Family

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Ballard Locks

Water a slip slickness behind glass–

salmon struggle against current.

The girl beside me presses her face

to the greenness, all nose smudge and forehead.

.

Thick bodies squirming with the effort

of returning home.  Outside the viewing room

.

the air is brine-scented, the sky optimistic blue.

I have not seen my mother in months

but I know above her the dusk is pulling across clouds–

the first stars emerging.  The nights are shorter here,

.

as if afterthoughts.

*

I am missing my family, and I don’t know when I’ll be back East to see them next.  I am finally placing my roots here, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten where I’ve come from.  I wish sometimes that I could populate my own village, with the people I love and care about.  The world is such a vast place.  Right now, I know people who have been asleep for hours, I know people who have a dark sky above them.  I’m not sure that I know anyone just beginning to wake, but it’s a matter of time.  How large, this earth.  How incredibly vast.

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Poets and Lakes

Rachel Lake

Finally got out of Seattle and went hiking up to Rachel Lake.  Four of us, two dogs, and a whole bunch of wonderful conversation.  We meandered up slowly and came out at the lake around three or so, maybe a little later.  The lake was beautiful and so cold.  The sharp rocks didn’t stop us from wading in and dipping beneath the surface.  It took me a while, simply staring at the wind ruffled surface, but I finally knelt and dove.  Suddenly, I was awake, as though I had been sleeping for days.  I don’t know that I really laughed, but I felt like my entire body was joyous.

We talked poetry and books and workshops for most of the walk down.  As we got down the mountain the temperature rose, but it wasn’t unbearable.  Right now I’m sitting outside, the sun is setting and the sky is streaked orange-pink against periwinkle. One of my house-mates is baking and the house smells wonderfully of berries, cinnamon and pie crust. I love summer in Seattle.

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Two things of note

New work appears in the summer issue of Goblin Fruit.  Many thanks to Kate Durbin for her help in revisions.

New to the poetry blog scene, Alex Gallo-Brown has started Poem Box: A Community Forum for Literature and the Arts.  Check him out, help him out, leave him comments!  His brother just had a wonderful show at a community center in Ravenna and you can see some of his photographs that Alex has posted.

There are some things chasing around my head about timing and mis-timing, but it hasn’t settled yet.  Things seem to be in starts and stops lately.  Jubilant trip to Wyoming follows with spilling two pounds of black beans on the floor of the PCC.  I don’t know how these things connect yet, but they must.  I’m currently reading Jeff Encke’s Most Wanted: A Gamble in Verse.  By reading, I mean playing.  It is a deck of cards, and I hope to play rummy tonight with a good friend and see what transpires.  I forgot until this afternoon that Jessi once dreamt about a deck of poetry cards and Juan Felipe Herrera’s workshop.

I’ve been casting my own cards about for a while now.  How have I been in Seattle since October?

Love and Counterparts

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“A book which does not contain its counterbook is considered incomplete.” -Jorge Luis Borges

A wonderful trip to the middle of the country, and I am home again, thinking about love and its complexity.  Love is work and struggle, but sometimes it is easy.  I am lucky to have a friend who found a bit of ease and grace with love.  Sometimes things just work.

It was strange to be at such an entirely different point in my life than most of the people walking down the aisle with me to send J. into her new life.  I have no ring, and no prospects of a ring in any near future.  Although I wasn’t around to help with most of the planning, I was still able to lend a hand in.  I helped unfold etsy puff balls, set up the center pieces, and run last minute errands.  I think, though, that it was helping to zip the wedding gown into its garment bag the day after that it really sunk in- she’s married now.  While it’s perfect for her, I have time.  I have to figure out what my book is before I can find the counterbook, and I’m still figuring it out.

Train depot, before the set up

Open Skies, New Starts

the edge of Laramie

I am writing from the Ramada Inn in Laramie, Wyoming.  I can’t get over the skies here- they expand forever and ever.  I haven’t had much of a chance to see Wyoming as weddings involve a lot of errands; we’ve driven around Laramie but not outside of it.  Still, the city ends and the plains start, and I can just feel how open it is.  I find it the opposite of suffocating, but almost equally frightening.  I’m used to green canopies and sight lines that end before the earth curves.  I can understand why Jessi felt so smothered in Pennsylvania.  The trees are a blanket I curl into, and I feel exposed here.

I’m not sure where I fit anymore.  This is too open, but the city life of Seattle sometimes wears on me.  There has to be a place that will feel like home, but I’m not sure I’ll find it soon.  I am okay with waiting.

Jessi gets married in a matter of hours at this point.  I don’t know what I expected, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me how amazing this whole trip would  be.  I was excited to see my friend, to meet her family, but the wedding part didn’t really sink in.  Then I was walking on a grooms man’s arm towards the covering where her fiancé stood, and turning to watch Jessi come in a practice tulle vale, laughing.  She has found her home and he was standing, waiting for her.  She hasn’t stopped glowing since I’ve been here, she is beautiful and I can’t help but want to burst with everything wonderful for her.

I am so lucky to be here and part of this.  We spent last night talking and drinking wine out of paper hotel cups after the rehearsal dinner, and both woke early, before the alarms.  I’m excited, but I know I can’t get anywhere near the electricty that must be filling every cell of her body.

Someday, perhaps, for me.  Right now I’m happy to be with one of the most amazing girls I’ve ever met, watching her sparkle and begin.

Scent of Travel

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I’ve traveled a fair amount across the states, and kept journals along the way for the most part.  In talking with a friend last night, I realized again how short these journals can come to the real experience.  He used to film a lot of his trips and adventures, putting together edited versions complete with soundtracks. (What I wouldn’t give to see some of those films… but that’s another story…) It was sort of funny to be talking about these records of life, but only in a secondary way.  We couldn’t share my journals or his videos.

Sometimes the remove of text frustrates me.  It’s almost there, but not quite.  The reader has to work to experience what the writer intends.  Sometimes this work is the most exciting part.  It’s give and take.  I lent a friend Forrest Gander’s Torn Awake and we both agreed that they aren’t easy poems.  Still, you want to come back to them, to understand them.  I want to.

Then there is work that text is just incapable of.  I have yet to find a way of recounting a scent accurately.  I can approximate the flood of memory as I turn a corner and run into the scent of my kitchen after returning from vacation, or the strange fruity and heady scent of Teen Spirit that brings me right back into the locker room in 8th grade and all of the awkwardness of adolescence.  I can try to capture the sum of the scent, but I don’t think I can pinpoint exactly what it is.

This morning, riding the escalator towards the first of many gates, it smelled of travel.  There’s something metallic about travel. Weary and coffee stained, even in the morning.  Right now it seems like airports could be anywhere.  The views out the glass windows may change, the artwork along the moving sidewalk may change, but they are essentially the same.  Airports feel surreal- a bit slanted off of how things are outside the walls.  People forced beside each other, everyone shifting and moving and wanting to be Somewhere Else.

Today I can’t help but giggle at it all.  I’m tired and weary, but I keep hearing laughter and I keep hearing the way people hold different words in their mouths.  I am paying attention to accents quite intensely now- rolling the difference between –aught and –ought through my mouth; between Scotland the way I say it and Scotland the way it’s said “properly.”  Is it affecting an accent if I try to mimic the vowels, or is it pronouncing the place correctly?  It’s making me giggle, stumbling over the vowels as though learning to read again.  It’s exhilarating.