Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Category: From Rachel

Triggered

Everyone is triggered these days.
It started with that man, liar,
gaslighter, fraud. He brags of
touching women’s bodies
with those greasy little hands.
My whole body reviles at the thought.
Now his nominee, and the excuses.
He was a teen. Everyone was doing
such things. We women have heard
them all. But it really wasn’t that bad,
compared to some things that happen
to other people. She was drunk,
she should have known better.
Also, he didn’t do it.
Everyone is triggered. We are
triggered. We ride the flow of memories
rising up from the black swamp.
This time we have the tools to heal
ourselves. We heal each other. We
stand together, arms linked. We
are coming. We are an army.
We are an ocean, a tsunami
that will wash you all out to the depths
and all the debris that comes along
will threaten to choke the ocean itself.
There is no safety from the undoing,
once the trigger is tripped.
The ancient feral Goddess has been unearthed.
She will not go back into the coffin.

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To The LARPers

The 13-year-old wanted to LARP, and she found out about a group in Kansas that plays monthly. Their location happens to be the Girl Scout camp where I took Outdoor Leadership training, which made the whole thing seem more inviting. It’s not aimed particularly at kids, so I thought a parent ought to take her, and if you go as a non-player character and let them put you in their costumes and tell you what to do, they give you food and a cot at no cost. They didn’t blink when we asked for vegan food. So the two of us went, and we had a great time. It was a great group of people, terrifically creative, welcoming, and wonderful storytellers. I had oh so many thoughts, and here’s just one. In poem form.

To The LARPers

There are so many kinds of magic.
You are adept at the magic of costume,
disguise, image, imagination, vision.
You invoke the sacred magic of theater,
of the creative act in community
in consecrated space. Do you know
that you are working with dream magic,
manifestation, moving energy
between the physical and spiritual
realms: true alchemy? Can you see
the magic that is already here, now,
in the wildflowers around us,
in the naming of birds and studying
their flight? These millipedes congregating
in our midst have a message for us,
if we can divine it. You practice the magic
of words. Have you yet found the magic
of devotional chanting in the sacred
ancient languages, whose origins
are unknown? Do you long to live
in a world that cannot be? It is
here now. You have prepared yourself well.
It is much bigger than you know.

Theology, the Long Conversation

Photo Aug 21, 8 05 38 AM

We have an abundance of bibles around here.

I’ve been slowly making my way through Karen Armstrong’s A History of God. I usually only read a few pages at a time, so it’s taken me months to get past the 100-page mark. There are two very significant insights that I am slowly gleaning from this history. One is that there has been a very long conversation taking place between countless learned philosophers and theologians over thousands of years. To study theology is to join in this conversation, and to presume to speak authoritatively without awareness of this age-old conversation is to make an ass of oneself.

The other is that the idea that the Bible ought to be read and interpreted in the most literal, simplistic way, as a rule book for living, is a modern idea, and wasn’t the intention of those who wrote it, nor of most of the above-referenced learned philosophers and theologians, nor of most of the people who have studied it throughout its very long history.

This week this quote struck me:

“The Trinity must not be interpreted in a literal manner; it was not an abstruse “theory” but the result of theoria, contemplation. When Christians in the West became embarrassed by this dogma [“the deeper meaning of biblical truth, which could only be apprehended through religious experience and expressed in symbolic form”] during the eighteenth century and tried to jettison it, they were trying to make God rational and comprehensible to the Age of Reason. This was one of the factors that would lead to the so-called Death of God in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries . . . . One of the reasons why the Cappadocians evolved this imaginative paradigm was to prevent God from becoming as rational as he was in Greek philosophy . . . . The Trinity reminded Christians that the reality that we called “God” could not be grasped by the human intellect. The doctrine of the Incarnation, as expressed at Nicaea, was important but could lead to a simplistic idolatry. People might start thinking about God himself in too human a way: it might even be possible to imagine “him” thinking, acting and planning like us. From there, it was only a very short step to attributing all kinds of prejudiced opinions to God and thus making them absolute. The Trinity was an attempt to correct this tendency. Instead of seeing it as a statement of fact about God, it should, perhaps, be seen as a poem or a theological dance between what is believed and accepted by mere mortals about “God” and the tacit realization that any such statement or kerygma [public teaching of the church] could only be provisional.”

Photo Aug 21, 8 09 51 AM

Wildfire didn’t want Willow to get all the attention.

I’ve sometimes heard people discuss the Trinity in depth, and wondered what the big deal was. This idea that it is part of expressing and trying to grasp the enormity of The Divine is helpful to me. I think most of us can use regular reminders that The Divine is far bigger than we can hope to comprehend.

 

Rings of Saturn

Om shram shreem shroom Shanaichiraya namaha.
-Hindu chant to Saturn

The day I saw the rings of Saturn,
gas giant, Slow-Mover, earth star,
reaper, a whale in the Pacific
was carrying her dead baby
for the 16th day. That day
we gave a trunkload of stuff
to the thrift store, and bought
other stuff to take home. A woman
with lots of tattoos saved two kittens
abandoned at birth by their mother.
One died, the other lived.
The old patriarch was retrograde,
a trick of perspective making him appear
to move backwards from day to day.
I woke up and saw gray mist
clinging to the walls, and knew
it was time to smudge the house,
this day the sun and moon and earth were aligned.
The President told lots of lies, which
he did every day. My husband
wrote a sermon about Elijah killing
worshippers of Baal, which was really
about prophetic Christianity.
A doctor okayed my children to play sports.
I got high on chiropractic.
That night we took a bus to the location where
the telescopes were erected.
My daughter knew the nighthawks
circling and swerving in the deepening dusk.
It was August and the sky was hazy,
but as we stood and waited, our faces ghostly
in the moondark, more stars appeared.
And more, faint specks of dust
in the indigo sky.
An expert talked about
constellations vs. asterisms,
and about light pollution. I waited in line.
Then there he was:
746 million miles away, bright disc
wrapped round by a frisbee of light.
51 years he was my neighbor, my father,
Saturn, gas giant, slow-mover,
reaper, his weight pulling me even
here on Earth, as we orbit our star,
our source, together, and I never saw him
until this night.

Mind vs. Body

Dang, but my poetry is messy these days. It’s why I haven’t been posting much, though I’m still writing. I feel like everything needs major work before it’ll make any sense whatsoever. This one is a perfect example, but I think it’s kind of about the messiness while demonstrating it, so I’m posting right away, and you can take it or leave it.

Mind vs. Body

What does the body mean,
when it changes or moves
or doesn’t move? This
conglomeration of tissues, organs,
fluids, that somehow manages
to be one animal, presided over
by a mind which thinks itself
separate. Godammit, listen to me,
the body says. Things are changing
and we need time to adjust. You
off floating around in outer space,
pondering unimaginable enormities
while we are down here performing chemistry,
digesting molecules, identifying that which
needs to be gotten rid of, constantly breathing,
pumping, organizing, keeping house.
Give us a freakin break.
Okay, says mind, but there’s
a little thing called a checkbook.
It’s just a thing to you, but to me
it represents abstractions that,
long story short, are relevant
to stuff you care about, like food,
and a comfortable bed to sleep in.
Don’t get me started on geopolitics and
petrochemicals—
Oh for heaven’s sake, shut it.
Balance your goddam checkbook
instead of yoga, we get it.

It goes on like that all day,
mind and body struggling
to get their needs met,
both knowing they need each other,
but not sure exactly why,
or what they’re even talking about.

Congratulations

I wrote a poem about the lunar eclipse, but it’s not ready. Instead I’m sharing with you this one I wrote a while back, but since we’re all under the whip of the Shadow now, I think it works pretty well for today too.

Congratulations,
you have just reached the point
at which everything you write sucks.
These poems you’re compiling for a book:
dim words that lay on the page like a dead fish,
if the fish failed to stink or bear a moist,
slithery texture, nor had ever lived in the first place.
Sterile, then, like the hands of a surgeon,
though his scalpel has been misplaced, and the patient
has no need of evisceration. Go on,
proceed with the project. This attack of self-loathing
is an inevitable phase, which passes.
The book will be fine, but your perception
of light and depth is now compromised,
and you’ll have to go from here blind,
by feel, by memory.

Volunteering at the Fireworks Stand

Fireworks, Wamego, KS 2
Blockbuster Smoke Balls, Black Snakes,
Big Rig. Climbing Panda, Pooping Dog.
Oh Americans, we love our fireworks.
Love to make loud bangs, love
the sensory disorientation of smoke
and flashing colors. Blue. Bullet Bombs.
Feel the Blast. I feel it, America,
the blast and the bombast that we think
makes us us. We tone it down for no one.
We own it. Bandit Bombs. Blow the Bank.
Is this who we are?
The woman who gives God the credit
for the silent wild giraffe she just killed.
The grinning politician who displays
a big gun in a parade, the thousands of dogs
cowering in closets and under beds
while we celebrate.
Screamin’ Eagles. Pooping Elephant.
A Shot in the Dark.
But aren’t we also that quiet brown boy
whose grandma carries his coins
in a baggie, admonishing him to choose
his fireworks wisely, then pays the difference,
gives him the change, and donates a little
to save an old building.
Sky Spider, Alien Landing.
He thanks me as they leave.
Trifuge, Heavy Cake, One Night Stand,
Dirty Dancing In the Sky.
Oh America, your schizophrenia is mine.
Your land, your peoples, your languages,
your paranoias, your heating climate,
your religions, your fears, your lies,
your history, your crazy are all in me
for all time. God bless America.
Night Circus, Mammoth Day.
Magic Crystal, Twitter Glitter.

Moon

Moon At Dawn 2

They say the moon only reflects the sun,
but doesn’t she pulse with her own
invisible frequencies, not gold but silver,
cooler than ultraviolet, and white-hot.
Insouciant as a cat secreted in the dark,
keeping her own time,
whole units of time named after her.
They say she’s less powerful than the sun,
but she has her own gravity.
See how her silent tug pulls oceans.
They say the moon is nothing but a giant rock,
but what rock hangs in the sky
at that precise distance perfectly balanced
between plummeting and drifting away?
They say the moon has no influence with us,
does not bathe us from our first breath
in her waves of light and gravity,
of memory, hope, myth, and love.
They are wrong.

Bringing The Cats In At Night

Puddle of Light
After the kids have gone to bed, I round up the cats for their dinner. They like to be outside in the evening when it cools down, so they don’t always come in when I call them. I wait a while, then try again. Eventually it’ll be fully dark and I’ll go outside to find them. The traffic will be lighter by then, and the daytime heat will be fading into a cool evening. I walk the length of the parking lot, savoring the crunch of gravel under my feet, the scent of the night air, the stars. Sometimes there’s a red ring around the moon, or frogs calling, or fireflies blinking in the trees. I might call to the cats once or twice, but I don’t have to. By the time I’ve walked to the end of the parking lot and turned around, there’s usually a cat waiting behind me. I don’t know where they come from; they blend into the shadows, but even in full daylight they can hide from me if they want to. If I’m lucky, by the time I get back to the house, they’ll both be following at my heels.

The one we call the White Ninja likes to make sure we both know that she does as she pleases. But last night she came in early, for whatever reasons, only she knows. When I went to call the other cat, she was waiting at the door. They were ready for their dinner, but I wasn’t. The evening was too alluring to ignore, so I stepped out and walked the parking lot anyway, just to take in the delicious air and the quiet darkness, before we all settled in for the night.

To Follow

If someone exhorts you to follow Jesus,
remember there are more than one way to follow.
There’s following instructions, doing as you’re told,
respecting the order as presented. Respecting
tradition and propriety without question.
Accepting what is given without reservation.

But there is also following the energy,
discerning what is alive and luminous
from what is flat, inert, paper as opposed
to a living tree. What quickens the spirit
and calls to every cell and rewrites all the
old stories. There is finding wonder
that catches the breath and the heart,
radiant as the sun, wet as the ocean and tears
and blood. Cymatic vibration that remakes you
into another kind of being: find it. Let it.
Breathe it in, immerse yourself in it,
ride the waves wherever they carry you.
This is what it means to follow.

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