Melodies in the kitchen

Enrichment. I use it as a term of endearment. It means, take care of your heart. It means, remind your heart that is has a home here — here being with you. That means put your heart inside your chest where it belongs. Stop holding it out in front of you in your trembling palms, like some scared dishrag you want to drop in a bucket of suds somewhere and scrub until it feels clean. It’s already clean. It’s already yours. It just wants to be home. 

Bring your heart inside. Tell it your body is home. Tell your body it is home; sit down. Be inside that wild, aching skeleton of yours. Stop sailing out its doors, running like every third grader in the city wants to hold your hand, and you feel crowded — so crowded your fingertips are reaching for a screen, for something to tell you home is everywhere else but within you, safety and love and validation is everywhere else but within you. Stay. No, stay, stay inside. Stay inside your body where your heart is and listen. A poet told me, “Every good heart has lost its roof.” I say, put a skylight in. Let the sun shine on your insides. I know. I have wanted to leave my body so many times, to watch my pain from above, wanted to escape the parade of shames, so desperately I didn’t know how to breathe unless I was climbing trees to get away from myself. Writing is coming home. I am still learning to climb down from the tree, say, yes, I will stay home. I will put in skylights instead of trap doors. I will let the sun in. I will be free. 

Enrichment. It’s a term of endearment I use. It means take care of your heart.

Do you believe in the healing powers of the universe? What I mean to say is, do you feel more alive in the springtime, like every door of your heart has been flung open in a wild gasp of existence? Do you feel small in the sand along the ocean in the dark, knowing the stars haven’t had enough lives to fit in all the awe felt at their existence — that there are more gasps than lightyears — that children have been asking the heavens to explain themselves for as many centuries as there have been thoughts? Are you broken in the heart of you, but it could all be filled with the silver cast from fishermen on the moon, by dust in the galaxies? Everything you are made of is carbon and tears, so you’re basically the ocean and everything else, especially the center of constellations forming out there, beyond your consciousness.

I’m sure you’re the last place you want to be right now, maybe the only place you’ve found it easy to die, but have you asked your heart if it believes in pine sap and the smell of forests in North Carolina? Is your heart desperate to tell you about mercury and cattle and the softest place on earth? Is there sweat and crimson and hope in everything it believes? I think there is. I think it is burning to find a home with you, to slip through the front door and whisper, yes, yes, yes, as it recognizes all the books you’ve collected and the raindrops you’ve invested in chests of azaleas and winter inside your ribcage — what a lovely place to be. You keep saying nothing blooms in there, nothing is alive in there, nothing but a heavy dark expanse, wider than the ocean, sea, and night sky that combined to make you feel awe and small, but when your heart walks in, it feels home and that is gold — the measuring tape of existence. The way your heart feels when you stop shutting it out, that is the measuring tape of existence. Stop telling it to go home, go home, with the key in your hand like a tambourine you’re banging on the windows of your breath, just loud enough and desperate enough that you can’t hear your heart saying, but you’re my home.

There’s a river that my father says starts in Wyoming and my friend says runs through heaven, someplace sacred, where a medicine woman found a stone and blessed it with all the powers of her past, and my friend said that when I needed the healing of the universe, when I needed calm, when I needed to feel close to him — to the dear and endless and unconditional love of a friend, which is something much like the powers of the universe — I could hold this gift in my hand and feel calm. When I do hold the stone from the river in Wyoming, I feel the river and the pulse of plants and a vibration in my collarbone, but when I do, I also feel pain and anger and everything dying. The six pines cut down on campus this week, the oil in the water, the frightened cows. I feel the wounds and discord. And what this means is that I cannot ask for healing without knowing what else is broken. Without knowing how my healing is connected to everything else. The same river that runs through Wyoming, and through heaven, runs through me, and the same breath the North Carolina pines take, I take. So to feel soft and whole is to exist in a relationship with myself and with the universe in a way that does not exploit it, myself. In a way that lets my heart in, that sits in my body and in the river at the same time, that becomes whole, and that seeks to heal what wounds I can — my own and those of this great, broken world. I don’t think I need to understand it or have a solution to start; I need only listen to intuition, to the strumming of my heart inside me, and to follow those into light.

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