Make me Now a Shovel of Your Peace: a poem of sorts

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“A detective is forced to say it.
To ask about the feelings of people.”
-Hercule Poirot
They say “keep digging.
But when I do, they say “Don’t go there.”
Secrets abound.
This lineage and this life are more complicated than I’d expected.
But if we wall ourselves off into bitter, brittle compartments we will never break our cycles.
“Won’t someone think of the children?”
If we don’t face who we are, who our people are, how can we put any faith in our narratives at all?
And without a narrative, are we not just floating through time and space?
This is not a coherent piece, but a meditation on being a human shovel.
This is just my thoughts on the destruction of digging into our lives, and the possibilities it opens up.
Perhaps some things should be destroyed.
This is my hope and trust: that in the end, all will be revealed. Or at least enough, enough to understand…
Mother tongues.
Big beautiful noses.
What they carried.
7 am shots of Gin.
Doorstop Bibles, Xs on the line, good loves and bad loves, 13 kids and some turn out saner than others.
Humans built one cell at a time, forged in the fires of deportation and shipwreck and feasts and famines, pillaging and exploration. 14 sheep and a gun.
Exploring roots, belonging, community, belonging.
And the fact is, some wanted to flee.
The fact is, some countries were founded by orphans, criminals and warriors.
Some connections were broken on purpose.
The fact is, some of us can’t really ever outrun our Catholicism.
We can’t outrun our voices, our baggage, our ticking time-bombs.
Affiliations are all multi-faceted, slippery.
But I am finding this new context freeing.
The huntress rebel returns, reconnects, and fixes shit up.
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Body Resolution 2015

Well, a year ago I resolved to chuck my pajamas and spend more time with nothing on.

I have to report it has made an astounding difference in how I see myself. We don’t know how much comfort we’ve taken in hiding until we stop.

I have been on a life-long body journey, with the goal being total acceptance of all that I am–which is imperfect yet compelling.

"Screw it. I'm fine"
“Screw it. I’m fine”

Funny story: in my quest for information-gathering I bought my first-ever scale and decided to weigh myself regularly. It worked for  a few months, if giving me a number can be said to “work”…then it started to give me 280. Hmm. It then switched to weighing me in at 10. As in 10 pounds.
So I tossed that out and I now get out of bed each morning, check myself out in the mirror and say “Lookin gooood”
Whatever, it works for me.
I have NO “ideal weight” in mind. I just don’t care. I have an ideal number of logs I can chop in one day. I have an ideal amount of time I can run, weight I can lift. I have a movement practice.
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So, as the year turns, I am deepening my nudie resolve. I am continuing to re-inhabit my body, the only one I have and the only one I want. I don’t regret any past version of my body, whether it was “better” or “worse”. I have faith in my body. I consider my body image in the context of culture, family, DNA, history. My body is part of the history of the world–and the future of the world too.

stupid euphemisms!
stupid euphemisms!

Yes yes yes I will work on my weaknesses. Yes I will run up a hill or lift a heavy weight…because I LOVE it, not as punishment. Yes I will squat but I do it because I want to be mobile for 100 years, not because I feel “bad” about my rear end.
And while I’m at it…I love you and your flaws too. Cause when we judge others’ bodies we are really expressing how we feel about our own.
Sometimes the real weight we need to lose is the weight of never being good enough.
Of never being worthy.
The weight of our own repression, shame, fear and layers upon layers of dread.
So this year, I resolve to give less of a shit what anyone else thinks of my body, slowly but surely, becoming more and more of myself with every wrinkle and grey hair that comes along.
It's the journey
It’s the journey

Medicine making as an act of Love and Resistance

I am the oldest child of 2 oldest children, and I carry the responsibility of my lineage that comes with that position. Many of the family stories have ben given to me, some through words and some through actions–as well as the old Polish-English dictionary, the well-used locksmith’s tools and the frayed old wedding dress that’s been taken in and taken out over and over like an elderly housecat. It is my deepest honor and my crushing burden, the weight of all these stories, all these photos, all this baggage, all this love and loss, all these hopes.

Buddy and Evelyn
Buddy and Evelyn

My lineage is mostly French-Canadian, Polish and perhaps a little Irish. I carry the blood of the French peasant, trapper  and Fisherman. I carry the blood of indigenous Eastern Canadians. I carry the passionate Baltic blood too, and the scrappy Irish. And I work to integrate this combination of energy within myself.

My people fished and farmed, foraged and made medicines, told stories, put out fires and made shoelaces overlooking a polluted river. My people were a long way from home, and then they were home.  My people kept it light enough to travel.

My people were amazing and brutal, drunk and joyful, lost and found. My people showed up at weddings in ill-fitting suits and drank. My people knew things, saw things I CAN. NOT. FUCKING. IMAGINE.

Around this dark time of year, going into Winter and seasons of tradition and family, fires and foods I get to thinking about my lineage and how best to honor them, process their stories, forgive them their indiscretions and make them all proud. I feel that I cannot claim  the power of my gender, bloodlines and class identity if I cannot at least try to understand them and their lives and choices, and if I cannot speak out for justice for all bloodlines.

No feathers, no firehats, no mother-tongues or pierogis without the work. The work is half heart-work and half action. Foraging. Listening. Weaving threads together. Rolling the dough. Preservation. Over and over. Do not falter. No names and no stories are really mine if I cannot at least attempt to unlock them, to understand where they came from.

Tools used to unlock things
Tools used to unlock things

I do not want to hold and draw power from the rosaries and tools and fabric of my people without fighting for all people to be heard. It is a disservice to everyone’s lineage if I can’t listen–to mine, to yours and to you.

And so I am making an elixir for each of my great-grandparents. I will connect to each one through taste this Winter, on long walks in the snow, meditating on my roots. I find taste to be grounding, a bridge across time,  and it helps me to understand people and their stories. Taste can be a voice which whispers fem the past. Taste can help me to honor those who gave me life, some of which is very bitter indeed.

Each one will be based on the person’s heritage, what I know of them and what they loved.

And I hope to hear a tiny bit of the dreams they dreamed, the anger they suppressed, the passion and  restless spirits that drove them to create.

Julia and her daughters
Julia and her daughters

I honor my lineage by healing my own heart, I can’t go backwards and help them but I’m by trying my best to stop certain ill-advised cycles that rip families apart, by sparking my own memory and trying like hell to make things right.

And I honor them by refusing to be silent, by acknowledging my privileges and contradictions, by letting history speak through me and my hands, making foods and herbs and wooly scarves. I honor them by claiming hope as my own, for myself, for my own kids.  I honor them by insisting on seeing them as real, complicated people. And most important of all, I honor my lineage by refusing to forget.

Alfred and Rena
Alfred and Rena