Mariposa Monarca

Mariposa Monarca

by Carmen H Gray

Monarch larva go through five instars between molting.  Each time, after molting, the new skin is vulnerable, with little protection, eventually hardening until the caterpillar again becomes too large for its skin and it molts again.  This is the period of greatest growth in its lifetime.  After the fifth instar, the pupal stage begins, changing at this time into its mature state. At this final state of being, a monarch butterfly will only live 2-5 weeks, with the exception of the 4th generation adults, which will start in Canada and migrate over 2,000 miles south to Mexico.  The survivors of this specific group will live the longest: 8-9 months.

These facts from my lesson in my classroom recently were the thoughts swimming in my mind today at the courthouse.  I had spent a few days in summer at the law library, where I had drawn together the paperwork for the next chapter in my life. Free advice from attorneys and thousands of law books were there to help guide me through the litigious verbage.

I looked around the courtroom this fall morning. There were a the handful of people present: an elegant African woman with her thick hair piled atop her head, a humble woman in jeans and a tee-shirt, and a couple.  The African woman’s case was called first. She was from Ghana and had been living as a single mother since 2011 with her daughter. The husband had left and was living back in Ghana.  She was at last being granted her divorce from him. Her attorney helped her understand the convoluted language.  Off she went after the hearing, a proud and strong single woman.

Next, the jeans and tee-shirt woman was called forward.  She was respresenting her case, like I would be doing.  The judge granted her the divorce and off she went, a new woman with a new name.

I had conferred with the volunteer attorney when I first arrived to ensure my documents were in proper order and signatures were in place.  It had been a painful process.  The leaver and the left both grieve in their own ways the ending of a relationship.  Most people take a side with one or the other, depending on their own personal experiences.  It is a human thing to do.  No one sees everything, no one knows everything, yet people naturally take sides.  Among the myriad lessons learned during this past year, practicing non-judgement is probably the one which will stay with me the longest.

I watched as the wife of the couple teared up, I handed her some kleenex and said a little prayer in my head for her-that she would find comfort and release in her situation, however and whatever it was.  As they walked off to consult with the same attorney who had looked over my paperwork, the judge called me forward.  She had kind eyes.  I was sworn in and she asked me the same questions as the women before me.  When she said the names of my children, my heart lept and a smile opened up on my face. Just hearing their names lit me up and the judge smiled at that reaction.  After all, this was an official place of endings, tears, heartache, failures, letting go.  She wished me, my children and my ex-husband the best of luck.

What is failure?  Failure is disentegration, breakdown.  It is an essential aspect of living, molting, changing, evolving.  And off she went.

Letting Go

“These days, these days
These days I seem to think about
How all the changes came about my ways
And I wonder if I’d see another highway”-Velvet Underground

Letting Go

by Carmen H Gray


Not just those quiet ones

That slide down your cheeks

Like graceful swans

The powerful, unrestrained ones

That reach far back

Into the deep places

Where you had

Everything tucked safely away

That is the unfettered grief

Beautifully breaking down

And releasing



Infinite Night

Acquainted With the Night

by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Leaving the Infinite Night 

by Carmen H Gray

The nightingale enchanted me

With its songs of ecstasy

The sweet sadness of loss

Enveloped my heart

I sank deep into 

The infinite night

Where I could only feel

What I could not see

Where I could scarcely hear

The faint echoes of yesteryear

I held myself captive

In the comfortable pain

Until the sun asked to rise

I, unopposed to the light

At last stepped out 

Of the Infinite night.

I Travel Light

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” -Cesare Pavese 

I Travel Light

by Carmen H Gray

In the station

Bustling with distractions

I glance around

At my fellow travelers

Heaving burdens

Possessions that subjugate the possessor

I look down at my own “belongings”

Be, meaning to exist

Longings, meaning to yearn for

And leave them

As I gingerly step forward

Exhale to Life

Exhale To Life

by Carmen H Gray

A rush of tears

Like a deluge in the summer heat

Flood my bruised heart

Cleanse my mind

The Great Exhale

That was in a holding pattern


New Life




Into me

The swelling and pain

Blue-black wound



Into a flesh tone

Of normal 



10891966_10203296823561451_767061423866546853_nWe visit my husband’s grandparent’s graves every year.  It’s a beautiful resting place and we end up telling each other the same stories about them so often that the kids or one of us says, “you said that last time”.  I think older people do this subconsciously to pass down memories to the next generations….not merely to just annoy the offspring.

I stepped off for a moment to think about how difficult it is to lose a loved one anytime, but especially around the holidays.  That’s when both of Jason’s grandparents passed years ago.  Ava came up to me and asked me what I was thinking, so I told her.  She paused, then said, “I think Jackson was given an amazing Christmas gift.”  I looked at her.  She went on, “because he was released from his pain.”  Took my breath away, that one.