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

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

 

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

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

Sunflower

I wish I were a sunflower
face always turned
towards the sun
back always turned
on the shadows

I’d grow eager and hearty
in weak soil
unplanned
uncomplaining

I’d thrive on unexpected street corners
unnoticed by passersby
unadmired
uncaring
spirit undampened

My perky summer mane
of auburn golden petals
would seduce bumblebees
velvet sable upon amber
delicious reciprocity

Although my looks eventually desiccate
their colors would linger vivid
gilded finches feeding
from my smiling autumn face
satisfying generosity

No need to over-rely
on my bright disposition
to get by
No need to talk myself
into acceptance or trust
No thoughts of “must”
No need to convince myself
of the wisdom of seasons
the rightness and reason of Will
beyond mine

When the harvest sun waned
I’d nod off and droop
letting go my final seeds
with a contented sigh
ready to sleep til spring
when my neck stretches again
jaw yawns
and face turns
towards the sun

back always turned
on the shadows.

© S. Rinderle, 2015

Susana Rinderle

photo (c) Susana Rinderle, 2015

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 ~