Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Baby, did I start your conception prematurely, hoping for a pregnancy even if a relationship was on the brink? I did. That was my small crime against nature in the service of desire. I heard you calling me, dipping down into my consciousness, and more than once, I wished for the seed to take; I’d worry about circumstances later. Twice, I remember, you almost grew, and in those moments, I held you in like a dam against the tide. Both times, you exited, letting go of your hold on me – it wasn’t the right time, the right place, the right relationship for you. And you told me so. I felt you hover and disappear and then my body: a flush of blood and longing dissolving into toilet water.

 I am single now. And forty-three. The digits are supposed to mean something but they don’t to me. After the testing, my numbers are just right. “Your body doesn’t know how old you are,” said the nurse. I read that age has to do with oxidation of tissues and the presence of inflammation. The first doctor told me it didn’t matter how healthy I was, my health had nothing to do with the quality of my eggs. “Egg quality is based on age,” he said, looking at me over his glasses. But, age is based on inflammation which is reduced by a healthy diet, meditation, yoga, breathing, joy. I am not forty-three.
And now, I go to a new doctor tomorrow. Yes, she is a woman this time, and I am hoping her own desires and challenges position her in such a way as to encourage rather than scare off my own capacities for conception. But being a woman does not always mean having compassion. My female gynecologist laughed when I told her my deepest desire since I was young was to have a child. "At your age," she said, "you ought to think of getting a puppy or a plant!" Then, she told me a story about her children.

A puppy or a plant. 

You see, it does make a difference how I approach the soul. If I welcome him or her and tell her I’ve created a safe space for his or her dwelling, then she or he will be more likely to cuddle into the nest I’ve created of my cells and blood and spirit. If I go with the notion that I have a 6-8 percent chance of conception based on my age, I will scare myself, and the soul will pick up on this. Maybe it will be hard for me to conceive. But maybe it won’t. To all the women praying to be mamas – working with their bodies, their wills, their ability to surrender to what is – I respect the process and the potential for loss.
I want to start in a place of abundance because for so long, I listened to other peoples’ fears about what was possible and what was not. I am here, an open vessel, and if this soul, my child, wants to dip down again, I will catch her. I will love him. I will know.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wings and Dust

I've always been shy. In eighth grade, I fell in love with Katherine Hepburn and decided then and there I would be as brave and outgoing as she was. I changed overnight from a snail in a shell to a butterfly, even though they're unrelated. It's slippery having wings. We all know that if you touch a butterfly's wings, it may never fly again. And what of that? When you become colorful, the wings are hard to resist. And so I did, and so was touched, and had a hard time flying again for many years.

I am awake inside words. They are my dialogue with you. You are the many pieces of myself I've left scattered on the timeline of my life. I toss off the clothes that no longer fit which has rendered me naked more often than not.

And instead of picking up the pieces and trying to make them fit again, I keep moving forward while still looking back. I don't think butterflies know how their beauty is made of dust and scales.

And today what I want to tell you, Reader, is that I lost someone I love very much. I loved him so much I tried to write a book about him. I loved him so much I had to stop. I must walk backwards on my timeline and pick up the clothing I let fall from my hands. I must try it on again and remember. I am scared about what this process means. I've just recently emerged from a dark and lusty place full of demons and hidden gems. I am afraid to go back there.

So, I shock myself into writing. I will tell you this: he was found by his son who walked into his room on a Tuesday and seeing that he was sleeping, turned around and left, not knowing he was already dead. On Wednesday, he did not pick up the phone when people called. On Thursday, his son returned and he (my lover, my friend, my soul mate, my guide, my impossible love-who-drown-himself in sorrow and rum, the love who I left behind) had turned black and was ten times his normal size. His skin peeled off his body like it could no longer contain the whole of him, exiting as he did to some better place. His flesh smelled of rotting animal and his eyes were closed. He died in his sleep from an attack of his heart. I must say all of this. This is where I need to start because the rest is too painful.

His son, all twenty two years of filial love, must have felt oh something so terribly like guilt for not having known; but how could he have? His father was often asleep when he entered that room. We all know he did the right thing -- the kind and respectful thing -- and let his father sleep. But the boy...the boy. I pray for the right salve that will ease the shock. I pray he will release the guilt and feel only loss, but we know that may be impossible.

I speak of his son and I speak of myself.

I love you, Jose Raul Garcia Sagaro, like a thousand airborne butterflies who will never lose their dust.

Forgive me still for losing some of mine.


Once again, I am inspired by my teacher, Reiko Rizzuto, as I listen to her speak on a panel at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. What makes me breathe in is the story behind the words on her pages -- how, over time, she staked a claim in the territory of writers, until writing became her work, inclusive of all the dreaming that the job entails. 

I gave myself permission to do the same but only because my healing body demanded that I stop perseverating, seek honest land, and homestead. Not that teaching wasn't honest work. And meaningful, too. But that someone wasn't me anymore.