Baring (and Sharing) My Heart and Soul

by Donna McLaughlin Schwender

Feathered Heart by Alice Rebecca Potter, Illustrator

Feathered Heart by Alice Rebecca Potter, Illustrator

Posted below is one of the last pieces I submitted in my recent writing class. The entire course had built up to this assignment – one that asked us to remember the written journeys we had taken and to “move from our heart back out into the world.” This is my interpretation of that “synchronous” adventure. As I discussed in my March 5th, 2013 blog post about the discomfort I often feel whenever I encounter poetry, I was extremely surprised at the format this piece was released from the end of my pen.

In Synchronous Orbit: Heart to Soul

Our mother’s oxygenated blood
is our first taste of this universe.
As her veined-lasso contracts and tears away,
our inaugural breath of freedom
infuses you with our own claret.
Vintage 1966.

Within an ossified and cartilaginous wing-shaped cage,
safely suspended in mid-air,
you live under the shadow of our skin.

There is a liquid lushness
to our internal landscape.
One that quenches the thirst
of our membranous microcosm,
from the valley of our shoulder blades,
to the peninsulas of our limbs,
and the snow-covered peak of our true north.

A constricting coil of cyclic rebirth,
you are unable to soar across the threshold of darkness
into the light of life.

You are a blind, wingless co-pilot,
a molten core
to our solitary, drifting continent.

A celestial body
in synchronous orbit with our soul,
I am your desirous interpreter
as we journey into the world.

As we travel the cosmos,
you, the fountain of our youth,
once pure and unscarred,
become tender and tattered,
like a glacier breaking apart under the heat of the sun.
Even tenacious tissue grows road-weary
from trailing unheard messages
in the space between heaven and earth.

I am occasionally lulled into complacency
by the repetition of your words.
When the unfamiliar tempo of your language
suddenly becomes foreign to me,
your voice barely audible,
I realize the need
to lighten the load of our travels.

From the depths of your sinewy existence,
in empty notebooks filled with possibilities,
I revel in recording the details of our adventures,
giving a voice to words
that you cannot breathe life into.

You are a speechless co-author,
mixing the crimson hue of your indigenous ink
with the palette of colors
that flow from my feathered pen.

Like fleeting stardust,
I try to grasp and decipher
the Morse-coded messages
you tap out against the skeletal bars of your prison cell.

Is it fear that causes you to skip erratically
when our brain registers the outline
of a snake amongst the grass?
Do you flutter in longing
as the breeze of a hawk
passes through our parchment carapace?
Does jealousy fill your every chamber
at the mere thought of a migrant gypsy cloud
caressing the sky?
Or do you swell at the sheer vastness of it all?

Regardless of the radius of the galaxy
we find ourselves roaming,
you are forever the most precious element
lining the cave walls.
Walls that record leftover memories
from previous lives shared.

For now,
the other side remains a realm
that we cannot yet venture to.
While there are no guarantees
for how many years we have left
on our entwined exploration of this world,
I can promise you that we will always be together.

Until we embark on that final flight,
under the power of our own long-awaited wings,
we will continue to drink
from the sanguine wellspring of our shared spirit.