An interesting note about this poem, 3 years after writing it:
One day, October 17th 2015 to be specific, sitting along the water and running sand in my toes, I decided that I would approach my body differently than I had been taught to by adults I had trusted as well as various professionals I had encountered as a person struggling with physical and mental health stuff for several decades. It was a personal declaration, a way of integrating and grieving the many attempts I made to trust others' approaches to 'help' and 'healing' etc. which made things worse. Without realizing it, I was also making a promise or commitment to asking different questions and trusting my intuition moving forward. Sadly, a person wrongly assumed this poem was about them, specifically. A person whom I had only a peripheral experience with and didn't even think knew who I was. If you find your way to this page, please know that you are wrong about this poem referencing you specifically and I hope you get the support you need to determine why this poem would strike strong defenses in you individually. I forgive you for your private and public slander because I know to well how unresolved trauma moves through even those who claim to have expertness in it. In fact, it can be our ‘expertness’ which deludes the resolution.
And now, a poem which means a lot to me:
a love poem for anxious folks
Waxy is how it feels,
but kind of stiff and thick and gross is how it feels.....waxy....
When you use that reductive story to teach me something of my nervous system,
"you see, fight and flight evolved to help our ancestors run when they encountered a bear in the woods....."
Waxy that shit is. Clogging up the ears in my heart and oversimplifying the highways of fire in my beloved body.
Don't insult the bear.
Don't insult my ancestors.
Don't think for a second that story (which emerges from privileged and fragmented academia) is a basket that holds water.
In the hundreds of thousands of years my species and the ancestors of my species have roamed through forests, surely,
THEIR SONGS, THEIR LAUGHS AND LOVES AND HUNTS AND ACCIDENTS AND TRIUMPHS also informed the evolution of the autonomic nervous system
Am I not reflected in the bear? Does the bear not also give pause on its first glancing of me? In this modern cultural context with its insults to 'primitivism,' we assume we would run from the bear, but,
WHO SAYS MY FIRST INSTINCT WOULD BE TO RUN?
Forever ago and ahead, the meeting of oppressive conditions has been far more terrifying.
A bear can at least offer me a wild and honorable death.
Capitalism does not. Slavery and trafficking do not. Patriarchy does not. Transphobia does not. White supremacy and Racism do not. Colonialism and genocide do not. Heterosexism does not. Ableism does not. Neurotypicality does not. Ageism does not. Rape and Pedophile culture do not. Materialism and environmental degradation do not.
Don't tell me my ancestors evolved only to run from bears. Because their songs reflect far more relationship and curiosity.
Waxy and thick and cloudy is how I hear your teachings, so I go within and tune you out.
And, in my visions, I see millions of shiny canaries
coal mines like the ones my ancestors worked, anointed by soot, fire in their bodies as their colonized hands labored for their boss's stolen through genocide, ivory handled silverware.
The wild ones are the canaries in the coal mines, bodies on fire, pointing to what needs transformation. Pointing to the need to visit the forest and the bear for restoration.
....returning to your reductive story, which coats my truths in a stiffness hard to wash off, I realize that our somatic experiences of powerlessness give rise to the constant calls to war harbored in our bodies,
the battle cry also known as anxiety, panic, social fear, certain depressions....
HYSTERIA SOUNDS OF CANARIES.
A perfectly adapted melody to the suppression and control of embodied pleasure. DEPRESSION harmonizes beautifully with the tyranny of happiness we are encouraged to seek. PANIC is the hymn of materialism and 'mind over matter'-esque fallacies. SOCIAL ANXIETY humms the deeper truths of our disconnection, leaving so many of us still hungry for consensual intimacies.
Collectively the canaries are calling to the bears.
So, tell me a different story, healers. Physicians. Clinicians. Pharmacists. Friends. Lovers. Teachers.
Tell me one of how brilliant the highways of fire work in my body. Tell me that I have deep magic in me.
Ask me if I remember the first time I held my breath. Ask me if I remember when I discovered that hiding my truths, even from myself, ensured my survival.
Then sing hymns to me of how I am truly wired to recognize myself in the eyes of the bear, in the presence of terror that is actually the ecstasy of recognition and being treated like I am real. Tell me this is my birthright and assure me that my nervous system remembers the moments before I first held my breath and hid my truths.
Teach my canary self to see the cages.
This would feel less waxy, more silky.