Dream of the chamber of vessels, 1.10.15

Yet another encounter with the ambiguous female character that keeps invading my dreams. This time she presents herself as an “ancient woman” (Lilith?) that can only be summoned within a specific chamber of a labyrinthine palace (?). The chamber can be recognized by dozens of vessels or lamps set on its floor. Lilith sprouts directly from a wall as a result of some alchemical (?) manipulations of mine the particulars of which are unclear. Her body is never completely human; I have a feeling she is a homunculus conjured by the dream world/the labyrinth as a means of communication. We spend the day talking and exploring the palace; she keeps levitating slightly behind me and disappears at some point when I turn around to address her. In my dream I enter the labyrinth many times and never fail to locate the chamber and summon the ominous entity.

This study is an important record because my dream seems to have been directly inspired by a very similar vision my son had experienced the previous night. In his dream Lilith was summoned in the course of a sleep-like trance and emerged from folds of flesh covering the walls of a living maze.  

Acrylics on paper, 29.5 x 20.3 cm  

If you could hold my heart in your hands, you’d see your fingerprints are imprinted in each vessel and chamber; you may even notice that there’s a small gaping hole there. That’s because my sad heart knows that if I held yours in return, I wouldn’t even exist.
—  let’s have a heart to heart // h.w //
I Took Her To Mars (a poem)

I Took Her To Mars

“I took her to Mars, to show her some stars…”

That is what I would sing to her when we kissed
Humming the words against her lips
Til she would have to break the bond and giggle
She said she could feel the tone, the vibrations down to her feet
Passing through all the wonderful places inside her along the way
Til her whole body became those silly words, over and over
Echoing from vessels and chambers through tubes and tendons
Bringing her alive, awake and desirous
She said if she closed her eyes then she could almost see us there
Lying on the dusty red sands of that world
Pink sky above us lit by a smaller Sun and dotted with stars and moons
See us making love with the dirt of the War-God’s world sticking to our skin
Like a second coating, secreting us from chill, whispering winds
That blow through our kisses and sexual embraces
And her giggles would fade to a dreamy smile
To a stare that would cause me to lose my place
As I fell into those eyes like the pull of eternity
And I would have to kiss her once again
Just to feel the warmth of her lips
As I sing those words again down into her mouth

“I took her to Mars, to show her some stars….”


Writing commission for @rivenssandwichfort/ @askriven-theexile

Rain was a rarity this time of year.  Normally, the badlands that surrounded the Noxian Capital city were bone dry.  The land was known to be dry and harsh, and living there, much less sustaining an empire, took a great many resources.  As a result, rain was a blessing, no matter the season.  Travel-worn boots made their way across dampened cobbles, and a pair of distant eyes watched the citizens of the slums as they hurried to catch what they could in whatever vessels they had.  Chamber-pots, cookware, meager cups, bowls, and jars were all sitting atop the ramshackle rooftops, or slung near tarps to collect the runoff.  Children laughed and giggled, playing in puddles and splashing one another.  Others danced around under the steady spouts of rooftop drains and gutters, the closest thing they had to a shower without hand-pumps, and even then still cold.

For the first time in a long time, the Exile felt a smile tug at her lips.  Something about the children brought her a wave of contentment.  Even here, devoid of fancy material possessions, or even the most simple of basic amenities, they laughed and played without a care in the world.  For them, the rain was just a toy, something to enjoy, a simple marvel of the universe.  One of them, a little boy who couldn’t have been much more than five summers old, came down hard on a puddle, sending droplets of water through the air, soaking a portion of Riven’s cloak.  The children immediately stopped laughing.  All eyes were on her as a hand reached out.  The little boy flinched, waiting shouting, a reprimand, something, only to feel the soft pat of wrapped fingers atop his head. 

“It’s alright.  No harm done.  Be careful, okay?”

The boy nodded and calmed at the soft voice that replied, and after a few more moments, the children had gone back to their game, albeit some distance away.  With a huff and a sigh, Riven stood from her place in the alleyway, and ducked into the shadows between the buildings.

It had been weeks since she’d set out for Krexor, seeking to make her words known, only to be blindsided by the news of Basilich.  The Legion had been called in, lead by the Hand himself, to reclaim the city from the rebellion.  It had been lead by the former steward, Quilletta Varn, and it had gained quite a bit of momentum in the days leading up to the surrender after her death.  After such a thing, it was unlikely any in the area would have taken her message seriously.  Talking of revolution just after such a display of force?  It couldn’t have been more poorly timed.  With her hopes dashed, she’d decided to return to Noxus, and try to visit a friend…

Keep reading

The Girl Is Mine

(Omelia baby, Maggie, Amelia, and Richard. This is my part of a collab with a dear friend who writes the words in my heart. My other part is here. I am in love with this future. Can I just please hold Owen and Amelia’s baby for real? And Webber can sing behind my shoulder.)

Each heart sets its own rhythm and conducts a complexity of events that take place in a single heartbeat. Cardiac muscle contracts. Valves open and close. And blood pumps through convoluted chambers and vessels – flowing out to deliver oxygen and nutrients, and returning again in a cycle that’s fluid and electric. The heart is a masterpiece. Exercise it, and it grows.

I was 6 years old when I learned that the heart has 4 chambers – 2 atria and 2 ventricles – neat compartments with a predictable flow. Like my family then. I imagined there was a room for each of us – my mom, my dad, and me. But the fourth chamber was a mystery. Some kids who are adopted feel that a piece of them is missing. I never felt that way. I always pictured someone in the fourth room of my heart, pumping the blood of my life, like the rest of us. I just didn’t know who it was that lived there – who had come before and who else might fill that space in my heart someday.


As soon as I step out of the OR, I hear the news. The corridor is abuzz with talk about Amelia’s baby. Arizona flits in my direction like a bumble bee, the annoying kind that a person generally wants to swat before it stings them. But this pollen she spreads right now is so sweet that I just watch her dance from flower to flower. She pauses beside me and sings, “It’s a girl! A healthy baby girl.” She gives my shoulder a squeeze.

I smile with her, and the rhythm of my heart joins her in this dance – but I keep my feet on the ground. One bumble bee is enough. “When?!” I ask her.

“A few hours ago. I wanted to tell you from the gallery, but Amelia said, “Don’t announce my baby’s birth over an intercom. She’s not a grocery store special.” And Owen said, “No distractions in the ER either. Everyone will find out about her soon enough.”

I feel a sudden flash of envy for the time that passed between then and now – those precious newborn hours. But the envy quickly goes as I make a picture in my mind of this precious family. “How’s Amelia doing? How was the birth? What’s the baby like? Is she nursing yet?” I ask Arizona everything at once, falling into my habit of talking too much when I’m nervous. I’m not sure why I feel nervous, but I do.

“Amelia’s doing great…” She pauses. Then she opens her mouth as if to say more, but closes it again before adding, “She said, ‘No spoilers.’ You have to go see for yourself.” She winks.

“Okay,” I tell her, “I’ll go as soon as I update my patient’s family and check on him in post-op.”

“Dr. Webber is closing now in OR 2. I’m going to go tell him next,” Arizona says as she squeezes my shoulder again. Then all I see is the back of her yellow head buzzing away.  

Amelia’s words from yesterday flash through my mind, ‘You are my sister and this baby’s aunt,’ she’d said. And it occurs to me that I’m an aunt again! I catch myself smiling so big that I put my hands to my cheeks to relax the muscles. My patient has a long road to recovery, and his family would probably appreciate me not looking quite so delighted as I go now to give them their news.


Andrew monitors my patient in recovery, so I can clean myself up and go meet my niece. Now I stand in the corridor outside Amelia’s room, and I’m nervous again. I wipe my hands on my scrubs. As quietly possible, I open the door. I peer inside and see Amelia lying on the bed. I wonder for a moment if she’s asleep. Then she turns her head toward me and smiles. When I see the dimple on her cheek, I know everything is good. I know she’s happy. I feel some tears in my eyes, and I blink them away.

“I just heard I got a new niece today,” I say softly, closing the door behind me. Amelia’s eyes shine as she jokes with me about her long labor. Her hair is damp from a shower and pulled back loosely into a pony tail. She wears a plaid flannel shirt that buttons down the front – probably one of Owen’s. She sits up as I move toward the bed. She is beautiful, glowing. I want to hug her, but I wonder where she might be sore from labor. So I fluff her pillows instead. As I do, my eyes are drawn to the pink bundle beside her on the bed.

My breath catches in my throat to see her here, in a tiny onesie and hat. “There she is,” I whisper, completely enchanted. Amelia says I can hold her, so I scoop her up gently, taking care to support her head. Her eyes are closed in sleep, and her lashes curl against her rosy cheeks. I cradle her in the crook of my arm – and I fall in love. Just like that. “She is so pretty, Amelia,” I say.

The baby moves her arm, and I take her hand between my thumb and fingers. Her own fingers wrap around mine. Hers are long and thin with crescent moons at their tips. A surgeon’s hands – if she chooses to make them so – someday. She has a whole life before her to hold, but just for this moment her hand is holding mine.

Amelia leans toward us and caresses her baby’s head. She carefully removes the pink hat to reveal downy hair that’s red and gold, like strawberries and sunshine. “Ohh! Ginger!” I laugh as it occurs to me for the first time since I stepped in this room that she is Owen’s baby too. The baby yawns, and I rock her back and forth. “It’s so weird,” I say to Amelia, “…So weird that you and Hunt had sex!”

Amelia starts to tell me about all the sex they have. If I wasn’t holding this precious baby, I would be plugging my ears and singing, ‘La la la I can’t hear you!!’ As soon as she mentions Owen’s huge…, I have to cut her off. She leans back against the pillows and tells me I would change my mind if I saw him naked. If I wasn’t holding this baby, I would wish for the floor to swallow me up. Because now I am picturing Owen Hunt naked. Mortification sets in as the door starts to open. I hold my breath, nervous that he will walk through that doorway while I’m still picturing him naked. But the universe is kind to me in this moment, and the person who walks in is Richard. Amelia raises an eyebrow at me and smirks. Thankfully the torture of this conversation is over.

“Oh look at that!” Richard says, “All my girls are here.” He gives Amelia a vase of pink lilies. Some are already open and others are waiting to bloom. He wishes her congratulations from him and Catherine and asks how she’s doing. He peers over my shoulder at the baby. Her little mouth moves as she sleeps, nursing the air in her dreams. He touches her hair and says she got some of her father’s genes. I think for a moment about Richard and me. I can’t help but wonder if it would have been like that if he’d known about me back then.

He chuckles, and the baby opens her eyes, alert to the deep sound of his voice. “Ohh hi pretty girl…” he says.

I ask him if he wants to hold her, and he politely declines. Then he adds, “You look good though holding her.” I smile to hear him say it. 

He sits on the bed, and talks to Amelia about possible names for the baby. I hear them talking, and I laugh when they laugh. But I only have eyes for this baby in my arms – whose eyes are open now, looking back at me, seeing me for the first time.

“Hello, little one,” I whisper softly, “I’m your Aunt Maggie.” Her eyes hold that newborn mystery. They’re deep, and dark blue for now. Their final color will reveal itself soon enough – likely a shade of blue somewhere in between the sea and the sky. She holds me with those eyes. “I already love you,” I murmur, just between her and me. Her little body is warm in my arms, but her toes feel cool against my skin, so I hold her feet in my hand. I remember these same tiny feet were inside Amelia’s belly just yesterday. And now here she is on the outside, meeting the world.

I hear Amelia say to Richard, “You are her grandpa. A lopsided grandpa, but still… she has no grandpas. And you have no grandkids yet…” She looks at me and adds, “Well, not until Maggs here gives you some.” I glance at Richard, and his eyes meet mine at the same time. We share the same eyes. I don’t always notice, but I feel it now. He clears his throat and his mouth turns up in a smile. The look on his face tells me he feels it too. Amelia apologizes for not filtering, but I don’t mind the comment. It feels alright in me, peaceful even.

Richard tells Amelia not to worry about it. “She can be my twisted granddaughter.” He winks, and I laugh.

“’Twisted grandpa’ sounds like a creeper who hangs out at the park!” I tell him, “’Lopsided grandpa’ sounds less creepy.”

He chuckles, “Okay. Lopsided grandpa it is then.” He rises from the bed to stand beside me. I see myself in him. I usually don’t look too hard. It feels so personal. But I look now. I see myself in the lines on his cheeks when he smiles at the baby. His smile is mine – or mine is his. Richard is the kind of person who stays. He stayed with Adele. He sticks. Historically, I haven’t done that too often. I’ve burned a lot of bridges and kept on going – driving fast to accomplish as much as I can in the time that I have. Until recently I haven’t been so great at living as much as I can, in people, and staying there. But I’m figuring out how to do it now.

Richard’s strong hand holds the baby’s little arm. The sun is shining on her face. Her eyes squint, and he reaches to close the blinds. I think he will be a wonderful lopsided grandpa.

“Who do you think the baby looks like more?” he asks, “Hunt or Amelia?”

“Owen for now,” I answer, stroking her strawberry blonde head which rests in the bend of my elbow, “She’ll probably look more like Amelia as she grows, but babies tend to favor their fathers at first. It’s imprinting so the father knows the baby is his and will stick around to take care of her…” I realize I’m saying too much. “Richard, I didn’t mean…”

My voice trails off, and he clears his throat again. When he speaks, his voice is soft and deep. “You have the same cheekbones as Ellis. I see it when you smile. There was a time when she smiled a lot. You have her eyebrows too. I notice the similarity when you’re concentrating during surgery and when you’re celebrating a good outcome. I see it right now when you look at this baby.”

It’s obvious to me that he still loves Ellis, after all these years. I hear it in the catch of his breath when he says her name.

“You know…” he hesitates, “I sure would have liked to have seen you as a baby. …I’d go back in time for it …if I could.” The emotion is a lot for me to take in, so I turn my gaze to the baby. It’s easier that way.

“Well, time travel is possible,” I say to lighten the mood, “That was 1983. So all we have to do is play the Thriller album and listen to Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney sing while we look at old photos. My mom shipped me a box full of them before she moved to Hawaii. She was probably worried that my dad would leave them out in the rain or something. He can be a bit eccentric.”

Richard clears his throat again when I mention my dad. I wonder if a day will come when there won’t be this awkwardness between us. Still, I know time is creating an ease. He’s more now than just a kind stranger who fathered me. He’s no longer a stranger. He’s a friend – Amelia’s friend – and he’s my friend too. A friend who gave me his smile and whose eyes are a mirror for my own.  A friend who teaches me things without intention – just by being here. A friend who sticks. It warms me inside to think that if I have kids someday, they will probably call him ‘Grandpa’ too.

I look at Amelia. Thin strips of late afternoon sun peek through the blinds and fall across her face. She’s asleep. I dare a glance now at Richard. The baby yawns, and he sings to her in a near whisper,

“…The girl is mine, (mine mine) yep she’s mine (mine mine)
Don’t waste your time
Because the doggone girl is mine…”

He gives her a smile that tilts a bit to the right – a lopsided smile from her lopsided grandpa. A perfect moment in this convoluted family. This baby is less than a day old, and already the chambers of her heart are full. Mine are too. And I know who lives there – in that fourth room.

I Took Her To Mars (a poem)

I Took Her To Mars

“I took her to Mars, to show her some stars…”

That is what I would sing to her, when we kissed,
Humming the words against her lips
Til she would have to break the bond and giggle…
She said she could feel the tone, the vibrations down to her feet,
Passing through all the wonderful places inside her along the way,
Til her whole body became those silly words, over and over,
Echoing from vessels and chambers, through tubes and tendons,
Bringing her alive, awake and desirous…
She said if she closed her eyes then she could almost see us there,
Lying on the dusty red sands of that world,
Pink sky above us lit by a smaller Sun, and dotted with stars and moons,
See us making love with the dirt of the War-God’s world sticking to our skin
Like a second coating, secreting us from chill, whispering winds
That blow through our kisses and sexual embraces….
And her giggles would fade to a dreamy smile,
To a stare that would cause me to lose my place
As I fell into those eyes like the pull of eternity…
And I would have to kiss her once again,
Just to feel the warmth of her lips
As I sing those words again down into her mouth…

“I took her to Mars, to show her some stars….”

(… a very old poem from my first book back in 2003…)