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"melania says it's okay"

It's Women's History Month! It's International Women's Day! Hooray!

The meaning of sisterhood is something that is always on my mind, but it seems more appropriate to talk about it at this particular moment- not simply because it's March.  My notion of sisterhood has evolved as the balance of power in my country shifts and the forces with which we have refused to contend with are rearing their ugly fangs and threatening our progress and safety. 

I am a feminist. Feminism has saved my body and my spirit from hatred and fear.  It has empowered me with a lens through which I can deconstruct the world around me and search for what is human and recognizable to my heart.  It has illuminated the need for a commitment to love which challenges me to be a steward of my own energy, and to walk through the world as generously as I can. 

I hope that women in the United States can reflect on the notion that "sisterhood" is not guaranteed simply by the accident of gender or sex organs.  Sisterhood is earned by doing the work of challenging ourselves to learn, to show up for each other, and to let go of the cultural narratives that cause us to turn against one another. 

Sisterhood understands that we are harmed by patriarchy, that we are maimed by misogyny.  Sisterhood acknowledges that those wounds look different for all of us, that they are bound up with other traumas that not all of us will face.  Sisterhood recognizes that patriarchy is propped up by so many forces in our culture.  Sisterhood challenges us not to turn our face away from the ways in which our wounds are different, but to learn to be of service to all of our healing. Sisterhood surrenders to the fact that we cannot build our fortress of love on a foundation that excludes, that erases, or that is implicit in the harm of any one of us.

I wrote "melania says it's okay" after the video footage surfaced of her husband bragging about sexually assaulting women.  Many women saw this video and dismissed it.  Many women heard of rape and assault allegations and dismissed it. Many women heard this man speak of women who displeased him as being subhuman. Many women heard him categorize people of color, and undocumented people as dangerous and criminal and turned their gaze away.

My words in this poem are a reflection on womanhood, sisterhood, and the harm we do to one another. All of us are called to a greater commitment to protect and strengthen each other- especially now. <3

 

 

"melania says it's okay"
 
this is america! women are free!
free to do whatever they want-
to buy new titties and laser their labia
to wear blue jeans, clit rings, bonnets, habits or hijabs
free to do 3,000 kegels a day, free to wear strap-ons and strapless bras
free to slut it up with whomever they please, or buy a vibrator when it gets too depressing
 
this is america! women are free!
free to defend the pedophile priests
free to preach the gospel of misogyny
free to be sexist, racist, homophobes who fear trans people and the meaning of gnc
free to change their clothing and the route they walk home from work
free to forget about the poor teenage girl in a factory on the other side of the earth
free to go into debt for a college degree, free to eat carbs and free to eat pussy
 
this is america! women are so free!
free to take hormones that make them feel sad
free to bleed chunks of uterus into a cup or a pad
free to ride horses and lose their virginity
free to throw up after they eat and cry themselves to sleep
free to have their rape kits sit in the basement of a PD
to be criminalized for having a child they can’t afford to feed
to be villainized for not having a child they can’t afford to feed
to be scoffed at for apologizing and being meek
to be skewered for demanding anything

BUT THIS IS AMERICCCAH!

women are so free!
free to do more damage than any man could do
so grab them by the pussy, why don't you!?

"KATE SAYS IT'S NOT OKAY" photo by Emily Townsend

"KATE SAYS IT'S NOT OKAY" photo by Emily Townsend

alchemy

I've found my salvation in the sweet mystery and generosity of other human beings.  Over and over again I've been given a chance to see myself grow and become someone that I can love - all because someone folded me into their arms and allowed me to love them.  

"Here is the church and the home and the altar and the womb and the cradle and the grave." This is the unspoken truth in every chance we have to love and be loved in this life. 

I'm grateful to encounter so many spirit guides as I journey so near and far from home.  I'm grateful every time someone draws me near and lets me be of service to their purpose.  This poem is a meditation on that transformative space that being in relationship with another person (any kind of loving relationship) can create within our lives. 

Remember to kiss them. Your people. Your tribe. Your love. Your chosen family. Kiss them and thank heaven for every sweet breath they will take. <3

photo by Keren Fedida

photo by Keren Fedida

me and you

neither of us two

mind a little pain or a lot

we feel what the others forgot

where precious persons on vast verandas

in lives gone by have wept for us

 

me and you

neither of us two

use inside voices inside these walls

we speak in song and dance through halls

our laughter billows through the rooms

and the world is glad as it bubbles and booms

 

you and me

both of us, we

disown the white savior jesus freaks

we sip communion wine as we transmute time

for this is what love requires

when it assigns us to its sacred fire

 

you and me

both of us, we

wear rings and chains

and silver medallions

we paint our toenails in unison

for this is what love requires

when it assign us to its sacred choir

 

me and you

neither of us two

ever cared to follow the rules

we prefer the alchemy of humanity

fusing our bones with the soil of two continents

transforming our being in the womb of love's sacred relief

 

yet who could fathom but we

with fathom upon fathom

and dream upon dream

the miracle of

you and me

 

that while we were busy

with our joy and our weeping

our secrets and our singing

 

we made something

gold and everlasting

 

 

silence

this past week was silence. stillness. rest.

lately, i've been living in extremes- basking in the noise and the hustle and then taking refuge in silence and rest.  listen for the silence in your world- it is always waiting <3

 

silence

it is silence that covers your secret voice

with blankets warmer than springtime

it is silence that softens the line of your mouth

when you realize that you belong, have always belonged

it is silence that reminds the tenuous beating heart

that is does not owe

the grinding world outside any precious affections,

that its glorious turning is enough, has always been enough.

it is silence that listens to the longing in your bones

and whispers, “please, keep going. you have to keep going”

photo by Keren Fedida

photo by Keren Fedida

 

 

 

 

water- a love note

Wake up early, before the shrill of the day can match you to its fever pitch.  Wake up early while the rest of the house remains quiet and far off in sleep. Wake up early and listen to the rain rattle the old roof and rustle the endless piling of leaves in the yard.  Turn off the alarm and ease yourself into recalling your dreams.  Water.  It begins and ends with water.

    They say it never rains in southern California, that’s the song that keeps playing in your head.  You’ve been here for exactly twelve days and it has rained three times.  It reminds you of the very early spring back east, where the warm currents claw their way out of from beneath the thick and endless winter cold.  

This is not spring.  No.  This is winter now. Go ahead, laugh like an idiot.  Role around in your bed and smile until your smile muscles start to quiver.  You’ve done it. Here you are.

    You fancy yourself to be the water bringer.  You know it’s been drought here, so much drought.  Then the floods came and brought you tumbling forward, and now the rain is settling in as you start to live with the idea that you’re here and not there.  It is the dreams, you tell yourself, the dreams of water.  You are diving in, submerging, swimming.  You are listening to the water move across the sandy soil as if it were the sweetest soundtrack you’ve ever heard.

    Look at the mountains.  Look at the mountains and remember once more that you are nothing, you are not anything that can’t be ground down to dust by one single rock slide.  Remember that the water will never know the wonder and the terror with which you behold the mountain, for it will bury the rock slide as it births a new landscape.  In the end, even the rock cannot resist the will of the waters. You start to laugh some more.  Yes, like an idiot.  Your smile muscles are getting stronger, but they’re not strong enough.  You invite that ache in your jaw.  It reminds you of the person that you love.

    He’s somewhere far off beyond some other mountain range.  Most likely, his smile muscles are at work just like yours.  The string that you tried to cut from your ribs, the string that tethered you to his life, that string is wiser and much older that the two of you combined.  It did not snap at the distance of continents or the force of separation.  It became low and quiet, waiting in the ether of your vision just behind your eyelids and earlobes.  It began to tug at the smile muscles so that when he pulls in laughter you begin to twitch and move into aliveness. It lassoed around the water of your dreams so that when you submerge, he will take to swimming.   

This is the longest string in all the universe.  This is the string of so many lives that tangle and knot and bend together and apart, but never will sever.  So now you must ask yourself, as you have so many times: how can this be? how could this miracle choose me?  

Oh my, what a silly question! This is so much bigger than you or he or even any life you bring into the world together.  This is the thing that makes death so wild and sorrowful, to know you have found the magic that is worth living for, the kind of love that is worth dying for.

“No more waiting in line!” life has proclaimed.  

Oh, these smile muscles, teetering between laughter and tear.  Answer yourself this question: how could it ever be that you were not meant for this? how could it ever be that life would pass you over?  The answer is the rock slide and the rib bones, the thousands of miles you’ve traveled to see the red earth of the first nation peoples.  The answer is his eyes, the eyes which you imagine your child gazing up at you with.  The answer is his voice and the smile on his mouth which sweetens the turn of his words.  It is every possibility of joy that exists because he exists.  It is the rain, the way in which it flows through, even the bald faced mountain rocks which seems so impossible.  It is the water, the way it changes form but still retains its elemental magic.  It is water, like you and me.


 

Santa Monica | photo by Keren Fedida

Santa Monica | photo by Keren Fedida

nothing is breaking

when love comes to stay with me
pulling the dining cloth out from beneath
all the carefully sorted fragile things
leaping up with great relief
landing now with flare and ease
skins of glass and fancy wood beam touching
shyly at first, a maddeningly delicate embrace
what is this strange new feeling
so naturally and chaotically swept into being
nothing is breaking
but everything has changed

trading flesh

no training wheels
just go
rolling across the cement stages
of life
 
sometimes you drift that way
you bend quite dangerously low
perhaps you swing back to center, somehow
 
imagine shoestrings
tangled with chain and pedal
crunched and choked in grease
 
sudden stillness flings you forward
skin seeking gravel grinding
it hurts to trade flesh
 
you know
 
those rocks are still in my knee caps
fusing themselves to tendrils of tendons
bathing in blood and plasma
 
bits of me are blue and knotted now
as so many life forms make a home beneath my skin
perhaps they never were smooth and young, either

suspension

i want to stay here just a little bit longer

i want to marinate in this flood of stillness

before everything begins again

 

i want to simmer here, slowly

and watch the shapes behind my eyelids

roam freely through the glow of my mind

 

i want to live here for just a moment

in this space between the air and the ground

where my shadow is slow and heavy with evening

 

if i can stay here long enough

something will break open in me

that i’ll be strong enough to master