I stand naked in front of the mirror.
I see my reflection through faded shades of fire.
She's covered in ashen soot.
My eyes are wide shut
feeling my life play out in front of me like a home movie.
The memories rush in
as I see the shell of who I once was clinging to the cross of self sabotage.
My hands and feet bleed questions of martyrdom as I try to control forces older than the ocean.
I'm caught inside the hell loop of my own subconscious design
like I had any chance of crossing the finish line
I wince my eyes shut
and speak with shaking voice but firm convictions.
My past does not define me.
I don’t live there anymore.
I’m no longer elsewhere.
My reflection surrenders the fight and clumsily falls off the cross.
She hits the earth on all fours suffering shattered kneecaps and a broken heart.
She's begging for a way out of her sober peyote trip searching for answers to questions that weren’t of her creation.
They were fed to her in breadcrumbs of indignation
that she vomited up through hateful years of tears
She's laid it out bare at absent feet
for 45 years too long but just long enough
I take a moment to thank my insight into the lessons I had to learn
as we are my shrine to fear and anger and the pain that they've earned.
I reopen my eyes to the adult in present day.
The cross, the war.. it's all faded away.
The roles I played were a tangled Cat's Cradle repertoire.
I take notice of each freckle, wrinkle, and faded scar.
Radical neglect is tattooed across my haggard skin.
I gently make amends for the carelessness and harsh thoughts within.
I carry this skin for life.
I can’t go back and undo time but I don’t need to anymore
New life lives behind these eyes.
I hold my own stare for exactly 4.7 heartbeats.
before I’m compelled to break the silence, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”
My reflection fades, and a 4 year old child I know intimately takes form.
She sits singing to herself with a Muppets coloring book
waiting patiently for me to enter her life
She stops her diligent artistry and looks up at me
smiling like it's Christmas morning
Decidedly she declares, “So you couldn’t do what we didn’t know.”
I look down and away, ashamed, as if I've failed her.
She hands me her mostly colored picture of Fozzie the Bear.
I bear witness to her forgiving innocence through watery eyes
and accept she is my inner child and I am who she's craved to find.
I take a moment to simmer in my gratitude.
as we are my shrine to acceptance and forgiveness.
I sit down to greet my 4 year old self at eye level
and graciously accept the colored page she's gifted me.
The mirror glows a dark blue as the paper passes through.
I feel its physical form in my hands.
My mind is reeling. Am I dreaming?
2 tears wetten Fozzie's figure and I sit there disbelieving.
I trace invisible shapes on the glass just for her smile.
She copycats me playfully.
The mirror glows once shape lines are connected.
She gets all excited, “Do it again!”
and she falls over laughing when I do as she's suggested.
We sit in this laughter-lined tender silence
speaking volumes in the middle of the moment.
Then she draws our name on the glass backwards just like we used to
and opens the doorway to be transported through
She stands born ready to be my guiding star,
steps through the mirror and into the body that got us this far.
I wrap my arms around her.
I rock us in a Mother's loving embrace with tearful adoration.
Finally she is seen, and safe.
Finally we are loved.
By the one person we needed the most.
Her. Me. We.
We are more than the worst we've thought we were.
Every deed, every word.. both kind and unkind.
Every mistake, both ours and not ours..
have been met with an equal and opposite gesture of love.
We grew into me, as I grow into we.
We were never failures.
We are being human, and we know the best is yet to be.
We take this moment to sit in each other's embrace as we pay homage to our story.
As we are our shrine to Love and our path to Peace.
© Tracy L. Buchanan 01/23/2022