We must love
I read a poem that knocked my heart from my chest and into my hands. And I wondered what it means to want to feel okay with, you know, being okay.
My therapist has said so many things to me.
Wild, wonderful, disquieting and disruptive, gentle, tender, smart and difficult, curious, wonderful things.
She has introduced me to the golden shadow, helped broker peace between my pieces, taught me what I call candle breathing, showed me around the intersubjective space, which once I understood it, I understood it to be what the poet and essayist Dan Beachy-Quick once described gorgeously and thus:
A transcendent moment may be a simple concept: the mutually creative point at which a world expressed and a world received coincide in time. I speak out the world within the reality of subjective time that makes my world possible, and you listen from your own time, from the depth and singularity of your own subjectivity. Transcendence occurs when my world becomes real for you and thus is no longer merely mine, while the perception of this world is no longer merely yours. In becoming real for you, my world gains from your otherness, from your not being me. You shape it as you listen to it.
from A Whaler’s Dictionary (2008)
(Before we get back to my therapist, you can read that again, if you want. And you can tell me this isn't exactly what love is, and ought to be—not the flattening of two lives, two hearts, two worlds into one, but an act of creation, generative presence, a new world inside the world, growing always into and beyond itself. Let this be love, amen.)
We've had a nice time together, me and Louise, experimenting with sound and color and mood as a way into what I might otherwise struggle to say, finding where each feeling lives in my body, helping me stop calling myself such a dumb bitch all the time. I'm a lucky bear for her counsel and conversation.
But the other day she nearly ended me, and all it took was eight words:
"Do you think you deserve to feel okay?"
I felt it when she said it.
I felt it in my chest.
And I said, I don't know, do I?
And don't we all?
I'm writing you this letter from the desert, once more. We are back in New Mexico, to know her in the summer in her long, bright, hot and dusty days that start and end with something howling, not far in the distance. I am healthy, and beloved and held so well by those I give my love to. Our baby business is—is it too soon to say?–thriving, which for us is less about being busy and more about helping each other find our balance while finding new ways forward.
We can be as busy as we want, is the truth of it. But that's not what I want anymore.
And I've struggled—no matter how much I believe it!—I have struggled to feel like that's okay.
I have struggled to give myself totally over to the tide that's already been carrying me. Still looking for ways to be a rock—reliable, steady, sometimes foolishly unbending. For so long I've longed for structure and stability, I've tried to think of everything, and I've planned and I've planned and considered every in and out (or so I thought) and what could go wrong and what could go right but only if it goes exactly like this, and my god. It's just so exhausting.
So I say to others, rest, please rest. And I don't do it myself. So I say to others, be like water. And I grasp onto the shore.
But I do want to. Be like water. Be the river for once. See what happens when I let more breeze into my days, when work, actually factually and for real, doesn't come first. And I want that to be okay. Because I do think I deserve it. Same as you.
So here's some poems.
Baba of the Valley
by Will Finlayson
Baba has four legs.
Baba keeps close
to the cliff because
the cliff is good to him.
When Baba is hungry,
Baba eats what the cliff
gives him. Baba
likes rain. Baba
thinks the flowers look
like little bells. They are so
quiet. When Baba eats them,
he prays a little. We must
love like Baba.
This was published in HAD, May 11, 2021
by Galway Kinnell
Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.
And one more, for good measure. This one I wrote, all by myself, because Tully said something to me and then it had to become this poem.
The river for once
Wild isn't it,
how we're held up like this—
What I take in is what I am.
What's your weather lately?
A friend once said to me,
the air just seems heavy, you know?
like a drop in barometer.
The way a day becomes a mood.
How I long to wake up and
be the river for once.