This week I will cohost with Quanita Roberson the first journey for another Fire & Water Cohort. There will be 11 of us. We will be face-to-face. I find myself anticipating the feeling of a shared living room, shared meals, and an added ability to meander together in the space of words, silence, images, and movement.

Quanita shared a powerful poem that has me finding a few things that will set up our Cohort adventure. It’s a rich poem by Gina Puorro. I love it when people appreciate the ascent, but also know an essentialness in the descent.

There are things you can only learn
on your knees
or in a storm
or when the cracks in the foundation
of this modern world
open a chasm of uncertainty
beneath your feet.

Your discontent
with what has been named normal
is both grief and longing
for what your mind has forgotten
but your body remembers.

You can feel it
in the way a child’s laughter
disrupts your commitment
to what is appropriate
and makes space
for foolishness and magic.

You can feel it
in the way that water
has taught you
how to be a vessel
and how to spill.

Can you trace your lineage
all the way back to salt?
The same that now stains your face
with both sadness and laughter
excites your tongue
and protects your prayers.

You are diasporic. Ecological. Holon.
A vast territory
of many wild bodies
melting into each other
dressed up as human.
Simultaneously living and dying
shaping and dismantling
filling up and boiling over.
Ashes to ashes
stardust to bone.

What language do you grieve in?
What is the mother tongue for that
which twists and contorts your body
wringing oceans from your skin?
The gravity that pulls you
down to your knees
forehead to ground
broken open
at the altar of all you’ve lost
and how much you’ve loved.

Can we fall apart together?
Make a commitment
to search for the truth
but promise
to never find it.
Let myths and stories
be the cartograph 
for what is both 
primordial and brand new
because the present moment
is promiscuous like that.
Compost ourselves down
into the dirt beneath the dirt
and tend the chthonic embers
that light the ancient fires in our bellies.

When the fault lines open
and your mind is grasping 
and you don’t know 
where to go from here;
trade rapture for rupture
let yourself spill
and descend.

4 Replies to “Learning”

  1. This poem is utterly amazing. I can’t even begin to unpack it. I believe it will be with me for many, many turns of the sun. So many feels.

  2. This poem is so visceral and powerful and hopeful and true. The sentiment, “let yourself spill and descend” is a practice Pema Chodron outlines in her book Practicing Peace in a Time of War. It is a practice I have adopted and which allows me to experience the totality of what is alive in me at the moment and then find that way back, the ascent, back into hope and center and deliberate action.
    Your students are so very fortunate to have you both, creating the structure, the safe space, the mentoring, the leadership that allows each to grow and lead themselves. Envious!

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