A Well Spell for After a Dry Time

Are you ready?
If you are unsure, here are some clues:
   You may be experiencing a hunger pang above the stomach,
      a heartbeat lurching forward,
      a tug at the corner of your eye
      accompanied by a whisper saying,
      “Psst! Hey kid, what’s that over there?”
      an unheard song settling in around the ears
      like a ringed spacecraft whirring as it lands in the fog.
Are you ready?
Don't put it off
Let it wake you in the quiet hours of the morning--
(whatever time of day that visits you)
let it get you out of bed. 
Let the flashlight of your mind’s eye click on.
Hear the crackle of grass underfoot
as you approach the well you just knew to be spent dry.
Put your hands on the stone wall around it
--don’t drop your light!—-
Remember this place?
Is it a solid circle in your history? Is it new to you?
Can you feel the handprints of others
   who have passed by?
Don’t linger too long at the edge, dear,
this is no moment for overthinking.
Just lean over and feel the cool air of the unknown
   breathing up to meet you—
   to get inside of you.
Now is the moment for feeling the quiver in your gut
   and wiggling your foot over the abyss.
Let your toes find the top rung of the ladder leaning nearby.
Steady. Now—
rung by rung, ease on down.
The dim light of the known world in a spot above you will remain
   even when it grows smaller.
You don’t need that flashlight here, you can feel your way,
   step by step, learning
      the pictures your mind plays out on the dark walls…
      the vibrations of your movements on the thing holding you up…
      the hum at the edges of the echoes of your breath…
      the scent of the wet earth stories closer and closer…
      the taste of the thrill in your own tongue…
      the still presence of the things you just know
        without knowing how you know…
until your foot hits water.
First, make a cup of your hands and take a drink
   that goes all the way down.
That’s enough for now.
You don’t get to stay here in this underworld of dreams,
   though you may now be falling in love with
     the visions you see on the walls around you,
     the way the rippling water plays with
         the quiet music living in this chamber.
   though you may be tempted to gulp down the lot of it—
     suddenly realizing how parched you’ve been…
Now. Steady.
--Don't drop your light!--
Find the bucket.
Yeah, the one you threw down here—
   however long ago that was when you
      cut the rope and cursed
         and listened for it to clatter to the bottom empty.
         It did clatter…didn’t it?
         You were so sure there was nothing left...
Find the bucket in one piece, hold on tight, and start your climb.
Watch the circle of the shared world grow to meet you again.
When you reach the opening, find a length of new rope,
   and wind it at the crank.
   This, too, is part of the trip.
Tie your bucket to the end.
See it swing like a bell
   announcing where you’ve been
   and that here, again, you have a true and useful wealth to share.

It’s Not Too Late to Be an April Fool

I’m no prankster. I’m no good at lying and I’m too prone to guilt and anxiety to be very good at playing tricks on people. I’m much more likely to be the fool.

But this year I realized what an important holiday April Fool’s Day can be.

This year on April 1st, I stood in a circle with a bunch of strangers in a bare room in the Lavapiés neighborhood in Madrid.

“Now,” said our bespectacled leader in his British accent. “Introduce yourself to the circle, and tell everyone how stupid you are. Say your name, and these words: ‘and I am very stupid.’” We nodded gravely and began.

“My name is Sarah. And I am very stupid.”

“Yes,” said the leader. “We can see that.” Continue reading

Of Scrambled Brains and Runaway Trains

This blog post is late. Now, I doubt any of you have been sitting by your computers with your pocket watch out, clucking your tongue, BUT JUST IN CASE YOU HAVE, I want you to know that this tardiness is not for lack of writing. It’s not for lack of sitting still and being quiet and searching and asking unseen helpers for guidance.

But, as I mentioned before, I think the current political/media climate is doing something to our brains. At least I know it’s doing something to mine. Continue reading

A Spell for Unclogging the Works

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few weeks about unfinished business. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing an essay about being on the other side of the anguish I used to feel at having nothing to show for myself except the shoeboxes of poems written on scraps of paper, shelves of completed journals, 100 pages of an unfinished novel, a one-woman show only ever roughly shown to a couple of friends, another one-woman show that would never see the light of day, 250 pages of a memoir I couldn’t bring myself to edit, and gawd knows how many little essays and short stories that would never be loved by anyone but me.

I’m not writing that essay today. Today I’m remembering how it feels to wander around feeling like my inner gears are all gummed up. Continue reading

Attempting to Land

This pesky vision keeps popping into my head: it’s a little house at nighttime. Its outer walls look blue in the twilight, but they might be any color. The windows are yellow with light from within. Around the house there is space and sweet smelling grass and trees; inside the house there are teacups and a fireplace. From here, it is the picture of stillness and security.

“You have to let this mopey energy go,” my partner calls to me from across our studio apartment. I groan to let him know I know he’s right, but I roll over on the bed to face the wall instead of getting up. Continue reading

Prayers for Dark Days

Here we are facing the darkest days of the year. The city of Madrid festooned its streets with twinkle lights in early November, but no one turned them on until the 25th. This was a pretty good trick; it had me looking forward to the even longer nights ahead when the streets would feel extra magical. How clever that we, as a culture, answer our needs for anticipation and celebration in the darkness, even if we do it almost by accident, even if we forget why we started lighting lights in the first place. Continue reading

A Loving Kick in the Pants for When You Don’t Have a Choice

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been battling hopelessness and paralysis lately. I am grateful for the internet mechanisms that have the potential to make us the most informed populace in the history of our civilization, but unfortunately, I haven’t personally acquired the level of spiritual evolution to know how to deal with all of the information I receive everyday. Continue reading

How to Tell When You Get What You’re Asking For

Afternoon, October 14, 2016: My partner and I are rounding the bend on week 3 of a grueling apartment hunt in Madrid. We’ve been living out of suitcases for months already; we’ve been sick, food poisoned, and adjusting to new jobs; we’ve raced through the streets of this unfamiliar city every day this week to beat our steep competition to available apartments. On this day, we’ve seen 2 lackluster options, which we agreed to take if they’ll have us. Continue reading