May 092015
 

                         It is easier to love broadly and generally

                         to see the face of God in every being

                         to keep the details at a distance like when you kind-of

                         half-cross your eyes and everything becomes just

                         A little

                         bit

                         fuzzy.

 

                         The ‘I love you when I see you clearly’

                         is much harder

                         when you notice the stains on his teeth,

                         that crap in the inside corner of his big toe that’s

                         probably been there for years,

                         and

                         the guarding that keeps him always ten to

                         twenty

          steps

back.

 

                         When he is soft around the edges, you can keep him there

                         a little ghost-like and unreal

                         But,

                         the moment you steady your gaze

                         you see him, so

                         so

                         so very

             Far

Behind

                         Your arms stretch out of their own accord –

                         the craving for something real and solid

                         breaks that blaring siren right open

                         like the hungry heart

                         weeping in its desire for communion.

 

                         You crave him

                         like the starving lust after

                         any food placed in front of them.

 

                         Your arms shatter in your searching,

                         body puddling your weeping need

                         tears spill the Earth in surrender until

                         you are yielded back into the soil from which you arose.
 

© 2015, Sabrina Santa Clara

Feb 222015
 

It Has Finally Happened to One of Us

It has finally happened to one of us
For a moment, forgettingpeople on path
as she forgets, that
the center point is not the I.
It is happening to her,
we are merely witnesses.

I do not remember the length of this journey
nor do I envision this journey’s end.
I do not allow myself to imagine too thickly
the upcoming changing terrain.
I have heard the stories and studied the brochures,
but never having walked this path
I work to keep my eyes from searching too far ahead
noticing only the bush to the left,
grass to the right, and
the rocky path just a few steps ahead.

It is only one foot stepping in front of the other,
breath supporting each forward motion.

My family,
walking beside me
sometimes grasps and struggles
as I sometimes gasp and stumble
we reach through arms and elbows
raise each other from skin broke open
to once again
one foot stepping in front of the other.

It has finally happened to one of us.
Eyes respond with compassion to the
frightened “I don’t know who you are,”
while the heart drops to pit
and grief becomes the anchor that roots.

In this long journey,
In this one foot in front of the other,
this stumble, rip open, raise again
the I yields to the We as
roots intertwine.
With braided arms,
we bear witness to my mother’s untethering.

© 2015, Sabrina Santa Clara

Jan 092015
 

Keep Your Heart Open NaryzaMay your heart be open
May your words be kind
May you see the face of God
When you look in each others’ eyes

May your feet sink down deep
Into the Mother’s soil
May you live into your roots
And to them remain loyal

May compassion be the foundation
Upon which you live
May you hold nothing back
So that you may freely give

May forgiveness be you sword
May love be your shield
May you fully surrender
So that you may fully yield

May my heart be open
May my words be kind
May I see the face of God
When I look in another’s eyes

May my feet sink down deep
Into the Mother’s soil
May I live into my roots
And to them remain loyal

May compassion be the foundation
Upon which I live
May I hold nothing back
So that I may freely give

May forgiveness be my sword
May love be my shield
May I fully surrender
So that I may fully yield

May our hearts be open
May our words be kind
May we see the face of God
When we look in each others’ eyes

© 2014, Sabrina Santa Clara

Jan 042015
 

Dear young man:

Thank you for the compliments on my beauty and
hour-glass figure,
But perhaps hitting on me at the 24-hour chant
wasn’t the very best of choices.

Dear beautiful young man with the 4% body fat cut physique:

You are indeed a pleasure to look upon.
But,
Your face is like a porcelain doll’s
Too pretty and too cool for someone with the heat of me to love.
I prefer faces like Japanese Kintsugi Pottery, made more beautiful for the cracks
I prefer a face that has placed a loved one in the grave
And one that has had to climb itself back up to happiness.

I prefer a body that has that slight soft edge of vulnerable
One that might Feel
better than it looks
One that shows its owner gives more attention to the inside
than the outside.

Dear loquacious 26 year-old:

I am not offended that you attempted to educate me,
a 49 year-old Woman with a 25-year practice,
on what is required to be an advanced yogi and the
8-limbed path.
I know that your words were peacock feathers to impress me –
I am sorry if I did not hide my amusement well.

There will come a time when you will grow weary of your own words.
Only then you will learn the gift of silence.
You will discover that the greatest wisdom comes from the quiet of the in-between spaces
And words are nothing more than a distraction from the essence of the Greater Something

There will come a time when that silence will lead you to the Great Emptiness inside
that will
at first
devastate you.
And sooner or later,
probably later,
you will experience the paradox that the Great Emptiness is,
in fact,
the source of the Overflowing Fullness.

Dear puppy:

There will come a time when you will be able to resist the temptation to jump on laps
and slobber on faces,
When you will understand that,
as cute as you are,
seasoned Women don’t much care for awkward jumps and slobbers,
we prefer seasoned Menwho understand the value of silence,
pacing and
timing.

Dear young man:

thank you
but no thank you.

 

© Sabrina Santa Clara, 2014

Jan 042015
 

kay rowe (stangl)I am only able to visit her now
about once every six weeks
My eldest sister,
who sees her every day is
sometimes unaware of the changes that
stumble my breath.

Her face still lights up when she sees me,
A toddler’s joy in an old woman’s face,
words coming in single syllables spaced far apart

I become her mouth, her tongue
lips forming words that she cannot find
Filling-in the blank spaces her mind has relinquished
Guessing at meaning that is probably,
at this point,
mostly projection

She’s stopped struggling to locate words, is
less pained by her inability to express thoughts.
At last,
yielding to the bogginess of her
low dusk brain.

Her memory is like a thin skipping stone
Briefly touching down only to rise again
Once, twice, maybe three times before
Surrendering to gravity and
sinking deep beneath the surface
wafting down to rest quietly
on consciousness’ muddy floor.

Today, I am ungrieving.

It is, I think, a restful kind of beauty.
My mother’s brow unfurrowed for the first time.
Ruminations of the past, worries of the future,
and unsatisfied longings all long gone.

The unfulfilled life as distant as her memories.
My beloved mother now, is
the freest from suffering as I’ve ever known her.

Her face still lights up when she sees me.
She could not, I doubt, locate me tethered in her past
but she knows the felt sense of safe,
familiar,
loved.

The days are coming soon,
when I will lay at the bottom of her lake,
when the eyes I look into
will not look back.

I gently hold the beauty of this moment
fragile like a robin’s egg
in softly cupped hands.
Gratitude that
for today
Her face still lights up when she sees me.

 

© Sabrina Santa Clara, 2014

Jan 042015
 

Mom n Me 2014Every morning, without fail,
she put her depression and the misery of her marriage
in the dryer that stood in the kitchen
good only for countertop space and
storing the 20 lb bag of potatoes we seemed to live on.

Every morning, without fail
She sang in her happy, lilting voice,
“good morning, Sunshine!”
as she straightened out the blankets I’d twisted in the night,
pushed back the Rapunzel hair my father forbid us to cut
and kissed me softly on the forehead.

Every morning, without fail
the love in her voice
chased the misery of my childhood back
beneath my bed,
if only for a brief moment.
Is it any wonder,
almost half a century later,
that I fall in love with every new morning?

My mother was an amazing compartmentalizer.
Before the last three years
I could count the times I’d see her cry.
Now, it is me who compartmentalizes.
I lay my grief in the hands of friends,
let it wail into the circle of community,
drain it into a poem,
anywhere that its cause cannot see.

I keep my voice and body soft as I
wipe the tears from her cheeks.
My inquiries have become a kind of short-hand,
Sad? Lonely? Scared? Confused?
She nods at one or the other but I suspect
she has lost the meanings of those words too.

She is too big a woman to place on my lap
so I take her in my arms and
lean her on my shoulder
soothe her with
the slow circle back rubs of my childhood.

I breathe slowly and softly
calming her body with my own.
Then I sing to my mother the song of my childhood,
“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Mamma’s gonna buy you a mocking bird,
and if that mocking bird don’t sing,
Mamma’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

Being childless,
I once believed I would never know the unconditional love of motherhood.
I was wrong.

But this mothering,
is a painful kind of mothering
for what mother would pray for their own’s release?

Mother, oh my mother,
may you be relieved of this body that wanders aimlessly
as if seeking the soul that has become untethered.

Mother, oh my mother
may you be relieved of the mind that
has become too spacious to hold the fullness of you.

I’m not certain, beloved mother, what is on the other side,
But I do so hope you’re awakened there with a
“good morning, Sunshine!

 

© 2014 Sabrina Santa Clara

Mar 012014
 

 

Last night, while I was sleeping far from you,

my heart was growing

bigger.

 

I woke up this morning to find that

my chest could barely contain its volume.

It is growing still.

I can feel its edges becoming blurry as it

widens

beyond the confines

into blood and bone,

Until

every organ carries its essence,

Until

each cell has become thick and swollen with its fullness,

Until

my body can no longer contain its vastness.

 

it seeps out my pores and

leaks out the corners of my eyes

until

I feel my “I” both disintegrating and expanding.

 

Last night, while I was sleeping

far from you,

my heart was growing

bigger.

© Sabrina Santa Clara, 2013

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.

So,

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.

 

And,

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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