I believe everything happens just as it's supposed to. When some special artists in my life separately invited me to work with them & learn some of what makes them special, I understood this would be one of those auspicious times when my growth would be required.
With the guidance of an artist & teacher, I have begun working on a book touching on the theme of where & who I come from. From an artist & healer, I have learned about doll making as a means to healing. Pictured below (alongside our cat, Virgil) is my first doll. The sculpture was inspired by a vision I've had of a "meeting tree." This is an idea that's been with me since my father died in 1999 and a tree was planted to commemorate his time here. A "meeting tree" is planted in our physical world & serves as a place to meet with those in the spirit world. The doll's base is made from a special shrub that died in our garden. I attached a matchbox shrine in her trunk. In the shrine are symbols of my guardians, ancestors, and my work here.
As these 2 separate projects have evolved, the idea that I am a tree growing out of my ancestors' lessons & deeds has begun to merge with my image of the "meeting tree." Unsettled at first by this unexpected overlapping, I used poetry to explore the possibilities. The work-in-progress below could be the text to my book. (Or a journal entry that I have shamelessly shared with the public.) (I'm not yet sure which.)
I consider shrines to be places that can connect us to other worlds, other parts of ourselves, and new understandings, not unlike poetry and, of course, not unlike the "meeting tree."
out of the dirt
I grow out of the dirt.
you can tell this
because it's still caught
underneath my fingernails.
This is no dusty soil
whose nutrients have scattered
by breezes & storms.
This is fertile dirt
combined with the compost
of dreams & prayers,
of heart & steadfastness,
of hope & hard work,
of bones (strong enuf to support demons~
who we remember, no matter how hard we tried to forget).
When we grow from this kind of dirt
(which I imagine you do, too),
we stretch our roots down deep.
And they suck into them every liquid they encounter.
On occasion, this is the sweetness
of hummingbird nectar
that makes flowers sing & laughter lines draw around our eyes.
Other times, this is the slow rotten juice from forgotten fruits
that nourishes the lonesome untruths, teasing us of our
Sometimes, they absorb the sour flavored sweat
that swells into the crippled plans of a selfish heart;
or the thin sticky liquid
that feeds the devastation in our cells
over babies who were born, but never made a sound.
This is the kind of fuel
that grows trunks and branches, tall & long
reaching for clouds, raindrops
for sun rays & moon shine.
Reaching for another place.
far from here.
My leaves unfurl in the springtime,
tasting the birdsong.
Buds open into colors who've never been named.
And a fruit of a hundred flavors
day by day in long summer heat.
But my branches are thin & naked come winter,
shivering & tired.
Have you ever heard of
a meeting tree?
Is it only an idea I've created in a dream?
Could it be that my life
is a meeting tree?
Perhaps my seed was planted on the X,
a spot between 2 worlds?
In the fertile black dirt
of my ancestors, I grow.
Stretching out my branches
while spirits & breezes like dance partners
bow & bend around each limb?
Maybe my body is a meeting tree?
And that's why my baby
died inside of me,
and still ~cocooned in gauzy innocence~
she returns to dance with the breeze?
Perhaps I am a meeting tree
planted where gravity's obsession with this world
intersects the fluid & feathery whispers of the next.
I grow out of the dirt~
fertilized with the compost
of dreams & prayers.