Ember

The pulsing ember speaks to my soul. It’s steady. Firm. Not destructive and wild like the fire. Not out of control. Deep. Warm. It entrances and calms. When I am near it, I find my breath become tranquil as the night air. My chest feels loose, relaxed; I can breathe in deeper and feel renewed by the cool contrasting night air. It has the potential to be violent, but only as a catalyst. It is not responsible for how it is used. No. The ember itself is only a promise of life. A slowing down of passion. The steady culmination of elements – animate. Alive. The warmth is steady and slow; it can encompass without burning. I want to close my eyes and imagine being surrounded in the embrace of rich tones; the oranges and reds like syrup or the depths of a perfect melody, resonating in my soul. I’d ingest it if I could…

This is his voice.

What it does to me.

The warmth, the pace… constant and calm.

Deep and magical.

I want to wrap myself up in the tone of his voice; snuggle down inside of it and sleep securely. Satiated and satisfied.

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Lighthouse

It started when she was young, listening to Pink Floyd, about bricks and walls….

She found them.  The bricks.  the right size.  The right color.  Isn’t it strange, she needed them to be just the right color before she could lay them down?  It would be poetic, wouldn’t it, to say she used her tears to mix the clay that held them together…but she didn’t.  Perhaps it was blood….

I don’t think so.  They just … well, stuck.  She laid them down in a fine circle around her, Not tight; this wasn’t a casket.  She paced from the ‘x’ she scuffed in the dirt and counted….1, 2, 3, 4…stop, look around..is there enough space?  yes… 1, 2, 3, 4 more.  She scuffed the dirt again.  There.  That is for the first brick.  She laid it down and walked back to the middle.  Directly she counted again.  1,2,3,4….1,2,3, 4….brick.  The circumference was 16.  Sixteen was good.

Around this circle, she began her wall.  Warm or cool.  Day or night.  Whenever she needed to feel safe, she came here.  She built the wall in a grand circle around her.  She had enough space, to lay, jump rope, brace her back and read…. No one came in here.

No one even knew.

As the wall got higher, she got lonely.  Wouldn’t you?  Bored more than anything.  But to tear it down?  No.  She made a small door…for her to get out.  So she could go home and enjoy chicken fried steak and potatoes; to read stories to her little brother; to pet the cats and chase the chickens.

So when it got too boring, when she felt much safer, she started a step-staircase.  She found driftwood and long nails.  She reused them, congratulating herself on being thrifty.  Saving the earth from litter.  Even if it was rusty.

It went on like this….she would build the steps, sit on the ledge of her wall…possibly trust someone.  A friend.  A boy.  Her parents.  whoever.  Trust them.  And then she would get hurt.  And she would renew her sense of secrecy, safety.  Her bitter jaded thoughts sang anthems in her mind as she found more bricks, found more mud, found better ways to make it stronger, stable, reinforced….and higher.

Time would pass.  Someone would give her a bit of light.  She collected these bits of treasure and cradled them gently; housed them in glass jars.  She saved them here in her secret place.

On it went.  Build a wall.  trust.  live.  grow.  build more steps to get above the wall…trust.  hurt.  cry.  build…. build walls build steps build…until the ground disappeared and the wind sung every  night.  She was so high up she saw the ocean now instead of just smelling its salty presence.  She could see it well.  She was much closer than she imagined.  She brought her trinkets…those bits of kindness, experience, love….and they shone against the darkness like she’d caught the very stars.

She sat at the top of her wall…her lights in her jars….and she heard it.

Splashing.

Distress.

Pain.

Fear.

It was another girl.  Just like her, thrashing in the darkness of the waves; nearly consumed by helplessness, unable even to cry out for help….but she had seen the light, she was trying….she didn’t really want to drown.  to die.  not like this in the cold….

The girl ran into the waves and swam as soon as she was able.  She was unaccustomed to helping in this way.  But she did it anyway.  She pulled the weak and wearied girl back to the beach.  Arms around her for support, she brought her to her sanctuary.  Yes.  Safety.  Yes. Warmth.  Yes – light…she gave her some of her light.  And when she was strong enough, she brought her to the top of her wall – to show her it wasn’t forever…the hiding.  the fear.  There was wind, and lights, stars and ocean mist.  There was laughter.  Trust.  And love.  There became, at that moment, shared smiles and courage.  Courage to watch the horizon for other drowning souls.  To be the light they needed to get out of the depths of cold fear and loneliness.

In this way, my friend built her lighthouse.

In this way, she saved my life.

Spinning Top

Running.  That is where I woke up.  I must have been spacing out because here I am.  Running.  The first thing I notice is the hair on my temple sticking to my skin.  Sweat.  I lick my lips; it tastes salty, almost metallic.  Which is ironic as I notice the surface I am on.

Striations etched in the metal surface my feet fall upon are dizzying; they at once cause my eyes to search into their infinite distance, and create the OCD urge to land my feet so that the toes of my shoes are in perfect alignment with the silver threads.

Where the hell am I?

The quick assessment of my heart and lungs surprises me.  In the time it has taken me to gain my bearings, I have been running a few moments and here I am….calm, proficient.  This has to be a dream.  Why don’t I just …. stop?

A hesitant placement of my right foot creates a snag as I realize the surface is not so much something I am running upon, as much as is being fed to me.  I can’t stop.  The road is spinning towards me.  Feeding me my path.  I glance over my shoulder.  What would happen if I let it carry me?

But there is nothing but the mercury silver disappearing into an obsidian void.  My feet fall….one after another…the rhythm is soothing my growing panic.  How do i stop?  Where am I going?  The curving incline affords no horizon, no destination.  I could change directions, run with the spin….but no.  That would send me on faster….I might lose control.

That’s what this is.  Control.  If I go against the grain, I can maintain my speed, gain if I choose.  I have more traction.  it makes sense.  Doesn’t it?  My eyes are adjusting and I have a nostalgic mosquito flitting annoyingly inside my brain.

Why do I know this?  I see muted color.  I see yellow and red.  And…rust…and a crack – crap!  Jump!  the unexpected flaw nearly cost me to lose my footing.  My heart protests with an irregular beat and then takes a moment to catch up and calm itself.

Now I’m on edge.  I have to pay attention.  Thinking too much almost made me fall.  . .  Imagining the road rash of a metal, striated surface causes a grimace and set jaw…I will not be taken by surprise again.  I will not fall.

To my left, a wall builds up, but it is strangely shaped, oblong and bulging like a fertility idol, round in the middle, a bit of a waist, round where the breasts would be, back to the middle…her neck then and a smaller, rounder top for her head….the top.

A top.

That is what I’m running on.  Counter clockwise.  I laugh to myself at the  poetic justice I’m trying to go back in time; I’m trying to undo; is that the symbology?  Is symbology a word?  I don’t think it is.  Why do I get so stuck in my mind?  And why am I running on this top?

Vaguely, I hear his voice telling me to trust him.  Telling him he wants to be my center and this is where I will be safe.  But this is…well, I can’t say it’s easier…the sweat rolling between my breasts is evident of the effort.  But to grab on to the center, to ride this out?

Damn!  Another crack…another rusty jagged obstacle.  Or is it the same one, come back around?  I hurdle it and continue my pace and my thoughts.  Could I ease over to the middle?  Merry-go-rounds always feel calmer the closer in  you go.  I start to.  It doesn’t seem so intense here.  It’s calmer towards the middle.  But no.  I’m not ready to trust completely.  I eye the silent center piece and feel the top a-spinning.  Slowly it is tilting and my climb is getting harder.  If I would just hold on…I could ride this out.  But no.  That isn’t who I am right now.  I’m a fighter.  I’m independent.  I’m a…runner.  Hmmmm….is that what I’m doing?

Keeping my distance and thus continuing the cycle…feeding the top with the friction of my feet as I run?  If I were to stop.  To hold on.  Would the top stop spinning?  Would it lose it’s force?  What do I lose by giving in? My stubbornness gets me nowhere.

I close my eyes.  Feel my footfall. hear the hum below me.  And I do it.

I leap.

And I hold on for dear life to my center.

Praying to God we don’t crash.

The whirring slows, stops….I’m no longer dizzy with too many thoughts.  I’m no longer exhausted trying to keep the distance up.  I am simply existing…in his arms.

Serenity.

He takes my hand in his and we walk…and now there is a destination; a horizon.. a future away from the monotonous drone of my past.