This Way to the Kiva: Poems for the Journey Home

How do we find a container for our quest to integrate psychological and spiritual wholeness? Might the metaphor of the Kiva, an ancient dwelling for indigenous tribes, also offer itself to all of us as a model of the way we are held by the Beloved? Join the author as she climbs up her own Kiva ladder to meet the spirits who then descend to give her a hand up.


Spirit descends into earth-laden bodies
We tremble, yet reach up to meet the Ancient Ones.

This is how we remember-
The ladder is everything;
Without it we could not find our way.

Centuries old Southwest Kivas, some of which are still in use by natives to the area, are admittedly mysterious caves to outsiders. While respecting traditional native connections, we might also recognize that these dwellings also offer magic and metaphor to assist all of us through our life journey. Cradled in the earth, they house our human experience. With a skyward opening at the top, they suggest spiritual connection. And by including a ladder, they offer a connection between the human and the divine. Because of my own both challenged and blessed life, I have experienced my own form of a kiva, questing and realizing solace from the Divine, the human community, and the natural world. This Way to the Kiva chronicles that journey and its attendant discoveries. It is my hope that through these poems you will find the depths of your own journey related to mine, and your path of healing enhanced.

Sample poems
The Related Shaman
She had suffered terribly, through facial burns and
unhealed scars, from wars we would ache to know about
Yet still she lived, surrendered to her disfigurement,
This Mudang woman of ancient culture and dark leathered skin.
Through smoke and receding ash
Her songs to the Old Ones still rise
They transcend to heal her people
Red-orange breath billowing through living sacrifice.
For seekers, she attempts a smile,
Her crooked knowledge
Traveling to the other worlds of intact animal faces and
Ghosted relatives.
Returning with medicine for the villagers’ weary hearts,
She leads them confidently to the flames
So they can be reborn, as she has,
Readied by their own intolerant fire.

Coming Home Is The Journey
Sometimes the gift of sudden contrast
Between meaning and sheer emptiness
Catapults you into your journey.
Attempting to live
in that which dies even as you peer over your shoulder to the old threshold
Allows one last glance,
One more breath
To assure that nothing here
is to be lived any longer.

The calm hands of death wrap themselves around your old life
While you nimbly slip out, just so
Your heart newly awakened, unfurls
opening wide to universal alignment
with all that matters now.
Your freed energy gathers,
Watching, waiting
For others who will join you
In this unmapped dance
Trembling and sure.

This Way to the Kiva
I am old now and
The kind of worn I am
Is like the holes in your oldest fabric,
The tearing from too many moths
Who don’t care or remember anymore
How or why even they got there.

All I know is now I’m thin,
Overripe with age and reason,
Laid out flat by firelight
Looking up the ladder to heaven.
For all I know I have only to climb it
And I’ll be right there,
Only when you’re this old
Climbing is hard.

My spirit watchers will help, though—
They will take me when the time is right;
I’ll be that star you look up to on a clear night.

These old holes in my fabric, or yours
Don’t really matter
Its only time fraying at the edge of memory
A new piece of raw silk, a gauze I’d long forgotten,
Is starting to flap at the edges of my mind,
Rippling toward the heavenly home where I will travel
Once the kiva has had its way.


Only If
This is for you only if
You are lost
If every door you’ve opened has proven
And every thought has died a confused and heartless mess.
I can meet you here
Moored as you are with your ship taking on water…
If you are stuck but ready,
Take up anchor—
The wind will carry you.
Set your sails or drift with the current.
Disappointment’s long arm will rock you.
Now meet the life that has been yours and no one else’s all along,
The one you refused, that went into hiding down ancient passageways,
The pulse so different
From how you imagined your own.
Life begins anew the moment you embrace yourself.
Then your ship would repair, so you could sail on.
If you won’t take your own tender arms
And hold your life,
Who will?

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