Meditations: Inheriting My Mother’s Garden

There’s only one thing I know how to do when I feel badly – meditate. But it took me years to discover this secret. Years of trauma and meandering in and out of empty wells. When I was younger and attended church with my mother and grandmother I remembered being frightened by the seemingly violent emotion of women in church. They would rock and weep and sob loudly. They would pass out on the floor. Once I saw a large woman “get the Holy Spirit” and she hit her head falling on the alter. No one moved to help her. I grabbed my father’s arm and said “Daddy!! Daddy! That lady!” He looked over lazily and said “Oh. She alright.” I was mad at him for a long time about that and refused to go back to church with him for some weeks. My dad and I were like that: we’d get mad and stop speaking then get over it and go on.

When I saw “The Color Purple” at the movie theatre the first time with Mother and Nanny I didn’t understand Miss Celie and why she talked to God. I didn’t understand the songs in church like “Jesus Is My Friend”. Frankly I always had serious difficulties with Jesus. Well not with Jesus exactly but with Christianity, I never understood. I still don’t despite having a Theology degree from an undergrad Jesuit college. Christianity leaves me cold. I just didn’t get it.

But I had an innate understanding of spirituality, however. Even as a girl I was always happy cobbling together little rituals and prayers that I stole, magpie fashion, from my exposure to other religions. Judaism. Hinduism. Buddhism. Finding yoga and a yogi whose words finally made sense changed my life. My first experiences with meditation were so amazingly successful that I remember feeling suffused with a goodwill and confidence, or perhaps just an old fashioned blessing. Those early meditations carried me through the worst, emptiest, most frightening times of my life. It was the first time in my life I was confronted with human evil. I know nothing of supernatural evil like the Exorcist (and since I get so scared in horror movies that I literally cry tears of fright I hope never to encounter it.) But simple, commonplace human evil is its own terror, the kind that leaves you shivering in the bed in bright daylight fearing what will come next from someone’s spite and general lack of compassion.

Maybe your experience in life is devoid of anything that you would attribute to spiritual resolve. For me I can’t imagine my life without it. I spend a lot of time in meditation asking Why this? or Why that? Technically that is prayer. Meditation is the listening part. Somedays I’m good at calming myself and patiently falling into that Place. Some days though the fear and despair block your attempts. But that’s when you must work hardest.

My favorite thing is when an answer actually comes. Meditation is like going into Bergdorf Goodman as a beggar and having every salesperson from all the high-end boutiques greet you as a queen. “Take this!! And you’ll need this too!!” …”Oh have you seen our newest line? Have some! Oh did you take extras for family and friends? Here!! Here!” (Yes there is probably something wrong with describing my spiritual life in materialistic terms but this is my metaphor. You can go describe yours like Walden Pond or Dover Beach or whatever. My meditation is like Bergdorf Goodman, I say.)

It’s getting amazing answers from the void that are so extraordinary that it sometimes puts me in a good mood for weeks at a time. The other day I had barely been sitting for five minutes when a story idea dropped in my lap beginning, middle and end.
Someone hurt my feelings recently and I’ve spent a lot of time listening for some — what? Wisdom? Answers? Yes. — some explanation. Trying to find a salve for my heart because I feel sad.

I look at myself in the mirror and to see my tiny self. Though my face doesn’t necessarily display my age I know recognize myself as those women from my childhood. The Miss Celies. The emotional crying women in church who held it together all week long until they could make it to Church on Sunday and let their emotions free.
Except that I don’t wait until Sunday. I’ll go meditate two, three, times a day if I can. I keep asking the Universe the same question until I get an answer. In that, my spiritual practices are no different from the way I am in talking to real flesh and blood humans all day long. I like to get RESULTS.

So now I save my emotions and tears and even some joy for entering the Spiritual Bergdorf Goodman of the Universe. Alice Walker’s essay “InvSearch of Our Mother’s Gardens” was probably the most impactful thing I read in college. She talks about the fragile, mental artists who had very little in their material life and such rich emotional artistic and spiritual lives, and I remember recognizing all that she discussed as if it were a future memory. Perhaps I have finally entered that vague future memory at last.

Treasure Mine

a pleasant laughter beneath the rose motif
a sharp white kiss with the drag of teeth
dusty fingers in a solemn half light
an undercover lover’s shaded movements and flight
call me your love, neither stop nor think
and I’ll come to you windblown, in darkness, with rich wine to drink

I am a dark stranger and a holy prayer true
with barbs and a cross I will pierce me to you
I constructed this love from creative dreamtime and jewels
leached this power from the hearts of seventeen fools
and now we belong to a tribe of just two
so stay here in my twilight where together we may hide
murmuring northanger and soft, cocoon and treasure mine

A Heart, Beat

If it hurts, it must be love
she thought
So the tears were bittersweet
And if there’s pain
then the love is truer still
because intensity brings climax
and the sharp edges cut deep
like the words that he hurt her with
and the feeling of loving, after the fights and bruises
ache inside
heartrending and its pace
resounded as proof of romance with every beat

brown-blues-one-eyed-tulips-by-d-lammie-hanson
Brown Blues One Eyed Tulip by D. Lannie Hanson

Undiminished Memories II

These are undiminished memories
of recklessness in disguise
activities cloaked
as love
as lust
always in the language of desire
exquisitely expressed by the eyes
that heat
that burning elixir feeding
that throb twixt the legs
longing for
hardness
wetness
and delight
Do you believe in love at first sight?
So beautiful while it lasted
an infinitesimal
stroke of time
one distinct moment
in the vastness of life
And it freezes me
warms me
recurs endlessly, eternally
inside my mind

Undiminished Memories of Recklessness in Disguise

Artwork by Daniel Johnson

It is intensity that scorches the heart (not sorrow)

And pitch which measures our pain
alas, quite without the intention
through devotion
we fucked (over)
each other again
It was not the love
that was wrong,
but the need
was not right
as we danced
to a discordant melody
our dance steps cloaked
doubt
and abject fears of flight
while the lover’s
embrace dissimulated
a fairy tale frivolity
of purest delight
Claustrophobia was
our sanctuary
memory begets
only tears
for secrets
undiminished
un-embalmed
inviolable
in spite of the years

Bankruptcy

you lost your love
it got re-possessed
cuz you couldn’t afford
the interest,the credit
the fees in the debit.
then you discovered

the quality of the lover
was far less than advertised.
unlike that Clearance
chicken fryer
bad love burns hotter
than hot sauce, grease and water
the scars sear like
tar on the heart.
the damage and pain

done in the name of 
what’s gone, unreclaimed
shows on your face
like messy tear stains

the melancholy remains
long after the love departs
and your credit report
still reflects the score 

Zero, nada
you lost yo shit

An unsettled debt
in red it says
Emotionally Bankrupt

Grief Stricken, In Tears, Drunk on the Floor

Artwork by Florian Nicolle

You laid waste to yourself now you’re full arsed bare
but you were afraid, so afraid
he’d leave you
get bored
if you didn’t give it up
you were fearful he wouldn’t care

and he did leave
now you’re heart-less:
you gave that away
you’re soul-less:
you sold that to make him stay
and you’re mind-less:
because you lost that long ago
now you’re home-less as well
because you can’t live on your own
it’s too scary to live
inside yourself
you’re too wary of the silence
and the thoughts that
live there tempting self violence

but darling can’t you at least
find a way to live without a man
for a day or a week
then you may cease the experiment
but if you just tried
you really would find that
there are a thousand loves more permanent

he’s called a “user”
his job is to take what is yours
and that’s why you’re now
grief stricken
in tears
drunk
on the floor

Yes dear heart. You can live without him

These Things Which Are Mine to Keep

Love is
a dis-ease
in the blood
lies dormant
incubates & debilitates
the heart, muscle, nerves
mind, the dis-ease
it longs to roam
it desires to thrive
no cure
for this can be dispensed
by pharmacists and shrinks
yet the suffering
Increases:
longing, desperation, and thirst
Drink: poison
from a lover’s lipsWhispered secrets
-gently, gently-
the merest caress
(lies)
Soft, as a kiss
Sing, my foolishness
my delusion
my melody of weakness
of heart, of body
that craved & pined
for the poverty of your love, true

I was chasing my dragon;
I was mainlining you

Antidote Unknown
they say it is Time
the pain lingers, never lessens
throbs & whines
to an hysterical beat
late in the night
in wakefulness and fatigue
pulses and weeps
sighs, begs, calls
“come back to me”

Missing the pressure
of your love
pressed onto mine
your distance
your absence
in the night
my soul calling to yours
with panicked
cries

alleviate this sickness
kiss me again
as when you loved me before

the way you did back then

Afterward to your ghost
I plead
Just leave me.
Please let me rest.
Go away let me
be among the whispers
of the past
no matter
if they be perceptible
only to me

Here, amidst my treasures,
that I hold deep inside
where that broken love
so long bereft
lives on
in spite of your abandonment

This: my love: my deepest secret

These memories are mine,
these secret lover’s oaths
all have been breached
they are fractured, unhealed
in broken disrepair
yet to memory’s senses
fresh, still aware
these, too, are mine
they belong to me
to have
to hold
to obey
to cherish and keep