It began

It began when your mother was born with the seed of you already in her body.

It began with mitochondria before we called them mitochondria.

Before we called anything anything at all.

It began when we began feeling roots under the ground.

It began when you first heard her say;

“I forgive you.

For what?

For all of it.”

It began in the forest. It began in the ocean.

It began in the heart of a long-dead star.

It began in your great-grandmother’s great grandmother’s kitchen.

It began with the unborn babies.

It began when you started having sex.

It began when you first started feeling unlovable;

alone, angry in your narrow bed, howling at the wall,

counting the cracks in the ceiling.

It began with a dysregulated nervous system.

It began with an exorcism.

It began with a monster in the closet,

under the bed, under the stairs, in the next room.

It began with the flip of a switch, the parting of the sea,

the burning of the witches and fairies and queers.

It began with the building of the first fortress,

the first storehouse, the first horde.

It began in the headwaters that can never be found.

It began in a watershed.

It began with a big bang. It began with an earthworm.

It began with a singer singing her first song.

It began with a soup pot and a wooden spoon.

It began with bones and thistles.

It began with surviving the longest winter.

It began with renaming mountains and stars.

It began with toes and fingers and perfect heartbreak.

It began with your mother dying.

It began with firetrucks, night terrors, fireflies.

It began with leaving in order to be able to stay.

It began with an inbreath.

It began. It began. It began.

I write

I write to tell the stories that have been hiding in my body since before I was born. I write to tell the stories that got stuck in my throat. I write to say the things I couldn’t let myself feel when my body was a silent electric song of danger, danger, remember this for later. I write because I swallowed the story of my life and fed its urgent hunger every night. I write myself out of the dark, digging my way down and back to the surface because someone remembers our life depends on it. I write myself back into the night garden to sit among the roots reaching up from below to say hello. I write to remember this body as the ground beneath and I look up from the page to remember the cedar tree as myself as well. I write because I came to worship the words on the page and the breathing of the trees as variations of the same song. I write to remember that the trees breathed us into being so we could sing the story of the universe to itself. I write to remember ourselves home.

 

Where I’m from 

after George Ella Lyons 

I’m from the family that doesn’t talk about it.
I’m from bruises under shirtsleeves
and secrets on the other side of darkened doorways.

Broken pyrex from Sunday dinner
curried shrimp and peas and shards of glass
swept up and put in the garbage
like it never happened.

I’m from speakeasies, poker games, and polka dancing.
Putting up pears in the fall and making cabbage rolls all winter long.
Where I’m from you better find something to do or I’ll find something for you.

I’m from woods thick with fallen leaves and dusty sunlight,
woodsmoke and bearded men with deer guns and beer cans
who might shoot your dog if she’s still outside at dusk.

I’m from the crazy quilt you find in the trunk of the attic;
bright and chaotic.
Dead relatives’ pajamas and overalls,
flannel and corduroy
stitched together with yarn.

Where I’m from, we’re all about second chances
because most of us didn’t know we were up the first time around.
Where I’m from ghosts walk among us
real as the stories we tell ourselves before going to sleep.

Where I’m from we’re trying to find peace,
in the corners we have retreated to.
Though no one is speaking
and most of us are dead.

Hunger, Need, and Desire showed up at my door

Wild and desperate eyes
I would not let her in
Over and over I found her under my bed
creeping down the stairs to my basement
I locked my door against her and shut the blinds
she took the door off the hinges
The forest vines followed her to my table
I shrugged and began making chicken and rice
A pigeon made a nest in the coals of my fire and dreamt

People showed up carrying bowls
Walls became the inside of a hollow tree
Root ceiling, earthen floor
Stone in the soup
The pot stays full

A child filled their bowl 
singing the prophecies of their generation
as they left my kitchen, 
I felt left behind,
not sure of my part

I followed to witness 
the creators of our universe walking in procession
dry earthen paths lined by trees 
raising hands to the forever sky
joyful dust rising among 
dancing, celebrating, stomping feet

Robes of gauzy ochre fabric loose over limbs
Wooden staff in human hand
the face of the night bird looking back at me
I have always loved a parade

“Look” said my young guide and pointed out
two mothers, a family, of brown skin and woven black hair 
each carrying one of their children high in their arms

This child is called life, they are the creators’ allowance
This one is death; they are the creators’ constant
Both of their children are gifts

Don’t call it a nervous breakdown

Don’t call it a nervous breakdown.

Call it an unsettling, an unwinding from a tightly coiled shape. 

A springing-open seed pod of the 

touch-me-not, jewelweed, goldfish-flower. 

Rename the flowers, it’s been done before.  

Coils of slick green, tiny grains of brown seeds 

on a trajectory toward the sky and freedom and back to earth.

Call it a no-longer-enduring what has been forced, 

coerced by the known and unknown forces 

inside us, around us, woven through us.

In collusion with our mother’s grief and our father’s rage.

In cahoots with our mother’s most private madness 

and our father’s unsurrendered tears.

Call it a reckoning, a shapeshifting, a transformation.

Return to the shining articulated mahogany pupal case.

Burrow back under the ground and wait.

Call it a rite of passage in a world without rites. 

In a world where the incinerator at the funerary home 

only gets lit at times when no families 

are scheduled to visit their dead. 

When our bodies ache and shake and burn and dissolve,

put down what we are carrying as gently as we can.

Sit down, fall asleep, tremble, wail. 

We are all that we have 

and sometimes it’s ghosts.

Call it the chewy translucent web left behind by the snake. 

Each scale, each eye, inside-out gaping mouth. 

She’s already through the grass and down the hole 

feeling the earth against her new skin. 

January 2021

CLASS FULL!!! write with me on the untamed page

Six Sundays: Jan 10, 17, 24, 31 and Feb 7, 14 3 – 4:30 pm Pacific Time. (9 hours of class time)

Cost: sliding scale/pay what you can ***$90-$180 suggested range***  Payment plans available

To Register:

email me at dingdangdoodle@gmail.com to let me know you want to join the class. Use the subject line “Untamed Page”

send payment either by paypal https://www.paypal.me/mikalina

or Venmo username @Mikalina-Remembers

Include your name and email address in the payment comments so I know where to send the zoom link.

I’ll send you a confirmation email when I receive your payment and a zoom link the day before class.

What we’ll do:

We’ll gather, a small group of six of us in a zoom room, Brady Bunch style, each of us in our little boxes. We’ll start promptly at 3 pm.

First we’ll sit

We’ll sit in quiet meditation for three to five minutes, connecting to our breath and our body, coming into ourselves, taking note of what’s here, making space for ourselves and our writing practice. 

Writing practice

I’ll read a poem out loud twice while you sit and listen. The first time I read the poem, relax into it, let the words wash over you. I’ll offer some jump-off lines and prompts and then you’ll get to hear the poem again, listening for what comes up for you, hearing your first lines hit the page.

Then we’ll write together for ten minutes, keeping our hands moving the entire time, letting go of the idea of getting it right and getting curious about what’s actually here. What’s waiting to be said, discovered, remembered, revealed within us.

After we write we read out loud, one by one, listening to each other without commentary or feedback, just presence and witness. We offer gratitude hands or sparkle fingers when each writer is finished reading and we’re off to the next writer. And yes, you can always take a pass reading out loud. But you probably won’t want to.

We’ll do three short writes and read alounds over the hour and a half of class.

About this practice​

​This practice is a great way to “crack open” the writing mind. It’s a way to start to set yourself free from the inner critic; to get to know yourself better as a writer, and as a human being. It feels good — even when it feels kinda bad. ​​When we do this practice in a group, we become a community, a circle, witnesses to each other. This practice helped me reclaim and develop my voice, to remember ​​that I am a writer who writes. ​​What will this practice do for you? Come find out!

This is a practice that comes from a lineage of many writers. My teachers include Laurie Wagner of 27 Powers, whom I’ve written with weekly for six years. Natalie Goldberg is the matriarch of this type of writing practice. I’ve taken online workshops from Natalie, and read her incredible books on writing.  My mother first gave me her 1986 book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. All the writers I’ve written with over the years who told me to keep going, they are my forever teachers too.