Root medicine 2: Brothers

Cousin brothers
Forever children in my eyes,
these grown men
walk with me
into my self.

We talk
of love and fear
of mushrooms and Messiahs
We drink fresh fruit cocktails.
and wander the wounds
of each one’s hearts.

We build
a canopy to cover
the wearying
worrying press
into the jungles
of time, and mind,
and mothering, and
lovering,and grief.

My brothers stand guard
at the fountain gates.
While I weave nets of
flowering vines
to catch their falls.

We stay connected
in spite of all
that divides us.

Love and fear
Love and fear
Love and fear
brothers of my heart.


Root medicine 1

Undeveloped rolls of film, under my bed. Faces emerge from the liquid dark. Memories I forgot I had remember me. Jet lag pushes now into the past, the past into the now. I am here. India rising indeed.

The children are with me this time. Where did they come from? The seven years between this visit and the last are soft drinks fizzing and cutting the sweet scented jolt of whiskey I have been longing for. The India I have been keeping in my heart looks back at the real self she is the reflection of, and is pleased, “The years have been good to you.”

3am silence has begun to crumble as four year old and six year old tummies remember that it’s dinner time half a world away. As I pad quietly into foreign yet familiar kitchen to forage for pre-dawn here/evening there sustenance, memories of awakenings past prickle across my brow. I used to keep quiet, tell no one, wake no one, brain whirling, stomach howling, when it was I who was American grandchild come home. No close in age sibling to share my ravenous insomnia.

Already this is different for them, because they have each other. And because I am here. I know what this is like, the fear–love pull of roots on far flung branchlets. They are emboldened because I am here to anchor. Already they have giggled, snuggled, checkered, ribboned, and serenaded their ways into my Indian family’s loving embrace. Fed by hand, carried on tall uncle shoulders-newly anointed Prince and Princess.

Whether or not they remember, they will never forget. I never did.

I am the Child of Music

“Sing. Sing a song.  Sing out loud. Sing out strong.  Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.  Just sing. Sing a song. “ – Sesame Street

I am the Music Hour Lady.  One hour of the day, one day a month, for the last two years I have led babies, toddlers, and other stay at home moms in song.  “Stomp your feet. Clap your hands. Everybody ready for a barnyard dance.” I talk to the children in a cheerful sing song voice.  I belt out nonsense lyrics at the top of my voice, with my son tucked on my hip. “I like to oat, oat, oat, opples and banonos.” I row my pretend boat around the room, going faster, and faster, and faster. I feel like I am 6 years old again, older than the babies, but still little enough to truly love this moment. But I am not 6 years old.  I am the Music Hour Lady.

I am the Hot Guitar Playing Indian Chick.  I sit in the stairwell of my dorm with my guitar.  I am learning to play my favorites – Dar Williams, Indigo Girls, Patty Griffin.  Sometimes I sing at the open mic night on campus.  I know I am not the best singer or guitar player.  My friends who play are serious and I’m pretty sure that they will keep Doing Music for the rest of their lives. My songs are for me.  “I fell in love with the man in the moon. And that man can ride a dragon.”    They are there for me when I need them.  I write songs when the mood strikes. “Turn around and your standing there, stalking me.”  but I forget to write them down. “Grandma wears bangles. Gold on paper skin.” They are just for now, just for here. 

I am the Drum Major.  “We’re not #5, not #4, #3, #2.  We’re #1. CHS!”   The football team is not doing so well this season, but it doesn’t matter.  The band will be there to cheer them on. I raise my arms up in the air. “Horns up!” Let’s give the crowd something to cheer about.  At halftime we march onto the field.  I step up on the podium.  I feel the eyes of a hundred musicians on me.  When I move, the dance begins. Bodies swirl across the field, and music pours into the stadium.  We are the screensaver for the game. We maintain the energy and enthusiasm of the fans until the second half.  We are the Concord high school marching band.

I am the Child of Music. It is late at night, but I am still awake. It is the summer after 1st grade. I am in an apartment in Madras in India. The air is heavy like a thick wet blanket. The room is open with very little furniture.  My head is resting on my mother’s lap. My father sits on the floor across from us, a guitar in his hands. There are a dozen or so others in the room,  women in colorful saris and salwar kameez, men in pants and short sleeve button down shirts.  Everyone’s feet are bare. Everyone sits on the floor. Some clutch knees to their bodies. Others legs splay out at their sides. Some sit cross legged and upright.  I am sleepy.  The room has been filled with music all night. My father finished singing and playing a moment ago. “I am just a poor boy though my story is seldom told. ”  Now it is my mother’s turn.  She clears her throat first like she always does.  She rubs my head gently. She closes her eyes as she sings.  “Mere ghar aye ek naan paare.”  It is a lullabye of sorts, my favorite. She sings of a beautiful fairy who appears at her window.  Everyone around her sighs.  I nestle my head into the space between her waist and her thigh and fall asleep. The night of music has just begun.