Pigeons and Autism

 

 

In the early morning on the plaza 

A young

Well-dressed

Father

Tried unsuccessfully

To keep up with his autistic child

Who,

Flapping his arms wildly

Made pigeon guttural soundings

Weaving wildly

This way and that.

The Dad

Was close

To  hysteria

Trying to make it

To the street curb

Before his kid

Attempted flight

Not wanting

To leave his feathered friends

Quite yet.

The mom

Was inside a restaurant

Across the street

Finishing her breakfast;

Her stress level

Evened 

With their absence (I imagine).

I was the watcher.

The boy,

With his pre-existing condition,

Seemed free.

I envied his arm-flapping

And calling

To the pigeons.

I wanted to take the Dad to a bar

And leave the Mom

In peace.

The boy

Flew the coop

In my private theater

And 

So 

Did

I.

Hand in hand

We took off

After those glittering quicksilver birds.

The boy

Knew more

Than I

About giving in

To the Mystery.

 

.

.

photo- Dennis Chamberlain

How a Heart Gets Plumped

 

Sometimes twice a year

My blonde sister visits me.

I say that

As all in my family

Are blonde

But me.

Dreary Oregon days

Wetted her down

The past 100 days

Or so…

I prayed for sun;

Making a deal

With God:

If He/She delivered

I’d start meditating

In the mornings

Beginning my day

With my own 

Fervent prayer

For goodness

To glitter-bomb

All who could use a shine.

As it happened

THERE WAS SUN!

We ate and drank

And just looked around

At stuff;

Told stories

Of bad husbandsX

And other curious choices.

I saw her bloom

In the sunshine.

I was,

Like a plant,

Ever drawn 

Toward the essence 

Of her.

My recently

Chipped front tooth

Really saw 

The light;

Laughing

As we did.

Now she is gone.

My blonde sister

Has left.

I feel hungry

In my heart.

.

 

 

 

 

Proximity

I sat down today at my table next to a black man who was sitting at his.

I hadn’t the energy to look up and greet my new neighbor as I normally would.

My wide brimmed black hat acted as a societal shield; eyes hidden from view.

The temperature is 33′ and snow fluffed its way down on my exposed roll to town.  It is almost June.  I dressed optimistically and my nerves are all trying to pull as deeply into the far recesses of my interior as I realize my sensorial receptivity with MS is far more acute than regular folks.

I keep my compass tuned to “normal” until something like this temperature assault reminds me otherwise.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC kept me company at my table as I apologized to emma for the putrid weather.

I couldn’t warm.

Been out of pain pills 3 days now.

Jaggedy and generally a mess I just wasn’t friendly to anyone including self.

The black man sat stoically with no apparatus or book to hide in.

I snuck looks from under my hat.

He was so still and quiet; somewhat worn but did not exude suffering or need.

I eventually found  a passible body position and  my flesh moved into borderline warm.

Heartbeat slowed and my nerves smoothed.

Hat brim remained dropped insuring seclusion.

I kept feeling the stillness of the man next door.

He was far more interesting to me than reading about fossils or climate change but I stealthily kept the ruse of reading going as I studied him.

Folks around us asked for entry codes to the restroom, settled crying babies and slurped while complaining about the snow.

Eventually, I collected myself and braved connection with the still man; “Would you like to look at this magazine?  I am heading out.”

I suddenly saw his weariness was really loneliness.  He pulled up his radiance and gave it to me as he said just a short: ” Yes, indeed. I would.”

That was all we had together.

But it changed us.

Once again..communion at Starbucks.

Amen.

Look Away

“Nerve” monoprint,22×30

.

Staying abreast of world news

Leaves me feeling fractured and weary.

“Look away” friends say.

“Save your sanity and keep your mind a stress-free zone” is such an appealing idea.

I try it for awhile and do stay edited down to bare bones informed.

Turning from the crackling drama to the brightness of morning;

My morning.

This morning.

And yet the “mourning” for civility, clear-eyed confidence, and empathy-extension stretching beyond the little “s” self 

Remains.

Looking away “out there” never

Ever

Mends my soul.

When a new and unfamiliar numb appendage or pocket of pain 

Presents its ‘self in my body

Just telescoping my attention outside the thing

Still leaves me feeling bedeviled.

The only way out is in.

THE. ONLY. WAY. OUT. IS. IN.

Meaning:  I have found that for me, the alleviation of angst occurs only when I shift my gaze from the perceived source (drama, illness, confusion)

To the “Cathy” behind and between all the stuff I am so sure is TRUE.

The witness Cathy.

The Oceanic Cathy instead of just the “wave-in-the-ocean” Cath.

From here, all is good..perfect even.

It seems the only way we gain entry into this ocean is through suffering.

I hate suffering.

But I love being able to find my Source and steep in Her.

I hate suffering.

But I found Love and peace because of it.

But I still hate suffering.

Ministry of Mommy

GIRL, 22x5x5″,ceramic

 

.

I collect mothers.  And mothering.

Our very first relationship is with our mother and in my case she was was ill-equipped with her first born which has left me trying to fill in the gaps.

What is it that we get from an adept mother?

I think of a big tangle of newborn puppies and see the mothers’ attention to feeding, licking them clean, nipping a neck tenderly to guide one back to the fold;  allowing a certain amount of exploration on their own before she sets a boundary, pressing close and warm.

We learn about yes and no.  Containment, patience,   impulse adjustment.

Most importantly we steep inside the relationship of nurture and learn to trust we are loved and loveable.

I had to teach myself these things and I did it and still do it by collecting mothers and mothering.

My sister filled in for moms’ shortcomings and kept my brothers and me fed and comforted by the presence of a soft, strong, non-depressed, extraordinarily capable caretaker we counted on.  She was brilliant and yet I know it cost her big time.

In my teens I recognized my general dislike and trust of women  and did the work to fall in love with them instead of nixing 50% of the population.

Suddenly, I had female friendships!

My friend Jann is the one who sat beside me for 5 days at the trial of the man/boy who raped me many years ago  (he got 27 years in prison) . My birth mother remained in unnerved and stoic silence.  I didn’t ask Jann to be there with me and frankly barely noticed she was there but the girl just knew it was important and sat her butt down next to me.  She always tells me the truth, showers me with the very best presents sometimes for no reason at all. She supplies accolades for creative risks I take, guides me in the vital realm of lipstick color and crucial style decisions and continually lets me know she is there for me no matter what.  

I have extraordinary people of substance around me who continually reflect me back to myself which keeps me from entering the too familiar downward spiral of doubt planted at birth.

Nature has mothered me all these years with her secret places and pushing up so miraculously into Spring with a bit of light and moisture.

Good men have mothered me extending the safety of their protective arms and efforts.

Emma, my dog just has to look at me and some ancient crack in me is healed.

The sun feels like mother.

After all the collecting I’ve done over a lifetime I have assumed the role of mother-to-self.  All the colors I need are in my paintbox now.

I know exactly how to pick myself up by the scruff of the neck and return to my chosen family fold when I stray.

Licking my wounds is second nature and because of all the extraordinary mothering I’ve created and allowed.

There is enough, no- PLENTY here to extend to others as need be.

I bow to all of you mothers out there doing the most vital job of them all.

 

Bad Ass Branding

 

 

ceramic, approx. 6″h.

.

The Georgia O’Keeffe museum here in Santa Fe is our most visited tourist attraction.

Now, why is that?

I often see women with salt and pepper hair standing still on the sidewalk with neck crooked to their smartypants phone searching out the museum.

Often, they are on a pilgrimage to visit an homage to my generation’s heroine in the “got my own life happenin’ and there will be no apologies to nobody” department.

Currently, at the Brooklyn Museum in NY there is an exhibition of Georgia’s clothes (watch short film) juxtaposed against photographs of her wearing the garments.

This woman lived alone in the deep, high desert landscape of New Mexico; no husband, kids, family, even neighbor within sight.

She painted with high attention and knowledge of eroticism-as-a-daily-way-of-being

Yet spent her life denying this was her.

Self-care for her looked like protecting her privacy with the fierceness of a wet-mouthed lioness giving fang.

The lecture I attended yesterday at our museum was a slide presentation of her clothing.  We saw garments hand-sewn (by HAND and not machine) by Georgia herself.

Black was her color and in photographs  she struck poses with full knowledge of what the negative space was doing as well as each perfectly positioned limb, cheekbone and hand.

Underneath the ever-present black dress, suit or trousers were fantastically delicate little off-white blouses with feminine ties, bows and buttons, ruffles.

The woman she wanted you and me to see was quite severe

And yet there, underneath, in the privacy of a lining or slip or underwear

Were rips that had been lovingly mended in the tenderest of ways.

Beloved dresses torn on some desert branch

Were patched like a prayer. (this little blouse became worn at the back closure and you can see Georgia’s delicate reinforcement of two tint rectangles as she extended the life of the  blouse)

I understand now that she lived her life as art; controlled how she was perceived, tending to her deep femininity by secretly keeping finely crafted intimates next to her skin.

As I continue to learn about her I realize no corner of her life existed without the benefit of attention and intention.

She was conscious enough to understand the appeal of the shroud of mystery she concocted. 

Pretty much the polar opposite of a Kardashian.

The thing is that each of these women created extremely effective “stories” about themselves through acute attention to exactly what information and how much the public were privileged to see and kept the rest for themselves.

Through curatorial consistency they both give us interesting stories to walk around inside.

We get just enough to judge, wonder, be inspired or repulsed.

I think their genius has been to leave our interest always  somehow piqued.