dream home

today i was looking at a famous influencer's feed
and her house is so beautiful
she's worked so hard for so long and now she has her dream home
full of her dream kids
with a dream cleaning crew, no doubt

and for a minute i let myself wish so badly
that i had my own dream house
full of beautiful objects carefully curated and collected 
and expertly designed
a dream that is
so far off for me

and then instead of spiraling into
"it'll never happen, i'll always live in a house that's just,"
some sparse seedling of wisdom sprouted forth
and said, you don't need to spend all that money 
kiss nate
and build your beautiful home

so i did 

immediate upgrade

standing in front of the mirror

brushing my hair while i look at my pregnant body in the mirror
inspecting it from all angles
thinking of all the women i know 
and know of 
who never, in forty weeks, get this big

and! i'm only halfway!
it's going to get worse
i'm going to regret every extra calorie and every missed step

we spend a few minutes in this toxic patriarchal spiral
the hairbrush and i
and then my mind flips through the pages of More Than A Body
and i set down the patriarchal poison

look what this body is doing, at this very second as i stand here.
multiplying millions of cells
a home for a new soul
before my very eyes

this is body is powerful

my power is not of the peter parker variety
mine coats the inside of each cell wall
obediently doubling itself, 
constructing a home
regardless of how i bully the body it helped my mother build.

it does not care what i think
it knows its purpose
it's not wasting time, listening to me critique its work
in fact, it doesn't even let me decide how to use it

it has never tasted the patriarchal toxins i've been eating for 32 years
it is not beholden to 
the christine quinn standard of beauty

because my super power, while it's mine, isn't  
it's just a single helping
poured over me by a Force who knows best of all 
that i'm not a superhero or supermodel
a house.

have you ever seen a house
belittling its own 2x4s or copper pipes?
a house knows its power
it knows the neighbors
cannot with their gossip or their pinterest boards
the strength of the structure 
or the square footage
it knows the power with which it was built

and for only eighteen more weeks
i am
a house

5/26/22 – 10 weeks

things that have made me cry this week:

Connor leaving Love Island
Mr. Morton on Schoolhouse Rock
Diana’s talk in sacrament meeting
Picking up the girls the day after Uvalde
Getting blood drawn with Charlie on my lap

lucy lion cub

today my wacky Lu wanted me to play outside with her, just her. i was nauseated and exhausted after a long emotional week (btw, it's only thursday), but she didn't and couldn't know of that, so i agreed and out we went. she goofed around on the swing for a bit and we collected fallen avocados. she jabbered the whole time, demonstrating a trick zoey taught her for safely jumping off mid-swing. one of her pale skinny knees got a bit of mud on it while she was un-spinning. she swung as high as soon could, trying to reach the plastic baseball bat she asked me to hold out in front of her, first with one foot, then two. 

for the grand finale she taught me a complex game she claimed she and eleanor had played before. she carefully placed herself on the swing, gripping the ropes while at the same time grasping the iridescent pink hula hoop in her right hand. as she swung (after a few starter pushes, the hula hoop was heavy), i was to toss bean bags and tennis balls through the moving hoop; extra points were awarded if i was able to hit the tree trunk. we absolutely delighted in this silly game, and before heading inside switched places, though my giant body made it a little tougher for her to hit her target. we rejoiced when she "won."

at clean up time, eleanor instructed her to complete some microscopic task repeatedly, and i became, as i nearly daily do, the sole witness to lucy's subtle lionlike tendency, almost exclusively awakened by eleanor's sass. the child is a characteristically quiet creature, but when provoked, lu's lion heart stoutly resists the disrespect. "eleaNOR!! that's not my job! i'm still working on THIS job and you're supposed to be doing those! don't keep making me do that kind of thing when i'm still trying to finish this because that's not fair!" eleanor, unflinchingly certain that she is the queen of the pride, maintains her boss energy but says little to lu's clearly legitimate refusals. 

there is nothing that sends blood through my arteries as forcefully as those small courageous cries of self defense from Lu in the little-sister-big-sister-bully scenario. absolutely nothing.

20. human haiku: fear

sometimes it's like i 
can't swim out of the whirlpool
can't know, can't see, can't –

// human haiku project prompt, april 2022

a plus sign +

april 15, 2022

to this embryo:

you are in here. 
you are real!
i hope i get to meet you. 

that doesn't sound desperate enough

i pray, i beg, 
let me meet you.

i hope you graduate to a fetus and 
kick my ribs and 
keep me up at night and
give me new stretch marks and 
make me walk weird

i hope you give me heartburn
i hope you make my face chubby
i hope you grow so big that people start asking me, "are you sure there's only one in there!?"

please little embryo
please don't give up. 
please match up your chromosomes in 23 perfect pairs
23 and me

please multiply billions of cells today
the next 36 weeks

please, please grow. 
i'll keep you safe in there, i promise
i'm your mama, i promise i'll keep you safe
just stay with me tiny sprout

please don't give up
please don't give up
please don't give up

1. human haiku: who you are as a human, now

alexandra steele
believer, mother, maker
trying to be kind

the rise and fall of a sand dollar

Eleanor found a sand dollar at the beach. This has never happened. She was beside herself with excitement.

more here 

Second Listening

I am 31

I must decide 
for myself 
what's right
No one, 
no pamphlet, no prophet can decide for me;

I must listen
I must listen with my eardrums to the voices of those I trust
the prophet, the pamphlet, the parable, the mystic, the ancestor, the sister –

and then
I must filter those words, 
sounds, sentiments, opinions, beliefs
through my eardrums
the sieve of my own heart
and listen again
to what my heart believes.
I'll call it
the Second Listening.

It is where I heard Heavenly Mother's vibrations
where I decided to love instead of label
and where I cut myself loose from traditions that feel out of place on and in my body.

The Second Listening is my power
only mine,
like a patriarchal or matriarchal blessing.
I don't look at what I've heard in my Second Listening and expect
anyone else to hear the same sounds!

That's where Jesus is
in the choice
the atomic cosmic power of being a human (bought and paid for at the highest cost)

He showed me how to Second Listen
when He confounded those intent on stoning the cheating wife
when He healed on the Sabbath
when He forgave His killers in front of His mother's face.

It is within my Second Listening
that I become okay with the lack of a neat and tidy solution to all things.
Sometimes the Second Listening sounds like
"I don't know"
not because I wasn't paying attention, 
but because I was, 
and the sound has not yet traveled this far
not yet
not yet.

And so!
I will listen
and relisten
and think
and rethink
and Second Listen 
and pause
and wait
for more.