Red Sleep

Red and Eucaliptus InbarAsif

Photo: Inbar Asif

 

He lay himself

Bare

On the ground.

Stripped into

A fraction of his

Former self, yet

In his memory

A giant

Still,

And let the blanket of

Red

Caress him

Through to the

Other side of life,

And into the

Eternal

Sleep.

 

 

 

For the dVerse poetry challenge: red

 

 

 

New Born

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

He was born on a blustery night to a woman who huddled on the exposed slopes with naught but the protection of three wide backs to block the worst of the wind. The men crouched, arms linked and heads down, their eyes averted from what was taboo to watch, as they hummed the low sounds of incantations meant to shield the woman and babe from the demons and their own ears from the muffled cries.

There was no midwife.

The other woman had died not a full moon prior. It was a bad omen.

There was no spirit-guide. Their leader, too, had died.

Bad omens, all.

There was only the woman, panting desperately in the dark. And the three of them: One of whom in whose hearth she’d grown, one whose hearth she shared, one who’d preceded her in her mother’s womb. And a girl-child of barely eight winters. Pale and shivering and wide-eyed, she knelt before the woman, one hand on the swollen belly, another cradling the opening for the magic and terror that no man was allowed to look upon. But she would. She was too young. But there was no one else who could.

As the night stretched and the panting shortened, he was born.

By morning, they moved on.

A fresh mound under a rock marked the space where the smell of blood still lingered. The men had dug the hole, even though it was women’s work. A concession to their circumstance. They could not wait till the girl, or woman, gathered sufficient strength for the task. It was paramount that one put distance between oneself and the afterbirth, lest the demons seek to lug the babe back into the dark. The mother, too, sometimes.

They left all that behind.

He lived his first days in almost the same darkness he’d been made in. Cocooned inside his mother’s wraps, lips close enough to her breast to suckle, rocked by the same thunder and gurgle of her heartbeat and innards.

Sometimes, much later in years, he’d remember the indistinguishable. How inside and out did not differ by much other than air and hunger and the momentary cold that blanketed him when he was whipped out to be held above the ground to release his waste.

He might’ve stayed cocooned for longer had they not found the cave.

The old man saw it first. A black tooth in the mountain-side. Large enough to fit.

They waited two days to approach it. Demons have been known to skulk in the back of dark hollows, waiting to pounce. They were too few to risk it. Let alone with a helpless morsel who couldn’t even cling.

When nothing bigger than a ferret emerged from the entry, and when hares were spotted munching languidly nearby, they knew that whatever demons might have lived there once, had since long gone.

They brought an ember to the cave. And stones for a hearth. And moss and boughs for bedding.

The girl carried water from the spring. The woman made the tea and cooked the grain from her ceremonial parcel. They ate. They drank. They slept.

By morning the men came for the baby.

They held his naked, squalling form, indignant in the cold exposure, and passed him from man to man at the entry.

His life-force squealed vitality. His lungs breathed their collective previous misfortunes to the wind. His face, first reddened then purple with rage, summoned the sun to rise and fall. Someplace a wolf returned the howl.

It was a good omen.

They called him New Born. The reincarnation of Born, the spirit-guide they’d lost along with what safety they’d had where they came from. This New Born was a cameo. He was their future. Their hope in this new home.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto

 

 

“A Bandaid for my heart”

She asked me if I knew about dying.

I said I knew it hurt when someone we love died.

She nodded and fiddled with the pencil, poked the tip against her finger, poked again. Again.

I wondered if she was trying to make the hurting take a form she understood through the pinprick of a just-sharpened pencil. I gently put my hand on hers.

She looked up at me, thankfully without embarrassment or worry of judgment. Feelings weren’t easy for this child, whose very early years were filled with much that couldn’t be expressed and had no wording. Her grandfather passed away right before her birth and a hue of grief lingered many months, adding to her mother’s post-partum depression. Her mother has recovered since, and the home was generally caring, but unspoken early patterns of if-you-are-quiet-you-won’t-overwhelm-mom and waiting for another’s space to open so you can have your needs met still played out often. The girl, not yet ten, was more likely to attend to others’ feelings than her own; more likely to dismiss her anguish to not distress others.

I smiled at her and she smiled back shyly. Her eyes glistened and she sniffed.

“My dad told you?”

“Your mom did.”

Her eyes flew to mine, surprised at being thought of. She took another breath. Tears slid down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, Sweetie.” I handed her a tissue and snuck a bit of extra affection into the gesture. Just because. She noticed. Smiled the sad smile again.

Her great-grandmother died two nights before. Her father’s grandmother was a fixture in the child’s life. A rock. The one who filled the gaps, stepped in, held, held on. An elder in the best sense of the word. There was a love there that spanned generations. A special bond with this child.

It was a gentle death, the mother said. Doctors believed the grandma had passed away peacefully in her sleep. No pain. No long decline. That was a blessing, but for the child this loss still hollowed.

“I didn’t get to say goodbye,” she whispered.

“I know. I’m sorry.” I moved a strand of hair off her cheek. “You can still say it. Maybe not in the way you’d have wanted, but still …”

“Yeah,” she sniffed. Dismissed. Reconsidered. Looked up. “How?”

“Any way you can think of, almost.”

She pondered. “Dad said she can hear me. In my dreams. In my thoughts.” Her eyes probed. She wanted to believe it.

“I believe that’s possible, yes.”

“How?”

“I don’t know exactly. I just feel it. In my heart. About people I love and passed away. It feels right to me that we are still connected, that in some way they can hear me.”

Her eyes overflowed again but her face softened. “I think I’ll talk to her. Tonight, maybe. You know, just me and her.”

I nodded, smiled.

She sighed. Drew in a shuddering breath. Sighed again.

“I miss her,” she whispered. “It hurts. I wish I had a Bandaid for my heart.”

hands-and-heart

 

Rest in Peace, Dear Carol

Carol H.

Carol H.

ברוך דיין אמת
May you rest in peace now, Carol, having completed your work on this earth, in this body; and having done so utterly spectacularly, as evidenced by the many people who love you so dearly, the lives you changed and enriched, the truth you spoke, the healing you provided, the open-mind and open-heart you lived by.
I miss you already.
I also know you’re going to be with us, always; if in a different way. But no less loving.

Am not worried for you being lonely over there, in Soul Heaven. Oh, not at all, for you have a welcoming committee with you! I can feel it. Kathryn, surely. She’s been moving front and center in the last month, preparing to receive you and ready for reconnecting. I can almost see your hand in hers as she shows you the path to new tomorrows. Others are there to welcome you, too … from recently departing friends to longer lost kin of heart and family. A multitude. A community of souls. A tribe. All holding you in love and light.

Am relieved that you are no longer suffering and that your body no longer limits your soul from soaring. You have blessed us all.

And you are a Blessed One.

I will be taking time off in your honor, to sit in prayer and meditation, to hold you in my heart fully, to be with you during this process of you moving on to a different path of being, to support your family.

There’s a candle lit for you here, as is the tradition in my family and upbringing, to ‘hold’ and ‘light the way’ and keep in thoughts and blessing a dear one who is walking a new path. Though knowing you, Carol, you are probably flying. Walking’s too slow. And you sure had enough of ‘slow’ for a while now…

I said goodbye to you when I went to sleep last night, having felt you getting close to passing since Friday and even more so all day yesterday, and I knew that something shifted in the early morning: a release, a relief, a letting go. You had let me know.

The deep love of those close to you–your dear husband, children, siblings, friends–I know it helped you through this most difficult last year, and helped you know it was okay to finally let go. Love held you. May it hold you still and hold us all now as sorrow flows and gratitude fills memories with the honor of knowing you and loving you. I love you so!

It has been an honor for me. Still is. Will remain so and only grow.

You have enriched my life, nourished me indelibly on levels that are hard to put in words, changed who I had the possibility to become. I cannot imagine my life without you. A gift. A blessing.
Carol, you are a part of my heart and always will be so.
You are family to me.
My love always — Na’ama

Practically thinking …

feather

5-year-old: “When people die do they go right to heaven?”
Me : “What do you think?”
Kid: “I think maybe they go to the factory first.”
Me : “The factory???”
Kid : “Yeah. Where they make the wings.”