Slug Child

she was a slug-child
no shell protecting her from
cruelty or salt

she was a slug-child
no shell protecting her from
kindness, beauty, love

slugs are tougher than they look
slugs are tougher than you think

[Part of my NaNoWriMo novel, but applies to me as well.]

My, sie’s really let hirself go…

My foot is cracked and bleeding from the cold
Yet there is beauty in the lines and cracks
My hands are gnarly, wrinkled, leathered, old
Yet every wrinkle hails unnumbered acts
They tell me to be pretty, to want more
“And more of what?” is always my reply
I’ve had a good long life, though I am poor
And poverty has been my shield and sky
I look into the mirror and I see
The greying hair, the laugh and worry lines
That come with living long and living free
For I have no consent to be confined
     They look at me and feel I’ve disengaged
     I celebrate surviving to old age






[By way of explanation:  I find myself fiercely, desperately, wanting wrinkles and grey hair and all the other signs that I have outlived every prognosis I’ve been given.  Other people fear those things, wanting to look young.  When I am old, every wrinkle and grey hair will be a badge of pride saying “I made it.” I have only recently, since diagnosis and treatment for adrenal insufficiency, begun to allow myself to dream of old age again, and what a beautiful dream it is.]


Sometimes I want to unfold
The beauty of the world
As if it was the most intricate
Origami flower
That had ever seen the light of day

Then I want to wait
And wait
Until the flower blooms for real
Until its velvet black blossoms
Tinged with purple edges
Grow fuzz that you can run your hand over

And I want to hand it to you
And watch you rub the fuzz
Against your cheek
Against your lips
Against your nose —
The yellow-black stamens tickle

And then fold the flower
Back into paper
And put it in my pocket
For safekeeping

I would make more of them
And write secret notes
That only some people could read

They would say things like:

“The most beautiful things
Are concealed all around you.”

“You are a flower and
This is how you become real.”

“You are unfolding
Just like this.
Don’t hurry,
Don’t wait.”

I would hide them in plain sight
And I would hide them in places
That only the curious and observant
Would bother looking

I would hide them in places
That can only be found
When doing shit work
For 22 cents an hour

I would hide them so that each person
Stood a chance of finding at least one
Just one
That told them what they needed to hear
Right now
Just then

Unfold them, they become real flowers
Fold them, they become folded paper
You can do this as many times as you need
Because they are magic flowers

And if you get good at looking and listening
With more than just your eyes and ears
You will find these creations everywhere
Left by someone
With far more magic
Than I will ever possess

You know when you find one because
Suddenly something ordinary
Becomes extraordinary
Suddenly you’ve been let in on a secret
About something you’d seen before
But never seen before

It can be anything from
A spray of mud on your pants
To a pair of decorated crutches
To a butterfly

It doesn’t have to be pretty on first sight
Many times it isn’t
Many times it seems horrible
Until that flash of inspiration
When it unfolds into a flower in full bloom

And then every texture is like suede
And every color is like the deepest blue before dawn
And every taste is like boiled collards with butter
And every smell is the fur behind a cat’s ears

I wish I had the magic necessary
To make these things myself
To fold reality into paper
And leave it everywhere for people to find

As it is, all I can say is
Someone has already done it

You can find these magic folded papers
On the inside of a zero
In the yawn of a kitten
In a feeding tube
In a wadded up rag
In a tangled old root
In a leaf that skips down the sidewalk

And all of them are flowers
And all of them are there to tell you
There is more in this world than you can ever see
There is more love
There is more light
There is more beauty

And you are part of it
When everything seems to be
Crashing down around you

Can you accept
This magic spell
This gift
From the world
To me
To you?

Away (with credit to George MacDonald)

That’s the only word for where I’m going

And I can’t show you the light
And I can’t show you the love

All I can do is become like glass
And hope that through me you’ll see both

I hope through me you’ll see both love and light
I hope through me you’ll see what I see
When I look beyond death
At the back of the North Wind

Don’t be afraid
There’s nothing to fear
Only love
Only light
Only dissolving

Can you imagine what it’s like
To become the greatest love you’ve ever touched
Can you imagine what it’s like
To be everything good in the world

The North Wind told me it would be this way
The North Wind told me not to be afraid
She told me others would fear Her
But I should not
She said my time would come
Like everyone else
And She would be there waiting for me

When She waits for you
The whole room fills with light and silence
She sits by your bedside
Her light chases away
Even the thought of fear
Let alone fear itself:

You can’t be afraid in Her presence
You can’t even remember what fear was
Until She is long gone

Many a time have I woken up in a hospital
To see my whole room filled with light
And the North Wind sitting at my bedside
Patient, impassive, and loving, all at once
She has all the time in the world
And all the place to be there

She told me stories without words
She took me on journeys without moving
She gave me a red scarf to keep my heart warm
In the desperate winter of delirium
She tethered me to reality
When nothing else would

I knew who She was
You couldn’t lie in a hospital bed
With Her sitting in a chair nearby
Exuding light and truth and love
And not figure out who She was

And if you want to keep on living
You have to resist the urge
To stand up and take Her hand
And walk into the light

But when it’s time
And only when it’s time — you will know —
She will help you
And She will love you
And you will become part of Her love
And you will see the land
At the back of the North Wind

If you ask, She will take away your fear
And it will be the most beauty you have ever seen
And it will be the most love you have ever seen
And you will walk into the beauty
And you will walk into the love
And you will walk into the light
And you will become the light
And you will become the beauty
And you will become the love

And when I look for you
I need only look for Love
And that’s where I will find you