On Forgiveness

We used to dance and hug there on the dance floor
and through fields
and by rivers
and lakes
and

a dance made real by the body of our bond
the inevitable creation of souls in unity

and many, many times I fought hard
to ignore the hatchet thwhacking at
the legs, arms of our shared body

I forgave when the first arm hit the dance floor
I really did. I promise.

(and when you berated me for my lack of forgiveness
whenever I mentioned you were actually swinging the hatchet at we
I forgave that too but I can’t do that anymore)

And again, when a leg…
see, crutches can be worked into a dance of sorts
but you can be sure that dance is, well,
it’s a unique dance.

Even someone in a wheelchair can get it to move
and groove to a rhythm made real
by the arms that steer and well

so, when there are no arms, no limbs left
and no medics around to stem the spill
and stop the inevitable chilled corpse
from being exactly that
chilled corpse

there’s no dance, no matter how much you forgive
and there’s a bit of the ptsd response in the presence
of those who wield hatchets in the name of love

see, when you grow up in the presence of such
it takes a while to realize how often
those hatchets accompanied statements of “love”
and how often your own projection of your own love
distorted what was really going on

and you stand there, seeing the carnage
and the bits strewn about
as you read, listen, hear those here and there
waxing on about forgiveness
and how it is so important

and you want to take the bits and parts
the arms, the legs, the blood all over
everywhere
and just shove it in their faces, smear it on their expert cheeks
and ask them to take a huge bite out of the forgiveness cure

see if maybe they can dance with it.

Careful, the floor can get very
very slippery,
depending on who your shared body
comes from…

Don’t mind me. I just have this problem
with pretending
and forgiveness can be such a pill,
that great big high for filling up the holes.

But it doesn’t re-grow the body.
No.

No.
Look up. See the ceiling?
All it represents?
Run fast, run far.
Forgiveness is not the only
sustenance needed to keep a we alive
thriving, nourishing.

Sunshine, let the sun shine.

Love that refuses bullshit
is
more
important than that roof
you beg to keep over your head.
Let me be clear: Especially that roof.
Even and especially God(dess) doesn’t fit there.
Even and especially s/he will not be mocked
though the blood of Christ be tossed
all over the reaping.

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, 2018, All Rights Reserved, Church Roof, Asheville, NC

Our Naji

Words fail today for many reasons but mostly because our beloved Naji passed after 19 years on this planet. He has anchored and nourished our family in as much time. And we are grateful. It has been particularly challenging since he decided to sprint towards the finish line as soon as I left town. He knew. This is what the dying do. They wait until you can’t cling another second because you’re otherwise preoccupied. And they leave. We had to assist his passing and it was attended beautifully by Naji’s beloved Marion, eldest of our family. She held him and held herself together while he quietly and peacefully slept his last.

Naji is felt more powerfully today than I’ve felt him in a couple of years. He’s coming through as happy, relieved, grateful. He will forever anchor us as we hold to all that he gave.

g'nite
purring rest
sweetness
Naji, gentle soul…
Goodbye…
Sweet memories

 

Without End

Did I climb these mountains, laboring for the other side, only to find the valleys full of silence, of empty cities where my heart stumbles down alleys full of space and trampled cast-offs?

How often does a heart withstand indifference, apathy, slumber and the non-resonance of so many assimilated before falling quiet, before finally asking if maybe the one deep resonating response is merely just heart’s call echoing against walls of hope, or bouncing back and off the hardness of others’ glib deflection, fearful trivializations? (How many self-proclaimed Useless Pucks does it take to refuse and distort love?)

And it looked so much like promise as I cast my own visions in the distance and across a sky, a night blooming dawn from the depths of my own awakening…

to what? To the amness without end, the love only rarely known (and so often feared) and the endless fall of light, to the feast of being – in spite of obstruction, to the farce of freedom, to the unexpected release and relief in letting go, to the center and deeply down to the nexus of love.

 

Profoundly Human Endeavors

“Even once the true cause of my disease is discovered, if we don’t change our institutions and our culture, we will do this again to another disease. Living with this illness has taught me that science and medicine are profoundly human endeavors. Doctors, scientists and policymakers are not immune to the same biases that affect all of us. We need to think in more nuanced ways about women’s health. Our immune systems are just as much a battleground for equality as the rest of our bodies. We need to listen to patients’ stories and we need to be wiling to say ‘I don’t know.’ ‘I don’t know’ is a beautiful thing. ‘I don’t know’ is where discovery starts. And if we can do that, if we can approach the great vastness of all that we do not know, and then rather than fear uncertainty, maybe we can greet it with a sense of wonder.” Jennifer Brea on CFS/ME and the ways the medical model can improve for all of us.

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved
j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis aka Alienation

I so often wrestle with whether or not to express what CFS/ME does to my life, how it shapes the landscape of my mind, my will. More often, I choose to sparingly articulate how it impacts me, simply in the interest of sanity. But I find, as more and more people wake up to the truth of this disease, that it is becoming more empowering, less overwhelming to go ahead and speak up. The ignorance is melting away as people realize it’s not a psychological issue but a real assault on the body.

As Jennifer Brea experienced initially, so did I. Fever over 106. Pneumonia for the first time in my life. Early 20s. Never. The. Same. After my primary care physician sent me in many different directions seeking a diagnosis, we landed on the diagnosis of CFS. And the alienation began right there in my doc’s office, with her set of prejudices awaiting me like a box, a prison cell.

Brea’s TED talk speaks to so many of the issues confronted by those who walk this path. Her words, in their affirmation of the validity and impossibility of the struggle, bring balm to those who have suffered this illness for a long long time.

With the Makers

I’m all done with notional condemnation,
nonsense posing salvation
suggesting pre-birth agendas and all the control
a robot might covet.

Take me to the truth, down to the bone of it.
Marry me to the wonder found in the midst of
all this chaos and randomness daring us all
to make meaning.

I see their meaning made in fear.
The meaning they make
spews the poison in their hearts,
the snare in their aid.

Take me far away from the righteous.
I want to live with the undone and undoing.
I want to dance with the makers and shake
every foundation lost to the mold of stagnation.

Deliver me to love, love in spite of it all,
love because of it all,
love morphing, rolling up sleeves
and shaping this mound of flesh into new and ancient songs.

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2015
j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2015