pre-dawn mist
blankets the briny deep
blocks the post-storm horizon
I see them floating
scattered like flotsam
the wreckage of formerly noble vessels
mutinied captains
who once commanded crew in fluid synchrony
towards shining horizons
compass and looking glass in hand
now marooned in their watery purgatory
aimless
and dazed

Some lie on their broken masts
and moan
others push themselves across my purposed bow
like swollen carcasses
hoping to convert my pity
into their salvation
still others grasp for the sides of my boat
clawing at the boards
I bent, hammered and tarred myself
from my own girlish wrecks

They feel entitled
to my generosity and grit
they mistake my gender for service
hoping to taunt and insult me
into compliance
they envy my life
above the unrelenting waves
I pry their feckless fingers
from my oars
leaving them in my wake
along with my guilt

These men are b(u)oys
signaling shallow danger
redirecting my course
I heed them as warnings
left by women before me
How many women before me
have made passage here?
Will those who follow
be fooled
by the unworthy captains I set afloat?
Will they heed the markings
I left behind in those b(u)oys
deceiving eyes
cowardly lips
weak chins
and feeble hearts?

Will they hear my sister siren call
guiding them to abundant seas
like the echoes I hear now?

Long nights always pass
sunrise breaks inevitably
across my face
I close my eyes
deeply inhale warm breeze
infused with fruits and flora
I follow the gulls to shore
to find a new captain
one whose ship is well-caulked
decks swabbed
larders stocked
strong mast and eager sails
charting a courageous course
parallel to mine

I am grown now
salt-cured and wiser
This time I will be less hasty
keep my rowboat sea ready
listen for the siren calls
and search his skin meticulously
for the warnings other women
left behind.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

The Insignificant Wall

I know what you’re thinking
that I would slink away from the threat of your boot
like a centipede in hostile territory
or fade like crimson on vivid summer smocks
hung from country clotheslines
left too long
in the rays of your scrutiny

What were you thinking?
That I would melt like tallow
in the heat of your glare?
Shuffle away
defeated eyelids drooping south
shoulders bearing a cloak of shame
woven by your shouts?
That I would gather up my beloved toys
broken by your cruel, jealous hands
stagger home
and cry alone in my room?

I know what you’re thinking
That I am the villain
It’s necessary
You’re not ready to cede
your victimhood
to the understudy
you know this role too well
You dread mirrors
cling to tenuous competence and
empty purpose
I didn’t know your fear looms taller than mine
you walk on flimsy stilts
filling the leeway of my second chances
like sudden floodwaters rush
to mindlessly occupy idle space

I say
I know what you’re thinking
the truth is I have no idea

neither do you.

Still, you fooled me.
My optimism was too green
trust unripened by time
you crushed the papier maché box
under your feet
So much for pedestals.
I understand the attraction of minions
(I am a strong willed first born)
But I wouldn’t comply
with the role assigned
My crime was
I always saw you eye-to-eye
I wouldn’t follow
the script everyone else was reading from
I didn’t know it was a play
and we were onstage
I am neither tyrant nor peon.

It’s my fault
I lingered too long on this play-ground
trusted you with my toys
before knowing you
But I will not cede this corner of the sandbox
This is not your Kingdom
not the barren neighborhood of my childhood
I’ve been spending all my time
trying to make the wrong ki(n)ds like me
I will cradle my precious brokenness
maybe shed a tear
but then I’ll go
where I’m wanted

It was my mistake.
I imagined you The Great Wall
Once I lowered my pushing hands
relaxed my elbows
stepped back
widened my gaze
from the bricks blocking the bridge of my nose
I saw you were no fortress
only a lonely section
broad as my wingspan
high as my crown

The only decision now is
do I bust through
glide around
or fly over
insignificant you?

© S. Rinderle, 2015

2 = = <3

Today
is another distance marker
on my freshest trail of grief
a date
full of 2s
but for me
only 1

I walk vaguely familiar streets
with our ghosts
echoes of warm torsos and laughter
I throw myself on a heap of our memories
piled cold and soiled like city snow
face down
sudden tears on a four month delay

Tell me
where are the men with the power of discernment
who recognize the difference
between working too hard
and not enough
at connection?
Where are the men with the power of intention
with clear, soft gaze
who believe in their own longing
creating their desired destiny
in love?

Tell me
where are the men with the power of wisdom
who understand the heart
as all sacred forces
moves in dark tides
like the moon?
Where are the men with the power of maturity
who are willing and able
to know their soul
and mine
to comparable depth?

They are scarce, you say
a wild species out of season

I say give me just 1

So tell me
where is the man with the power of courage
who comes equipped
with tenacity for the long trek
strength to match mine
and a ready smile
for optimistic adventure?

Where is the man with the power of commitment
who yearns to abandon himself
but never me —
who needs no convincing
that love is its own gilded reward
and I am unequalled
treasure.

Tell me
where is the man with the power of faith
undeterred by the unknown path
who can imagine far enough ahead
to triumph?
Where is the man with the power of adoration
who I need not ask
to proudly display my likeness
compose me a love song
look me in the eyes when he says I love you
and make others wait
because I am his number
1?

Tell me
Where is the man who would be my equal?

Tell me
where that powerful man dwells
and I will call him forth
I will be faithful
for the remainder of my days
gifting the fruits of my hands
the jewels of my heart
the light of my eyes
that our mutual abundance be multiplied
our mutual souls
ever more joyful
and tested

Tell him
I weary of dreaming
I stand ready to embark on the noble journey
that is our birthright

Tell him
I am still waiting
I am the chalice of his quest
Tell him
I will call him
Beloved.

© S. Rinderle, 2/22/15

Sueños Imposibles

I wish
I could see all the people I love
living in one city
at the same party
I wish
I could take the perfect parts
of all my lovers
stitch them together
and live together happily ever after
I wish
I’d had an easier childhood
with happy parents who delighted effortlessly
in my authentic existence
I wish
I’d learned years ago
to love my deepest most obvious flaws
and to savor my glorious talents
I wish
time would pause when I wanted
or fast forward on command
I wish
I knew when you were going to show up
so I could maintain
my patience
Life has granted me abundant wishes
like a powerful genie in a generous mood
all but these
and even so
I find myself contented
inside their impossible bondage

© S. Rinderle, 2012

 

Island

I’ve counted miles by the islands
hours by the days
wasting decades
of wanting
and waiting

I loved you
because you know the names of trees
Let no one mistake your kindness for weakness
You are like bamboo
You nod often and smile only
when you mean it
You kissed my forehead when I was ugly
comforted my nightmares like children
Your eyes are the color of stars

Your words brimmed
with the unstudied mastery
of attention and time
Your hands gifted the kindness of noticing
You move with imperfect grace
through the world
in reasonable expectation

You are not a doormat but a door
When my love knocked, you opened
You were the hinges on a trapdoor
out of my liver
allowing my rage to drain away
reviving my trust

I loved you
because you had a man’s feet
and a woman’s ears
You apologized with your whole torso
Your gratitude came as easy and abundant
as breath
Your fingers went into me asking
not to steal

When you said you missed me
you meant all of you
You spoke in complete sentences
reweaving the hanging threads of our conversations
You always found the North Star

You were the permeable boundaries
around the cell of my soul
the soft padding on the walls of my life
bouncing off my sharp edges
cushioning my corners
Your chest was a shield

I loved you
because you only follow gentle rules
and rebel when convention squeezes too tightly
You worshipped sanity
and called even when you didn’t say you would

You loved me
in public pride
out loud and declared
like that November morning
you asked me to be yours

Since then
this mortal organ in my chest expanded
beyond the confines of my bones
a butterfly who crossed the ocean
finally on land
cavorting through the greens
slowly feasting on nectar

I’ve counted miles by the islands
hours by the days
You were worth the wasted decades
You loved me the best you could
but you were not the shore

You are an island

Sometimes
the best so far
just isn’t good enough
so I return to sea
I return
to waiting.

© S. Rinderle, 2014