enough

Before kids, and later before they outnumbered us, we lived at the foot of a mountain in a small farmhouse beside a brook which each June gave rise to black flies of biblical proportions.

I learned then that if I woke at dawn, I could get out in the garden ahead of them which must be why the garden looked so hopeful this morning when I appeared on the front porch much earlier than I had in some time.

And I did pause there and smile at it, fondly, like one might nod toward a babe in arms, someone else’s arms, and then I got in my car and drove away—east toward new beginnings–to the rising sun suspended over the valley, cupping the fog; more present, but less productive than I once was, finally understanding or at least practicing that just this—this world waking—this light, this birdsong, this body, this breath—was enough.

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topless

the author, fifty years ago

After walking the dirt half-mile from the highway, he arrives in the house, drops his backpack and removes his shirt, saying that the temperature was higher today than it was supposed to be. (In the chill of the early June morning, he chose to wear a long sleeve shirt to school.)

“Lately, I resent men going topless,” I say.

“Do you want me to put it back on,” he asks.

I don’t.

I remember my mother’s scoldings as a girl: “Put a shirt on!”

And later, about the age my son is now: “Put a bra on!”

The accumulation of shame.

As the temperatures rise in these Green Mountains, I feel anger rise in me when I see men walking the road–aged men and young men like my son–each one topless–as if all the space in the world is theirs, without a care for who might rape them.

the author, 30 years ago

a solstice blessing on families reunited

The bare spot where the kits once played. June 2018.

Late this spring when the skies grew dark and the cloud cover heavy and children were ripped from their parents arms, I took a dramatic fall an came down with a chest cold, and something else–in the middle of the darkest night–the mother fox (or was it the father?) barked incessantly outside our bedroom balcony doors; This after I spent a worrisome string of days looking & listening & hoping & calling & finally crooning the lullaby that I’d sung that morning when I saw the first of their four pups (and it fell to sleep to the sound of my voice), and still, the space where the babes frolicked and rested remained… empty.

Could it be that this barking was a keening call, like my Twitter feed, swelled by a chorus of voices, each one sounding the same sour note, until that horrific practice was brought to an end…

And although we don’t know how these broken families will be restored, or how great the toll on their lives, or how deep the shame on our generation (poisoning babies in Flint, paying unlivable wages, watching television while the earth changes)… The Longest Day has arrived.

I wake to the sounds of squealing, and while their kitten-like bodies are thinner than they were before, and they won’t let me close like they did when I first photographed them, they are here, curled up beside one another in the sun on the rock outcropping outside my writing door.

May we each make good medicine of whatever strength, power and will we possess.

that photo you once hated

2017

My husband took this photo of me when we were out at a cafe last summer which is a rare feat. Not the cafe, which is a regular feature of our weekends now that the kids are aging out of our lives, but the photo. He rarely thinks of photography and so we have albums filled with family photos relatively absent of my existence, except for the annual  shot of me lighting the birthday cake for one of my boys.

“You look so pretty today,” he said, “Can I have your phone?”

I always believe him, but then I look in the mirror or at a photo and it’s just me. Nothing special. Or more often worse than I imagined or hoped for, like this one.

I really didn’t like this photo, and I still don’t like it, but you know what, I don’t mind it now like I did before, and it’s only been a year.

I take this as a good sign because typically it’s like a decade before I appreciate a photo that I really didn’t like at first.

Soon I may like myself almost right away.

Which brings me to this letter that I wrote as part of a writing assignment with the women who journey through the chakras with me. We had to write directly to ourselves which turns out is kind of hard…

Dear Kelly, 

(Boy, it’s hard to begin that way.)

Dear Kelly,

(So much more at stake.)

Dear Kelly,

(No place to hide.)

Dear Kelly,
Dear Kelly,
Dear Kelly,

For all the times that name was used as a curse,   
I am so sorry.
Let it go.

For all the times you’ve found yourself occupying the ugliness of another’s version of you,
I am so sorry.
Let it go.

For all the times you assumed that ugliness as a safe haven from feeling the deeper pain of loss and separation,
I am so sorry.
Let it go.

Let it go, Kelly,
Not because it doesn’t matter,
But because you do.

Precious.
Always.
Now.

~Kelly

Mothers Day Nightmares

On Mothers Day night, with both sons at home, I wake to the sound of my youngest vomiting in the toilet, and I realize that I have had a nightmare. “A dream about the Patriarchy,” my husband offers in the dark.

In the dream, it is daylight, and there is this charismatic man who I find attractive and then threatening as I watch Him weave his way through homes & classrooms & workplaces, alternatingly charming then murderous. Slitting throats, dividing families, orphaning children.

Each time I get wise to Him, I sense the great vulnerability of going against such cunning, and something else–I see how willing others are to oblige this power and destruction in blindness; and so I become absorbed with protecting myself whenever He appears, until I see Him follow a family into the loft over the Great Room, and doesn’t He kill the young father and then the mother, as their child toddles unprotected toward the open railing.

Terrified, I dash past a bureau and a hutch and sweep the child up into my arms, where she becomes an infant, and with little time to spare, I dangle her through the bars of the railing thinking I could drop her to safety if only someone would appear in the Great Room below.

And then I see him! My father! But although he hears my calls, he cannot see the child, even though I direct his attention toward her again and again.

I consider dropping the infant to the floor, but just then my youngest son enters the room, and seeing the dangling child, puts out his arms to catch Her.

And with that, the Patriarchy disappears.

I bow to the mothers

I’ve experienced Motherhood–from desire to conception, to pregnancy (and miscarriage), to labor, to nursing & sick bed tending & to the never-ending-letting go–as a fierce initiator into the feminine mysteries–surrender and sovereignty and something else, equally potent: raw, messy, earthy wildness–all of which radically reshaped/reshapes my life–from the inside out.

I wouldn’t wish it on everyone.
I wish all those who wanted it would have it.
I wish those who didn’t wouldn’t.
Body, mind, spirit transformed.
Unimaginable from the other side.
Never, ever complete.

I bow to the mothers.
To the earth.
To the life givers before and after me.

I was there when my mother took her last breaths…

Kelly Salasin, 2016

Last Summer, just ahead of the Assumption of Mary, I joined the Sun at the Water’s Edge atop the staircase to the sea.

Me and thethe lapping of  the waves. the diving loon. the rising peach orb

To this my soul responded, rather surprisingly:

“I was there when my mother took her last breaths.”

I was, I thought.
How infinitely large,
Like the sun rising over the sea
Revealing
Through the morning fog
An island–

Anita Shreve’s yellow house aglow.

“Come Here,” I heard whispered, and I looked to my left and to my right and behind me, but there was no one.

Only me, and the sea, and the island and Anita Shreve’s house greeting the morning.

I remembered an affair I had several years earlier.
How I rose in the dark of winter and ran toward the first tinges of light over the ocean into His embrace.

“Come Here.”

Yesterday, in the soft rain, my husband and I walked down the beach and out the narrow strip of land that connects the island at low tide.

As the rain began to fall harder, I opened the small umbrella, but only one of us could stay dry in its confines, so Casey continued on in the rain, but only halfheartedly, and so I admonished him:

“Receive HER!”

“I am,” he replied, “Because of what you said to me the other day. I want to feel into the messy, wet, fullness of her embrace.”

To which I felt a tinge, no, a fire, of jealousy, rise up and chastise me:

Why had I introduced them? Why had I pushed him toward such a Lover as one to which I can never compare?

And then I remembered: “Come Here,”
As He rose higher and higher,
And the seagulls took flight, responding to the Call.

And we are all, Here.
In the marriage of Sky and Earth.
Conceived in the first kiss of the day.
Light awakening into the One.