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The House of Kairos

when I was six I learned my somersaults

forward, backward, chaining them together

until I couldn't tell when I was moving

I stopped, and stopped again

still rolling, the grass spinning

away from me and each flip

I knew my place from the beginning

even when no one else recognized it

that was the one thing I remembered

keep moving and mark the circumference

I knew I'd always get another chance

it was important that I keep going

around and around again and I assigned

a child's logic to it. We all spun the same:

the earth and the sun and the stars,

the fleece in my sister's hands

the sea where my mother's ship went down,

the wheels on the cart that carried me

past heavy gates with a heavier heart

to the stairs I would remember how to climb.

you knew your worth from the beginning

even when no one else did

that was the one thing you remembered

the thing your heart held onto

without prompting. you were worth

more than they knew.

I was out of reach, half a tick

off target on this rotation

not there to grab your hand

maybe this wasn't the first time

he spotted you, picked you out

of a lineup, temptation

at twenty paces and even when

you flinched away from his

painful grip, he left claws

embedded like thorns in the skin:

"forgetting is a waste of time

why not remember the divine?

hold tight to what is yours

so they cannot ignore you

so they will not forget you

so you will not be left behind again"

the idea was a slow poison

in your system, persisting

as he was whispering,

promising no more waiting

and no more re-learning

cracking open your circles

bending them flat into a line

only unbroken continuation

improvement over improvement

without loss

that was a lie

when I spun around you next

you were sharp fragments and horns

like the thorns growing from your side

your ideas were vicious

nothing would escape, nothing

would be forgotten, only

to learn and remember

what that meant was not what you intended

memory cannot collect forever

if you refuse to forget and remember

then you can only forget

I watched you circle away from me

over and over as I clawed

at any solid surface, any wall

that could hold me up

I woke up on the floor,

tried to sit up and the room twisted

it only stopped when I held still

whispering prayers with my forehead

sticky-hot against the sweating tile

I taught myself stillness

the sun beat down as I lay on a beach

the tide flirting with my heels

you didn't look when I called your name

air that had kissed me minutes before

was crisp now, I shivered as

cool damp breezes became clammy

icy rains came and the sand faded

asleep, waking came harder

slipping further behind

as the space I had to react

tightened, my memories

growing claustrophobic

I would be still. I was still.

I waited as

your touch became frostbite

sharp claws cutting into me even

when you didn't mean it, even when

you moved slowly and carefully

I burned brighter to stay warm

but my heart's kindling was emptying

I reached for you and found thorns

pulling away, dizzy at the red

drips spattering like warm spring rain

sudden movement sending me sliding

When I stood up, I watched the sea

fill the impression I'd left on the sand

shining like the sand had been torched to glass

in the shape of my body

then fading under another wave

until I was seaglass soft

and then gone completely

flame-charred bones ache as they're pulled

by dry leather muscles, moving

slowly, jerking like they're

coin-operated, shedding red rust,

an uncoiled spring, running down

a cracked gear somewhere inside

arms forgetting how to turn, bend,

forgetting how to be wings

farther and farther I fall from my memories

I want to forget, I need to

let go and run among the trees

without missing the sky and your open sea

I have to forget so I can remember

how to get close to other people

skin that has never been burned

healed, scarred, just an empty

new file and a blinking cursor

waiting for questions

so I can answer them

The Work of Chronos

I'm watching my drink in the humid air

waiting for my hands to be still enough

to pick it up; it's too full to drink

surface tension alone keeping it in the glass

time is no longer frozen

it melts down into the too-sweet wine

until it overflows, until it no longer matters

so I pick it up, trembling and sticky,

too grounded in my body

with bones grown up around my heart

like the thorns in a fairy tale

now my hands are almost still

they conspire against me yet, numb fingers

threatening to stiffen into claws

I can flirt with a memory there but

the sore-stiff pain always swells up

pushing me away before I get too close

slamming into me, an airbag in a car crash

so that for all my concentration

the glass falls anyway, leaving

a damp trail down my shirt

pale wine drops and darker stains

I remember rubies falling from my mouth

before I walked out of those heavy gates

I have no stones now, but the words

do their best instead, my teeth cracking

against the syllables and grinding

consonants into sand

burn it back into glass, freeze into ice

whatever it takes to make a solid foundation

I can see every weakness, every root

and weed sneaking in through cracks

to reclaim what is now mine

the cracks are new, but the vines

and thorns I know well. I have made

bright wine from these fruits before

I will do it again, in every season,

one year more tart, one too sweet

the hard part is knowing

that even the perfect bottle

will empty, flavors shift with time

and my tongue may dry or scar

I want this moment, tart or sweet,

sticky-warm with my hands grasping,

waiting-quiet between breaths,

or singing joy over the desert night

now this moment, and now this season

as the orbit is restored:

we spin together, you and I,

the earth and the sky and the stars,

the black sheep and the prodigal,

the priestess raising her hammer

to beat iron bars back into rings

I've heard that hammersong before

I remember this making

I remember you

I remember

Anamnesis is the platonic idea we have innate understanding or knowledge that is carried from life to life, but we forget it when we are incarnated. It's not unique to Plato, obviously, but variations of this can be found in many ways. We seek not to learn but to remember. Some ideas are just instinctively recognized- I've believed in reincarnation most of my life because it just made sense to me, even when I was Catholic, and much of the experiences that relate to it for me are about memory: connections, patterns, ideas that fall into place, things that are remembered when I shouldn't know them.

Recognizing patterns and remembering what they meant ties into my understanding of fate. Sometimes it feels like patterns are all we have, but there's more beyond them. When I stop grasping wildly at those memories, trying to drag them into chronos, and sit with those memories and those feelings and that understanding, then I can slip into kairos instead.

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