It’s never just about death
or cancer, or surgery
what the doctor said when
What will I look like?
wanting his compassion before
they removed her bandages
from where the breasts had been.
You will look like a man, he said.
He said I will look like a man!
I felt assaulted, betrayed, she said.
He checked his work,
the clean seams pleased him
and he left the room.
I was grateful, she said,
but now she wept, for the girl in her,
for her breasts, for her woman’s heart,
for the way we all want the healer
to sing to us.
Are you stuck asking “Why?” over and over, imponderables and unsolvables besetting your thoughts? Try changing “why” to “how ” or “what”.
How might I do that differently?
What might I chose to change first?
Who would I like to include on this change?
Daydream the possible, even when the thoughts want to interrupt and rein you in.
That way lies discovery.
I am delighted to begin a part time position at Hospice of SLO (http://www.hospiceslo.org). I see this as a way to extend my service in the community in which I have lived so long and happily and also to participate in the community of therapists, since part of the position will involve supervising interns putting to good use that 30 hr AAMFT training.
Hospice of SLO has a wonderful group of staff and volunteers providing counseling, support groups, and in home assistance since 1977.
There will still be plenty of time to see my private clients in Avila Village, my
beloved tiny respite by the Bob Jones Trail. (441 3918)
Many of us have come through a rough year. In this experience we discover how to stay awake, be aware we are still here, acknowledge we HAVE come through, and comfort ourselves. Comfort is always a personal activity made up of childhood, family memories and deeply personal and interior connections. The person who has wronged or harmed you cannot be your comforter but you can learn to comfort yourself. Sometimes it’s better to make new ways to parent ourselves through to kindness. And practice interrupting the negative and ruminating thoughts with lovingkindness however that looks.
Comfort wears something soft
you saved from the goodwill bag,
with a bit of raggedy velvet at the wrist.
Comfort sings a lullaby
or the blues. Maybe she lived
in New Orleans before she came here.
Comfort turns you into a one-note crooning
Southern woman with a voice
full of rain and dirt.
Comfort IS dirt. Good dirt.
Things grow here.
Comfort is rain so hard
you can’t hear your thoughts.
The air blows in fresh
and riverlets happen up
all through the yard
washing everything downhill.
Comfort is seeing 5:00 a.m. on the clock
and knowing you’ve slept all night.
Comfort is dog fur,dog breath, dog warmth
and dog smell. How they connect you
to the Earth they never left
just when your heart is taking off on bat wings
into the darkest part of the cave.
Comfort reminds you there are
people who are saner, kinder, simpler, funnier
who love you and who still come around.
Comfort is reading Rumi and Hafiz,
the old Avila Hotsprings
soaking out weary joints since 1907.
Comfort is Monday coffees by the beach,
and dolphin sightings. Comfort is
and seeing your face
again and again, my friend.
If you are chilled
there is a quilt here for your knees.
See, I have laid us a carpet
of poppies and mountain sage.
Shall we see what compassion has hidden
in the pantry?
Please, my friend,come on in.
This poem was published in an earlier version in If &When Vol. 1. 2013. I wrote it at one of the Veteran writing workshops.
Please let me know if you would like to come to a Writing and Stillness workshop in January..
Roslyn Strohl 2-10-2013 copyright.
It is an honor and delight to have this poem published in If & When journal vol 2 . available in July.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
At night we watched
that dash of fallen sequins
tumble from the sky
that blue black blanketing
the quilting gone awry,
a passage to heaven
a rip in the firm flesh
sharp as the shrapnel
through the dome
the skin and bone
of my grandfather’s head.
Or the inside flash
of my son’s night brain.
The comfort of darkness
is a trillion eyes of grace
needled across the night
when all the little stars above
hold still, don’t fall.
Recently my brother in law passed away. He was just 59. He died of ALS and frontotemporal lobe dementia. It was his sweetness that remained as his essence, as his mind and body slipped. I was honored and silenced to see this, and to watch his daughter tend him nightly, feed him,leave him feeling safe. I want to draw attention to this kind of dementia, but I want also to honor my neice of 26 who mothered her father. Here is my tribute.
The Soul’s Midwife
Coming in to this Earth body
Thick dark hair flowing
Mouthing her first wails
Leaving the warmth
of her Mama’s body,
her brown eyes found his,
green like the ocean
like a field in summer
looking down at her
falling in love.
Isn’t she beautiful? he said.
This is my daughter,
She is so beautiful.
He cradled her,
and sang his first lullaby.
Today, crippled in his Earth body
almost ready to leave
he looks up at her
face glowing with love
Isn’t she beautiful? he asks.
She is my daughter,
she is beautiful, he says.
She spoons his food gently for him
He opens his mouth like a baby bird.
His green eyes are full of trust.
He knows she will see him safely through,
midwife his soul’s passage.
This is my beautiful Jessica,
he repeats, like a lullaby that calms him,
She is my daughter.