in a time before words,
she hunches and works in the dirt,
gathering the herbs, spitting into the mix in her palm
making the heal-mud
she grunts at the achy one to be patient.
years later a man spits into his calloused hand,
stirs dirt with seeing fingertips 'til the mud
is ready for smearing over blind eyes
no hurry, no rush
because it will work.
trees will be seen,
faces received, colors will shine
when it's time.
the ache runs deep
in crevices dark and jagged.
what's even down those holes and hollows?
an ancient ache in my bones
i carry it in my marrow
rubbing her right index into her left palm
the grandmother of grandmothers stirs not knowing
but hoping the paste works
not a balm, but a poultice
not a covering but a drawing out,
bringing the poison
up from the broken places
the rising up threatens to tear and slash me from the inside out.
sometimes it's a musician's minor note that dredges the ache from places you never knew
or a couplet coaxing pain from the hidden to the seen-
pain you can't name, so rilke named for you
whatever way the ache rises
at the surface it turns
from dark to light,
dank to dry,
from shame to redemption
sometimes you can't name the hurt til it's out
and that's okay.
out is the key.
and when love does the drawing out
it doesn't leave it raw on the surface for long.
the balm comes...
fat robins on matchstick legs...
all of these and more meet the pain when it emerges to take it in their hands, on their backs, in their beaks.
they carry it for you
sometimes far away,
sometimes just far enough that it isn't forgotten
but can be seen safely.
and one day when a friend aches,
you can take them to visit it.
you can point up to that branch where it rests and say
"see? see, honey...don't be afraid to let it out and away."