fear in a handful of dust

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour… 

– geoffrey chaucer, prologue to the canterbury tales

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

– t. s. eliot, the wasteland



growth is never easy. change, even wanted change full of passionate intensity, takes an immense amount of energy. it can be exhausting. and sometimes it asks of us absolutely everything.

while tadpoles slowly grow legs and their tails disappear and some inner changes occur that allow them to complete their lifecycle as frogs (and it is incredible)… this is not what happens to a caterpillar that enters a cocoon and emerges a butterfly. a caterpillar actually breaks itself down into a kind of primordial soup. it is no longer a living thing at all. and from that soup, the pieces are gathered and rearranged to form a completely new life. it’s amazing. it’s beautiful. it’s Terrifying.

some of our changes as humans happen because we simply grow up. physically, we become taller, our skin collects freckles and eventually wrinkles, we develop very different bodies with unique capabilities that our child bodies did not have. and we are quite present through all of this, even if some changes seem to appear between one glance in the mirror and the next. i remember many fitful nights when i was young, when i could feel my legbones stretching into their new shape, and i writhed in bed, unable to escape the processes happening inside me.

yet other changes happen because we experience and learn. things happen to us, those things have consequences, and we develop new rules and patterns to help us avoid or achieve certain outcomes. every relationship has some benefit to us, or we wouldn’t maintain it. from food and water to love and intimacy, we seek out what brings us pleasure and find ways to fulfill our simpler and more complicated needs. sometimes along the way we burn a hand, or break a heart. but slowly we learn to move like water around the life-sharpened stone. we soften our shores. we become comfortable. we relish the end of the draught.

but one kind of change can hurt us the most. and this kind doesn’t happen to us inevitably. we must move towards it and not turn away when we feel we are about to lose control. we have to seek it, the painful honest answers of our true selves; who we are, who we want to become, what we are or are not capable of. in some ways we must be willing to fully dissolve our old selves, letting go of that entire life, in order to enter the new one. the new one without any guarantees of being better, only more real. how cruel it can feel, stirring the dull and dusty roots with the incisive pins and needles of a cold spring rain.

the sleeping limb feels nothing but the sleeping limb cannot bear any weight. so,

awake my heart and mind.
peel open the lids
and let the steam of a boiling spirit escape.
sweet agony whistles through the narrowest of spaces,
making room for you to enter me
for me to enter

the cocoon of my becoming.

every sleeping fiber of my flesh
to the feeling of feeling
this cold exquisite raging
piercing to the root.
the delicious rains stirring memory and desire,
both cruel and divine,

both torment and necessity.

awake my self,
for you are not who you were
and not who you will be.
and though it may be anguish,
peel open thy shield with tenderness,
for without the ecstasy of this agony,
lilacs cannot bloom.

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