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Passiflora – Psyche Marks


for Tori Amos (who appeared in the guise of a guardian angel in a dream)

in a place safe from battle
she awoke me from my deathbed
gently in a dream
of mauve and velvet
and the starry crowns
of violet-green passiflora
exploding from a fire escape,
attracting sparrows—
the only indicator
of surrealism

and half-asleep and blinking
I waited at her wooden table
as a teapot whistled—
and as she rode through the doorframe
like a birthday candle flame
in a dress made of peacock feathers,
I just listened

and she said:

love yourself—
I mean really love yourself
as in a verb, an act of,
not some abstract notion—
as in a knowing
that your cells 
love the blood oceans
they swim in,
singing psalms
to their only heart.

She said:
cultivate radiance—
I mean the kind
that bursts from your eye sockets
like comic book stars
and drips from your pores
like the nectar of lilacs
that calls the irridescence
of hummingbird wings,
like the mystical amber buzz
of honey—

she said—
be a sister to yourself
be a mother to yourself
be a lover to yourself
be an infant to yourself
be everything to yourself
and elevate yourself
as so human,
as the goddess you are

because no matter what
there’s never enough time
for a woman to heal herself,
to make love to herself
to know herself
to go inside herself,
and no matter what,
the world won’t give you that—

so you have to take your heart
and hold it tight
inside the callouses
of your palms,
and let it loose
with the blood jewels
that slip unchecked
from your depths,
let it drag from your limbs
like magnetic rattles
trailing glory
in your wake
as you fold towels,
trip over roller skates
and drive long hours
in industrious solitude
to make it all pay—
choosing daily between
body and soul,
poems and life—

she said:

no matter how you struggle,
no matter how
the world pulls you under
its bunioned toes
you will have no part in ugly—
for you are
beauty itself—
you rise like the wet pale nymph,
colors awakening
into flight—
you rise
like the timid pink sun
like the flickering neon rainbow
like the stretch of twilight shadows,
like dangerous thunderheads
like stubborn dandelions
that grow and grow
overtaking trim lawns
no matter how
you mow them—

she said:

you will win this, miss
but not by the user’s manual,
nor any tidy book of rules
and certainly not 
by closing your heart
to its semisweet core

for it is ecstasy only
that supports the orchid
on its frail foundation
of clouds and dreams
and should you dare
invite a draft
into this hothouse
you call death
to your side—

she said:

wake up from the night
and take this ripe fruit 
of you
into your balled fist
into the hunger in your teeth
into the wide pockets of your dress
into every secret orifice
with a vigilant avarice
and spit out the pits,
don’t let anyone steal this
no matter how busy you are,
how poor,
how your child cries
and the world needs more
and more of you—
you are ripe,
you are whole
down to the strange sewers
of your soul.
You give best
only when you hold on.
If you don’t know this,
then you’re just a hole, awaiting
a cement mixer to fill you—
and you have had enough
of sidewalks.

She said:

You are love, love—
poetry in motion,
and all those pick-up clichés
from 1950’s songs
where the boy gets the girl,
only you are the girl
and already know it—

You are all the love you seek.
You are
the mystical musk of the ox,
the delicacy of rainbow
and the fragrance of orchid.
You are not a hole
but a volcano,
taking in and making
and breaking new pathways—
you are the flight of the butterfly,
the hummingbird’s irridescence
and the mythos of honey,
the secret life of bats
and the bitter melt of chocolate.
You are all things nectar
and beautiful,
you are darkness
and light
and you have no right
to deny us this,
all your sun and shadow.

She said,

Love yourself
(as in love yourself)
so that we all may love you,
bearer of light,
keeper of night,
guilty of the sin
of purity.

Spread yourself like grape vines
over these prison walls,
over each edifice
that reins in the flame
of spirit
and usurps your wine
for religion—
wash the just and unjust
with the rain of your senses,
and curl pigs and lepers
and infant angels
into the womb of your arms—
with delicate skin,
press all the world’s wickedness
like pourcelain clay
into the sacred kiln
of your heart.

© Psyche Marks 2007

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