At this time of year, I feel the energy of the earth stirring. I feel it passing through me too, a resonance that pushes against the shell of my winter covering, the one that keeps me warm, protected and enclosed in the cold dark days. But now, instead of directing that surge outwards, as I have often done, I am holding it close, compacting it, building it up layer after layer, until it is as hard and bright as a diamond deep in my chest. Stored energy I can choose to use and direct, or hold on reserve. Am I trying to hold that energy back because I am afraid of it? Because I now feel like it diverts my focus, hurts my discernment, sends me spinning and reeling and ablaze? I tell you: what I want is simply to hold the banks of my own river; to channel the current wisely. I want to set limits for myself gently and firmly, to say: “Thank you. This is enough.”
Word prompt: surge. From my daily writing practice with three women across the continent. This is from a month ago.
I only came close to drowning once. A cottage on an Ontario lake, owned by Polish friends of my parents, a generation older, who had survived their share of trauma. Me, an immigrant child from a small country, raised in tight places. Not used to all this space, all this nature. Did I know how to swim at all? I was alone in the deep water regardless, close to shore, simply slipping down into the darkness, arms flailing, head submerged, gasping for breath. No voice. Someone spotted me, shouted, one of the sons – an older teen – jumped in, dragged me out. I was self-conscious already then, my body too close to his. He got me to shore. I brushed him away. I never thanked him for saving my life.
Word prompt: submerged. From my current daily writing practice with three women across the continent.
At the last night of celebration, watching one impassioned performer after another, I quietly slip away. I leave once. Then again. Then again. I sink into the light hammock outside the kitchen, wrapping its bright silk around me, cocooned in the darkness. Inside, in the welcoming crowd, I feel queasy, stuffed, cramming myself full on a feast too rich to digest. I want less. Connection is easy, I am learning, too easy, and like sugar, it has become an insatiable craving. Solitude is harder, but cleaner, lighter, in some strange way more nourishing. Alone, I can savour one song, one encounter, one teaching for days. I can taste the juice of it lingering sweet in my mouth, finally grateful.
Word prompt: solitude. From my daily writing practice by email with three women across the continent.
I’ve learned to mark time’s passing by the moon in recent years. Often, I am at home, and the full moon gleams down from high above my neighbours’ roof as I undress. On summer nights, I sometimes stand or kneel or lie in the grass in my small backyard and bask in its luminous kindness. One summer, I find myself in a canoe in Algonquin Park one full moon night, on a cobbled street in Gdańsk by the Baltic Sea the next. And then rewinding one cycle of the sun, I am in an Ontario hardwood forest, a tended fire within shouting distance, on my own semi-solitary vigil within dense circles of community. With a sleeping bag and a brace of mosquitoes I sit through one almost endless night and watch the moon’s glow painstakingly creep its way across the forest floor. But morning always comes, I learn, and then another day, and then another moon. What do I need to find myself at home? Could it be myself and the moon only, wherever I am?
Word prompt: luminous. From my current daily writing by email with three women across the continent.
It was that first evening, years ago, walking into his residence room to meet mutual friends, that I had some sense of fate working its wily way into my life. My favourite books and music, neatly mounted art prints, and, in the open closet, the startlingly brilliant patterns of Liberty print ties. “I might have to marry this man,” I though, bemused, entertaining myself at nineteen at the thought of falling for someone through a wild intuitive leap merely on a matter of taste. It was an awkward first conversation to kindle, both of us clumsy, me not quite sure where to start. As I agonized that spring over other, more tangled infatuations, he threaded his way into my life slowly: with his deeply resonant voice, his eccentric dance moves, his patience. How was it possible that I was right? That this slim, awkward, beautiful boy was the sanest person I had met, and still is: the most loyal, the most courtly, the most kind.
Word prompt: kindle. Daily writing practice with three women across the continent. Today is day 35 in this new form. Looking back over the past month I found this, from the backlog. Posting today for my husband, on his birthday.