Prologue

All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.

~Kabir

[Did you ever live a story that begged you to tell it? A story that whispered incessantly in your ear, some promise of release or deliverance if you would just finally commit verse to page? This is the beginning of a story that keeps dissolving and yet insists it be told. In plainer language, you might say it is the story of discovering that I was a spiritual fraud. Or, you might say it is the story of discovering that I am light. Or you might say, there is no difference.]

Prologue:

There is a body of water slipping through my fingers. (It’s slipping through your fingers, too. Do you feel it?) It wasn’t meant to make sense. On that particular day it was meant to make holy Charles de Gaulle airport and these instructions sacred: “Face the outside doors (from the inside) and turn to your left. Walk to the far end. That is where I will meet you.”

Nearly everything was a mirror—a lie and a truth all at once—and this was how we made our way through France: the cat in the café in Montparnasse lounging in front of the portrait of the cat in the café in Montparnasse.

It was ritual that marked the end of ritual and signaled my departure—the anointment with oil and a vial of Chögyam’s blood, a new name, an old name. Ciara Maire: Dark Mary. Mary, from the Hebrew, Miriam, meaning drop of the sea, as well as strong waters and waters of strength. This before I understood the dark sea I would discover in myself.

I wouldn’t see it coming. I would only drown in it. So it seems now it couldn’t have been any other way but to stumble upon her grave the next morning. They leave lipstick kisses for her, you know—she, the daughter and sister of a line of Magdalenes. They leave stones and feathers, roses, and letters at the foot of her grave. “We love you, Simone,” they whisper. I left a strand of my hair and the first of many good-byes.

From the living cemetery we stumbled one into the other, our sex closer to truth than fiction: the alchemy of awkwardness and grief, the way we hold love when we’re scared, when we’ve forgotten who we are. This could be the story of how we met. Do you remember?

montparnasse

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Montparnasse Cemetery, November 2010

The Ecstasy of Always Bursting Forth

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography – to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.”

~Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

“The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves…

“Of course, women, so empowered, are dangerous.”

~Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

One Heart

Look at the birds. Even flying
is born

out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open

at either end of day.
The work of wings
was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.

~Li-Young Lee

One Canoe

People want what they want
and what they want is never one thing.
All that desire
sliming a space rock
Shivering the air
a loon’s cry.
There is only so much
you can care for or carry
and for this there is
no one canoe

~Maureen McClane

The Undiscoverable Self

“It has always been much easier (because it has always seemed much safer) to give a name to the evil without than to locate the terror within.

“And yet, the terror within is far truer and far more powerful than any of our labels: the labels change, the terror is constant. And this terror has something to do with that irreducible gap between the self one invents — the self one takes oneself as being, which is, however, and by definition, a provisional self — and the undiscoverable self which always has the power to blow the provisional self to bits.”

~James Baldwin

Thunder, Perfect Mind

I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter. . . .
I am she whose wedding is great,
And I have not taken a husband. . . .
I am shameless;
I am ashamed. . . .
I am godless,
And I am one whose God is great.

~from the Gnostic gospel of Mary Magdalene

Du kommst und gehst

Often when I imagine you
your wholeness cascades into many shapes.
You run like a herd of luminous deer and I am dark, I am forest.

Rainier Maria Rilke

To Give Myself Utterly

I want to give myself
utterly
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf;
as this lake that,
no matter what comes
to its green-blue depths,
both takes and returns it.
In the still heart that refuses nothing,
the world is twice-born—
two earths wheeling,
two heavens,
two egrets reaching
down into subtraction;
even the fish
for an instant doubled,
before it is gone.
I want the fish.
I want the losing it all
when it rains and I want
the returning transparence.
I want the place
by the edge-flowers where
the shallow sand is deceptive,
where whatever
steps in must plunge,
and I want that plunging.
I want the ones
who come in secret to drink
only in early darkness,
and I want the ones
who are swallowed.
I want the way
the water sees without eyes,
hears without ears,
shivers without will or fear
at the gentlest touch.
I want the way it
accepts the cold moonlight
and lets it pass,
the way it lets
all of it pass
without judgment or comment.
There is a lake,
Lalla Ded sang, no larger
than one seed of mustard,
that all things return to.
O heart, if you
will not, cannot, give me the lake,
then give me the song.
~Jane Hirshfield
a thousand names for love
“A Thousand Names for Love” 2014