an ordinary woman

a little belated, but in honor of mothers day and everyone who’s ever mothered anyone else,  here’s a poem i wrote for my mother a long time ago.

yes, i had to wrestle many a demon of resentment and anger and put aside many “but why…”‘s and “but how could you..”‘s for my mom and i to get where we are now, but i salute her for her strength and courage and for doing what she could in the face of impossible odds. and i guess i thank her for having me in the face of scandal and at a time when my birth was regarded as “dishonor”, keeping and loving and raising me the best way she knew how.

we’ve had to weather the storm of my 12 years of incest which happened under her nose and which i still don’t understand that she did not see, but i don’t have to understand that to know that she did what she thought was right and that she always loved me.

so mom, i forgive us both and i love you.

AN ORDINARY WOMAN

My  mother  is an ordinary woman.

Like other women,

she’s been someone’s wife.

Like other  women, she’s known pain,

but again and again,

when bad times battered down the door,

she’d look for better climes.

I learnt from her

that sorrows grow where joy is overthrown,

but she taught me also

that the sands of life when trouble-heated,

can glow to glass.

And as my childhood passed,

she began to give me,

white as sun-bleached bones,

round and red-veined,

stones, lying soundless, but assured

in the palm of my hand.

At first I didn’t know

what she was trying to show me,

but as I grow into my  past,

I think I begin to understand.

I feel those stones

anchoring me to the core of women

who’ve endured all.

My mother, maybe unwittingly,

but with ancient wisdom,

provided me my own primal symbol,

a forgotten talisman with access to ritual  –

she thinks she failed to

help me find religion,

but she helped to set me free;

with a stone picked from the road,

she somehow conjured bone and blood.

My mother’s an extraordinary mortal.

When the ignorant one’s tore off her wings

and thought they’d stolen flight,

she caressed her scars,

and wingless, flew.

They pulled the noose tight,

thinking to still her voice,

but listen at dusk

to the rattling of stones

and you’ll see a woman

leap these roof-tops.

There’s proof –

my mother’s voice is ringing in my blood –

they’ll never stop her singing.

My mother’s an ordinary mortal,

extraordinarily.

She taught me what she knew…

lessons of pain and impermanence,

untiring resilience and rebirth

and she gave me, too,

a capacity  for resounding mirth.

She may not know just what she’s worth,

but one day, like her,

I hope I’ll grow to be

an ordinary woman,

extraordinarily.

all go for goa

my little corner of the blogosphere has been sadly neglected in the last while, maybe because there’s been too much going on in my head which i haven’t wanted to share publicly. perhaps i just needed to process in silence for a minute. or maybe the poems which have been pouring out of me have been too incendiary for immediate publication. just possibly… i’ve also been questioning what, in a personal blog like this which is really just a public journal, needs to stay private, and what should be revealed.

there’s been so much. ending the work year playing out love scenes at work while dealing with my own relationship ending.  losing my iphone after one month during a wild night out with the girls. a visit to an awesome energy reader which shifted a lot of things in my head. feeling an endless expansion and contraction in a somewhat discordant dance with one another. wow, i’m sounding suddenly so introspective, though i think the dance is becoming much more in step. but it’s all good. including a no-expectations dinner with a tall man i might actually like to get to know better….

from the skye   13 dec 2008

i trudge through the dark

in a storm that will not budge

to meet a tall man
fallen from the skye.
i have not at all any expectations
and to my delight i am surprised
when there is but the slightest
mutual spark.
my footsteps are so much lighter as i leave.
the sky is clearing…
i do believe what’s on my face
just might be a smile.
i hope it stays a while….

but that will all have to wait for the new year, because tomorrow  morning, after a few weeks of running round organizing passports and visas, i get on a plane to mumbai. and then almost immediately on a plane which takes me to goa to meet my good friend crystal for 3 weeks of no expectations except rest, relaxation, yoga and play. i can’t wait to see who i’ll be when i get back…

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”

Emily Dickinson.

my soul is ajar – i’m ready for ecstasy.

a happy holiday season to everyone. nary a crisp mouse and some trippy new gear……

taking my leave…

i was doing some website maintenance on my very first website yesterday and i came across this poem written almost 10 years ago and strangely apt yet again.

FALL 

It’s beautiful here – 
cold, but clear, 
crisp, like the leaves floating, 
sun-browned, 
to the ground at this time of year. 
I watch their detached descent – 
such sensuous nonchalance. 

One day I shall learn 
to let go 
the way leaves fall – 
it’s autumn and I ought to, 
but for now 
I wear my coat against the cold 
(the woman in my mirror grows older) 
and I marvel at the leaves, 
how they manage to move on 
with such indifference, 
no smoldering passion 
or wasted grief. 

Unlike me, 
they’ve mastered the art of parting 
and when it’s time to go, 

they leave. 

i’m getting so bored with myself. i wish i could simply gallumph off into my future like a stampeding pachyderm instead of tiptoeing over egg-shell memories; it’s circus trained, tutu’ed counterpart, desperately, with inelegant grace trying to find balance on a life turned bucket-upside down… trying to let go of dreams i never even knew i had…

circus-elephant

though watching an episode i’d pvr’d of “tell me you love me” (the controversial HBO show about 3 very dysfunctional couples with intimacy issues), was a great reminder of how everything had gone so terribly awry in the end. the show is so realistic, it left me with quite a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

last night while incoming email and phone messages kept me awake with words roiling round my brain,  i came up with this.

 

ode – dec 02.08

i’m done with odes,
these endless odes to what bode not well.
i emote and emote
and almost by rote
words  croak from my throat like
grim frogs
destined never to be prince.
all simply so much bull.
i make myself wince.
and so I’m done with odes.
at least until the next cacophony
i have, it seems, no choice,
aloud, but to unload,
i’m done with odes.

 

famous last words, i know….

time for nothing

time

strange how time can flex

contracting and expanding
at will
sometimes it’s candy gobbled
with a fat-faced greed
disappearing with
a speed that makes one spin
other times
the day
stretches into infinity
like treacle
elastic and sticky
and the clock stays stuck
for hours at the
same face you perused
merely
but a minute ago

nothing

take everything
leave nothing behind
nothing that looks or smells
or tastes like you
leave no reminder
that once i held you in regard
that once i gave you haven in my heart
yes
take everything
i want nothing to remind

i do not wish to find a single trace
of what a fool i was
i do not want to face the fact
that what i got from you
was nothing
so yes
take everything
leave nothing behind

irretrievable

i think i am still in a state of disbelief. still finding it hard to fathom that this time is not another false ending. that there will not be another do-over. a take 4, or 5. there will be no rewrites on this particular script.

i keep seeing this very graphic image. you know the stamps used in official paperwork?

irretrievable

unbelievable as it may seem. irretrievable.

i should rather be a stone.

Stone 8.16.07

I’ve spent my life avoiding loss,
Shunning desire,
Never building not there
Castles in air,
Always prepared.

Perpetually aware,
I hoard my tears,
Guarding against the grinding loss
Of even one.
I do not allow a single
Leaking smear
Upon my cheek
For fear, unchecked,
A flood may come.

What I do not want
Cannot mistakenly
Leech into the void –
And loss.
A loss
I’ve lived my life
Avoiding.

another angel in heaven

yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of my beloved friend, ineke’s death, after a protracted and devastating battle with cancer.

ini-2000

she was diagnosed in 2003 after discovering that what she thought was a plantar’s wart on her heel, was actually cancerous. she never had the money she deserved so it took a year after it first appeared before she went to the doctor and could get diagnosed and treated and by then it was too late. the cancer started spreading up through her body and finally into her brain and voraciously devoured her.

she was a hedonist who drank and smoked too much and she was a saint. she was an artist and musician and we had a friendship which endured space and time. i could be in the states for 5 years, show up at her door and we would pick up right where we’d left off. our connection was such that i went to visit her once after years away. i decided not to knock on her door, but take my flags and see if i could call her out to her balcony from across the road. next moment i saw her appear at her window with a smoke. she was with a friend and apparently she turned to her and said, “where’s that sandi schultz? i really want to see her.” then my flags caught her eye and she screamed in disbelief.

she was one of my spiritual guides and my sounding board. the person with endless wisdom, an earth-angel, who really really no longer needed to be in physical form. she had an angel’s voice and the most incredible ear for harmony and we loved singing together. she stayed just long enough to see her 50th birthday and her passing was one of the saddest events in my life. it was so hard to let her go. she so relentlessly, and yet, lovingly, called me on my shit. she was the one who would say, “relationships aren’t here to make us happy, they’re here to make us grow.” “oh fuck that!”, i’d think, but it’s true.

in 2002 i followed someone i thought was my true love, back to south africa and got soundly rejected. i wound up spending 3 months instead with ineke in her beach front apartment, crying and smoking and looking at the whales making their way around the tip of africa and making all kinds of crafts and music and singing. and i am so happy to that person for being the catalyst for creating that time i would otherwise not have had with ini. i am so grateful and i write this post in celebration of one of the best friends i ever had. and i’m so happy that i got to fly down to cape town and see her at least once a month in the year before she died. she’s better off now, being free of the body which no longer served her, but i for one, wish she could have stayed a little longer and i will miss her forever.

i wrote the following post on the day of her passing, a year ago.

just last night i emailed myself the following poem i had written when i first heard of ini’s cancer. i wanted to read it to her when i flew down to see her this coming sunday. when i saw her 10 days ago when this pic was taken, she was not happy, but we got to spend some good, one on one time and i got to tell her just how much i love her.
this morning i got the news that she’s no longer an earth angel.
she’s gone to join the celestial ones.

you will live forever in my heart, my angel friend.

don’t go 5a.m. 7.30.03

i was thinking of the ones i love
the ones i’m scared will leave
so i asked it of the ones above
please give us a reprieve

and i said don’t go yet
darling it’s too soon
if you go now all will be gloomy
so don’t go yet
there’s so much to do
if you go now i will miss you truly

and a voice it came from in my head
it answered me this way
i’m not quite sure from where it came
this is what it had to say

the person who was sitting here
was here before
and though they’re gone they linger on
for evermore
if i keep them in my memory
if i feel them in my reverie
i can taste them on the air i breathe
though they’re free to be
they’ll be always here with me

my hoop eulogy for ineke (the music is a combination of ineke singing her mantras and a song of mine which i wrote for her). at least her music lives on.

the post mortem phase

so 5 days on, the ex and i are in the post-mortem phase.
he comes over and we make morning coffee and stand in the kitchen holding each other and crying. and we talk about what went wrong and how we still love each other, but that we realize that we were flogging the proverbial dead horse.
and he’s done me the cruel kindness of putting into words what i had started to perceive over the last few months. he loves me still, but he fell out of love with me. and i felt it. i slowly started feeling less attractive, because i don’t think i was attractive to him anymore. i felt him beginning to make less and less of an effort. i felt him looking at me with different eyes. and we drifted apart. and yes we do still love each other, but hearing him put into words what were merely  inchoate perceptions before, makes it so much easier to let go. because it’s not enough otherwise. though i’d hate to think that all along we were simply making do.
i wrote this poem about someone else, but it feels appropriate again now.

ebb tide   11.22.03

thoughts of you plague me

like a low grade fever

i cannot shake.

i awake to find you

creeping at the edge of consciousness,

whereas for you,

i am a task you’ve taken on,

then grown weary of

and i see you pulling back

like the tide rolling out,

ebbing with ennui.

i need to look into your eyes

and see myself reflected there,

magnificently magnified,

but i can not deny that

that’s not what i see

and it’s just not enough for me.

part of me feels a little like a failure because how could i let someone who loved me enough to follow me across an ocean, fall out of love with me? but a tango takes two. i’m willing to own my part, but i know that it was both of us who screwed up the choreography and to thoroughly mix my metaphors, let the ship run aground. and i’m letting go. i’m scared of living alone in this 3-bedroom house, with a swimming pool and a garden and 2 big dogs which are now all solely my responsibility, but there’s also a simplicity about knowing that if i don’t do something, it’s not going to get done. so i do it. yesterday, i cleaned the dog-hair out of my car, i scrubbed the algae which has been accumulating forever out of the pool, i vacuumed and cleaned and organized, because now it’s all up to me. and there’s a lot more to do. and i’ll do it.
i got proactive and started taking a sleeping pill in order to get some rest. and night before last when i woke at 3a.m. to a massive thunderstorm (yes, i’ve not missed the fact that it’s been raining non-stop since we ended), the following poem came to me. i typed it out on my iphone, then turned over and went back to sleep.
Bounce  nov 8.08
I have the resilience of rubber.
Been bounced so many times,
Yet refusing to break.
I tend to forget that sometimes
When I’m vulnerable.
What seem
Like cracks start to show,
But the truth is,
I’ll rebound.
Throw me up against the wall
And I might fall,
But I’m going to
Bounce.
and instead of curling up into a little ball, i stretched out and took up the entire bed. because i could. it doesn’t change the fact that i’m sad, that  i’m hurting, that there are going to be a lot more tears, but i’m not going to wallow. even at the moment that l told me he was moving out and i felt that excruciating hole open in my chest, i felt my world both contract and expand, though i see the capacity for expansion as so much bigger.
last night, seeing that i was suddenly without a partner for the nando’s 21st birthday celebration i’d alread rsvp’d for, i called up a friend and got him to be my +1 for the night. and i bumped into my good friend K, also an actor on a very popular soap. i’ve known him since i was 15 and we’ve always said we were twins, and it was so reassuring to look into his face and see the love for me reflected there. and it was such fantastic validation to have him take me in his arms, look me in the eye and sincerely remind that i was beautiful and vital and make me vow not to forget that. and i won’t.
once again, i’m on the bound, and i’m going to bounce.