Rising Up

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“Perhaps Women were once so dangerous that they HAD to have their feet bound.”  Maxine Kingston

I posted this to my blog two years ago, but, because I have had nothing on my mind for the last two weeks other than the nightmare of our new president-elect, I feel like I need to reshare this.

I was listening to Andra Day and in particular, this song:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwgr_IMeEgA

And it reminded me of the poem that I wrote years ago.  And for a moment, it greatly depressed me, that, once more, we must rise up.  Once more, we are facing a regime run by someone who has proven he has no respect for women, for other races, other religions, for the differently-abled.

Thinking about his remarks about Megan Kelly and the “blood coming out of her …whatever” I remembered how we were sent away to bleed, about this poem, and about how this message has been vital for a hundred years and will be for a hundred more.

I do not speak any truth here but my own.  This is my story.  I want to hear yours.

I was sexually abused when I was 9 years old.  And later, many years later when I thought I had closed the door on that ultimate vulnerability, I was abused, raped and assaulted on a daily basis by someone who swore to love me.

To be perfectly honest, the new president elect reminds me a great deal of him.  The posturing, the smug smile, the fact that they have both bragged about sexual assault.  The fact that his face is now plastered on social media, on magazines, and will be on a plaque inside this country’s highest office has literally brought me to my knees in grief and fear and dread.

But, I am reminded, in the company of amazing people, people who have been fighting the fight, or have only just begun to do so, that the power for change is right there within us all.  And as hard as it may be, we must keep rising up, doing it over and over, a thousand times.

I wrote this poem years ago, yet its message to me is so freaking relevant right now.

 

 

For all the Mad Women in the Attics of society, of their own minds, of the short sightedness of other’s minds…..Rise Up.

An original poem, by  Kathryn Cody

Binding

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They never thought we’d walk again,

never dreamed that under their oppressive gauze

we would wriggle our mangled toes

in defiance.

 

Rising up, we left our attics and our asylums–

a lurching monster, dragging toes and breasts,

limping and scraped from the Fall.

On our backs we carried our whalebone crosses.

 

They tried to stop us.

They sent us away to bleed,

sent us away to birth,

afraid of the rich vulva and all her secrets.

 

But somewhere in a whorehouse,

after the last fucking,

dormant Eve awoke

and went in search of fruit.

Grief

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Why is it that in all of my dreams

the sky is on fire?

I’d like to know why the clouds are ash

and why the rain burns.

Sometimes in that sky

I am a volcano – dark and mysterious.

My skin is hard and made of years

and years of built up decay

and yet there are brilliant cracks forming along my skin

and the molten center that has been boiling for centuries

comes oozing out, slowly. So slowly, you forget to run.

You forget the heat that is coming

and you watch it track down your skin with a fevered fascination

until you are consumed.

The volcanic pyre doesn’t erupt but sears you with languid sorrow

from the inside out.

By Kat Cody

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bruised

 

You were a bruise,

Hitting me hard and deep.

I felt your impact from my toes to my roots,

But you held me steady.

I didn’t fall.

We played tug of war

With hearts and emotions,

Surfing the chaotic wave,

Seeing the end,

Helpless to stop.

Somewhere in the crest of the wave,

You let me fall,

And my skin erupted in shades of purple, black and blue.

But you were gone before they even began to fade.

I don’t even know why I miss the pain.

I just know that I do.

I knew from the beginning that it would end like this,

Me broken, you walking away.

I knew, from the moment you kissed me,

That you would wreck me.

And I let you in anyway, just to feel alive.

I know, now that you’re gone,

That after the colors fade, and my skin is once again pale

I will touch those places

And remember you.

Burning Ashes

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I have a friend named Allan.  I met Allan and his wife Karin last summer.  At that time, I worked part time at a veterinary hospital and some asshole had abandoned a dog there.  Dumped it with a bag of food and a fearful heart.   I rescued it, and sought a home for it through local rescue animal welfare groups.  Allan and his wife were the ones who adopted that little dog.
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I knew then she was dying.  She had cancer. I visited her during the coming months, checked on them and their dogs. Sadly, Karin died January 1, 2016.   And he loved her. And now, he is mourning her deeply. I went to the memorial.  He adored this woman, and the love he felt for her was a palpable thing.
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Anyway, I have been thinking so much about her and Allan and their amazing, albeit too brief time together.
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So, I wrote this poem.

It is wrong of me to envy a dead woman.
And yet, when he speaks of her,
Reverent longing heavy in his timbre,
I envy her. Not her ashes,
But the fire in which she died –
Brilliant hues that burned her from the inside out.
His fingers, coated with soot, bear the same scorching.
And I long for the same consummation.
I know that her body failed her, but
What of her heart?
Do the filmy gray flakes that he scatters in the wind
still vibrate to his touch?
Do the ashes remember how they were loved?
Do they realize how they are mourned?
In my mind, I chase the feathered gray flakes
as they scatter Germany,
if only to inhale their smoldering and taste their back draft.
A few remain around him, land on his shoulders, his arms, tangle in his hair,
As if unwilling to let him go.
His face turns upward to the sun,
but it is a cold substitute
for the fire he once held.

My Christmas Memory

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This time of year is often one of the busiest, with people hustling and bustling to get to additional activities related to the holidays, to work longer or harder to buy extra gifts for their loved ones, and the end result is we often are left with feelings of exhaustion, stress and anxiousness. Many people are blessed with a lot of close family at the holidays. Others find themselves at loose ends because they do not have a close knit family to spend the time with. Television, magazines, radio, social media – they all tell us how joyful and rich and rewarding the holidays are, when for many, it’s a time fraught with emotion.

Sometimes, you can think back on that ONE holiday memory that sticks out, not because of the big, extravagant nature of the gift you received, but of the lingering emotion, the peacefulness that memory brought, that took you out of the hustle and bustle, and back to a simpler, yet more authentic celebration.

My memory of such a moment goes like this.

I was around 9 or 10 years old and traveling with my mother in our family’s pinto to see her parents who lived in Leslie County, Kentucky. My father had to work and so my mom and I were taking them some gifts and spending the night with them. We planned on staying one night before returning back to our home to have Christmas with my older brothers and the rest of our immediate family. My grandparents’ home was tucked against the Eastern Kentucky mountainside, back in what we called the “holler.” It was coal country, and in the evenings when we would visit, my grandfather and I would sit on the front porch and count the coal trucks as they went by, and he would point out when the owls hooted just what they were really saying. In the mornings, my grandfather would bring in those big, shining lumps of coal and stoke the fire with them while I lay snug on the pull out sofa. He would come inside with a rush of cool air, and I’d raise up at the chill. He would smile at me, and I’d watch the burning glow as he fed the coal stove.

This particular year, my mom had told me on our drive there that my grandmother was feeling a little blue this holiday. My grandmother had 14 children, and now, in her senior years, I believe the silence of the house must have been painful. So, my mother and I made a pact to bring some holiday cheer to them both.

As we drove deeper in to eastern Kentucky, snow began to fall. My mom and I sang Christmas carols on the drive and talked about the things we would be doing when we got back from this visit. When we arrived at my grandparents, we took in our gifts, and I looked around. Where is your tree, I asked her? I had to put the presents under the tree! She shrugged, saying she had not bothered with one. I told my mom that we had to go get a tree, because in my child’s mind, we couldn’t have Christmas without one. My mom looked outside. The snow had begun to fall in great, big snowflakes. I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen snowflakes that large ever in my lifetime, except that day. She didn’t think we should venture out on the winding road.
I was crushed, but then I said, why can’t we go get one in the woods? My mother said well, we don’t have a tree stand, but, let’s go see what we can find. So, my mom and grandmother and I all bundled up in the afternoon, snow falling all around us, and we walked into the woods around my grandparents’ house. We walked a long time, and my mother saw a tree that seemed to be dying. It had a few branches still green, and my mother took the knife she’d brought and cut them. I had no idea what she was planning. I picked up some pine cones on our walk and soon we were back in the warmth of their home. My mother had always been so good at arranging flowers and she went to work with the branches and pine cones. She created a really lovely centerpiece of branches, and found some ribbon in my grandmother’s sewing supplies.

But something was missing. An Angel atop the “tree.”

My grandmother had these large, heavy drapes in her bedroom. I used to love to play with the tassels on them. I had an idea. I asked my grandmother if I could have the tassel and she said that I could, so we cut off the tassel, with the wide face and braid trailing from the ends. My grandmother knew what I was doing, so she got to work on her sewing machine and soon had sewn a tiny dress and angel wings. We needed a body though, so we found a wooden spoon. Turning the tassel upside down created a face and the trailing braid resembled hair. We perched the bright red tassel atop the wooden spoon and slipped on the dress and wings my granny had made. We looked it and suddenly began to laugh. It was quite a sight, this red tassel that my mom had drawn eyes and a nose and mouth on, with the dress and hastily made wings on a wooden spoon. My grandmother laughed so hard soon my grandpa was laughing too and suddenly it was the best Christmas ever. We placed the makeshift angel in the centerpiece and sang carols and began to decorate the centerpiece, threading popcorn onto string. I even had construction paper and we made a chain of rings. Soon, our home made “tree” was complete.

I’ll never forget that memory, or how the small house in Leslie County went from somber and unfestive, to filled with laughter and love, not because of extravagant gifts, but because of time, creativity, and time with loved ones. We ended up being snowed in there for a few days, and we had to postpone our celebration back at our house. Instead, at my grandparents, we played in the snow, and I didn’t care that I didn’t have any presents. I remember laughing and playing with my mom and my grandmother, and my grandpa stoking that coal fire with a twinkle in his eye.

This Is Love

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The flame gyrates to a song only the fire can hear.

Bright colors beckon with vibrant fingers.

Come hither.

Come away to burn in the shadows.

I will light up all your dark places.

And in the blue between the orange auras,

there is a cool comfort–

A numbness that feels safe,

While outside the heat rages.

Stay still, within that blue between,

Let the cocoon be unbroken

Else the molten rock you used to be seeps through–

leaves only ashes and smoke.

It’s Friday Night

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It’s Friday night
and this room reminds me of another girl
I used to be.
Twenty years ago, I was dangerous.
Tonight, I am only hungry for a melody just out of reach.
Warmed by smoke and beer,
I sneak through the crowd to the front row,
swaying to rhythm of Beam and Coke as it sloshes in rowdy glasses.
I always did have a knack for finding
the bass player with the Pagan face
who would break my heart before the sun rose the next morning.
When the music ended, we found ourselves in a dark corner,
mingling riff and sweat and sinew.
Perhaps I am dangerous too.
And there is no sympathy for this devil tonight
as I silence the voice murmuring disapproval in discordant tones.
In the morning, there will be time enough
for a bitter communion.
Tonight, I will sing,
as deviant fingers stroke
the underbelly of my conscience.

– Kathryn Cody

The Gray Ghost

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The Gray Ghost
By Kat Cody

I can barely talk about my mother,
about the room at the end of the hallway with a few pictures of people
she doesn’t recognize–
A family’s last, futile effort to pretend she is still theirs.
She’s not.
The gray ghost stole her years ago, pulled her into a shadowed grasp,
Tightly. Too tightly. At first, she struggled, but now,
she rests easy in its arms,
Quiet. Subdued. Surrendered.
Swallowed by its smothering embrace.
There had been moments we heard her call out,
A glance, or a smile, or a word that teased us into thinking she would return.
But now even that is gone, and all that remains is a faint trace of her presence
taunting us with a face so familiar,
and a stranger’s hollow eyes.

She reminds me of my Mother,
The woman before me.
I hold her when she cries because she doesn’t understand the pull of the gray ghost.
And I tell her she is never alone, because I feel her fear in the tremble of her hand in mine.
I bring her the Sun, the warmth of her dog, the familiar scent of coffee rising from the cup before her.
And for a few moments, there’s a light in her eyes.
Before the color fades and her slack-jawed inertia takes over,
Before her words, like choked, mid-winter moans, are consumed
And her limbs turn to slow, painful joints, stirring stiffly,
But mostly not at all.
Soon she will rest easy, the awareness gone.
But we remember.
We cannot forget.

Rainy Days And Mondays

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10805139_10205624953973153_940761790_nSomething about a weekend of great highs and great lows that make Monday all the more difficult with which to deal. It’s jarring, the slide from the clouds to the hard ground, and then when faced with the reality and often monotony of the work week, I find myself struggling. I’m thankful for friends, true ones, who will listen when you lament and offer help, whether it be a song that they want to hear you sing, or a natural remedy for depression, or just a hug and an ear to let you vent and work it all out in your head. I’m grateful for puppies and furry snuggles and the certainty that every time my door opens, a tail will wag in welcome. I’m thankful for my beat up car that gets me from point A to point B one more day. For a job that while frustrating at times, pays bills and buys dog treats. I’m grateful for my messy kitchen because it means I have food to eat from those dirty pots and pans. And I am even grateful for tears, because it means I am living.