C-Section

Hey friends,

April is C-Section Awareness Month. And also, it’s National Poetry Month. So, naturally, when one finds herself in a “kill two birds with one stone” situation, one must, in fact, kill two birds with one stone. For the month of April, I’ve been trying to write a poem a day. I haven’t made it every day, but I have developed more of a habit of writing, and that feels like a victory for me. The first poem I wrote this month, stemmed from an idea I’ve been chewing on for months. What does it mean for me to love my body? This post-pregnancy, post c-section–stretch marks, scars, and all–body, in the here and now?

I would often look in the mirror and wish these things away. This poem is an attempt to reframe the story–to honor these marks for their place on my body and in my life.

Thanks for reading.

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Sacred Spaces

Hello, friends. It’s nice to come back to this space again. I’ve been taking a break from this blog while I’ve been working on another project. Now that that is finished, I am going to try and return to my weekly posts as best I can.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve just wrapped up a truly seismic collaboration with a Houston-based artist, Lanecia Rouse Tinsley (check out her work here), commissioned by my church Southeast Raleigh Table, for the forty day season of Lent. I was able to follow the weekly scripture readings, write a poem, and then hand-off those words to Lanecia for her to give them flesh and bones.

It not only was a dream come true for me to see a visual representation of how my words made someone feel, but it gave me the courage to name myself.

It was the first time I’ve ever called myself a poet and believed it. And the first time I allowed someone to call me a poet and believed it. That is no small feat for me. It takes quite a bit of effort for me to tell my self-doubt to sit the hell down and allow myself to accept words like this.

Rumi said, “You were born with wings, why do you prefer to crawl through life?”

Calling myself a poet, and allowing others to do the same, is the equivalent of leaving behind my hands and knees and accepting my wings.

I have always feared the possibility that someone will tell me, or worse–think and not tell me, that I do not deserve these wings. And there will always be those that think you are not good enough to fly. I am still afraid of those people. And yet, the words still come and something has to be done with them.

I recently had some dear friends speak words to me, about me, over me and a theme emerged. A theme that was, at once, exhilarating and intimidating.

Create. Creator. Cultivate.

Words are powerful things when believed. They can create sacred spaces and just as easily, they can destroy those spaces. Too often I have played the role of destroyer in my own life. I must forgive myself for that. And that forgiveness will have to be an active choice. Every day.

So, here is how I find forgiveness:

to live into these words spoken over me;

to speak those words over myself;

to believe those words;

and to create sacred spaces for myself and others.

Pretty simple, right?

As always, I am thankful you stopped by.

Alexandra

 

 

On Grief and Grandfathers

Hello, friends.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been taking a break from the blog while I’ve been writing poems and collaborating with Lanecia Rouse Tinsley, an amazing artist in Houston, for a Lenten project for Southeast Raleigh Table. As I’m new to sharing my writing publicly, I felt it best to focus on one project at time. But though this is Holy Week and the Lenten project has not quite come to a close, it felt time to post something.

This particular Holy Week also bears witness to an anniversary. One weighed down in grief. It seems to me, we should have another word for these kind of anniversaries, so as to not confuse them with those we’d like to celebrate, rather than mourn. But that’s another poem for another time, I suppose.

Two years ago, on March 28th, my grandfather passed away. And in the throes of the newborn fog, I was handed a grief and I had no idea what to do with it. I have learned much about myself in these last two years and one thing has become quite clear. I need to write. I need to write in order to work out the things that feel unworkable.

So as has become my new normal, I sat down to write a poem and here’s what came out. So on this “anniversary,” it feels the right time and space for sharing.

Thank you for reading, as always.


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Book of Love.

Hi yes, it is valentine’s day and herein lies an obligatory sappy post about love. sorry. but also i’ve mentioned before that when i feel “cheesy”, this is often when I am at my more authentic self. so, this is one of those moments. i haven’t written many love poems, but i wrote this one a while ago and recently gave it to my husband for valentine’s day.

there are not many metaphors more appropriate to describe our relationship than a book. we danced to Peter Gabriel’s version of “The Book of Love” at our wedding, we both love to read…i mean the poem just writes itself, right? this particular one happened while sitting across the table from him at a coffee shop. we had just been to our favorite used bookstore and had piles of used books around us. and i got to thinking about how the life of a book is written on its spine. how many times it’s been opened and closed. and how the experience of opening up a brand new book and the experience of opening up a book that has been read over and over again are both delightful, but in different ways.  as it is the evolution of relationships.

and you know what they say, the more alexes in your life…the more fun it is. so here’s to double the alex and double the fun.

anyways, happy valentine’s day.


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Sorry.

I say “sorry” too much. I apologize for things that are my fault, are not my fault, and those things that haven’t even happened yet, but may, eventually, be my fault. Some of it is just par for the course in the life of an empath who anticipates others’ emotions like it’s my job. But the rest of it, I’ve come to realize is really just a way for me to disappear. To not take up any space of my own for fear of taking any of yours. So, I apologize to the cashier in the grocery line because I can’t stuff the receipt in my wallet fast enough to get out of the next customer’s way. Or I feel guilty for taking too long to parallel park because I’ve inconvenienced the car behind me.

Not all apologizing is bad, mind you. I’m not talking about the “actually did something wrong and need to own up and make amends” type of apologizing. But, rather, the “let me anticipate what I’ll do wrong and apologize before you can get mad at me” apologies. I’m pretty tired of those. I’m sick of them. They’re not apologies. They aren’t admissions of guilt. They are admissions of shame.

So here is a poem about my perpetual apologies. About breathing in shame like oxygen and breathing out apologies like carbon dioxide.

And, maybe this is a step in breaking the cycle.

Here I am. I am taking up space. Albeit virtual and cloud-like, but space, nonetheless.


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But Also

Writing this week has felt like wading through water with weights on my ankles. Each step slow coming. Then a stop and a stumble backwards or two. A tedious pattern of type, then delete. Type, then delete.

So rather pretend I had this all planned out, I’ll be honest and say I didn’t and I don’t. Today, I realized I’ve been feeling stuck. Stuck at the intersection of personhood and parenthood.  And overwhelmed with what it means to be both, fully. Which, ultimately, led me to this poem I wrote a while ago. One of the first ones I ever sat down to write when I was only a few months into motherhood. It feels honest this week.

The past two years or so I’ve felt dogged by this truth. I find it everywhere, in everything. I didn’t always even realize it was happening, but in hindsight, I can pull the thread out of everything I have written since. Must have been my soul working something out before my brain acknowledged it.

For me, that’s been “but also”. You…me…we can be two things at once–can feel two things at once and both have equal validity. There is a reason we have this capacity to be a mosaic of emotions–some that contradict, some that complement. But, we don’t often allow ourselves the space to be “this” but also “that”. We occupy one circle of the Venn Diagram when, in actuality, we belong right in the middle, where the circles overlap.

So, here’s “But Also”. It’s about living in the tension of our contradictions and learning to be okay there.


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Second Language

When I first started writing poetry, I felt like every line I wrote should be emotional and moving. Like I needed to spill my guts, every single time. Like last week’s poem, it felt like it needed to be revelatory for me every time. And if I didn’t and it wasn’t, then it wasn’t good or worth sharing. But I don’t think that’s true anymore. The simple ones, that aren’t profound or intense…those can be good and necessary too.

Have you ever heard people talk about becoming fluent in a foreign language? I’ve heard it said that you know you are fluent when you can dream and think in that second language. When the words seep into your brain and coexist seamlessly with your primary language. You dream in French or you write your grocery list in Spanish.

I think the small poems, about normal every day things…those are evidence I’m becoming fluent in another language. I’m thinking and dreaming in poetry. Finding them in the mundane and unimportant, as well as the extraordinary. And, it’s giving me a new language with which to process my days.

I’ve always found it strange how the urge to write always seems to hit me under similar circumstances. I’m usually driving somewhere. So for lack of pen and paper and eyes trained to the road, the poems, more often than not, live and die in my head. Maybe that’s the life for which they were meant.

But, here’s one that survived outside the car door. It’s simply about my favorite time of day. Because anyone who knows me will tell you–I am neither a morning person nor a night owl. My sweet spot is mid-afternoon to twilight.

Hope this finds you well, friend.

That time of day

when the sun

retreats

into the dirt and

the dark begins to curl

its long fingers

around the light–

that is the time I am most awake.

The sky, lit in violet,

has ceased

creating shadows for the day.

And, I, for one, do not

resent the sun

for leaving.

Instead,

I think that, maybe,

this is the moment

the dark comes home.