"There's no death knell
quite like an outdated 'self-told story'
It isn't a language we are taught to read
though it is written on everything
We pretend it isn't there
that it isn't a silent form of communication between us
but no one is shaded
from the light of the open-secret...
no one stands outside
this moving tapestry of rising and twilight...
no one is exempt from the ancient training
of fierce grasping turned letting go.
Fluency comes from plumbing the depths --
surrendering to heat, steam, and dream
traveling through the strata of accumulated layers
releasing the hardened 'formations of self'
Every tenancy of cramped, unfriendly spaces.
Every 'could have been', regret,
clinging to memories, places, faces.
Every message: I can't.
Every vacuous distance.
Every jealous slight, wounding from betrayal.
Every wasted moment and uncompleted dream.
All the gleaming scales that make the skin
before we start shedding and turn within.
Nothing can prepare
for the grief that comes
from seeing the years so clearly.
Yet, when else are we honest with ourselves?
When else do we perceive the infinite layers?
How else will we become our own medicine and relinquish our fears?
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Last night I dreamed of my own heart.
A cramped dying bird behind a cage of ribs.
In my hand - an ancestral knife made of prayers and bone.
With samurai precision,
I used the knife to separate skin from sternum
sternum from muscle
and cracked open my ribs
like the door of a long-sealed tomb.
With the door open wide, the bird flew free.
A path then appeared that leads into a cave.
(c) 2017 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com
*The Zia sun symbol is sacred to the Zia Pueblo people of New Mexico. Embedded within it are teachings about stages of life, the seasons, the directions, periods of the day, and aspects of the self a person must cultivate for a well-rounded, healthy life. In the 1920s, the symbol was misappropriated without permission from the Zia people as a symbol for the New Mexico state flag. Since that time, a coming to terms has occurred between Zia Pueblo and the State of New Mexico with regard to the free and honorable use of the symbol.