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Click here for Yuba River published by Rebelle Society 8/7/2018

Ever had a year from hell?

You know the kind I mean, the kind that drags you by the scruff of your heart against the ground until you’re jagged and raw, until you forget what happiness tastes like, until your voice no longer knows how to call you by name, until you hurt so hard and so long that you finally stop fighting and you surrender everything you always thought you needed to keep yourself together. And you let it all go.

You finally learn how to sit with your emptiness and desolation, and instead of abandoning yourself, you meet yourself face to face, and there you are, the deeper you, the you you’ve always been, the you who called you out to play when you were a kid, the you who is always there, shining through the darkness, shining even brighter because of the darkness.

And you bring yourself back to life by claiming yourself fully in all of your mess and all of your glory, and you stop apologizing and you stop pretending and you simply be who you are. Ever felt this way? I did, last year. And it’s only when I hit the lowest point, and couldn’t get back up, that I finally became real. And here I am, to say it’s possible.

Sometimes it takes a complete melting down of all the structures of how we know our self before we can truly be our self, ancient and new, all at the same time, with wisdom and playfulness to share, with a way to map this human journey, through the inevitable dark, and back into life and love.

The Yuba river in northern CA held me and turned me in the white water of her hands one weekend when I didn’t think I could ever open myself again. And yet, I did. And we do, as women. Over and over, the great tides pull us open and closed and open again.

Yuba River
© Meredith Heller 2018

At midnight on Tuesday
her flower bloomed
beside the river
that pours in pulses of lace
through the eye holes
of the rock skulls
that rest their heads on the bank
to dream

She cracks and crumbles
into the murmur of water
that signs its name across her skin
delicately devouring her edges
until even the white essence of her soul
dissolves

The granite boulders of her back
marbled with grief
break apart at the seams
scatter the water with sparks
from her veins

Say yes to an invitation from Hades
received in a handwritten scroll
tied with a white string
hidden in a rock crevice
and read one evening
as the moon sliced the sky

Now jasmine blooms in her hair
sage roots through her toes
she remembers when kids played kickball
on the street behind her house
one humid summer night
when she stayed out late
with the boy who read a book
under the street lamp
while bats darted in and out
catching moths in their mouths

Language was a song she sang
while she rode her bike
up and down the hill
a melody tattooed its signature
across her shoulders
in notes she bent
on the lute of her ribs
her polkadot shirt unbuttoned
flying in the breeze behind her
her heart open to the sun

Resist resistance
she sings to herself
like a mantra

The supple sapling of her spine
rises toward the light
as she spins on a tilted axis
from gravity’s hip
she twists and turns in the white hands of the water
as she composts last year’s loss

In the morning
a velvet peach ripens in her throat
she warbles as she’s born
year after year
of dark nights
and bright noon-tides
the zippered pocket
of her being
open and closes.