Ritualising Love

A Poem

By Sarah Asmali


I hear my Senegalese neighbours at the end of the passage
The sound of jovial French moves through the air 
Like sultry dancers floating down festival parades|
I yearn to join them 
Their banter when they sit around the pool
They remind me of how I have forgotten to play
Becoming the playground bully instead 
Mirroring the victim inside of her
Only to exist to someone in some way 
Even if it meant as a projection unfamiliar to myself
At points like this I died a little
Shedding lush leaves 
Quicker than the seasons 
My roots shriveled 
Bleeding nectar into her mouth
Bark pale with anxiety
I felt alone
Alone because I still remembered 
The message from the womb
That life is to be celebrated
That I was celebrated 
That when I arrived they cried with tears of joy 
My cells remember the love 
That fused through my mother
I came out screeching
Wanting breath
Lungs gasping to live
Eyes wanting to see
To have eyes to see 
Only to be blinded again
Taught to silence our beating hearts
Finding harmful habits to feel reborn 
To feel the warmth of the present moment 
Like my mother’s arms  
Needing to be held again
To be held with love 
Whether my heart beat fast 
Or my heart beat slow 
So I ground my feet into the earth 
Trying to connect to the way in which the grass remembers to live 
I run hard, wild and barefoot 
Aching but feeling
I glide my fingers across my own sweat
Aroused to feel the effect of a racing heart
I open my eyes underwater  
Captivated by the release from my own lungs 
I stretch and bend to new rhythms 
To break old patterns 
To reclaim past memories
To find new ways of being
To feel growth in the change
To know that I am not limited 
to the construct of what walking tall should look like 
That I can turn myself upside down
And walk tall on my hands
That I can spread and split my groin across the earth 
To feel a glimpse of the pain my mother felt when she gave birth to me
I watch the eruption of boiling tea 
So that I am reminded that everywhere are forms of bubbling glory 
That life is everywhere
It continues to move and breathe
With or without me 
I find stillness in my mind
Observing thoughts as if they didn’t belong to me
But sometimes I’m haunted by the voices that kill me
That murdered my elders
You taught me to trust my own voice;
the beating of my heart
I see the beauty in your trauma
The arched back of it 
A curve I want to run my finger down
You enlightened me to my rituals 
My rituals gave you hope 
You used them to breathe life
You used them to remember the beauty of your own birth 
And I could feel less alone again
Connecting to my past 
Connecting to where I came from 
Connecting to the truth 
I could feel less alone again 
Connecting to my breath
I could feel less alone again 
Knowing that I was sharing the same breath as you 
I could feel less alone again 
Knowing that the hands of your healing 
Could hold the hands of my healing 
And together we could find our way back home.