Burning contracts


Promises consume themselves in a quick hot flash.
Contracts imposed when I didn’t understand
I could say no.
Artless paper blazes orange,
yellow, red. Unread.
Ash like moth wings coats my tongue.
So much of what we say every day is flammable:
resolutions, epithets,
secrets dropped down a well,
so little truth.
Where you were there and suddenly are not
I step gingerly
to avoid falling in the abyss
left in your wake.
Each morning I begin again,
take an unmarked page and fill it.
Resolutions, epithets,
secrets dropped down a well.
Only what I still can’t say out loud
burns my throat.

© Leslie Prpich
Burning Contracts

Burning contracts is an idea that came to me from Karla McLaren. It’s one of five skills McLaren teaches in The Language of Emotions as part of a process she calls building a raft to navigate competently through one’s emotions—all of them. For McLaren, there is no such thing as a negative or positive emotion. All of them—even apathy, confusion, and depression—have a purpose and have value.

The contracts McLaren refers to are those we (often unconsciously) make with an idea, belief, or relationship. Burning those contracts, she says, frees the soul from bondage. So when I drew The Devil (reversed) as part of my daily tarot practice a few days ago, I knew it was time to burn a contract.

And then this morning the image of my burning contract came into conversation with Nye’s poem. Thanks to Nicole Gulotta and the Wild Words Collective for the poem and the inspiration.

I first heard of Karla McLaren and her work in this podcast. I highly recommend it.


4 Responses to “Burning contracts”

  1. Ana Lisa de Jong

    Your words are astounding. Not just the message in them but the beauty of them. You will see from the works of mine you’re editing that I’m a person of faith but regardless so much of what I believe over the years has become the ashes I now walk upon , and that is as it should be xx

  2. commatologist

    Thank you, Ana Lisa! I describe myself as someone on a spiritual path, and much of your work resonates deeply. I find it interesting that I write of ashes in my mouth and you of ashes under your feet. Thank you for being in conversation with me.


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