Most of my blog posts are short. This one isn’t. You might want to grab that cup of tea or coffee now.
I’ve been digging up old poems, figuring out how to fit them onto this blog. They are pretty old poems. And I’ve been struggling to find exactly where the sacred space might be in some of them. It’s there. It’s always there in any art. Like rests between notes in a piece of music, there must be space in the poem too.
But I couldn’t easily point to the space in these poems and so my posts have been slowing down as I’ve been struggling with this. Then I looked at the dates when the poems were written. During this period of my life, I had become a committed patient of chiropractic. And after the first few adjustments with my neurology teacher, Dr. Brian Stenzler, all of a sudden my poetry took on a whole other tone. A tone I didn’t recognize. The voice was suddenly honest, bold, and courageous. And that made me tremble. I didn’t know what was going on. But I knew one thing. Just about all these poems tumbled out of me (with very few edits) right after Brian would adjust me.
Not having the guts to ask Brian what was going on (figuring he’d think I was crazy), I approached my myology instructor, Dr. Steve Lindner about this. I handed Steve the first poem I had written, a poem called “Spoiled” (see below). Typically not one to be at a loss for words, Steve got pretty quiet. Then he softly said, “Brian is reconnecting you to your divinity.”
The man damn near made me run out the door. I wasn’t bargaining for an answer that involved the word divinity. Lindner was a highly left brained instructor and the toughest task master in the program. I was banking on some good straight up neurological reasoning from him.
I went home even more scared. And the poems continued to come fast and furiously. I hadn’t been as prolific in years. My words were never so exacting and bold. And for the first time since I could remember, writing was easy.
So why do I bring all this up at this precise time? We’re going to take a little fork in the road here….
Astrologically, we are in a Mercury Retrograde period right now. Mercury was the messenger of the gods in Roman mythology, and as such, the planet Mercury is said to rule communication, among some other things. The retrograde is actually not a backward planetary movement, but the planet simply slows down a bit, and relative to the earth’s movement, it appears as if Mercury is moving backwards. It is not. It’s just a false perception.
As an acupuncturist, I practice an ancient medicine that is founded upon observing our natural surroundings. This includes observing earth as well as heaven. The Chinese classics teach that man reflects Heaven and Heaven reflects man. In acupuncture, we even consider the phase of the moon when we treat our patients. Nothing with regard to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health happens in a vacuum. The ancients knew this. There are many primitive cultures that teach similar principles. Primitive cultures did not have Google to rely on, but only their surroundings and keen senses.
Given my training, I’ve come to view planetary movement as the acupuncture chart of the sky. The planets are the points. The lines between the planets are the channels. And these lines create patterns. There is a style of esoteric acupuncture based on sacred geometry: patterns that exist in the body that reflect patterns we see in nature, patterns that are thought to be sacred and of God. And these esoteric treatments happen to work like a charm. God speaks to us in the patterns within us and the patterns beyond us. In fact, in Ireland, there are sacred walking paths that are referred to as “walking the patterns.” Patterns simply lead us deeper into the mystery of the sacred and allow us to commune with God.
So when Mercury retrogrades, while some people go hysterical about communication and travel plans going awry, and computers and technology failing, the truth is a Mercury retrograde is a perfect time to soulfully reflect upon our old ways, old experiences, and old patterns. It’s a chance to rethink these things, to address inner and outer conflicts with compassion, to bow our heads in gratitude for the lessons learned. It’s a time to be gentle and tender with ourselves and others (particularly those from our past). And then with healing and new understanding in our hearts, we can seek to make things new. And so, here I am, looking through old poems, trying to find the space in them, trying to find the light. Light that with any luck will illuminate the path ahead as the journey expands. We cannot move ahead without looking behind and honoring our past.
So, let’s merge that fork we just took a while back and return to my story about my poems and the chiropractic adjustments.
The goal of chiropractic is to correct a subluxation, or move misaligned bones back into proper alignment. The word subluxation literally means “under the light.” Not an optimal state.
When the subluxation is corrected, here’s the interesting thing: there is now space between the bones. Space which allows the neural system to open up and communicate harmoniously. I think this is significant to my story.
One day when we were discussing my poetry, musing about whether the poems might someday turn into a book, Steve had said, “You should call them Luxation Poems. Poems of the light.”
I liked the idea. The bone is moved. A space opens. And light comes in. A creative process ensues. God collaborates with us in that creative expression. At least I think he does. I think he has to. Artists love other artists, as Julia Cameron says.
I doubt these poems will ever turn into a book. It’s surely not my plan. Crazier things sure have happened in my life though, God knows. So, for the next few blog posts, and a few of the poems posted before this entry, here are my Luxation Poems. The first one, “Spoiled” is found below. I hope you find the sacred space in the poems and more importantly, that you always seek to find the sacred space in your life.
Maria G. Mandarino
© Maria Mandarino 2002
On the day you had called
I found the celery rotting in the Tupperware bin,
yellowish-beige, gelatinous, and caving into itself.
Just in from work, a full day of grief and aggravation,
needing to get the chicken in the oven in time for dinner.
“It’s a bad time, Grandma,” I had said.
You persisted anyway,
“When are you coming to see me?” you demanded.
I sighed. Damn it. Always a battle with you.
An eternity has passed since that day.
And still each time I open that Tupperware bin,
I think of you, fearful I will find rotting celery again,
relieved when I find it crisp and whole.
Guilt follows my relief soon enough.
I have a different life now, a new outlook,
some time on my hands,
and the wish that you were here now to share it.
You see, more things have spoiled in my life, Grandma.
That’s the word you used to use for things gone bad.
“It’s sperled,” that’s how you’d say it,
with your East New York accent
that used to make me cringe.
The day he left, I cried and cried.
Then I remembered
you did this too,
But it never ruined you.
“I’ve been through worse than this,”
that’s what you’d always say,
even when the doctor gave you a diagnosis
of lung cancer
with six months to live.
You beat it though. Dying ten years later,
not a cancer cell in your body.
I don’t cry for him anymore.
I cry for your wisdom, lost,
asking you for signs to show me what to do next,
to tell me what you would do,
what you had done,
how to be strong.
But the only image I can recall is you,
gathering your patent leather purse
with the pearl clasp,
telling the white-coated doctor
that you had been through worse than this.