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Samskaras – Psyche Marks

Samskaras

The word sounds like a Christmas cookie:
patterns pressed in the firm dough of me
with a carved rolling pin of impressions
like the Springerle my sisters and I made as children,
baked in the hot oven of intention
too many times, too many batches,
too many burnt offerings, all this waste.

With their bittersweet anise grains,
they always were too hard to eat
and when you look up close to see them,
their intricacies, however delicate,
are just topographic maps of all my sufferings
that I’m trying to offer you with tea today
so you won’t crack your teeth on them

—and I need to stop that. The oven is hot,
and I need to turn it off and meditate
on the nature of sweetness. The ingredients.
The recipe, desired texture of dough,
and the scenes I’ve carved into my press—
if I want to have scenes at all,
or just enjoy an absence of heat,
and the scent of nothing baking.

There is nothing I can give you
until I have taught myself rest.
There is nothing I can nourish you with
until I can learn to feed myself.
There is nothing we can share
until I have gone deep within my kitchen
and purged this intricate mess.

I don’t know what I want.
Logic is easy to spin in our favor.
It’s easy to relive and believe in these festive scenes,
these archetypes and minor arcana
dancing in the wood. They are real
to the baffled mind, but meant for repetition,
these endlessly spinning wheels of samskaras
and we both know we want something more.

I never really liked those cookies.
My ancestors sent them from Germany
each year, and after weeks in the mail, they were stale—
but they’re supposed to be better that way,
and in their gold paper, they looked so sentimental,
so we learned to honor them anyway.
I know you can’t relate.
Born on a half-blank slate,
you learned to eat what was on your plate
until you decided it was better to go hungry
so you could sharpen your memory
of some long-forgotten taste you came here for.

I will not allow the dragons of worry
to sneak into our inner sanctum
we’ve come to call home.
What we’ve found isn’t ordinary;
it has no basis in history.
We live in a place that’s not here
or there; we’re connected by the ley lines
on an open ocean. We tune them to the pulse of stars
and walk them like tightropes. There’s no room in all this
awakening to ask for old blueprints of assurance
to cut into sails; they’ll only blow us in circles.

There’s a new world we’re headed toward
that hasn’t been discovered yet,
but I know its mountains and caverns
will defeat the purpose of tradition.
I will wait with you in this boat and sometimes,
be silent and capture stars in my mind
to remember where my contours begin.
Sometimes I need to be alone again
to do this work of dreaming new dreams
that I can breathe and expand in.
Sometimes there will be storms:
we’re not so new anymore
that we’re made only of hope,
and we’re far from dry land.
But I love this place beyond newness
where the real work of our voyage begins.
I am with you, always—
loyal as the lapping of oars in your hands,
constant as the promise of islands.

I am meant for more than fear
and the ancient recipes of sorrow.
I know there’s no room on this boat
for such heavy cargo, and I know
you followed me into the underworld
because you saw that amid all the dark things there,
I was shadow itself, and I ruled them.
I was trembling, and held a fist of broken arrows.
Still, you knew. You saw me, called my secret name,
and still you call when I collapse and won’t go on.

I don’t know how to be this self you see in me,
but I believe in the possibility
of a new world, where the harvest we plant
with the weight of intention
is bearing fruit in another dimension.
And I’m hitting the reset, just like that
and starting again.
I am choosing to own my destiny.

© Psyche Marks 2017

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