Love This Body

I love these legs.
They keep me standing
in the fiercest winds.

I love this skin
all brown and brave,
the color of delicious sin.

I love these breasts
that feed my babes
as they drink down life.

I love these eyes
though wet with tears
overflowing divine light.

I love the power
of this heart, the
secrets in my cells.

I love this body
like no one could,
save the Creator Herself.

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Mothering A Pinay

When she is older
I will speak to her
of beauty,
that fat is not a slur
but a necessity,
biologically.

When she is older
I will explain
melanin diversity,
amber and tawny,
copper, rosy, onyx,
and calla lily.

When she is older
I will gift to her
the shade of the coconut trees,
the salt of the Sulu Sea,
her ancestors’
elegies.

When she is older
she will know
the islands
where her blood was born
and where her vast and fearless
heart calls home.

Put On Your Wings

Put on your wings.
Lighter than you remember.
Heavier than before.

Put on your wings.
Not so snug now,
but they will hold,
they will hold,
let them hold
you close
to their healing
battle scars.

Put on your wings.
They will fly for you, just
open your eyes, open,
let your tears dry
in the wind.

Sunburns never felt so sweet.

A Moon-Time Mourning

We have been wounded,
women.

We have been stolen
from ourselves.

We bear the signs of torment
on our brows,
sweating out our laborious works
under the watchful eyes of
misogyny and a
cruel patriarchy.

We see the signs of heartbreak
on our breasts,
once splendid in their purity,
once honored for their life-giving nourishment,
now covered
and cut
and muzzled
and pressed
to appease
a male sexuality
that has forgotten
we were once a union.

We hide from the newfound shame
of our vulvas,
our vaginas,
our mighty clitorii.
We can hardly speak their names, now,
except in mockery and disdain.
Once doorways to Heaven,
gateways to the Divine,
they are now taunted and insulted,
cleansed and shaved,
our womanhood tossed away
for the obsession of prepubescence,
too often sold for lascivious profit,
too often mutilated and manipulated,
or openly grabbed at leisure
by the spiritless and the vulgar.

We weep for the wounds
in our wombs,
our sacred place,
our holy place,
where life begins,
where all of life has always begun.
(Do you know your uterus’ name? Do you nurture it,
care for it, like your lips, your hair, your eyelashes?).
Now desecrated and violated,
policed and regulated
by those who will never know
the great joys and pains
of having one, or losing one,
or using one.

We carry millennia of trauma
in our blood,
a blood that has flowed for generations
building and growing new people and new nations.
Our blood is now inconvenient, unbearable,
unspeakable except in pictures of Woman
frolicking on the beach
finding ways to pretend
the Moon does not move her blood
as her ancestors’ were moved.
As all we women are moved.
Our moon-blood is now the-blood-of-man.
This, too, has been taken;
this story no longer our own.

How I mourn, dear sisters.

How I grieve every moon time
in my womb,
in my blood,
in my breasts,
in my heart.

I mourn for who we once were,
who we could’ve been.

I mourn that we no longer stand naked in the sun,
fearless,
dauntless,
wild as the wolves and the hawks,
secure in our womanhood,
rooted to the feminine Earth
to whose womb we will all return.
(We will ALL return.)

But in the bright light of the full moon
I also remember.

There was a time we were adored.

There was a time we were worshipped,
valued beyond the brightest gold,
cherished beyond the most precious gems.

We were honored for our ways.

We were exalted gatekeepers
of the Divine secrets and bearers
of the womanly mysteries.

There was a time we were
led by our wise women,
tutored by our sisters and aunties
with compassion and cooperation,
nourished by our mothers with bounteous breasts
in the daylight,
unashamed,
unflinching.

I remember.
My heart remembers.
My blood and womb and all of me remembers.

There was a time.

And so I hold that time in my heart,
in love,
in light,
in prayer,
so one day it may come again.

Falling Apart / In Love

Falling in love with you
has left me falling apart.

Pieces of me, old pieces, worn pieces
distorted and degraded pieces

keep falling away.

Parts of me that don’t know how to love, that
don’t know how to listen, how to be patient,
how to reach for kindness through fury and
blinding frustration; those parts of me
just

keep falling away.

Like a tree in the winter, I shed my withered leaves,
as my foliage

falls away.

Like a snake growing, molting, renewing and healing,
my outer shell

falls away.

Like a young butterfly searching, pushing, forcing
my way out of the darkness,
my cocoon

falls away.

And out of the fallen, discarded pieces and parts of me
steps a being
born of love
born of faith
born of the will to keep, forever,

falling in love

with you.

Birth of a Woman

When I was young
and a boy
broke my heart
for the very first time
I called my older brother
and begged him to come save me.

“Hurt him,” I said.

“Yell at him.”

“Beat him up.”

“Make him suffer the way I’m suffering now.”

My brother held my hands,
hugged me,
kissed my head,
wrapped me in his love
and said,

“You can handle this.”

“Whatever you need done,
you can do for yourself.”

“You don’t need me to save you.”

“You are strong.”

“You’re gonna be okay.”

“You’ll always be okay,
even if I’m not here.”

He was right.

Ask Me Whether What I Have Done Is My Life

“Ask me whether what I have done is my life” is a line from the poem “Ask Me” by William Stafford.

I read it for the first time when reading the first chapter of Parker J. Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak.

In it, he talks about his realization that:

“…it is indeed possible to live a life other than one’s own.”

While some might dismiss this as an abstract concept, a poetic or philosophical musing, for others it is a heartbreaking reality.

When I ask myself this question, whether this life I have lived and am living is my own, I…I don’t know.

My answer is simply, and perhaps sadly, I do not know.

Some of it is. Much of it isn’t. That’s my first attempt at an answer.

But how do I know? I can hardly tell what  my life is, or could be. The idea of “my” life has been buried so far under layers and layers of other lives it seems distorted, colored, mangled, and voiceless.

Palmer says that letting one’s life speak means endeavoring to live the life that wants to live in you.

That, I’m guessing, takes quiet, patience, compassion, and lots of honest listening.

According to Palmer, it’s about seeking wholeness.

I would love to feel whole. I would love to show my daughter an example of someone who moves through the world in wholeness, compassion, and grace.

Who knows. Perhaps that’s what my daughter has come to show me.

Whatever your journey is, good luck and may your life be your own.

Someday

Someday I’ll learn to value me
for every little thing I do.

Someday I’ll feel like I’m enough.
I’ll say the words and they’ll be true.

Someday I’ll notice all my good
and love every part of me.

Someday the voices in my head
will stop punishing me endlessly.

Until that day, I cry and cry
and wipe my tears away

with the prayer that I’ll be enough,
someday, oh, someday.

Remember, Woman

Remember, Woman, you were born
++life giver, miracle creator, magic maker.

You were born with the heart of a thousand mothers,
++open and fearless and sweet.
You were born with the fire of Queens & conquerors,
++warrioress blood you bleed.
You were born with the wisdom of sages & shamans,
++no wound can you not heal.
You were born the teller of your own tale,
++before none should you kneel.
You were born with an immeasurable soul
++reaching out past infinity.
You were born to desire with passion, abandon,
++and to name your own destiny.

Remember, Woman, remember
++you are more than you can see.
Remember, Woman, remember
++you are loved endlessly.

Remember, Woman, your power and grace,
++the depth of your deep sea heart.
Never forget you are Woman, divine,
++as you have been from the start.

The Fire Snake

I used to be softer,
and loving.
I used to be caring
and kind.

But the seal on my venom
has broken
And my fury has turned
my heart blind.

My emptiness fills fast
with loathing.
My sorrow turned
fiery blame.

The rage in my veins won’t
stop growing.
Where peace once was, now
only pain.

May the world be both wary
and cautious.
To my cherished beloved,
Run!

I will burn this land down
into ashes.
In my wake, my wild flames
will leave none.