on quitting quitting and my heart as a salmon

I actually met a deadline today- only three more to catch up on. I smell mildly goatlike, and to be honest I enjoy the reek of me. I imagine myself to smell very sexy; L. disparages me of such notions. He is almost done with outpatient. I am almost done with quitting.

I kind of suck at quitting. I am not actually sure what I quit, exactly, except trying. I have given up the notion that I can rise above my disability, above poverty, above classism and transphobia and homophobia and forge something akin to financial stability for my family. Maybe later, I can- god knows that I will try- but right now, I am more broken than I could ever have imagined being, and I accept that. I accept fracturing, I accept sleeplessness, I accept a combination of grief and fear that is agony, agony, an almost unbearable pressure in my chest through the hours of the night. I live in a homeless shelter in a foreign place. I have permanently lost most of the people that I have known and loved. I ache, literally ache, for the clay and roots and bones of home.

I have a new tool, though, something better than trazadone. I imagine my heart a muscle bleeding through running water, leaping up stream, up water falls, zigzagging through gravel and dirt. Embedded with twigs, grit; jubilant, exhausted, it pumps clean fast water through its chambers, beating free and fast and breaking surface to leap dizzy to the sky. When it reaches the zenith of its struggles- and sometimes it does, when the night is particularly bad- when it is home, home, it finds a love, another muscle exhausted with instinct, leap, and joy. Together they cross over, a fecund X of hope, chamber to chamber, of future; my heart then guards beating fierce and clean the redd in the gravel beneath it, until simply, sweetly, it slows and stills to join the thousands of generations of hearts that have broken to form the sediment beneath.

Once as a child I lay hot and muddy on an island in a lake in the mountains of Georgia. I breathed and felt the earth beneath me; I breathed and felt my skin tighten as the mud dried on neck and arms. I listened to the lake lap, the gurgle of the stream between the islands, sand packed hot and firm against my cheek. It is the only moment that I remember feeling peace and safety as a child; it is the only moment I remember feeling in my body.

Thinking of my heart as a salmon leaping brings to me the same peace I felt laying in the mud that day, and between this imagining and the sweetness of my service-dog-to-be, a future feels possible. Fracturing, first, however; broken bones and split fins, scales shed, decay, a fungus feeding heavy on guts and skin.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within
you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy
in silence and tranquility:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by
the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has
been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has
moistened with His own sacred tears.

Khalil Gibran

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