At some point, we begin to see how so many truths have an equal and opposite truth. The famous first line from A Tale of Two Cities hints at this: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” And we can be struck by this at almost any moment, as I was yesterday at a Blessingway for my friend Sheila, who is about to give birth to her fourth child.
What It’s Like
Let’s say you find yourself in a round living room
and the women are dressed in white. You, too.
In the center of the circle is a wooden bowl
filled with holy water, pink lilies, white daisies,
purple asters, green mums. These you will use
to caress and adorn the very pregnant woman
across from you. She is beautiful, her belly
a moon past full. In quiet voices, the women
chant to the universal mother, he ma durga,
he ma durga, he ma durga. Sage embellishes the air.
Through the windows, you see the invisible wind
tearing the clouds to white shreds. And you feel
how this is you, too, tatters of you strewn across the universe,
And it is beautiful. And it is such a mess.
You cry. Of course. You are a woman, and the song,
in four syllables, tells the story of where we all come from
and suggests to where we will all return—not to dust,
but to song—and the tears oil the hinge as it swings
back and forth and back and forth between
two worlds, keeping time for your wild heart. It’s so simple,
you think, though not in words. In one world, we are nothing.
In the other, we are everything. Both concepts—the wonder
of it all!—bring you to your knees, which you’re already on,
chanting four syllables on each exhale, knowing for sure
how easy it all is, all of it, so simple, and knowing for sure that
it is so very messy, so confusing, so hard, so hard.