The Forge
©2019 Meredith Heller
Click here to read The Forge published by Rebelle Society

There are moments when fate throws us a curve ball, torques the tether of the space-time continuum, unthreads the needle with which we are sewing the story of our skin, knocks us on our ass, and challenges us to find how this derailment is not an obstacle to our path, but is the path itself.

I was flying along on a warm gust of wind, just finding my stride, just hatching in the new spring sun, remembering myself at nine years old, on my bike, wind in my hair, my shirt unbuttoned, my chest open to the sun, after so many dark moons laced my breath tightly in their curved cradle. Finally, my shoulder blades relaxed, dropped their shields, spread open like wings, singing a new song; a nightingale, in her element, feathers shining darkly, when suddenly, fate tripped me, cut me to the core, his dark sword dripping with blood, my flesh stuck between his teeth, he, gnawing on my bones, me, shaking; I bled out, until I was willing to be reborn.

I never imagined that shattering my right wrist in a bike accident and having to rely solely on my left hand would turn into such a profound learning experience. A lifetime of working with my hands, as a bodyworker, writer, artist, guitar player, potter, gardener, and rock climber, everything I identified myself with in terms of strength, skill, efficiency, autonomy, and a fluency and articulation of nimbleness I had always had with my hands was suddenly stripped from me, leaving me weak, clumsy, slow, and in need of assistance.

It cut to the core of my identity, challenged all the patterns of who I am and how I wield my power. It transformed my willfulness into allowance, my high strung efficiency and impatience with myself and others into a deeper acceptance and compassionate presence. I have a new awareness that perhaps it is not how quickly or how well I do something, but the kindness and quality of attention with which I do it that matters.

And so this too, this new left-hand path, which is shifting the shape of my life, forging new neural pathways, opening opportunities for me to learn a new way through the world, a new relationship with myself and others, and laughing at myself with kind curiosity as I struggle to concentrate my way through ordinary tasks which now feel like climbing mountains; I grow.


I thought she’d risen
fair and square
from the final fires

I thought all the birds
had broken through their shells
flown in dark spirals
to their own side
of the moon

I thought spring
had spread her wings
and dripping with dew
pulled her daughters up
from the rain quenched soil

I thought her brother
laid down his shield
picked up his blade
cut her throat open
shook her skin like a snake
until she came clean
her voice bubbling with truth.

But fate,
that slippery fish
swam against the tide
shattering the light
with his shadow

He stopped her in her tracks
one Sunday afternoon in March
and chewed his way
right into her wrist
binding her
with a metal plate
screwing her into place

until she dismembered
her past

In the forge of her will
she melted herself down
in the white hot heat
the last glowing embers
of survival
rolled over
in surrender.


I heard she drank the fire
I heard she tempered her sword
I heard she sat in stillness
until sleep found her

I heard her heart
to belong

I heard she tuned
her compass
to a new wilderness

where each moment