THEN AND NOW

“If the problem with PTSD is disassociation the goal of treatment would be association-integrating the cut off elements of the trauma into the ongoing narrative of life, so that the brain can recognize that ‘that was then, and this is now.’” —BESSEL VAN DER KOLK

Then birthed murder
      and the tick of your heart against my cheek
in cold and time travel and fog.

Then your caution knew me and hung in my mouth.
You were in trouble, you needed to leave,
      but wanted to say,
      I didn’t need to marry a poet to be a poet.
The confessions stitched my griefs into silence.
      I knew you too.

You were water and mirror
      my body remembers in rhythms
and strange dreams that have haunted me.
Dreams of the dead and regret
            where I am sitting in a vat of truth
addicted to the taste of illusion and shadow,
my greedy skin like dragon scales
and all sense of my self made no sense.
      So I scratched and I scratched
until my fingernails dug beyond flesh, beyond longing,
until there was nothing left but blood and bone,
and the stubbed beginnings
      of great green feathers.

Happiness is more than earthly delights.
(There is only so much sadness allowed.)
      The poems synthesize,
enter a temple of prayer.
My words tell me things:
Conjoin clever rhymes
      find coyness within symbols
that never dissolve like eighth notes carved into mountains.
Chimeras are imperishable and can mother beauty.
Forget the intoxication of anger and fear and r.ot
Now is winter in my kitchen.
Now is earth and my ear pressed to your chest after washed dishes,
a thank you falls from your lips.
      Now is spring and cusp,
bending down onto your knees and teasing
      my cat with a bright pink feather attached to a stick.
Now is friendship entwined fingers
            speeding along the blur of blacks and golds
on a nighttime bridge of lights
      amid pandemic and awakening.

AURELIA LORCA is a poet, storyteller, and teacher who lives in San Francisco, California. She has her BA in English from UC Davis, her MFA in Writing and Consciousness from California Institute of Integral Studies, and is a PhD Candidate in Women's Spirituality at California Institute of Integral Studies. An alumna of the Voices of Our Nation Writing Workshops, her work has appeared throughout the small press. She is interested in how Lorca’s duende, the duende of Andalusia and flamenco, is a cross cultural spirit.

Link to Table of Contents