The needs I find most shameful are the simplest to meet. No physical toil is required. No machinery. No materials. And yet they are the ones that gape open for a lifetime, unacknowledged and weeping:
See me. Feel me. Love me.
Give me your attention. Keep me company in my suffering. Take me into your arms exactly as I am.
These gifts are free, can be conjured out of air, and yet so few of us have received them. Instead, wanting them, asking for them, expecting them are impulses shrouded in shame, buried underground, left to die.
All girls know being needy is one of the worst things to be
especially if you are fed, clothed and sheltered— nominally loved. How dare you want more?
And, still, I dare.
Turning to a long line of women stretching deep into the past behind me— hard-faced tillers of rocky soil, sweepers of rough, crooked floors—
I issue a simple, shameful challenge:
Look at me.
I feel the ferocity of their judgement and the truth of their fear. Of me. For me.
I accept it for I am the crack in the armor, the dropped stitch, the haywire child. I am the great granddaughter of the great granddaughter’s great granddaughter
and also the mother of their drowned joy which rises now like a geyser in the stillness between us.
I am an exultation of larks, singing and swooping across a vast sky.
I am the quiet frenzy of death becoming new life on the forest floor.
I am the pulsing incandescent orange embers under the cooking fire.
I am descendant and ancestor, elemental and expanding,
standing in need and no-need, longing and lavish at once.
Grandmothers, I invite you to see me, feel me, and love me.
I will do the same for you, giving you my attention, keeping you company in your suffering, taking you into my arms exactly as you are
and we will be made whole and made one in the memory space that cradles the coil of time
through the asking, the offering, the giving, the taking, the spilling and singing and salving of our most shameful needs.
Family photo: Knox/Curtin women