Aches and Aspen
I told her your stories make my heart ache. Mercy no mercy, she keeps them coming. If it’s aching, it’s alive, she answers. Ache - to have a continuous dull pain, often used in combination: an aching heart, a sad ballad, someone left behind. I didn’t want to be alive like that: I'm favoring breathing space, being space, the fortitude of solitude, stepping out of combination. Like the aspen, rootlets knitted to kin underground boasting to sun and moon: Here I Am!
and she insists there is no alone, there is no away! It’s all here, all together: the rivers that artery, the land the quanta pixelating space. And now my ache turns to growing pains - her stories, the elixir. I would have said that too, she spouts, but you wouldn’t have listened.
Reciprocity lines our combination, a sacred esteem of gates and fences, sovereignty understood, our paradox: lives free and bound. Sometimes I wish she would be a silent lioness within me and I would just know the joy of close family. And there are days, in my mind, I drag her through waves and pools wondering, why don’t she swim? Daydreams, reminisce - that’s all she is, as if it were a botheration.
And I’m dreaming too: a frog prince all puffed up, pulling wide strokes across the pond. I am he reaching to kiss her into lotus and mud puppies. Her presence - bright as a blue moon - reminds me, we have been fairy folk most of our lives. The tarot holds our triskelion: Magician High Priestess Lovers. We’ve grown from them all.
And I’m still swimming and dizzy, while she says, you’re stalling. That grandbaby wants to be bragged on. Crow about her brilliance, her new front teeth, her dance recital. Gladly, but I’ve forgotten what she smells like, her voice has changed, we are both so busy. A tyranny of vast geography confounds us, and we’ve become figments of imagination. See the combinations my story conjured. And an ache to render her recollection neglected as First Nations. I can’t brag on what I don’t know. You got an elixir for that?
I'll compensate with larger legends to us mythic like this old chestnut. Once upon a time there were queens: Gallizanae who fiercely loved their world as self - the sacred groves, the cold dark sea, the rocky ledges and cormorants that peopled them. A finger of Roman empire crawled in. The terrible virgins enchanted rocks and trees and bedeviled the invaders. Between the ranks they dashed in black, like the Furies. Hair disheveled, waving brands and curses, paralyzing legions. Here live my grandmother’s stories, to raise hackles and goosebumps giving a cuddle of ululation. Hackles - the erectile hairs that stand on the back of a neck.
Face to face, I stand with the happenstance that defines me: pruned from family, uprooted from native soil, lost pieces everywhere. I cough up stories stuck in my throat. Maybe to render them into elixir of cat fits and petulance, cathartic as the asymmetrical howls of ethnic chaos. Something to ease the mud from my toes and heart. She says, that’d make good compost. Roses thrive in such ache: the A# below middle C. A combination much like yawping with blackbirds along a two track. They have mud between their toes, mites in their feathers and grandbabies who love to murmurate with fog and wind. Their stories make everything ache. Yawping - a strident sharp utterance. When I hear to her stories, there are no sharp edges. Her voice takes little steps, is wild honey with Cherokee and Scotch Irish slurs, a ribbon blanket of the day to day, aspen clone kinship, sturdy invisible bonds.
And we're all here, all together, sovereign and bound in a fine glory of growing pains throbbing among mycelium and moppets, under a big sky. I lean into the ache, she hangs sheets between stories, a gathering breeze to billow us. No better combination.