return to Love

from Gasworks Park

The Seattle sun strikes hot today and it cannot feel like the first day of autumn.    My skin just beneath sweating, the water between myself and downtown a rocking body.  The boats cut slowly, minimal wakes.  I only smell dirt, warmed concrete, my own scent rising. I return to H.C. and love, because I have to return.

Z. is leaving again.  A month.  He was supposed to have months. Plural. And today, I was on a bus swaying with heat. Sweat and perfume and the hum of electric motors.  And my phone, buzzing.  I looked, debated for a moment.  Buses are loud, conversations bleed over into adjacent seats.  Hesitated.  Then answered, and felt the days rush into my body, colliding into each other.  A month.  After the disconnect, held my hand to my lips as if to stave off something.

And so I have to return to H.C., look into her pages to explain my own.  If I can understand her abstract Love then I can define my own.  I can explain why I must hold my hands to my lips for a body both (not lost) and (not mine).

I have known love, and I have been at the other side, looking towards the buildings blurred with the humidity of after-love.  H.C. writes about the destructive force of love, the destructivecreative force of it.  –Defeat me. Pillage me. If there is a house, a room, a safe in my city that I have not turned over to you, whose keys I haven’t provided, if you find one single door I might have forgotten inadvertently deep inside my soul, smash it open. The need to give and be given, to take and be taken.

Grey shades of it, the limits of what I am willing to give.  No. I am still too faint, too dim. I do not have enough strength yet to start dying again. Because that’s it, isn’t it?  Love a death, a destruction of boundaries—I give you my body for your body and I take your body for my body. But how can anyone survive this?  I can’t, not yet.

I say body, and I mean more.  I seem to return to certain words.  Body and edge, for example.  My iceberg words, I mean whole oceans and only say: body. I mean—pneumea. Lifebreath.  My edges.

I think I give easily, to a point.  Here here here.  It seems: entire.

But it isn’t.  I keep a seed, the turtle shell to stand on.  Because who can do it and return?

All this to circle back, and say: Z., even before leaving, please please return.  Not to me, as I lay no claim, but all the same.

(All italic text from Hélène Cixous, The Book of Promethea)

Bazil the Second

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In Riverside my basil plant Bazil meant a lot.  I watered and pruned and poured adoration, and I kept the poor thing alive way past when it should have been placed in the compost.  Dace brought home a small basil plant for me, but I picked up another, from Trader Joes, same as before.  Thus enters Bazil the Second.  This time around I have a much nicer house and more to love.

Welcome May

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Yesterday I ducked low beneath cherry blossoms, an arbor over the sidewalk like a portal into another place.  The irises are beginning to bloom, the tulips exploding with the last of their strength, stamens like bits of char at the center.  I even see California poppies, though we are no where near California.  The sun is too hidden to be mistaken for California.  Then again, my California is a southern one; smog covered, hot and burning.  The ash here is of a more dangerous sort- mountain ash, volcano ash.  Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it.  

I battled rain and wind, after the archway of blossoms.  My umbrella a sail; comedic.  The gusts pushing me into laughter.  What else are you supposed to do; wind torn, drenched, a black sail pointed and threatening to carry me across the street?  I dissolved into gazelle laughter.  Leaping.

By the time I reached my bus stop my shoes were frothing.  Animal shoes, hungry for distance. A detail that reads as false but no, my shoes frothed.  Sometimes the truth is entertaining enough to refuse embellishment.  (There was a good reason, but I will let the reason remain hidden.  I have to keep something hidden, and why not why my shoes frothed? It is a silly detail, a superflous detail. And you don’t need to know all of my reasons.) 

 

[Again, this is taken from text written at work.  Lovely day at MoF actually.  Usually no better than a chair, or another placard with information sprawled on its surface, today I was a Person with Ideas and Thoughts to at least a few patrons.  Maybe something was in the water, maybe it’s the spring time. Also, I need to read some more Robert Burns.  After a quite pleasant conversation I find myself yearning for some words from the other side of the ocean.]

Fairy Tales and Buses

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The most beautiful woman sits across from me on the bus. Arched eyebrows, skin the color of dark caramel.  Cream scarf caught around her neck and jacket with a ruffled collar that I would, in no way, be able to wear.  I expect her to get off at the first stop, or the second, but as I leave she remains seated, she moves along the arteries of the city and disappears. 

Downtown, the tops of the buildings are caught in mist.  Grey day in Seattle, no surprises there.  It seems a day for magic, for things to happen.  I am not the beautiful girl on the bus, but she exists and I know nothing about her, I will never see her again.  She is perfect in my unknowing.

 

The cherry blossoms are giving way to leaves, and white petals shower off of trees I cannot name.  Dogwood? Myrtle? Last night a man told me he remembered kissing my neck, the salty taste of my skin.  He could have waxed poetic; told me about oceans and brine and the way our bodies are like water, continually renewing.  He didn’t.  I remember the collision of our bodies differently–the night thin above our bodies, the way I wanted to claw out of everything.  Depression is a funny thing, so thick and present when caught in a backwards glance.

 

I have been told I am like the wind, moving constantly. A creature of air and current. I remember my mythology, my fairy tales.  There are so many winds, drawn with puffed cheeks and billowing beards.  The wicked and cold North winds, the warm and kind South winds.  Wind that is caught carefully in a sack and released at the wrong time, wind that carries forlorn brides to distant lands, repentant and clutching tallow stained shirts.  East of the sun, west of the moon.  To the ends of the earth.

 

Outside the flags barely move, they shift limply on their poles, they hang listlessly.  The glass walls let in fogged light only slightly paler than the grey carpet, than the off-white metal girders.  My body is not wind, is not water, is not anything but sitting here, solidly in a corner.  I want to know where the woman was going, I half expect her to walk past me here, clutching a museum map, her reflection multiplied across the metal skin of planes.  She has vanished into the city, beyond the city.  She is drinking coffee, her lips marking the edge of the paper cup.  She is reading a book, turning each page slowly.

 

I remember my fairytales.  A girl wanders into the woods following the next flower.  Clutching her treasures to her breast she is lost and confused and at the periphery wolf-teeth glint.  Skin the color of fresh snow, lips the color of blood.  The horse head that speaks to the goose-girl, a hidden princess.  In fairytales, there are central characters and the background fades into a tangle of brambles, into the vast ocean between the house of the sun and the house of the moon.  Would I be Snow White, that princess Aurora, or would I be a maid simply cleaning the flagstones as sleep descends in its spell-filled cloud?

 

[I have begun to write at work. My real job at my paying job. The language is a bit stilted, the threads meandering, but at least I am keeping my mind active.  I don’t know what use most of it has, so I suspect it will end up here.]

Disappointments and misty lakes

It is amazing how a bit of exercise can get me in the greatest mood.  Though there was frost glittering on the grass, I pulled on my running gear and hit the roads this morning.  Not very early this morning, I’ll admit, but it felt so good.  The cold air burning my throat, my feet against the road.  When I got down to the lake the mist still hadn’t burned off and the water was completely shrouded.  Mist is a strange thing- you’re never within it but always looking at, approaching.  

When we were driving back from Oregon, the mist clung to everything.  Fog perhaps more than mist, and the fields seemed to belong more in Ireland than on the West Coast.  Maybe it’s over romanticism to assume fog belongs in Ireland, or along moors covered in heather, with crumbling stone houses and sheep.  I’ve never been somewhere like that, but I can imagine it.  And then I feel the need to travel, to pack everything into a bag and just depart.  

After my run I came home and sat down to my galleys, finally emailed by Finishing Line Press.  I am too controlling, and the low quality pdf, for ease of emailing, is frustrating for me.  I want to see the text as it will appear, the kerning issues sorted.  I should trust them at their job, but I’m worried.  I just want to craft something beautiful, and I think I need to find a way to make my own books.  I’m thankful for the publishing opportunity but I can’t say the path has been smooth.  I need too much control and I’m sure it’s as frustrating to work with me as it is for me to work with someone else.

Third Ave, Seattle

A bit of holiday shopping today, and happened to park (most carefully, with full awareness of signs and the proper paid sticker affixed to the window) in front of Free Sheep Free on Third Ave.  In the window of what looked like an abandoned building was a beautiful instillation that makes me want to make art again.  I go through waves, where words are enough and then again they aren’t, and right now they aren’t.  I don’t have a photo of what I saw though.  It wouldn’t do it justice, not really.  There were three elements, connected with red string.  On the wall, a series of ink drawings, both of birds and of other bird-like things, each connected to a red string.  Beside that, a quilt with a multi-dimensional bird, it’s chest open and the organs quilted and sewn.  It was like seeing something I wanted to make but never knew about.  Red string from bits there too, and the strings sagged forward to a table with a bird on it.  Taxidermied I think, but still looked like road kill. (Again, it was beautiful, so don’t think of the smashing things with maggots, though there was a bit of that sort of impression.  Perhaps I am just drawn to grotesque. The fine line between grotesque and beauty.)  The strings were to pieces, the leg tied to the ink drawing of the leg, the heart to the heart to the drawing of a girl.  I want to meet the artist who created this instillation, but the font was a bit illegible and the space is only open on Fridays from 12-6.  If I bustle, perhaps I can make it from work the Friday after next, but I doubt it.  What amazed me most was the quilt, and I thought how shoddy my dresses always were; the edges raw because I have no patience, not because of intention.  I am trying to be more intentional these days.  Trying to put more effort forward, to create things finely instead of slap-dash.  

Again, and I only thought of this now, I run into the black birds of Seattle.  This place is black birds to me.  The black that isn’t black but mirrored sky on shimmered wings.  The lift and settle.  The shadows and sun and the delicate curve of hollow bones.  How strange that I wrote a sequence of birds, a bird becoming woman, and then here I find them surrounding my body.  

Excerpt from the series After:

 

I woke

and thought I was home

 

against the glass of your bedroom window

            a bird crashed  again and again

            the awful sound

            of beak against glass

 

I was not home

 

I sit beside the window

half hoping the bird will return

 

I am that lonely here   waiting for another impact

Bird on Wire

I want to show you

 

Sun break

I’ve spent many hours in cars and I have to say, very few of them have been spent with people I dislike.  Travel is an amazing thing.  I wish that I had pictures of Big Bear, and the fields of yellow flowers along the roadside.  Or of the view of the lake from an empty dock, the wind as it picks up and cuts between coat buttons.  I can’t take pictures of wind, and I can’t capture the cold as it sneaks against skin, or the way the chill disappears after descending down the mountain.  These are things I only have memories of, and each time I think about it I adjust the story, I revise; the memory becomes less true than even a moment before.  Memory is continual revision.  I have pictures of here though, and here is where I am.

 

Near UW bookstore

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I just want to show you how beautiful it is.  I want to share it- it is too large for myself alone.

Avoidance

There are boxes and things strewn all about the hallways here, and I want nothing more than to avoid packing.  I have to do it, and deep beneath my panic I’m excited.  The nice thing about packing is how much I am able to shed.  Papers I’ll never use, clothing I haven’t worn in years.  I’m making a concerted effort to shed as much as possible.

Somethings are worth transporting.  These little guys are from Olvera St in LA, and Jessi and I had them tacked up in our bathroom.  They brought in a bright glint and they remind me of wandering around with my best friends.  So from L.A. to Hunterdon County NJ to Seattle, the tin comes with.

(Photo taken on the newly tiled floor. I now know how to lay tile, grout and seal.)