Designating time to honor relationships is good practice. Mother’s Day is a handy reminder. To those that have departed, we can honor their lives by awakening memory, giving thanks, and performing healing work on any loose ends that are bound to dangle suspended in time. We can offer prayers and poetry. These are all ways to feed the spirit birds.
When I became an adult, I was prepared to live a life completely independent of my parents. But Fate put us into close proximity. I became my mother’s close friend, mentor, therapist, and I became the family shaman — working to cleanse the storyline of our lineage. Of course, I was also her adult son.
My mother passed over 10 years ago (my father two years prior). I performed powerful journey-work to guide her on her way. Checking in with her recently, she has traveled well. But I found frozen moments of scarring that still have impact. Inspired by Hank Wesselman’s healing work for his deceased grandfather (Spirit Medicine: Healing in the Sacred Realms), I performed healing on those scars still suspended like a frozen dream, still vibrating a hereditary impulse.
The following poem vibrates at the intersection of consensus reality and the imaginal. That intersection extends beyond this physical life. In an earlier version of the poem, I mentioned Saint Francis preaching to the birds. The idea was that we may speak our prayers aloud with the sky as witness: “Allise and Rolen, may you find an updraft to lift your wings. May you reach your next destination prepared. May the journey provide sustenance.”
Feeding the Spirit Birds
I fly the skies imaginal exploring The Creative,
gathering gifts I cannot wrap in a box with ribbon,
arriving at the celebration with an armful of wing-beat
and a merry box of chocolates as tangible backup.
I want to share the harvest of dreams, but who can resist
the melt in your mouth, the tongue coming alive.
Once, for Christmas, I gave my mother
a package of powdered sugar, all wrapped and tidy
pretending to be something exotic. By that time,
my mother no longer expected the conventional from me.
I was the gift, her prodigal son renewing the threshold.
And the cookies she made with that sugar were delicious.
Recently, my father has died, and my mother’s mind
is taking the slow wind home. They have flown
off together. Sometimes, tired and alone,
I hear the sound of two leaves falling,
listen to the floating journey suspended with silence.
I grieve my losses a leaf at a time
to prevent my having to bury the trees.
Then I go outside to feed the spirit birds.
Nourishment flows through the connection
at the edge of Otherworld. Come Christmas,
I wonder if it will snow powdered sugar.
A Mother’s Sacrifice
It seems to me that a willing mother makes conscious sacrifice. At least, mine did. There’s the sacrifice in giving birth, the sacrifice to put a child’s needs above her own, and a potential sacrifice at the end of a life that may not be conscious. Even when you are satisfied that the soul will travel well in passing, there is Mystery in the transition. The heart is open, and something of Otherworld encourages transformation. It took a poem to explore that something.
A Mother’s Sacrifice
Today, I heard you are dying.
My brother heard as well,
called me from beyond his grave
retreat, spoke with a soft soothing voice
that erased a stubborn disagreement.
The pain that comes with dying
opens our bedside eyes,
awakens the desire for new life,
begs for the chance to put things right.
It’s like you are giving birth again,
your heart breaching toward an unknown
light that sparks our blood and bone.
There is a crack forming at the edge
of the world through which we are
given another chance for redemption.