ask your heart–

ask your heart

I.

May I be happy?

May I be loved?

May I be worthy of that love?

May I be at peace?

May I be strong enough?

May I be okay alone?

II.

There is so much happening in the world and with all my roles–mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, neighbor, voter…I sometimes forget the role of SELF. The role self and all I need in order to have harmony. On empty, I can’t accomplish much.

III.

On empty,

I won’t get very far

if I am driving –my body– this vehicle, on empty

will putter, stall, stop. Getting nowhere. I’ll just be stuck here, stuck with these emotions, stuck with these fears, stuck on EMPTY.

IV.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

ask your heart

May I have energy?

She will say, yes. She looks out for you. Pumps life into you without any other reason than she loves you. Once-in-a-while, she’d like you to take a moment in gratitude. Place your hand on her, feel her strength and say, “Thank you.”

So Heart,

“Thank you. Thank you for beating all these years, for giving me life for all these years. Such a gift to see my daughter grow, to see my son grow, to see the sun rise and set 16,790 times–truly, that’s a miracle.

I am

grateful.”

Gina Marselle, 10/17/2020

Hermosa Beach, Cali | July 2019 | Gina Marselle

Thirst

Dedicated to those fighting fires.

Thirst sits heavy in my throat
Opaque smoke hangs
Confident in the New Mexican sky
Our ancient sky is now a holder of smoke
For all the fires burning to the west, Northwest
As the winds shift
The Southwest
Wraps the smoke into its four corners

I pray for rain to clear the atmosphere
I miss our blue sky
Miss seeing the Sandias
Then I feel guilt

I have no right to miss the sky
A family misses their child more
Their small son and his dog—the dog stayed with his boy
As the smoke stifled both
Found together, the pup curled in his lap
Reading the news article, I just can’t—
Tears for this lost. Tears for the raging fire
The angry fires that burn
Mother nature can be vicious in her descent

She may also be loving
We pray, I pray, on my knees for holy water,
For rain to fill the fiery sky
For a tsunami of water
To drench the burning lands, tress, homes

Loss of life is too much, we are already fighting a pandemic
And protests.And police brutality.Andunity.And.And.And—
It’s too much
I want to drown my thirst into moments of peace
Gulp tranquility, HOPE
Until my belly is full and I’m bloated
I want to breathe water
Inhale, exhale
I pray for a universe of water to drench
Destructive fires—gift each life a chance

Water is humble—
It is difficult to ask for help
With faith, prayer, I look up and within a blink
There is a portion of the New Mexico sky
Giving me hope that eventually
The smoke will settle, the fires will succumb
This thirst quenched with life-healing water

© Gina Marselle September 16, 2020

Note: This work was inspired by a call for poets to write on the theme of water. I recorded this poem and it was shared during the “Volume 27 of Wednesday Night Poetry Virtual Open Mic, Poetry Through the Pandemic.” Poet, Author, Teaching Artist, Photographer and Host of Wednesday Night Poetry, Kai Coggin, invited poets to share poems about water to bring on the rains to drench the fires raging the west and Northwest parts of the United States. “Wednesday Night Poetry is physically held each week at Kollective Coffee+Tea in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, but is now held virtually to poets all over the world!”

© Gina Marselle | Offering | 9.18.202

After Reading Nye’s Poem, Kindness

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”
~Naomi Shihab Nye

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.”
~Lin-Manuel Miranda

       for my daughter, Miranda

Before you know what love really is
You have to strip yourself
Of everything
Every feeling
Every article of clothing
Every sound
Taste
Smell

Get rid of it all

Every material thing
You ever felt
You have to get rid
Of what you thought love is/or was

You have to give birth
      (or hold a child
      or a butterfly
      or a miracle
      or faith
      or race your horse across an empty cornfield
      without bit or saddle)

Love is love unaware
Of anything
But everything
Like bravery
Like a caterpillar spreading her wings
Knowing she doesn’t yet have wings
You too, don’t need wings
Because you already know how to fly
As you grand jeté
Landing softly but with firmness
Only a mountain understands
A thousand years later
As the sun sets and kisses Earth goodnight

A mother rocks
Nurses
Coos
Her golden, littlest love to sleep

Before you know what love is
You have to empty your soul
Like a yogi
Empties breath
All the way out until lung is flat
And the heart muscle has to remember
How to pump
Because life is not without

Hope

It has to have hope
Else we drown
One
By
One
Until it is just Adam and Eve, again
Standing naked
But this time they don’t see
Because they’re blind
And maybe this time

We’ll get it right

We’ll all fall into an abyss
And swim, and swim

We’ll be familiar with the
Darkness
Because we never knew anything else
Like we are back inside the
Womb
From which we all came
A quiet blackness
Of warmth
Of love
Safe
Content
Alone

Before you know what love is
You have to empty your pockets all the way out

And still believe

You are whole
You are brave

© Gina Marselle
May 28, 2020

My Daughter at American Ballet Theatre, NYC | Summer 2017 | Photo by Gina Marselle

Our Task

One may believe that our task as mothers
is simply to love our children.
Some can.
Some can’t.
Some can’t see the yellow moon
or waves slap against the shore
or their worth.
They run like wind on tails of mustangs.
Hearts armored with granite
stitched together with fallen rose petals,
shattered mirrors—
thin shards that slit throat—
killing that one chicken that always scurried up to the porch
when called out the back door, “Here, kitty, kitty…”

Some kind of crazy, a made-up horror film.
Sometimes true.
That chicken’s feathers were plucked,
emptied blood and guts,
Nowadays, kids don’t farm.
It may be grotesque,
but it is how chickens come to plate.
Fried in an old, black cast iron pan.
Oil splatters stove—
grease is difficult to remove
like memory.
A homemade dinner served
with a box of cheap red wine.

An apocalypse hurts less.

Our tasks as mothers is simply to love our children.
Some can.
Some can’t.

My mother stopped loving me probably when I was 8.
I don’t blame her.
Or her mother.
Or my Great Grandmother.

They were all alcoholics. No one taught them how to mother or love.
They did the best they could.
There was no al anon. Or one day at a time.
Just a poison inside a bottle
hidden under the kitchen sink
only for daughters to bare.

When I gave birth to my daughter 20 years ago,
I labored three days—
Finally, a C-Section.
Then daughter nursed. I promised her
for all the setting suns,
I’d do my best to love her,

cherish her, want her, adore her.

Perhaps, God will recognize my hard work.
My daily struggle to mother.
To love.

Allowing forgiveness. It’s a tremendous gift.
My mother suffers from breast cancer now.
I don’t know how she is doing,
as she doesn’t communicate with me or my brother.
Sometimes she talks to my dad (her ex). He tells us sometimes,

but lately, no one mentions her. Already a ghost.

Mother stays hidden in thoughts and journal pages.
In quiet prayers.
Perhaps, God will give me strength to say goodbye—
not in sadness at her gravesite, but in my heart, instead.

©Gina Marselle, 2020