26 Nov


Many months ago I decided to return to the island at Thanksgiving. Eight days, I imagined, of writing magic and inspiration of the sort  found here last year. But instead, a very different feeling arrived. Yesterday, the high temperature was 36 degrees. Bundling against the chill, I walked Clarence around town and refused to acknowledge a growing suspicion that coming here was to test the foundation of something I’m not so sure I should have built within me. Because in trying to prove my strength, that I can be alone and can fulfill all my own needs, I realize that I’ve been lying. Absolutely lying. . . to my deepest core self. I do need others. But this needing creates vulnerability. And I am afraid of vulnerability. My fear of possibly being hurt by others, especially men, is keeping me safe, but in a tiny nest of observation rather than participation.

Boarding the ferry, I began to think about the relationships in my life and how I felt like something in me was actually broken, as if nothing could be loved so truly or deeply ever again. I was wrong. For when in stepping into the little house at the corner of Fig Tree and Howard, I felt my heart crack. In feeling love and attachment again for people, terror arrived. It hurts to miss them. What if they go away? What if they lie about their affections? I can’t execute the “take it or leave it” detachment I once managed so well. Nothing works…not writing, not painting, nothing. I have to sit in this miserably alone place like a duck in open water.

Yesterday, while shopping some favorite places here, I fell in love with a bracelet of Kathleen O’Neal’s made of tiny silver cast bird bones. That’s how I feel walking this town now. . . like a fragile tiny breakable bird. I hate it. I’ve worked so hard to be flesh, to be muscular physically and emotionally and all of it seems to have disappeared in the one place where  so much strength was found. My heart is now a bird, of hollow bone, the size of a sparrow. And this heart says,

I am still alive. …and now beating.

This heart  is not broken. It has sprouted tiny hollow boned wings that want to soar in gasping fear into an immense open sky. So breakable…so small. Precious. There is a message in those braceleted bones, linked together into a loop too big for my wrist so that one must dangle down disconnected from the rest.

Kathleen said, “I can take out a bone to make it fit”.

And I thought  No. This bone is necessary to the rest. Don’t take out the bone that makes it too big for my wrist. The odd bone is necessary. It’s still attached, barely, but don’t sever it from the rest. And there I was …looking at myself and knowing some way to become part of the circle of normal loving life again has to be found. The odd bone hangs down to show where one doesn’t fit into the form and file of the rest. And I’ve been dangling on the outside too long.

Coming over on the ferry, we passed by the small inlet where the sea birds and ducks roost. In passing, they took off in flight and began to circle the ship. Great wide circles around and around and then I knew… I am in Air. When I started this journey, it began in Fire. The bird of self emerged from ashes and grew. Last fall, I fell into Water…trying to learn to allow, to know that all things come in time and I went way too far out into the deep end. Having no other option, I sank into the unconscious to learn the corners of my psyche. I drowned in the darkest ocean swell without light, without oxygen… on purpose. Last year at this moment, I was fighting an emotional current that would bring me here.


In this place. On this island.

I was reborn.

In January, the walking began on Earth, connecting to the landscape of my Self. This writing space became home to all I tasted, saw, smelled, heard, and felt. It grew my voice.

And now I must take to the Air. Birds fly inside my dreams. They populate my thoughts, my art. I have become obsessed with feathers and with flight. Near the beginning of this current couch sleeping period, I had a vivid dream that I was getting ready to come to the island. About to board the ferry, I had a paper bag with two empty brown bottles and a chocolate bar. The bottom of the bag was wet. I was slightly afraid that the bottom would give way. A man in front of me in line said

You can’t take that over to the island! They don’t allow you to take that over there. . .

I was embarrassed, angry, and ashamed.

As I thought about where to put the bag out of the way so as not to litter or lose it, the sky cracked. A thunderous roll split the darkening clouds and a swarm of migratory birds on fire began their sinuous flexing flight across the sky directly toward us. Fear spread across people’s faces like a Second Coming.. a judgment… an End. As the swarm reached us, suddenly I was one of them. I saw from the bird’s perspective. We burned them. In a wave of blistering heat and fire like a rolling searing cloud, we flew flame against masses of people, their fronts like seared slices of bacon, their faces, and bodies arrested in a blistered mass of instant incineration. And I soared, horrified yet helpless within an avian swarm of flame and wing. We flew on beyond them into wakefulness. I gasped when fully awake. My nest of couch was gone.

So the Phoenix has arisen has she. . .to what? If I stay in this nest, I can only watch, the eternal observer of life. I will not know love if I do not chance loss. How will I see the sky if I do not dive? When does first flight happen? How can I be an earthly being and yet made of bird bones? Hollow limbed, light and made of flame. How do birds connect? In a negotiation of air?

They soar, solitary watchers in blue cold cloud and yet in flocks of flame.

One can only stand on the edge for so long before the lesson of flight emerges …on tiny boned wings.

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