Naming What Counts

I devised my first pedigree chart

when I was 10, a project

in the Camp Fire Girls

which promised a bead

upon completion. I collected

these colorful wooden signs

of accomplishment with ardor,

sewing them on a felt

vest, so proud of its weighty

importance when I donned it every Tuesday.

Of course, a chart of ancestors

is never done, reaching back

into the mists of time.

It only dawned on me slowly,

the deliberate erasure

of women who bore all these

children blessed with their fathers’

names, while the one that proved

her bloodline was lost.

Here lies Jane, loving mother

and daughter. She gave up her

identity for food and shelter

graciously bestowed by her father

and then her husband. Her mother

doesn’t really matter, let’s forget

about her. Disappointing tombstones.

I have spent so many hours

meticulously searching

through church records, birth certificates.

Determined to find the hidden branches

of my family tree. While all around me,

cultures still swallow women’s identities,

insisting that it is a sign of true

love to abandon a birth name.

My inheritance from the patriarchy

is not worth

mentioning, dirty paper crowded

with archaic words and arcane symbols.

The matriarchy is where the true power

resides, the creative womb,

infused with nameless

magnetic vibrations. That inner stillness

inside beckons us to the truth,

as we unwrap these trappings

and escape the incessant myths

designed to enslave us,

and free ourselves to love.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: pedigree

Two Poems of Power

I have been in a powerful training and haven’t posted while there. So today I bestow two poems.

My mentors bestowed a cunning
diploma. It has words, but they shift
and blur. They indicate that I am
learning to access the space
beyond story, to honor symbols
and speak the truth of this moment
and then let it go. I am discovering
how fluid life can be when we
call in our resources, invite
love in, and recognize the power
in each other. I am studying
the intense reflections the people
I meet provide for me,
how much love it takes
to be cruel, to launch a furious tirade.
However much I long for sunny
skies and balmy breezes,
for hugs and tenderness
and appreciation from the people
who have traveled with me
for the longest time, my new eyes
and my new ears and my new tongue
can let go of old stories
and embrace the smelly shit,
the kind that sticks to the toilet
and seems impossible to ever wipe clean.
To stand in the middle of the room
and announce my earthy
imperfections to all of you.
I am burning with a fierce
creative power. And I am
very aware they burned
people like me in the not-too-distant
past. We’ve learned to slip
through the cracks and light
candles at our sacred altars,
honoring the fire of destruction
as we see with our hearts.

This is how we dismantle
the patriarchy, we stay in this
torturous moment and we speak.
We scream and let it all out.
Never again holding it in.
Seen less than human, we have been fuel
far too long, raped and whipped,
enslaved and bred. Our masters
grow more cunning, now using
technological distractions to keep us
toiling for them, giving our best hours
while we long for the breaks
to distract us with Twitter feeds and
Facebook news, texts and emails.
In the secret altars we assemble
our deep ancestral symbols: crystals
and feathers, art and poems,
tiny symbolic items we fashion for each other.
We are unnoticed, for “they” are busy rewriting
our myths and legends, allowing a kernel
of truth to be embedded in a web of lies.
They don’t anticipate the power of the candles
we light, our truth-seeing
hearts. Emancipation springs
to life when I stand in my power
and speak the truth. And how do I know
it is the truth? When it instantly fades
and I have no inclination to defend it,
to explain it, and I can watch with
tenderness and compassion as others
process their reactions to it.
A new truth is emerging in me,
and I stay present to allow
it to be spoken in this new moment.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: bestow