Spilled Tears

I’ve been collecting my tears. Tiny bottles with stoppers are next to my bed, on my kitchen counter, in my car’s gear well, and at my art studio. Their contents are somewhat misleading because the stoppers are not airtight, allowing tears to evaporate, leaving an amber residue.

But, clearly, I’ve cried most often in bed because that bottle, almost half full, held the most tears. Or did until this morning when I managed to upend the bottle and spill almost everything inside.

Here’s a thing you may not know about tears. Our bodies produce three kinds of tears. One kind clears our eyes of smoke or exhaust. The second kind lubricates our eyes and contains an anti-bacterial enzyme that protects them from infection.

The third kind of tears are emotional tears. Emotional tears contain stress hormones. One purpose of this kind of tears, then, is to release emotional pain and to wash toxins out of our system. This may be why the emotional tears collected in my bottles smell putrid. I had to strip my freshly-made bed and throw sheets and robes into the washer.

But what I was most upset about was the loss of my tears. You see, these bottles are intended to become part of an art installation. I’ve bought a vintage doctor’s bag, the kind with small vials pasted with yellowed and unfamiliar labels. Each bottle of tears will be tagged with its location and given a place in the medical kit.  The title of the installation is “The Healer.”

But back to this morning. After I filled the washer and had calmed myself somewhat, it occurred to me to look at this situation as a metaphor.

Tears, kept too long, become rancid.

I Usually Drink My Tea Black

One reliable measure of my day is how much sugar I put in my tea. This morning I filled half my dessert spoon from last night. (That I nibbled on something sweet before bed tells you something about my state of mind then.)

Funny, I would have thought I needed more.

That Which I Refuse in Myself

That which I refuse in myself, says Jung, will appear in my life as an event.

The day started off well. I felt good, strong, confident.

As the hours passed, a weight in my stomach slowly grew and I felt myself sicken.

I became distracted. Unable to focus, I wandered the house. Made cup of tea after cup of tea.

Then it came to me. It was the phone call, the text that had not come. A slender shoot of hope, carefully tended, now drowned by a sadness beyond bearing. At this I burst into wild tears. “I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know. Oh my God, I don’t want to know.”

Some day, one soon though not today, I will let it in, this thing I do not wish to acknowledge. Some day, one soon though not today, I will let myself know what I already know. For my own sake, I must. This I do realize.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

The Rain Woke Me


One of my friends in mourning posted on Facebook yesterday, abiding love for the departed in every word. Half way through, I burst into tears and began to keen, the sound guttural and unrecognizable as my own.

This morning I went to the bookshelf, looking for a poem I once read to the one who has – yet again – left me. A poem, I remember, he hated.

Finding it now, I realize with a shock that it is about infidelity, about a spouse betrayed. “I wanted to sleep neither with her nor without her.”

Then here is the story I was looking for.

One time he beat his year-old

daughter with a broomstick.

Breaking a rib bone, and as

she screamed she kept crawling

back to her father. Where else

should she look for comfort?

We Don’t Shoot Our Wounded


molten as the Earth’s core

and just as deep.


by a remark

made by a woman I had just met.

Betrayed too

she was angry enough

she said

“to want to smack them.”



she said

“We don’t shoot our wounded.”

And just like that

I was reminded of the unacknowledged agony

behind the deceit

and was filled

with the compassion

of the Buddha.

(Though somewhere

an ember still smolders.)

Lies I Have Told

It’s OK.

It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t bother me.

I’m OK.

Nothing’s the matter.

I don’t mind.

I’d like to.

I didn’t say that.

I didn’t do it.

I didn’t mean it that way.



I did do it.

I would never do that.

I’m fine.