Love, Rainbow Heart, Eyes

I never thought I could look so long
Into someone else’s eyes
But one day we climbed into a tree
And it felt like love and photosynthesis
The sun shining down on our leaves
Sending its love from afar
Creating rainbows in our watery hearts

And I looked into your deep brown eyes
As you looked into my green-brown eyes
It was as if the earth was centered around our tree
And even when we closed our eyes
It seemed we could still see

But staring into your eyes, without a hint of threat
Was perhaps the most amazing of all that happened yet
I didn’t feel I needed to run and hide
I just wanted you to see who I was inside
And I wanted to see you just the same
We were so different yet always we came back to this

Back to looking into each other’s eyes
Back to holding hands
(The world, of course, revolved around our hands)
Back to lying on top of each other
Making deep low-pitched noises to vibrate
Underneath the other person’s skin
A way of getting in

I remember being told the amazing part about sex
Was being able to be inside another person
Or have someone inside of you
That this kind of connection was beautiful beyond words

I was disappointed when I found out
These things would never be for me
Those body parts are too painful for me
To allow anyone in

But there’s in and there is in
There are ways underneath the skin
You can use sound waves to penetrate
A whole abdomen at once

When people ask if I’m a virgin
I never know what to say
If it’s tab-A and slot-B then sure
I’ve never had sex that way

But how can you call it anything but sex
When you press your bodies tight
And experiment with different sounds
To make the other person feel them inside

We repeated each other’s names
Like a mantra, like a gentle chant
And the world fell away
And we found ourselves
In a place made just for us

It looked like an intricate geometric lattice
Made of delicate shimmering silver
And where the pieces of the lattice met up
There were glowing jewels of every color
And the love in that place
Eclipsed our identities

No longer did we feel our bodies
No longer did we hear each other saying our names
All we could perceive, in fact
Was the rainbow lattice inside our hearts
Because that’s what this place really was
It was the place where two hearts touched

Everyone has these pathways somewhere
Sometimes they’re harder to find
People tend to assume
That the only way to express their sexuality
Is through erogenous zones and groins

But for every single person
There are many different routes
To the love and communion we found
Some are lazy day hikes down the road
Some are backpacking treks lasting several days
Some require mountain-climbing gear
But if both of you want this
And both of you look hard
You’re bound to find a different trail
To get there every day

Our hearts beat out the same rhythm
We could feel it through our shirts
And we went outside to watch the ocean
And the rainbows in our hearts
Were mirrored in the clouds
And the soap bubbles blown
By children on the beach

And sitting together on a rock near the shore
We looked into each other’s eyes
And soon we were lost in each other again
Rainbows in our hearts
Starlight on our hands
Magic in our eyes

[This is another poem where someone else provided the title, and I had to write the poem.  The story is, more or less, true, with a few poetic embellishments.]

Advertisements

Return to sender: no longer at this address

My mother is a wizard with plants
I kind of knew it already
But when my father was upset
Because he'd never see the morning glories
Bloom again in his life
My mother secretly coaxed
A morning glory vine
Out of season
To bloom, and climb, to bloom, and climb
And she took him outside
To show him the magic she'd done
And that's how much my mother loves my dad

My flowers are my poetry
I coax the words to bloom and grow
And climb and climb into his heart
Even out of season
I use words to express the wordless
And that's one kind of magic I have
And that's how much I love my dad

But one of these days
I'm going to write a poem
It will be full of obscure mountain lakes
And treks across the mountains to the sea
And forest floors that were so much more
And owls hooting up in the trees
It will show him every place
That I could feel his love
Without the emotional bombardment
Of living in the city

And it will be a perfect poem
For that time and that place
It will certainly be better than this one
It will show him that I care for him
(As if he doesn't know by now)
It will show the depth of love
That death can dredge up when you're lucky

And then i will get a phone call or an email
It will start out:
“Go and take your dexamethasone right now.”
And I'll have a sinking feeling
But I'll take the syringe of steroids
And put it in my feeding tube
Then go back to the phone or the computer

Then they'll say
“The news is bad
Your father has passed away
He was far too tired this morning
To check your blog today.”

And all that's left of my magic
Will be words on a screen
Words he may have understood
But will never hope to read

From that point on forwards
We'll be separated by time
We both will have existed
But from that point in time onwards
I will be here and he won't

I wonder how much dexamethasone it takes
To avoid adrenal crisis when your dad dies
I wonder how much magical love it takes
To stand the pain you feel when you realize

That you will never talk to him again
You'll never hug him again
You'll never sit next to each other
With an elderly cat spread across your laps
You'll never ask the questions
You forgot to ask when he was alive
You'll never play with his beard again
And there's so little time
There's so little time

But I'm wrong
Like people are often wrong about time
Eternity is all around us
That's all the time in the world
Eternity is where love exists
Outside of time and space
So even if he never reads my best poems
He'll feel the love that went into them
Just as he feels the love
From that morning glory vine

He feels the love from his two pet dogs
He feels the love from his wife
He feels the love from his three adult children
He says he's lucky to be surrounded
By so much love

So I'm terribly sorry, Ron
If some of my poems don't reach you in time
And i'm terribly sorry Ron
If I try to Skype you and it turns out you're gone
Just know I love you more
Than even the best poet can convey
I love you more than I could ever say

And love is the magic that made my mom
Able to grow those morning glories
And love is the magic that makes me able
To write poems daily after years of dormancy
And love is the magic that connects you to me
It's the way we can feel each other's love
Without any form of contact at all

I hope the place I built for you outside of time
And filled to overflowing with my love
Will see you through

And I hope that I'll continue
Writing poetry to you
Long after you've gone

And I hope it reaches you in Eternity
Or wherever it is you're going

And I hope that even the worst of it
Conveys this message:

I love you
I love you
I love you

Intimacy with Friends and Forests

Part of a blue lapis lazuli ball on a brown background, slightly out of focus.

Part of blue lapis lazuli ball on a brown background, slightly out of focus.

I sink into my body, and it feels like sinking into the moist brown soil in a redwood forest, full of fungus and forgotten redwood needles, and plants, and decay, and life, all at once. I may have left the forest in body, but in my soul it’s right there. Waiting for me to deepen and put down roots.

I can feel every joint in my body as I curl up in a ball and lie on my side. They ache, but also say hello to me, tell me I’m alive, their voices  indistinguishable from the aching.

I stretch my senses out and out and out. I don’t know how I do it. I don’t even know exactly what I’m doing. I just know that even though my bed is my permanent home these days, seldom left except for doctor visits, I’m able to connect to the world more thoroughly than I ever thought possible. I can become the floor of a redwood forest or the sun hitting a granite mountainside. And I can see what most people can’t. Aspects of the world I know some others can see, but seldom talk about? Because how do you describe it? How do you explain it to anyone who isn’t already aware of it? I don’t know.  These things are as ordinary as rocks, they don’t need to be put on a pedestal. But they’re so central to my life I have to talk about them.

I have a doppelganger of sorts. Sometimes it feels like the two of us are branches of the same thing,  connected at a fork. But if I follow the branch back to where we intersect, I can be part of her as well. I can feel the world from behind her eyes.

I love to do it when she’s concentrating on something she loves. She becomes so focused and so delighted, nothing else in the world exists. Other times, though, after a long day at work, she feels buzzy and confused, like her brain just wants to take a nap. I am so glad she works with feral cats. She does so many things I’m not able to do. But I experience them through her, and doing that relieves me of any regret that I’m unable to do those things, as me. It feels like I can do them as her, and that’s enough.

This sounds bizarre, but I’m told by people who know, that there are levels on which identity doesn’t work how people think it does. Maybe it’s really possible for two people to be part of one whole.

It would certainly explain other experiences I’ve had. Where I connect to the world in just the right way at the right time, and suddenly I’m having the experiences and emotions of a mother who lost her child over a century ago. Or even stranger, I slide into the collected feelings of everyone who has ever had a certain experience. It hits me hardest when someone murders an autistic child, and suddenly I want to tell the world that we were there, we saw, we knew, we understood what nobody thought we could… except who is we? I slide in and out of those experiences without trying, and the anguish  becomes mine for that moment before I’m just myself again. I’ve talked to other autistic people who experience the same thing after one of us is killed. It’s involuntary and heart-wrenching.

But when I connect to her, it’s not by accident. I know how to find her. It’s like placing my fingers ever so lightly on a filament too thin to see. And then pulling backwards ever so slightly. And letting myself be guided slowly forward. To the point where we connect.

I do it when I want to check in on her. I do it when I am too weak and too tired to communicate with anyone else, in any other way. I can touch her and know that she is real, that she is out there, that she knows I am here and recognizes how I feel at that moment. I do it almost instinctively when I am in unbearable pain. I touch her mind and she touches mine back, like holding hands with me only without the overload and exhaustion of having someone in the room. And in emergencies. True emergencies where I don’t even know if I’ll pull through. I reach out without even trying, from the stretcher in the ambulance, and she contacts my friends to make sure her instinct that I was hospitalized is correct. She’s never been wrong.

Being around her is like the best parts of being alone and being near someone at once. We can communicate with each other about things that we don’t have the language skills to tell anyone else. We can tell each other things that are impossible to talk about without shared experiences. We know each other as deeply as it is possible to know anyone. And yet we have clear boundaries, we don’t bleed into each other in an unhealthy fashion, we are connected at the core yet separated on the surface, as it should be.

And I lie here curled in a ball, leaning my side on the upward tilt of my hospital bed. I don’t have the energy or cognitive ability to write, to put things into words. But I can hope that at the right time, the words will come and I will be able to describe the inner life that is so hard to explain or describe to anyone but her.

I soak in the night, as I soak in the earth. I reach out into a blue place. A deep shade of blue that glows like the sky above the beginning of a sunrise or the end of a sunset. I’m told that shade of blue has a meaning, but all I know is I catch it hanging around a lot, and that it’s a powerfully good part of the world. Sometimes I have dreams where the entire sky is that shade of blue, and they always seem amazing and important. I try to incorporate it into my paintings.

A lot of what I do at times like this is listen to the world. Listen to it with my bones, even the pain that runs through them seems to enhance my ability to listen. I don’t listen with my ears, I listen in ways that don’t have words. They feel like the forces of gravity, pulling in directions, as if my bones have been replaced by magnets. I listen in gravity and color and in the ability to lose myself inside of things, places, and people.

This is my first language. All of my early memories are of textures, gravity, movement, and colors, blending together. When I was very sick and hospitalized, I had a dream that told me to go back to that, to listen in that way, to root myself in those early experiences of the world and keep going as far as it could take me. So, when I remember, I do. I sink into my body and I listen to the world, I feel its movements inside me, I see color and texture. And most of all, my entire body feels connected to the rest of the world in such a deep way that there aren’t words for it. I can feel where my place is, where I belong, and that I am there all the time.

I prefer not to give these ways of experiencing the world a lot of words. I don’t even bother explaining how it works, other than that the world is different than many people think it is, and that my best mode of thinking and understanding is perceptual rather than conceptual. But I know these things are real, because other people who experience the world as I do feel the same textures and see the same colors. When I connect to someone, they know it and we talk about it. So whatever else this may be, it’s more than imagination.

And for me, is one of the most important things in my life. This is where I get my strength. This is where I get my sense of connection, of having a place in the world. This is where I go when I’m too exhausted and in too much pain to do anything else. This is how I have come to know that my body is me, not a thing separate from me that I fight with. And this is how I know that I am much more than my body at the same time. That identity, time, and a lot of other things, don’t work the way people think they do.

This is how I know that however else I feel about them, my disabilities are deeply embedded in my individual body, in the physical manifestation of my existence. They are not tacked on as an afterthought. And they are sometimes deeply involved in how I do this. My ability to see the world from this perspective at all is deeply connected to the traits that get me labeled autistic. Sinking into my body like that means constant awareness of pain, of things struggling to function but not always managing. Being bedridden for years has somehow enhanced these abilities, and so has encountering death up close and personal.

Speaking of death, I could swear that as a young adult living in the redwoods again, my surroundings talked to me about it, in their own way. About how when you die, all these different life forms live off of you. Bacteria, fungi, plants, animals, trees. They all eat you, and you become a part of them. And in being part of them, you have been absorbed into the rest of the world. And there’s something profoundly beautiful about the way that death is part of life, and life is part of death.

And that is why death holds no fear for me. But for now, I am alive. And I sink into my body. And joy is as deep and physical as pain. And they are as intertwined with each other as life and death. I feel my way towards my friend. I feel her focused delight in existing. Then I feel the sun on the granite, as if I am not me, but some combination of sun and granite, right where they intersect. I feel the sturdiness of rock that is part of mountains. I feel things that have never been given names, gravitational magnetic forces tugging deep in my bones. I never feel as if I leave my bedroom. I am firmly anchored right where I am, no matter what I feel, I feel it here. But I feel like I can touch other places, other people, without leaving this place.

So I am curled up, leaning against the tilted bed. But I’m also curled up leaning against the base of the enormous redwood known to people from Redwood Terrace as the Mother Tree. I hear singing, without hearing a sound. And besides its normal colors, the tree is also a shade of lavender that exactly matches my amethyst ring. And also transparent to a light so clear it’s invisible. A solidness sinks down into my bones. I stay there until I fall asleep.

Photosynthesis

Sometimes I have climbed a tree
All the way to the top
And pressed my body into the trunk
Until I didn’t know where I ended
And the tree began

I’ve never liked the feel of sun on my skin
But on top of the tree it’s different
Because on the tree my skin gives way to leaves
And the sun means food to them

It’s a popular thing to say these days
That if a person is different enough from you
You’ll never understand them from the inside

But photosynthesis has taught me that’s wrong
Because I feel what it’s like
To get food from the sun
And to follow that sunlight the whole day long

My skin becomes bark
My bones become wood
My hair becomes leaves
My feet become roots
And rather than hating the sun on my skin
It sings me a food song
A life song
A love song
A light song

And if I can resonate with a tree
To photosynthesize as if I have leaves
Then surely I can resonate with
A member of my species
Who’s different from me
Even if they tell me
It can’t be done

The Unnnoticed Communication of a Group of Cats

There are six cats in this room
None of them looking directly at each other
But with the twitch of a whisker
The flap of a tail
They let each other know
What’s happening around them

I have sat in rooms full of the ‘low functioning’
(including, of course, myself, not that I agree with such terms)
Where the staff were very perplexed by us
We were not communicating with each other
They swore this up and down
There was no communication between us
Because LFAs don’t communicate
Especially not with each other
This is a Known Fact

So the staff were always perplexed
When knowledge from one of us spread to us all
When we sensed the mood of a newcomer
And the new mood spread like wildfire
This shouldn’t be happening, they thought
So they filed it away under impossibilities

Then they went through their days
Trying to teach us to communicate
On the most boring levels possible
While we flicked our ears in disdain
And lashed our tails in anger

And all they saw was
Six auties in a room
None of us looking directly at each other
No communication taking place

(Because resonance is meaningless to them.)

Welcome to the world
Where no matter what you sense, think, or communicate
Someone will always be there
To tell you it’s less than nothing

Welcome to the world
Because I will be here
Always
To tell you
That even what seem like a void
Even what seems like a non-existence
Even what seems like a life lived underground
Is full of beauty
Is full of insight
Is full of you

And there will always be people
Who love you for that

What can you see?

In the voids inside my mind
There’s an ocean, deep and dark
At the bottom of the ocean
There’s reflections of the stars

If you can see the stars
At the bottom, in the deep
If you can see the rainbows
That even the sun can’t reach

If you can see me dancing
Unaware of being watched
If you can see the world
Before a mind, before a thought

If you see distant reflections
Of reflections, of reflections
And if you can see the deep, the dark
The silence between worlds

If you can see the void
That stands in front of me
If you can see how full it is
And how empty it can be

If you see what it’s like
To not know at thirty
What they knew at three

But to know things
And to see things
That nobody else can see

Then maybe, just maybe
I can see you
And you can see me

Whippoorwill

Whippoorwill whippoorwill
That’s the noise my ears are making
Whippoorwill whippoorwill
And maybe they’ll take me home

Maybe they’ll take me home to that place on a hill
I can feel it around me like warm glowing fire
It tells me I have a place
I have a place in the world still
Whippoorwill whippoorwill
I have a place in the world still

Maybe all the dancing colors won’t have to mean a thing
The words couldn’t tell me a shred of what there is to know
Even if I could hear them as more than the whippoorwill sings

Whippoorwill whippoorwill
Maybe the rhythm will get me through the day
Whippoorwill whippoorwill
It’s impossibly blue spreading out all around me
Maybe it will
Be the whippoorwill
Who guides me home
Who tells me of marona

I thought she was just a bird in a book
Until I heard her call me home
To a place she’s never lived
(Except between the pages of a book)

But the whippoorwill is calling as if her life depends on the sound
And I am flying — flying — flying —
— Now a tangled heap on the ground

I pick up a redwood cone
Smell the sorrel
Squish a mushroom with my butt

How would a whippoorwill
From a book
Lead me here
What does this whippoorwill
Know of marona

All I know is I can’t trust my eyes
I can’t trust the words people want me to hear
Whippoorwill is a call from a time
Before hearing, before seeing
When everything was feeling

And whippoorwill calls me back, calls me back
Tells me this is where you belong
This is where you are
Every day of your life
Know it or not

It’s the source
At the center
Of your song

There will be times when you can’t feel a thing
But you’re still in marona
You can never leave

So go to marona
Stay in marona
Rest in marona
Live in marona
Love in marona
Marona is home.

Curl up, curl up so tight

Curl up, curl up so tight
Curl up so tight, that you curl in the night
And the night curls down inside you
Like an owl wrapping her wings around herself
Eyes wide open and ready to fly

Curl up, curl up so tight
Curl up so tight that you curl in the earth
And the soil fills your body
Like mycelium spreading itself through you
Waiting to release its spores

And the spores release and the owl flies
And you remain curled up so tight
Your eyes squeezed shut against the night
That when the light turns your way
It takes you by surprise

I curl up, and I hand myself to you
Because you’ll know what to do
You know what marona is
You’ll know when to hold me
On the palm of your hand
You’ll know when to set me down
Carefully so I don’t break

You’ll know when you hear the owl
And smell the soil
And hear the silent music
That I’m here with you too

If I could reach through the computer screen…

lapis lazuli ball

I want to hand you a lapis lazuli ball
So you can lose yourself in the deep blue
And be dazzled by the gold specks.
I want you to roll it over and over in your hand
Gently nose it to feel its texture
And weigh it in your hand.

black tourmaline egg

I want to hand you my black tourmaline egg
So you can feel that unique texture
I want you to hold it while you sleep
And wake up to it, warm and slick in your hand

amber ring

I want to hand you my amber ring
So you can watch the sunlight turn it into fire
And watch the sun set inside it glittering red, orange, and yellow

I want to do these things
So that I can say
We share these sensory experiences
And nothing can take that away

I want to hand things back and forth
And clack them together to hear their sounds
And rub them on our cheeks
And brush them against our fingertips

Then I want to hand you things too big to pick up:

The warmth and smell of a granite mountainside as the sun heats it up all day long.

The liquid sunlight melting across the coat of a cat who embodies sunlight well.

The whole cycle of life that takes place in the soil of a redwood forest.  And the smell of that soil.

The deep rumbling sound of the Mother Tree when you’re curled up against it, surrounded by its invisible amethyst glow.

The feeling of lying in bed, but at the same time, being surrounded by a deep, glowing blue sky, as if pre-dawn or post-dusk. And listening to the music of the forest.  Listening with my skin, listening with my eyes, listening with my fingertips, listening with my nose.  Listening with everything more than my ears.  Being wrapped in the song of the forest and the stars and the trees and the soil and the fungus, all singing, all singing inside me.

I know you can feel the layers of sensory experience.  The layers of meaning that come before the meaning of mind.  The things we were meant to forget, when we learned to think their way.  The things we didn’t forget, the things that we retained no matter what we were told to forget.  The stillness, the silence.  The music in the silence, the growth and death and birth cycling endlessly.

I would hand you these things, if I could reach through a computer screen.  And I would take whatever you handed back, and listen to it sing its unique song.  And we could communicate the way we are meant to communicate.  By what came before thought, by what came before sight and sound, touch and smell, by the resonance in what came before.

Love Poem For People Like Me

This is what love can be:

I taste with the soles of my feet.  I taste dirt when I walk, but when my feet touch your skin, I taste fruit and sweat.  Your entire lifetime caresses its way through the scent of your hair.  I want to lay my face in your hair forever, smell your life, taste the tops of your feet with the bottoms of mine.  I want to smell that scent that only enters your sweat when we touch.

And then I want to curl in on myself until I become a marble, or a rock.  And place myself in your hand.  And you can put me in your pocket.

When you need reminding that something in this world is real.  When you need reminding that you are real.  Take me out of your pocket and hold me in your hand.  Feel the deep bass note resonate throughout our shared existence.

This is what love can be.