Woman, I hear You

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I hear you
I hear the tremors
of uncertainty stirring within you
i hear the terrors
that keep you up at night
i hear the lullabies
you sing to your restless children
long after their bedtime
I hear the spaces between
the beats of your aching heart
I also hear the spaces between
the beats of your twirling, dancing heart
I hear the echos of
all you have given to this world
I hear the squashing down
of your need and desire to receive
I hear the song that
escapes your lips when
you feel you need to be silent
I hear the whip of air as you
reach your arm out to your sisters
I hear the twist and squeeze
as you pull yourself in all the directions
I hear the questions
unasked and unanswered
I hear your hopes
for a new world order
I hear the sounds of the wild
as you lay yourself bare in the moonlight
I hear the time that is coming
I hear your power
I hear your readiness
I hear your love – TS

 

The Woman I Am

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if i look close enough
i’m at ocean’s bottom
hovering just above
a bed of rock and gem
unbound by the weight
of my own body
and all her secrets

for here, the little stones
speak to me in silence,
the vibrant lush ones
know songs I have
not yet learned,
transmuted into colors
my heart understands

and what if it is
not the deep seas
and I am still governed
by the laws of earth-
bound nature, and I
am no longer a mermaid,
but a woman who can
choose the light and free? – TS

Queendom of Heart

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In the land
that is my body
curves and contours
marked through time
rough and jagged here,
soft and receptive too,
wind their way
around the
corners and edges
of the globe of me,
carving spaces
for the breath
and the blood of
my identity
to find their
safe spots in
a haven where
stories are elixirs
under moon’s gaze,
forgiveness becomes
possible,
and where the
dance begins,
the whole of me
awakening, a vibrant
world dancing and
laughing and flowing
around the Queendom
of Heart. – TS

I am a Woman. {Poetry}

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Tammy T. Stone

 

I am a woman

Here and now, born to Earth at a long journey’s end

 

A woman

Who clung to the womb for days, more than a little afraid, I think, of what Life would bring

Sprouting from toddlerhood a knobby-kneed wisp of a thing with stringy blonde hair and curious eyes for feasting on everything at once

 

A woman

Who believed that to cry and need were fragility’s realm and held back enough tears to fill three oceans of sad

 

I am a woman

Who bounded after dad at the hardware store and helped him build and fix things (he could fix everything!)

Who tossed her dolls out of bed, thought Barbies were mysterious objects, and didn’t get the world of playing house

 

A woman

Who started seeing herself as a being apart, first from her own body, and then from her slow emergence into womanhood

Who stood back and watched other girls claim their femininity with prowess

 

I am a woman

So comfortable as the observing one, though I have also tried to tend to others with a delicate touch I sometimes forget to reserve for myself

 

A woman

In the arms of the world, at home in the sun and sands of other’s places, wistful when I see the she-gatherings in my midst, the laughter and joining of hearts and bones and golden space between

And I have vowed to join them when I can, because I know I’ve been there before and will be there again

 

I am a woman

Despite the wind energies flowing through me, threatening to carry me away from the trees, earth and waters I inherited as my birthright

 

A woman

Who has found the moon, and knows I was formed by her secrets

How I am woven into the silken, cosmic dance, how I am not just the soft breeze but the sensuous forms moving through them,

How I arise from the ancestral sisterhood that holds a wondrous space for our becoming

 

I am a woman

As all women with me and before me, in my ecstatic leap from the binaries that have constrained us ever since humankind recognized what power engenders

 

I am a woman

Dreaming of oneness from where the many stories of what I am supposed to be make a foundation from which I rise

So I rise, embracing the curves, the gentle slope of my back that has supported me so many miles; let my hair down, bare my chest to the sky, throw my arms back to let me be filled; tune into the gentle and sometimes ferocious rhythms of Nature’s invocations

 

A woman

Whose scream unleashes our shared history madly into space, reaching crescendo, knowing the wild pain of relentless suffering, torture, belittlement, mutilation, of our voices severed through Time

I lift my head from its broken place and awaken to songs near and far that traverse divides to a shared vision of hope and action

 

I am a goddess

I have scarcely allowed myself to whisper the word, but here it is and I must listen

Divine originated, Earth-enchanted, I will free myself from the bottommost cells to the outermost extensions of this body I have been given

The legacy it lives

I will tread the ground barefoot and untamed; I will hold hands with the intuitions bestowed on me when it all began, and

I will talk with the magic ones

Listen to the world’s giant heartbeat

I will love with every possible grace.

 

** This poem was originally published on Rebelle Society.

Happy International Women’s Day! Short Story Published.

I’m honoured to have been included in tribute to women all over, as part of The Camel Saloon’s special edition literary compendium for International Women’s Day – many great words here to peruse!

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

The Wait

by Tammy T. Stone

Ara wakes up and searches for her dream. She can’t catch it, but a thought lingers.

“Since I’m not going to have children, I need to make a commitment to the life I’m living now.”

Until today, Ara’s been having the same dream every night since Ken died. She would wake up every time enveloped in a vibrant blue colour as real to Ara as the painting of the Mediterranean Sea on the wall above the dresser. They were planning a trip to Europe for their first wedding anniversary.

This morning, the large space of blue around her is gone. She can’t roll over and swim in his essence. There are just the sheets, and her rumpled side of the bed.

For the second time in a year, the hard lump that’s come to live in her diaphragm gurgles alive, swelling until she can hardly breathe, and she has no choice but to carry it around with her everywhere she goes. She wonders again how something that is so empty can have this kind of weight.

By 6:00, the sun has streaked the sky and the day fades into a dull blue-grey. Ara sets the dimmer on low and wipes the kitchen counter before placing a cutting board next to the sink. She finely chops fresh shallots, and has just enough ginger to shred for tonight’s meal for two. The congee’s gurgling on the stove, seething and oozing thick white bubbles. Steam curls up and rests on the window above the sink. Ara opens it halfway and looks across the narrow road to where a man sits on a bench, his back to her, facing a park shrouded in darkness.

Ara wipes her hands on the towel under the sink, runs her hands through her hair and leaves the house through the side door. She’s at the park in under twenty seconds and hesitates before taking a seat at the bench. She’s never seen the man’s face before. They both look ahead.

“I get this feeling” he says, “that if we both look at that tree together for long enough, I’ll disappear.”

“Why?”

“Well, it’s not going to be the tree; it’s here for the long haul. And I suspect you’re not going anywhere. So that leaves me.”

“But why does something have to disappear?” Ara asks, the lack of blue thrashing around her ribcage.

“Before you started watching me,” the man says, “I used to watch someone too. A man, middle-aged, with a full head of hair a bit rough-hewn for a businessman, though you could tell he tried to keep it neat and professional. He came here every day at exactly the same time. 12:30. He wore a dark suit with a white shirt. He’d sit down on that bench by the water fountain, and put his briefcase on the ground. The first time I saw him, I was sure he’d grab a sandwich from his bag, but actually, I never saw him eat. I always wondered when he got a meal in. But no, he’d ever so gently retrieve, of all things, a flute, followed by some sheet music, which he placed on the edge of the water fountain. Sometimes, if it was windy, he’d hold it down with a rock he found nearby. And he’d play. For forty-five minutes. To be honest, I could never tell if he was playing one long piece or several shorter ones, but the sound was sweet and haunting. The flute really has a way of drawing out the essential sadnesses of life, don’t you think? I never realized that until I started listening to him. I don’t have much patience for art. But there was something about the way this salaried employee, who I’m guessing has never been outside the country, would spend his lunch hour creating the most melancholic sounds. It really made me wonder about him.”

“I don’t know,” Ara says. “Maybe he has travelled. Maybe he’s been to Greece, even. Flute playing goes back a long way there. I was recently reading up on that.”

“Of course it’s possible,” the man says. “He seems sophisticated, anyway.”

“What happened to him?” Ara asks.

“I’m not sure. I stopped coming here at lunch time. You’ve never heard him?”

Ara squeezes her eyes to block the image of untouched tea, and loud power ballads she’d play for hours at a time to block the sounds of her grief.

“The fountain has an amber colour around it,” Ara says. “You know, sometimes I take water from there to use in my cooking. I have no reason to, but I’ve always been drawn to it. I never realized I was infusing so much sadness into my food.”

“I’m not so sensitive,” the man says. “I don’t think I could detect emotions in my food. You say you can see colours around things? Like auras?”

“Yes. Since I was little.”

In Ara’s recurring dream, Ken’s wearing his favourite top, the blue polo shirt he was wearing the day he died. Ara used to tease him about blue being so conservative, but Ken insisted it depended on the shade. How can you compare Mediterranean blue to the blue of a Nerf ball? In the dream, the shirt is shimmering, more like the midmorning sea than product packaging. It looks like you can see right through it, and Ara looks for any hint of Ken’s internal organs – his heart, his intestines, those parts of him she possessed without ever seeing them. She never finds anything. Ara searches frantically for any marks of her love, their history on his body. Ken catches her desperation and says, You know that’s not where you can find the story of us. “But you’re disappearing!” Ara screams. Right before me! Ken’s standing on the other side of a hole that spews a ferocious red every time she approaches, keeping her away from Ken. Watch me, Ken says, and before her eyes, a transformation begins. First, he’s Ken in the blue shirt, with the scar on his left arm from surgery he had on their honeymoon after he got too zealous with a coconut tree. The next moment, he’s on the shore of the Mediterranean, wearing a white loincloth. He’s Ken and not Ken, swollen in the belly, and she knows he’s with their child. She cries and touches her own flat belly. Then, this new Ken extends his hand out to her, as if to say, we’re ready to start over, your patience has led you to this, but just as she’s about to take her first step, he becomes transparent and disappears, until all she can see is the effervescent blue of the water behind him. That’s when she wakes up, every time, with the distinct feeling that all she has to do is wait.

“You okay?” the man asks.

“Oh. Yes,” Ara answers.

“What’s it like?” the man says. “To see auras?”

“I guess we take things like that for granted when they come naturally to us,” she says, remembering how it took a few moments, as she bathed in Ken’s blue light, before time would creep back in. With time comes all the days and years that waiting actually stands for. This morning, without Ken’s light to keep her company in bed, she’s been forced to learn something new about time.

“Would you like to eat dinner with me?” Ara asks. “I made enough. I thought we can eat out here.”

“Sure,” he says. She excuses herself and comes back a couple of minutes later. The tray is filled with two bowls of congee, a small dish of grated ginger and thinly sliced shallots, and two cups of barley tea.

Ara still hasn’t gotten a good look at him. She places the tray between them.

“Is there water from the fountain in this food?” the man asks.

“No, not tonight.”

“That’s too bad,” he says as he digs in. “I was going to try and taste the flute music. Mm, it’s delicious.”

“Thank you. I’ve been waiting for a long time,” Ara says.

“For what?”

“I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Yes,” the man says. “That’s why you and the tree over there aren’t going to disappear.”

“Waiting doesn’t feel safe. It feels like floating. I need to fill my body with grounding food, so I’ve been trying food like this. And with you fearing your own disappearance, maybe you need it to.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of it. Disappearing. It’s what things do.”

Ara shivers.

“At some point,” the man continues, “I guess we have to become aware of the point where waiting and living intersect.”

“You mean, something along the lines of stop waiting and live life to the fullest?”

“Sounds clichéd, I know.” he answers, “Waiting is like looking for a needle in a haystack, to give you another cliché. But everybody knows there’s no fun in that. Now that I think about it, I’ve always felt a bit like that needle.”

“I couldn’t pinpoint your aura from my kitchen. It wasn’t really a specific colour. But now it makes sense. It was exactly what you just mentioned, that something between living and waiting. You don’t have the things I normally see, no craving, fallen hopes, expectations, desire even. You’re really not afraid of disappearing.”

They sip tea in the dim light of a new moon. The man puts his hand on the bench between them, palm open. Ara takes it in her own.

“I wonder if the flute player still comes by,” Ara says.

“If you find him, maybe you can let me know what music he’s playing. Maybe knowing that will change everything.”

Ara smiles and swings her feet lightly over the sand, and then takes the tray inside. As she washes the plates, she can hear, beyond the man on the bench and through the fading sound of crickets, the Mediterranean flowing into its long, dark sleep.

 

Legend

june 20

 

Legend

(Laos)

Imagine the life you’re living now and simultaneously, the legend it has somehow already become. You know this because you can feel it as you are, where you are. You can see the future as real as a painting changed because of your life and its story. Do you know this state of things? For me, it’s being curled up in a rocking chair, or maybe a leather armchair, with a crocheted blanket hugging my legs. I’m drinking some kind of detox herbal tea which I finally enjoy more than coffee, maybe with clove in it, and I’ve added lime to it because I learned in Southeast Asia that lime makes many things taste better. I might be old, with most of my life behind me, but I get the feeling that this is me, now, that I’m waiting for the phone call that will change my life, ignite the legend that everyone already knows about because the world feeds on folklore now as it always has. But what is it? What is this legend that has already been written? The phone rings but I’m caught up with a cloud outside my window and I don’t answer it. I can see it through the window. In it there is a field, and the burnt yellow of its ground tells me it’s autumn. I turn around and see a vintage poster of The Wizard of Oz hanging behind me. Its predominant colour matches that of the field in the cloud outside my window. And then I appear. I run through the field, my long curly hair flying behind me. Soon after two other women come into view. We’re all laughing, like we know we’re in a cloud. We stop under an enormous Banyan tree and catch our breath for a moment. Then the second woman, a dear friend from the looks of it, starts to sing in a certain beautiful, unique way until a large branch begins to descend to the ground. It’s an invitation. Bemused but enthralled, I climb the branch and it’s a lot longer than I would have thought. It’s certainly not going into the centre of the tree, where other branches would grow out from the trunk. I walk and I walk; it feels like I’m in a forest. But the sky is red and the animals don’t look like any I’ve ever seen. “It’s okay, look up,” the third woman says. We’re all walking together now. I look up and as I do, the sky begins to break up. The red scatters and falls away to the sides like curtains at the theatre. What I can see now is an endless row of rope ladders, and three of them come down. “Ah,” I say. We climb the ladders, roll up our sleeves, and prepare to drop all the others down for the rest of the world.