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All rights reserved to Sandy Ibrahim. Use only with written permission.

River of Letting Go

She was trapped in a rock called Status Quo,
gazing at the river of Letting Go.

Twisting and writhing, 
shifting, complaining,
stretching, contracting, 
expanding and relaxing, 
contorting herself to
please all.

She was blocking the path with indecision,
praying for light but not letting it in.
She was holding steady
because women
who let themselves go,
who don’t do what they’re told,
who don’t follow the mold,
are ugly and old.

And unfuckable.

Ban her to the land of Irrelevance!

Would her sisters tell her she was too big for her britches?
Would her brothers say she was a selfish bitch?
Would her family recoil?

She was so tightly rolled in this small little hole
yet felt she was taking up
too
much
space.

She’s been hiding her holy for so long
Adorning shame on her body
Defending a life she doesn’t believe in and
Hearing no voice like her own.

She collapsed into exhaustion
She gave up her fighting
She had no control.

She let herself go.

In her submission
She followed the holy
Right into her longing
Back into belonging

And the river came and carried her home.


Temple for the Grief Song

I could have been a widow, but I’m not. I married the other guy. The one who didn’t die. Last week I sat at a table with three widows and they spoke about their grief and how in their hearts, minds and social lives they were exiled from life for awhile. A long while.

They didn't cover their front door in black sheets nor did they wear black outside the funeral day marking the end of their beloved husband’s lives. (Were they beloved though? I was too shy to inquire.) 

Actually, scrap that. They didn’t have funerals, they had “celebrations of life” because funerals are too much of a downer in these times.

Friends called at first and then stopped before long. Friends too afraid to face such anguish, the deep vulnerability and the fragility of life. Perhaps, they cast spells to the God of Denial thinking it could prevent personal injury and keep them alive for just a little while longer.

As though grief is a personality disorder, or worse, a contagious disease. A sign of weakness or self-indulgence? That if we feel nothing, nothing bad can happen, or at least if it does, we'll be too numb to suffer the trial.

But, someone just died. 
And someone's life just fell apart.

Where does grief go when it doesn’t belong?
When you wake up to the news that 60, or 600, or 6000 are dead, where does the sorrow hibernate?

I’ve read – maybe you have too – that we could all be dead by 2050.
We could all be dead by 2050. My children. Your children. Our children’s children. 
Even the puppy across the road.

Where does the grief go?
Without grief, where is the hope?
Without grief, where is the growth?
No new growth.
No hope for regrowth.

I’m opening a temple for the grief song.
For the long howl
For the staggered breath
The wail of the broken-hearted
The shaking, cold, long drop, deep into death.

We mourners will light a fire and gather around chairs 
until tears turn to laughter
and laughter to hope
and hope into songs
and songs into seeds
and seeds into trees 
and we will sing and laugh and cry until 

Grief is back where she belongs.


Wash Behind Your Ears

There was a time when I believed
the most important thing
was to wash behind my ears. I wasn’t sure
I could do it as often or as well as I should.

I feared invisible authorities who knew
what I did and didn’t do.
They just knew.
They marked my performance with x’s and checkmarks.

Just like my teachers. Just like my parents.
Just like Santa Claus and the god
my friend told me I must believe in or
I’d go to hell while she went to heaven.

I must keep behind my ears clean.
I must take Christ in.
I must memorize the times table
and not make my father angry.

I must smile because it’s pretty and
cry beautifully
like the women on daytime TV.
I must master the performance.

At night, after my mother tucked me in
I’d imagine
I was in a dorm room with a bunch of war vets
whose arms and legs were chopped off. 

They were just torsos
but they were my friends and we’d chat and laugh until...
the Skeleton would come in and
rip off their covers. 

Because the only way to survive this fight was with amputated limbs.

So I folded myself neatly under the sheets while
my friends tried to distract the bony guard.
Night after night just before my inevitable demise
the Skeleton would forget and bypass my bed.

I'd become invisible.
Which meant I was safe again.

Yeah, that really happened.
Or happened to be imagined.

I rarely wash behind my ears.
It’s a small act of defiance.

It’s what started my resistance.
A six-year-old warrior
who knew in her fleshy bones that
she was a soldier

Living in a world of
deluded men and women
playing a game they thought they could win
by doing the ‘right thing’.



Show Me

I am ready to be astonished.
I am ready to be amazed.
I'm ready to shed my story.
ready
to stumble
without eyes, 
into a new world,
confused,
unknowing,
on wobbly legs.

Show me.

I am ready for devotion.
I am ready to strip bare. 
I'm ready to give in.
Ready
to soften
unthaw
drip
my frozen edges
onto
the forest floor.

Show me.

I am ready for new skin.
I am ready to open.
I'm ready for submission.
Ready
for life as a
faceless
nameless
cultureless
timeless
prayer.

Show me.

I am yours.
Show me.
I am yours.
Show me.
I am yours.
Show me.

Life, I am yours.
Show me what I'm made of.

I am ready to be astonished.
I am ready to be amazed.


River II

The dam broke.

In an instant, 
she awoke
six feet under,
water
tumbling
like a rock made shiny
by a current on a mission
and life with a vision
to restore Her.

If she were to survive
the speed of the tide
she had to
trust
it had her
best interests in mind.

There were frogs in her throat
and rocks in her pockets
branches reached out from the shore
to violently stop her. 
(She knew them.)

Resisting now would surely kill her.
Powering through, equally foolish.

She called out to Synergy
to marry her will
to the strength of the current.

Yes to the river!
Yes to the rhythm!
Yes to the unknowable flow!

The river rolled her
over and over
skin scratched and torn
face shattered and worn

it spat her out
on a foreign shore
she looked like a rock whose
purpose was newly discovered.


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The Circle

We give to the circle,
it gives back.


We give to each other,
each other gives back.
We give to the dream,
it dreams back.

This giving/receiving
is exactly like

breathing
in

breathing
out.

We give in.
We give out.


Where'd I Go?

I forgot who I was there.
A moment ago.
I’m not sure what happened.
I guess I was distracted
And got swept in the undertow
Through muddy terrain
Where lecherous creatures
Crawled at my skin
They dragged me down under
And poured me foul medicine

I didn't want to drink.

I forgot who I was there
A moment ago.
Forgot what I’d been given
Forgot about the joy
The exultation of living
I thought
All the evidence
Was in
And there was
No point
No hope.

But as long as these bones
Carry my skin
As long as my breath
Animates this instrument
As long as this woman
Moves in
And out
Of darkness
And daylight
She will honour the miracle
Of being alive.