Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fire, Fallow, and Field

From The Faithful Gardener by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

"So you see," Uncle said, "this burning and blackening of the soil here?  Soon much will come of it, so much that you will not believe it."

"What will you seed here?" I asked.

"I will seed nothing," said Uncle.

I did not understand.  We had burnt land before, for the ash made tired ground more fertile again.

"Why will you leave the land bare and unseeded, Uncle?"

"Ah, as an invitation, my girl."

A map of burned places:

Ila's Iris:  I am deadheading.  To make space, he says.  Yes.  To say the sacred Yes is to also invoke the sacred No.  We were made with birth and death, the left and the right, cupping our lives on either side in strong hands like those I've seen on women who have raised children, let go of husbands, found peace in the earth. The spent blossoms fall to the ground, lifting green life above them as the mother's hands lift the wise and innocent children into the pages written for them by the Author.

Grandpa Smith's Alfalfa Fields:   We leave the land of our lives to each other, passed down as we are lifted away from the spaces we have walked, talked into, struggled through, danced upon.  I can see him stern on his tractor, the bailer behind him, his gray felt cowboy hat sweat stained and oil marked.  When I dream of him after the funeral, he is fishing from the top of this same tractor, throwing his line into the green and purple fields he worked.  He smiles and waves.

In the House:  I leave the burned spaces of my life open.  I pass through the lonely night.  The empty chairs around the kitchen table sit in expectation of the arrival and the joining of the deepest laughter, the food shared in love, the thanksgiving, the family.

My left arm and the palms of my hands:  The skin is still scarred, soft and delicate old woman palms.  Where the prayers grow, the two empty hands pressed together, holding grace.  Where the hair is smoothed from golden forehead of daughter.  Where the words collect and how they are thrown into the white air to land breath-hopeful, story seed whispering: I need to be understood.  Where the face is cradled, tears pooling, the heart still willing to break and sustain.  Where the strings vibrate, the sound being woven between my fingers so I might touch something invisible.

Where Love also Burns:  May my hands be empty when you come to fill them with your own.  You will find them resting in my lap, and I will be staring into the empty field.

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