I began an experiment last year.
With every encounter, every decision, every choice,
I asked myself, “How much more Loving can I be?”
I was feeling and noticing
how I constricted and contracted I was becoming.
My body stiffening up and tightening up, mummifying,
Reflecting the energy I was pulling in, hoarding, keeping for myself.
Filling the cracks, weatherproofing, insulating
Against the fear,
Against the news,
Against the hatred and the horns and the shouting.
Building a barrier against falling into the chasm.
Who do you love best? Hazel asked from the back seat of my car.
Your mama or your dad?
And that threw me,
that at five years old,
she is already rating love
and who deserves it most.
Who do you love best? She asked
I love them both the best, I answered.
And then tossed it back to her,
Who do you love best?
My mama, she says.
Quickly, confidently, with conviction.
Because my daddy always tricks me.
And that’s true, he does, he has a trickster nature,
but it’s wrapped in puppy playfulness, never cruelty
Maybe he’s teaching you discernment, I said
and that’s a very loving thing to do.
And then we talked about that big word,
about judging, about trusting and about betrayal
another big word.
And we talked about curiosity,
about feeling into our hearts,
feeling for the truth, for the love, always the love
And I asked her,
Does your dad love you?
Can you feel his love?
Yes, she said, yes.
He makes me hot chocolate, but not too hot.
And he makes me laugh,
He’s goofy and funny.
Yes, I said, that’s the trickster in him.
He’s a shapeshifter, she said, just like me.
Because she knows about shapeshifting
and she’s learning the language of her soul,
How to rise above and be the witness,
but that it’s also okay to fall into our bodies
and cry and cry and cry sometimes.
Because though we come from the stars
we’re also human.
And a friend called me later that day,
asking me to play Lady MacBeth
In a production coming up soon.
And I looked down at the palms of my hands
to see if there were still flecks of blood on them
from pulling the knife from my back
And for a moment I can feel his fist around my heart,
still squeezing, squeezing, squeezing,
even as he handed her the knife
Does it hurt where you come from?
I asked the knife in my back,
the hand holding the knife,
blood pooling and dripping.
Does it hurt where you come from?
Is it full of sharp edges and sharp words and
Broken glass that cut open your feet
so you can’t trust where you walk?
We are not born knowing how to love,
she answered back to me.
Because the knife was a woman,
a long steel-blade,
a cross-fit champion full of hard edges.
And I wanted to take her hand then,
ice cold as it was,
and wrap it in my heart
and say, here, here, here is where love lives,
You can live inside my heart
until yours warms up,
you can find the love that overflows like blood
from the fist that he is squeezing.
Drops of blood I string together
and wear against my innocence,
Like my grandmother’s pearl necklace
Like a talisman of healing
And then I felt Rumi and Shams
whirling and whirling and whirling
a dervish deep inside my soul
Dancing the song of Love
Elton John’s Tiny Dancer
tap tap tap dancing the love alive
And Hazel laughed and laughed and laughed
And isn’t she made of both of us?
And isn’t that divine perfection?
His fist around my heart and my heart in his hand
Letting go, letting to, letting go
Heartbeat by heartbeat by heartbeat
Mine, his, hers