Feb 262014


Sometimes I can’t shake this sadness in spite of all my training.

I can’t seem to wish myself into happiness,

Whitewash it with a positive affirmation

or two or twenty.

I cannot kill the thoughts that shatter me,

throw a pretty sofa cover on a raggedy and misshapen couch.


my sadness and I sit uncomfortably together

on worn-out springs.


Annoyance builds like a volcano when others want to name this grief depression,

as if it is a medical condition like a stubbed toe,

or an open wound

easily sutured with needle and thread.

Pop a pill or two and surely that will cure loneliness, because

sadness is nothing more than a chemical imbalance, after all.


Well-meaning loved ones ask me,

“why are you sad?”

not recognizing the question requires justification.


No one has ever asked me to qualify my happiness.



when did we become so intolerant of grief anyway?


Grief is an HIV positive leper.

It is a schizophrenic everyone wants to avoid

throw token compassion across the fence

but, not in my backyard.


So, my grief and I,

we keep our own counsel.

Shut the door, dim the lights,

And hold ourselves gently through the long night.


© Sabrina Santa Clara, 2013

Feb 192014

For Kathy Lee Kappmeir


Just as the doctors predicted upon her diagnosis,

she held out for two years in spite of her conviction that

holistic treatments and prayers to Hindu gods and goddesses

would heal the body that had betrayed her life of clean living.


Two arduous years, three 2-hour phone calls each week;

I listened, consoled, and tucked away my own unraveling life

because that’s what was needed and she was my friend and I loved her.


I sat present as she wailed her resentment and jealousy of healthy people.

I bore witness to her endless pain…

the chemo that stole the long, wavy hair she did not previously know

was such a crucial component of her femininity,

the radiation that burned anus and vulva leaving her scarred and

naked as the child she was some 40 odd years before,

and the countless indignities of gas and vomit, and shit and piss.


She could not speak the last months on hospice

and I could not sit present, in silence, long-distance.


She died on my birthday.

I still do not know what meaning to make of that.

I tell myself it was her way of saying good-bye,

but a week from the anniversary of her release

it provides not one grain of solace.


I think I should be over it by now,

that grief should be complete and

appropriately tucked away into the murky caverns of history.

But the cave is cold and wet

and dark and

I feel the aching space she left behind

like a chasm deep into the bowels of suffering

called grief.


That bruised darkness still erupts,

leaking the tears I could not yield when she left me

being far too dry and brittle with my own exhaustion.


The bruised darkness still erupts, and

four years later,

I still do not know how to fully grieve the loss of my friend.


© Sabrina Santa Clara, 2013

Feb 022014

We have been trained in the way of princess and savior. Cinderella stories of powerless victimization rescued by some prince with a little magical help from above. It is not our strength, our fortitude or our cleverness, we are told, that will create the bridge from present to future. Rather, it is man or magic that will rescue us from whatever state we have fallen to. It is the magic kiss that heralds the good life. The “they lived happily ever after” still bred in modern day romances. It is insidious. It is implied in the bombardment of magazines that tell us to be thinner, have smother skin and whiter teeth. If we are pretty enough, only then we can feel good about ourselves. Pretty has become the fairy godmother. It is the magic that will make everything better, that will give us the gown and the glass slipper Cinderella got to catch her man.

pic cinderalla prince kissWe educated ones claim our independence. We know that the story is a myth. But, the myth has crept in our cells while we were sleeping, downloading the incessant stream of media information and social interactions we receive each day. It is the shadow in the galleys that hides just at the edge of the peripheral vision.

There comes a time for each princessed woman when our knight will fall. When he will drop to his knees in the clank of hammered metal. When the character trait we thought was responsibility reveals itself to be rooted in a fear of doing it wrong. When what you thought was pure compassionate response feels like a hijaking of your own experience. When the quiet you assumed was stillness turns out to be the external freeze of the internal ruminations of trying to figure out “what the hell is going on.” There comes a time when the knight loses his armor, when the prince loses his crown and reveals himself to be nothing more than human.

It is in that moment that the galley doors are opened wide and we stare straight in the face of our peripheral. When the lumpened vericosed veins of princess ideology are impossible to ignore in their craggy bulgingness, like foreign masses that have twisted and distorted what was once a clear stream. We are called upon then to bring out bulldozer, trash bags and heavy gloves. We discover that the magic we were seeking turns out not to be the fairy wand, but the labored work of our own hands.

Love cannot exist in the land of fairy tales. That kind of love is misty and impossible to hold onto. Our lovers must leave their rescuing armor besides our princess gowns, there in the land of impossibilities. We must learn to walk side-by-side, naked in our humanity, free from unrealistic expectations and archetypal overlays. Only then can love become real.

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