Thresholds

[Image Description: Sunny picture taken in Utah in the western United State showing a sand-colored rock formation with an opening through which other rock formations and distant landscape can be seen]

Liminal,
the present already
shifting, slipping, fading,
yet this impulse to cling
to familiarity
pervades.

Daunted,
point of no return closing in,
unknowns creating undercurrents
of ambiguity, infusing moments
as they pass.

Bolstered,
recalling previous iterations of myself
on long past thresholds,
hesitating in-between,
stepping across despite
my fear.

Held,
sustained within my own
gentle reassurance,
yet still wondering how to bless
the ending and the beginning
in the same breath.

Companioning

[Image description: somewhat blurry photo of the moon, looking like a tiny white dot right-of-center in the picture, mostly obscured by light and dark gray rainclouds.]

Last night I caught a glimpse
of the full moon gleaming through
the clouds shedding tiny raindrops
over our backyard.

I read some Indigenous folks call her
Long Night Moon during what
I’ve learned to call December,
and I like that name
because right now the night
arrives so early and it’s still dark
long after I wake up to start my day

and I feel a small bit of comfort
knowing that at her most revealed
this final month on our calendar,
she’s companioning us
when daylight
eludes.

Limited

[Image description: Photo of a forty-something white woman with long brown hair and wearing a dark blue winter coat in the foreground. She is in the woods on a sunny winter day, with mostly bare trees in the background and sunlight flooding the frame.]

How little we genuinely can perceive
of someone else’s experience,
our perception stemming
from our own awareness.

A cool hand may soothe a flushed cheek
or be felt as shock from icy fingers.
A nonchalant observation may be forgotten
or forever taken to heart.

Regardless of intention,
or our observed response,
we can’t fully know
another’s interoception.

Even explanations
can fail to bridge the gap,
tempting as it is to think
we comprehend.

Compassion, empathy,
involves remembering
how limited is our insight
into bodies, minds, and lives
not our own.

Find the Truth of Yourself

Gently gather in the loose threads
that came unraveled
while you were busy
trying to hold together the self
crafted carefully under
other people’s scrutiny.

Replace what no longer serves with
tenderly collected fragments
until you can explain yourself in your own damn words,
not syllables you memorized to stave off
raised eyebrows and sidelong glances.

Or maybe don’t.
Maybe stop trying to explain
and instead wrap yourself joyously
in the love you’re weaving
from understandings reassembled,
until you live your beauty and your wisdom
so fully that you need no explanation.

Returning

[Image description: a path in the forest, covered by fallen leaves and framed on either side with tall trees full of bright yellow leaves with sunlight streaming in through the leaves on the left side.]

A long way off for so long,
separation mostly out of focus,
only sharp when jolted,
when glancing back revealed
the distance never understood.

Looking for explanations seemed
too much like searching for excuses,
best to forge ahead, maintain armor,
match and mimic and blend in,
hoping to forget you never feel at home.

Bless the glimpse, the epiphany,
the light, the turning
that initiated understanding,
illuminated the returning way.

Bless the hindsight,
the pieces falling into place,
the gleaning, the gathering up the truth—
tattered and frayed from disregard—
now seen, embraced, and known.

Bless the kindness, the compassion,
the gentle regard that
accompanied comprehension,
the tender, loving warmth with which
you welcome your own knowing,
your return to the truth of yourself.

Disoriented

[Image Description: Close-up photo of yellow beech leaves on a branch with cloudy sky and other yellow beech leaves out of focus in the background.]

In global crisis isolation,
muscle for maintaining
masquerades atrophied,
withered,

no longer able to
hold in place and
they hang, ill-fitting
and comically off-kilter,

weariness creeping in
and building
within moments of
attempting to redeploy.

Unsettled in current clarity
and still unsure of
what happens when
facades fall away for good,

asking if I’ll be
lost or just disoriented,
unknown or
finally seen.

Configurations

[Image Description: a close up photo showing a bright yellow maple leaf to the left, an orange-tinged oblong sassafras leaf toward the center, and a green black cherry leaf face-down along the top. All three are lying atop layers of other brown and fading leaves that have fallen to the forest floor.]

Newly fallen colors
drift to cover
fading predecessors,
layer after layer,
various configurations,
some cupped,
holding rainwater,
creating tiny windows
to the sky.

Bright sassafras
and maples mix,
soon to fade,
decompose,
provide nourishment
to roots from soil
instead of sun.

Aware of
seasons, cycles,
letting go
to allow for
new growth,
to allow for
understandings
to develop, overlap,
drift away, blend
and turn and return,

Yet I almost never
remember I once
learned to trust
release and renewal,
death and resurrection,
and I cling,
white-knuckled
and exhausted,
forgetting this is how
room is made for
something new.

A Blessing for Regrounding

Time moving at near-warp speed
no time to catch a breath, catch a break,

Ungrounded, unsettled, under water,
surface out of sight, floundering.

Every passing day, passing item checked off
on the way to the next one,

No time to take the side trail, get derailed,
listen to what your heart needs.

Hold your discontent with gentleness,
Be tender with your wavering soul.

Remember, seasons turn,
rush of autumn gives way

to slower, dormant evenings
and a little space to breathe.

Bless your noticing, your awareness,
your yearning for regrounding.

Your longing is a guide, a conduit,
a pathway back to yourself.

Different Ways

[Image description: a path in a woods in the fall. The photo is taken from a very low perspective, with the path in the foreground, covered in brown and yellow leaves, dividing in the background against a backdrop of trees with green and yellow fall leaves.]

A well-known anonymous quote reminds
that those who mispronounce a word
most likely learned it by reading,
without ever hearing it said aloud

and I wonder what is the equivalent for
living out an different way of being one has
only read about, imagined, caught glimpses of
without experiencing long term in real time.

Most structures, families, organizations
revolve around power, control, clinging to
the same way of doing things even as
we all know something’s off, not working.

Wanting desperately to chart a new course
but with only a compass to guide, a compass
I know only from books always points true,
but I’m unsure whose truth it is pointing to

and if it can point me to the truth I’m learning as I go
while also keeping me from veering back onto
the well-traveled way that was modeled and
whose inertia feels nearly impossible to overcome.

Everyone else on the same different course
is also learning as they go with navigational guides
they’ve acquired by searching, not example,
and it seems like there are too few, too far away.

I need the language, the guides, the practices
to communicate to others, to teach myself,
but it always feels like pronouncing
words the wrong way.

Resistance

[Image description: Crabtree Falls in North Carolina. Photo shows a waterfall cascading down a rock face and continuing on over stones at the base. A smaller cascade is in the foreground with the water pooling in front. The water and rocks are framed on both sides by trees with leaves just beginning to change from green to yellow.]

Language of antagonism,
ubiquitous,
who we are defined most often
by what we are against.

Oppositional,
transactional,
interactions avoided with
the unlike-minded.

Wondering what it might be like
to shift energy,
to not be overcome,
to turn in a new direction,

to flow,
to let the undesired
fade and fall
and wash away,

to carry on
bringing nourishment
to new destinations
we can’t yet see.