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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss Warmland.

Posts tagged #grief

I’ve been listening to poetry
For hours trying to find
Something that feels as familiar
As you did the first time you
Introduced me to the static
Of this world that mid summer
Burning
Crimson
Red hot
Rose petal
True love
My mother
You were like a Friday evening
And I was Saturday morning
You looked at me like I was
The best choice you had ever made
So when I celebrate you on
This day I am tied to
With the roots of your arteries
On this harvest moon
I’ll hold you at the helm
Of the care that you gave me
While I hear the echo of your
Heeled shoes through the sound
Of the still static.

If  you don’t allow yourself
To sit with your grief
And to hold it with you
(Not forever, just for now)

It’s like taking a deep breath
And holding it
Until you suffocate your
Present self.

Maybe that’s the thing
About grief is it is something
Firmly situated in a painful
Present self.

And it may be more comfortable
To stay in the present with
The one I (past me)
Loved.

Because life without you,
Sometimes it seems like it echoes
Through dimensions beyond
My mortal comprehension

But my present self and I
Hold you deeply in
Every cell in my body
And that curve where my leg meets my hip
And the roots of Japanese Maple trees.

So maybe I don’t really need to be without you at all.

After I’ve opened myself
A thousand times
-More than that
Uncountable times
Exposed the insides
That I wear so outwardly
You would think that
Maybe
I would find some way
To feel held
By the fractured ice,
By salt stains, bright lights
But as it turns out,
It is me
My plain language
My “could be pretty” face
My still-too-big body
Where I sit with my
Self-loathing
Where I turn it into
Care and compassion and the
Tight embrace
I have searched through
Winter for
For eleven years.

this time around,
I don’t feel the need to
fight/flight/freeze/fuck
or to perforate my
scar-stained flesh.
it helps not to be fourteen
fifteen
sixteen
seventeen but
twenty-six. 
it helps that I have loved you
and know now
that love is
patient/kind/hopeful
not
envious/angry/selfish
loving you-
is delightful because it is true
loving you-
is the taste of sugar
after black coffee.
it helps that I have loved you.
and though my body is here,
I am sitting on the bed with you
laughing too loudly
over curse words and cold tea
and how our love
is delightful because it is true.

IMG_4746

When I was fifteen, I designed a tattoo I wanted to get to commemorate my mom. The word, green, was the name she gave me when her tumour-riddled brain refused to let her access words- including my name. The font was taken from the band that played the first show I ever went to (with my mom), and I incorporated a moon and star- we had always shared a love of the sky. It was meant to symbolize our relationship, and it included symbols of all the most formative things my teenaged brain could comprehend at the time. My dad made me wait until I was 18 to get the design tattooed on me, but he did suggest engraving it on the bench that looked on to her grave. On my eighteenth birthday, he handed me a hundred dollars, I picked up my best friend, and I finally got my green tattoo on my left forearm. Years later, my brother would get the same tattoo, tying him to us even closer than he had been to start of with.

A year and a half later, my dad and I had a huge confrontation that resulted in us barely speaking for years afterward. During this confrontation, he expressed his disapproval of some of my choices, and I told him, through salty, gasp-filled breathes, that I was an adult who was capable of making my own decisions about my life. That same summer, I got my fourth(?) tattoo by a woman who was just learning to tattoo in her apartment for $20. Three birds sitting on a wire on my left wrist, one flying away. Dad, my brother, (still at home), and mom (who left, but is still here). On my right arm, there is one lone bird, soaring. Independence. The birds are facing me- a reminder. I went straight to a concert (The Specials) and danced until I was so drenched in sweat that the bandages on my wrists fell away into the pit and the ink smudged throughout my new tattoos.

It has been eight years since my first tattoo, and my body is now home to seventeen pieces of permanent art. Seventeen stories to illustrate my life so far. Just a couple of days ago, a lovely friend graciously offered to hand-poke one of her drawings into my skin. I looked through her sketchbooks and found a thin evergreen tree with an eye for roots, complete with straight lines extending downward. I instantly felt connected to the naturalness, the resilience, the grounding, the good vibes, the introspection, the connection of this image. I thought for a while about the placement, and after discussing with another close and cherished friend, my initial intuition was confirmed, and I decided on the placement: my left forearm, parallel to my green tattoo, and so that the roots of my new tree, which faces away from me and out into the world, extend towards the lone bird on my wrist wrist.

This series of tattoos wasn’t even meant to be representative of my healing process as I have learned to grieve for my mother while simultaneously standing in my power. But it was. Really, it’s a perfect expression of how when you learn to accept the universe as it is, that’s a step towards ending your own personal suffering. I am so grateful for this process.