Monday, December 19, 2011

The Poetry of My Last Twenty-four Hours: Words that Cut to the Bone of Truth

I invite you to re-visit this post from last December as part of A Writer Weaves a Tale's Old-Post Resurrection Hop. Check Sandra out. She's a brilliant writer and her blog a way-station for talent.

Words that cut to the bone of truth, sawing away muscle and fat, leaving bare the skeleton of what it means to be human, in all its starkly bloody glory.
Words that take me to the heart of who I am and what I feel.

Photo by Mark

The Poetry of My Last Twenty-four Hours

5 AM. The pain of my fibromyalgia has woken me up to send ripples of flame that spread down my forearms and lick the web between each finger, bringing me moment by moment further from the sleep my body desperately needs. A deeper, hotter fire pours down the column of my spine and fills my sacrum, making it a vessel of aching cramp. A persistent nausea pulls at my insides. 

In the war between discomfort and exhaustion, discomfort has won. I will get up. I will write.

Photo by Jilly
2 PM. The baby that my arms still remember, who smelled of a fresh sweetness as bafflingly ambrosial as a morning bakery, the boy whose soft possibility touches the core of my longing to want good in the world, that boy is sobbing on my couch, having been physically and mentally wounded in his daily battle with Life. 

His cries feel like jagged glass, like punches to my stomach.

At this moment in time, his soul is a crushed tin can beneath the foot of the world. His body curls inward, protecting himself. He is a fetal image again, a sprouting bean, or something bent-maybe not yet broken. I catch my breath, and beg myself for the capacity to remember that this is just a moment in time that can pass. 

If I let myself live inside that strangled sob, inside that inward-bent body, I may soon be crushed again myself, as I was when I had to pass through Scylla and Charybdis to become a grown woman myself. But I will not let him pass through alone, if he could know someone is with him and that he is loved. 

Something is always torn and bloody when a child is birthed. New tears rend me as they grow and I let myself feel the disquiet of Life as it shapes the men they will become. Sometimes all I have to offer these children is an outstretched hand.
Photo by Jenny Downing
6 PM. My church community has gathered in the darkness of December around an elaborate double spiral of pine boughs in our icy church parking lot, to usher in the winter solstice. 

The planning for this has been halting, filled with confusion, miscommunication, and emotional exhaustion. Leading up to this moment, I have felt more than once like stepping away from the project. 

Community is never what you think it is. It is always unkempt, filled with unintended power struggles and accidental slights; with the tireless wars we launch daily in the practice of attempting to live together.

Chanting begins, led by teenagers with a chant they have learned at a youth con, "Spiraling into the center, the center of the web, we are the weavers, we are the woven ones, we are the dreamers, we are the dream..." The background is punctuated by the sounds of the reverse signal of a backhoe that is moving snow nearby into great useless dunes by the roadside. 

Our community-elders, young children, teenagers, adults are moving into the center of a spiral, holding tiny pine cones to drop into a fire as an act of letting go. Upon reaching the center, they receive a candle and place it where they wish among the boughs on the arm of the spiral leading out. I am directing a child on crutches in an icy parking lot, listening to a persistent beeping, but, more-so, I am enveloped by the intention of the ritual. 

I desperately need to let go. I need to leave the self I thought I was in the light of summer in that fire and walk out with a new self, strong enough to meet the challenges Life has chosen, in its dazzling randomness, for me to face. I will do this, even if I must do it while prodding a crippled child whom, unbeknownst to me, I will later learn has already fallen with his crutches on the ice and suffered a concussion.

Photo by Kristine Coblentz

"Return again. Return again. Return again. Return to the home of your soul. Return to who you are. Return to what you are. Return to where you are. Born and reborn again. Return again..."

The comfort of the truth of these words washes over me. Where sweet encouragement to cheer me would sour in my ears, the beauty of darkness juxtaposed with light, the Truth of Nature and of being human holds me like a child in a mother's arms, comforting me with reality.

Litany. In the greatest darkness. Response: The light is reborn. Out of winter's cold. The light is reborn. From our deepest fears. The light is reborn. When we most despair. The light is reborn.  The light is reborn. The light is reborn. 

To end the ritual is my part. I lead the crowd inside, where seven children, fourth grade to ninth, guide us all competently, confidently, and gorgeously in the act of welcoming in the four directions and putting the ritual to rest. 

They say, finally, these words that I have written for them:
"The wheel of the year spins inward toward dark and quiet, outward toward light and creation. Again and again, it spins, and our lives spin with it, through happy times and sad, new inspirations and times of letting go.

Our lives mirror the beauty of the turning of the wheel.
We hope you will stay with us for cider and social time and that you will take with you the collective light of this community into the dark places you must go this coming year, and use it to germinate your dreams." 

I am bursting with pride in my community. We are raising bold children who know beauty, who can lead, who can think. We have wisdom among our elders in Los Alamos that would be the envy of any convocation of sages. Our families are vibrant, seeking, and strong.

In this moment, it is worth it to be human in a community, to suffer through emails that I don't understand, to bake a dozen cookies while getting ready for work, to attend meetings at the end of exhausting days, to struggle with how to live in beloved community.

I think that it is worth it to love the poetry of dark and light, to love the shadows that play around the edges of our lives, for the depth that they add to living.

If I live with more pain because I take the time to see them, I say I live, too, with more beauty.

Photo by Patrick Kelly

Notes on photos: The first three photos are creative-commons licensed searchable images that I found on Flickr. The fourth is a photo taken by my incredible, inspiring friend Kristine Coblentz at the Solstice ritual last night. She should also be credited with taking a huge leadership role in creating that ritual and having it be what it is. Her vision inspires me. The fifth photo was taken by me of my son Devin at our church's UU Nativity Pageant last Sunday, when he was a sheepishly smiling Caesar Augustus. The last photo is used with permission by my talented friend Patrick Kelly, whose gorgeous photographs can be found at Go look at them.


  1. Beautiful, beautiful. One more thing to include in my (late) post of beauty in the world. Happy solstice to you and yours!

  2. Thanks! You now have the distinction of being the first person ever to retweet anything I have posted. :)

  3. I know the child crying on the couch. Or worse yet maybe, not crying, rocking in anguish under his blankets, trying to rock away the hurtful words of some other child on the playground. You are right. We want to do so much to ease the pain but words can fall on little deaf ears. Yes, it might be enough to reach out a hand.

  4. I hope you write a book someday. A big, meaty, literary masterpiece. You absolutely have what it takes. I know I've told you this before and I'm sure I say it far too often, but your words strike something in me, every single time.

    I've read your mom, so I don't have to guess where you got this soul-deep talent with words. It's a rare thing. A rare and very beautiful thing and when I read you, my jealousy is tempered by pure awe. I read a lot and I can say with certainty that this happens to me almost nowhere else.

    1. Thanks so much, Beth. That touches me more than you can imagine. You're right–my mom sure can write. You should get her to let you read her novel. It's brilliant. Just brilliant.

    2. She wrote a book?! I wonder how much groveling it would take for her to let me read it. I'll start with a little and ramp it up as needed. :O)

    3. I'll see if I can hook you up for your birthday or Christmas. :) I'm sure she'd love you to read it. It isn't exactly getting the attention it deserves sitting in a neat stack in her apartment. I wish I could give it to everyone. It's a lovely book. Light-hearted and full of well-drawn characters with charming quirks.

  5. Happy to discover such an interesting person through the blog hop! I'll follow your blog and put you in my Google+ circles, if that's all right with you!

    1. Glad to meet you, too! I'd love to connect with you on Google or anywhere. :)I'm curious to read more of your stuff as well.

  6. lovely Tara. You worked hard on this one, I can tell. Well worth resurrecting! I have to rethink the guidelines as a lot of people linking up (including me) are just linking up the old URl. I think we might get more people to link up and build a wider audience if we repost the old post as a new one? Does that make sense?

  7. What a talented writer you are, Tara! Very powerful and inspirational piece of writing you have. Definitely inspire me to be more community connected.


When you comment, it keeps fairies alive.

Don't forget to choose "subscribe by email" to receive follow-up comments. I almost always reply to comments, and you wouldn't want to miss that. It's all part of saving the fairies.

My Zimbio
Creative Commons License
Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License