I AM NOT WHITE

I am not white… 
Not white, but tones of pink
of gentle shades of tawny
with constellations on my skin
of greater and lesser magnitudes
of brown.

My eyes are blue
or sometimes more like grey.
It’s a mood thing
or a product of surroundings
and ecologies.

My blood is red
as bright
as anyone’s. 

My hair has lived through
sun-touched gold
and lightish, dullish brown,
and through fads of colors
unnatural
And come to white and grey
and a touch of aqua 
for the fun of it!

The heart of my heart
pulses
in all the colors there are
of skin, 
of culture,
of self-declaring genders
and identities; 
of rainbows between 
the steel-grey of storms,
the hollow shadows of
ignorance,
the depths and darks of
benightedness.

Like the Sun
I strive
for wholeness of light,
to be all colors
though, like everyone,
I walk in forests’ shades,
swim in ocean’s currents,
squint against squalls
not always of my own making.

Tones change with moving clouds,
like feelings, 
impulses sparked,
concentration,
fascination;
by the fears engendered
by the certainties of others…

I am bowed down
sometimes
by all I do not know
or understand. 

I weary of the uphill climb
from time to time.
I fret for all the folk
who also climb, 
and somehow believe
they know the only way;
by those also who cling
to clumps of grass, 
to thrusting stone,
and somehow believe
they’ve reached the top… 

Still, I want to be
the brightness
of the Sun…

I want to be, meantime,
all the colors that I am. 

I am not white. 

Lament

I’m sorry,
I can’t love you
as maternal love should be…
Out here I stand
beyond the glass,
a wall of distance
between my heart and the world.

Love’s such a quiet subtle thing
so easily drowned out
by need and want
and hungers wailing
from a time,
the time when children
learn to love
by being loved.

I’m sorry
that my missing pieces
make this puzzle
that is love
forever incomplete.
Yet I want to love,
you are so very dear
although my heart is mute and broken.

I know love is something like
the yearning crouched in here…
I wish, I wish, I wish
that I could feel
all that I know is true.
I wish that I could give you
all that you should have from me
without the firewalls
that make my space
a safer place.

I cherish you
as I have always done
I want to know
that this is enough for you to understand
all that you are to me.
I would not have
your heart, your life
be broken, too.

April 2015

Mother and Child

I cannot quite put a finger on it,
nor pin down the feelings in my heart
now I am home from visiting with you…
A deal of history lies there between us
as it has lain, gathered over years
of awkwardness,
uncertainty,
resentment,
guilt,
embarrassment;
over many moments
miscalculated,
misinformed,
misunderstood
that still stand between us…

Now I am older,
with grown children of my own;
You are old
and grasp your cup
with two frail and twisted hands
that once were capable
of wringing out a washcloth nearly dry
or leaving marks on angry cheeks
that faded over days…

Now I do not hold the grudge
that came of fearing you
and your disdain,
your disapproval of everything, it seemed,
I was or wanted.

Now, visiting you in your small rooms
and holding you against me in embrace
that saves you from another fall,
please see that
I hold nothing else against you now;
I hope with all my heart
you know I love you
and that’s all.

2007 by CL Redding

THE DAY BETWEEN

Considering with weary heart and jaded eye
all the stacks and racks and knicks and knacks, 
that loom left over and left undone
from yesterdays and yesterweeks
last month, last season,
even all a lifetime’s matters 
still requiring answers and corrections and response… 

Before this week is out I know
decisions must be made, 
uncertainties confronted and if possible allayed, 
anxieties faced down, potentially delayed;
expectations settled–mine and those of others
poised for disappointment and dismay
or vanishing as imaginings 
never truly dire… 

And then, seen dim like creatures that lurk
as slowly they emerge from dark and murk, 
the tasks, demands, the urgencies,
the next steps of projects still in play, 
consequences of choices and decisions. 
of commitments made to make them go away… 
I know they’re out there, to be dealt with
with whatever wit and skill
and luck that will
in the moment be mine, 
or maybe not…

Today, though, I will walk
the ground between
the promises of yesterday
and insistances of the coming day.
Today I will watch the world shine
apart from my concerns
with its skies and weathers, 
I’ll revel in its flowers,
in its pretty rocks and fallen feathers, 
and I will give no thought to all the rest
or gnaw over what is worst or best…
I will listen for the birds, the wind, 
the music of the spheres, and know
the earth beneath my feet
is not belabored by my cares, 
but shares its energies, its life,
its simple beingness with me,
expecting nothing…

This is the day I gift myself…
This is the day between.

Against the Pane

I did believe that I
no longer cared:
Immunity attained,
myself now proof
against the sight
of others drifting
in the rosy joyful clouds,
the bliss of knowing
another,
and being known
accepted
welcomed
touched and moved,
embraced,
enjoyed…

That lessons
learned in pain
were by now set hard
within a heart crazed
by experience,
firmly welded into a whole
by wisdom…

Apparently not.

What Would You Do For a Klondike Bar?

Watching EVIL on Netflix. Interesting…

It’s the metaphor of the perpetual battle of Good vs Evil through the filters of the Catholic Church vs the Demonic Heirarchy. That isn’t the point of it though, that’s just the vehicle for the stories. The point is that we make choices, that we choose the influences that help us make our decisions, and that there are things essentially wholesome, and things essentially inimical to life and happiness. This is disregardful of specific religion or philosophy, though both bring particular energies to the things that we consider in our decision-making.

Through stories and characterizations, this show demonstrates the choices we encounter, the games we get caught up in, and how other people get caught up in situations that we believe we would not. It shows where people are vulnerable, how they are conned or seduced to invite the vampire into the house. “Can I come in?” is more persuasive than, “Let me in!”

So while I am not a Catholic, and don’t invest in that hierarchy of Hell’s 60 demons, I do recognize there is actual evil in the world, even if it just the many iterations and machinations of fear. Fear is what separates us from Love, it is that which puts the Body’s dominant interests over those of Spirit or Soul or Higher Self. It is the perpetual struggle to find domination where what is really needed is balance.

It gets me thinking about these things, my own perceptions of Good and Evil, my own processes of choosing, my own temptations and inclinations. It gets me pondering what I want in life, and why I want it, and what I will and won’t do to get it.

Doing Nothing

I have a flip phone. Still. Again. I don’t need a phone smarter than me.

In waiting rooms, while others are waiting plugged into entertainment and social media, and ‘getting things done’ I am the one sitting there looking like I am doing nothing. But I am not doing nothing.

I am observing. There is always something to take notice of, to watch progress through its own moments. 

I am thinking. I think about what’s going on around me, what I am waiting for, what I will do when it’s done. I think silly thoughts and philosophical thoughts, I play with words in my head, and remember whatever the moment or recent moments have triggered. 

I am remembering. I visit in thought places I’ve been, experiences, people… I have quite a lot in storage from near 7 decades of living.

Sometimes I am worrying. Sometimes I am healing. Sometimes I am simply experiencing waiting.

I am in that space, that time, with myself. 

I am not bored. I am not wasting anything. I am not doing nothing.

Science vs Faith is not a thing.

My dad, a scientist, once said, “I don’t need faith, I’ve got knowledge!” I think it was a response to my asking him to have a little faith in me. It was, however, his scientist-mindset that defined and justified–to him–his attitude.

Scientists seek knowledge, or as close as they can get to something they can claim as ‘knowing.’ At the same time, true scientists know they never know enough to say more than, “It looks like this is true with the information we have and the tests we can make.” True science accepts its own limitations and ignorance, and is always about questioning what is ‘known.’ 

Many things have been challenged and tested enough that they are accepted as facts, though scientists still use the word ‘theory’ when labeling them, always leaving room for new information to change the established understanding. It is a different use of the word from the layman’s concept of ‘theory’ meaning ‘an unproven notion.’ Hence a lot of the confusion over the Theory of Evolution. 

So far, no one has been able to present real evidence that evolution is not a fundamental dynamic of life’s functioning. Arguments, sure, and alternate hypotheses–which is the correct scientific term for untested theories–but nothing that stands up to Reality’s tests. In this debate, it isn’t science vs faith, but science on one hand, philosophy on the other.

In fact, my dad didn’t have as much knowledge, or even sufficient knowledge of me, either, as he asserted. Sure, he knew about things I didn’t know, had experiences of life I had not had, but he had not had my experiences, and truth be told, I knew even then a few things he didn’t. In any case, that day he was being clever, not smart, not kind, and his intent was not truth, but shutting me down. 

One flaw scientists can fall into is the attitude that even in areas not yet explored, because they are scientists, they are ‘righter’ than anyone else.

People who deride faith are doing the same thing. But the truth is, as much as we can actually know very little, and nothing absolutely in this complex universe, and given our limited human minds, none of us live without faith in something. Some of us believe there is a God; Some of us believe there is no God. But it is still all belief.

I have faith in the essential goodness of human nature, though every day, every minute, someone in this world is doing their level best to prove me wrong. I have faith that there is something greater than myself–greater than human beings, all with supreme awareness, though how I define ‘God’ is not at all what most people mean by ‘God.’ My faith in God’s existence is not faith in any religion or dogma, but in my own experience and pursuit of information. I have faith that many things not now provable or detectable by science will, someday, be detected and tested and explained by scientific method. 

“Because God Wants It That Way” is not a statement of faith, it’s a cop-out that settles a matter without any kind of evidence, reasoning, or logic. It’s a conversation-stopper. It is the sound of ears and minds slamming shut, of ignorance claiming victory, of disinterest in learning how the world really is, of disinclination to challenge their truth against Reality. 

Every time we say, “I believe…” we make a statement of faith. Since practically everything we claim to know is actually belief, that makes us all people of faith. Even my dad.

Reclaiming The Eternal Feminine

MEDUSA

O maid, you once were lovely,
full of grace, and named
for Wisdom in eternal female form–
Metis, Maat, Medha the names you bore…
But the passing generations,
reshaping and restructuring your form,
made you over as a thing to fear,
no longer Maid, but monstrous
with a deadly, stony gaze;
Men made you cruel and cold
and perilous to life in latter days,
forgetting that the peril in your eyes
is Truth too true for them to see, and live.
Grim-faced now, the Gorgon who is wise,
whose serpents in her hands once offered Life
now–writhe in ringlets on her brow
And Perseus pursues her with a knife… 

copyright 2005 by CL Redding  


Medusa illustrates one of humankind’s greatest dysfunctions, throughout all the cultures in which women have been put down and diminished, relegated to roles of subservience, charged with incapability of mind and frailness of body. In those that view the Universe as perpetually polarized the good and the bad, the feminine has become associated with evil. Out of these attitudes, naturally flows the reshaping of the feminine from equal to the masculine, and possessed of particular female powers to being chattel of the male: from whole person to object and having no value except as men define it.

Humanity has been deformed and crippled by this dysfunction that began with the rise of patriarchy. When life became about conquest and physical domination, the values of insight, of healing, of the powers of gentleness were diminished.

It isn’t about how men are, or women: It is about foundational assumptions and beliefs throughout a culture in its defining of maleness and femaleness. It is about the essence of the masculine and of the feminine. It is about unexamined notions and forgotten roots.

How do we heal this dysfunctional family? It has to start with awareness, with questioning what has been accepted as normal, with looking back to beginnings, to times before the beginnings, to seeing a world without this dysfunction.

We know more now, we understand many things better than our ancestors did, or could. Our philosophies have grown more sophisticated. It is in our power to refute, to redefine the ‘truths’ of our ancestors, and knowing better, to do better, as Maya Angelou suggested.

The Serpent & The Saint It’s a book!

A question that bounced around my head for a while, triggered by Saint Patrick’s Day and his associated myths: How exactly did St Patrick ‘drive all the snakes out of Ireland? History actually has some answers for the sources of this folk tale, but before I knew that, an idea came to me. It took a little longer for the words to coalesce, but a couple of years ago, they came together. They made a nice little fable, and I posted it in a couple of places. And there I let it rest.

The beginning of January this year I was looking at a book called TRIADS OF IRELAND written and illustrated by Olivia Wylie, a writer and artist and a professional gardener whom I’ve met at a few pop-culture conventions, and we also connected online. So it was simple enough to contact her and ask if she’d be interested in illustrating my little fable.

As of March 3, THE SERPENT AND THE SAINT, written by me and illustrated by Olivia Wylie, is released!

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-serpent-and-the-saint-cl-l-redding/1138880416?ean=9781734327144

Serendipity played its part, and this all happened in two months, from the time Olivia accepted the commission to a book in print. It is an exciting time! And now we are looking at another collaboration between her art and my Middle-earth inspired poetry, making individual poems with illustrations into posters, perhaps.

I am so looking forward to when the pandemic is beaten back enough for those pop culture conventions to resume, when I can have my own table with books and all!