Saturday, August 16, 2014

truth be told

Mired, hindered, beaten down, bitten down to the bone.  Literally.

Reminded in the most humbling of moments that you are just part of the food chain.  You had forgotten this. Love, light and infinity aside, a mighty trail of breakfasts, lunches and dinners blazed down your back, spread across your thighs and posted flags on your calves and ankles.  Your feet really had no choice at that point but to surrender.

You are nothing but a meal.  You know that now.

You give up, you acquiesce to every predator you've ever met, particularly the ones who anesthetize first.

Bow and stay silent, become the ash you already are.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dust of the moon

It is possible you see more clearly in the dark. You know that's what it's for - that darkness - to give your eyes a rest.  To let you feel your way.

You use it, that darkness.  Your hand is guided as you smudge the lines of shadows cast here.  The perimeter whispers to you.  You know where you are now.

A vessel, a sacred bowl.

In your hand, a black silk ribbon you always hold.  You let go and it unfurls, falling without fear.

Always the bearer of the perfect gift, it returns with just what you need.  

You breathe in a new tide, a weave of silver ore you must have longed for.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Understood

Elusive but unintentionally so.  Nearly invisible - that part was on purpose.  You've managed the storms and made discernment your profession.  As if your life depended on it.  A life lived only in the moonlight, a swirling whirlpool of anticipating and persuading.  Silent and quiet survival.

You realized you were a mermaid when you woke up holding the knife in your hand, ready to split your tail into two legs you could stand on.  A double edged sword, no sheath.  Your hands bleed as they free your right leg from your left.  You will be more of yourself now.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

And so you slay your dragons

You wake up with a blister - not on your foot - you can still advance comfortably.

It's on your hand.  No memory of holding a sword or wielding a dagger, you've somehow managed to carry the trace of a battle you don't remember fighting.  

Typical.

The laborious, involved, lengthy process is actually a snap of the fingers if you let it be.  Like taking off a winter coat you've worn too long.  Seasons confused, you thought it was still necessary.  Vital to your survival even.  You're amazed to realize it actually belongs in the closet, only to be removed when the seasons change again.

It's just a blister, right?  You are aware of it, but barely more.  Somehow it has managed to nearly heal while it remained invisible.  Or maybe it was never really that bad.

In any case, something has been conquered without you even being aware of it.

Do you remember how to celebrate?  Do you remember how to give thanks?  Honor the dead and burned with silent reverence and gratitude.  In the light of the fire, dragons are butterflies.




Sunday, July 06, 2014

Artifacts

You take them out of the shrine and carry them away. Purpose in your steps, you leave them at the alter when you finally make it there. It was a long walk. A pilgrimage, you realize later.  Rosebushes along the way to let you know you're still on track.  As alone as you feel, you must believe that too is an illusion.  Someone must have planted those roses.

You watched that alter, you held your breath. Unseen hands burned what was no longer needed and breathed life into what was left.  Incense.  Ritual older than this life.

You could smell the flowers before you could see them. Before you turned, seconds before you walked away.  Lavender - oceans of it.  Healing in waves, fields that bloom once a year and no more. 

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The sun is rising

Truth be told, it has been a long night.

Not a bad night, just a long one.  An endless dinner, so many courses and then the drive home.  You're lucky to have made it back in one piece.  Pitch black because of course they only light the roads in cities - who needs to see where they're going between cities?

Red lines through city names tell you the darkness returns.

And yet, somehow, you make it back.

You wash the remnants of the day off, you can't go to bed if you don't.

You wake and make wishes.  Not penny-in-a-well wishes.  These are whispered wishes, vibrations received and perceived even though you are alone and you have no coins to toss into the source.

You don't wonder if these will come true.  As soon as you spoke the words you knew they would.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

These arms of mine

Amazing and frustrating at once, a system you have no recollection of having established is somehow in place.  Undeniably so.  Phantom pain blends with real and you find yourself stuck, literally, arms in the air with your shirt half off.

A system that weaves over the border into information retention, a soul state of denial and negotiation designed to provide you with protection you never asked for.  Knowledge deemed beyond your scope is hidden, watered down with wine until you can handle it.

Despite all the orchestrations, you knew.  Long before anyone else.  You knew what you would never hold again.  Every twinge, pinch, and pull whispered to you and prepared you for what was to come.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Walking after midnight

Dark and quiet, no animals, just you.  Ferns and leaves long brown beneath you, canopies above.

A trail of hard-working lace, intricate and purposeful, left like breadcrumbs in this forest so you can find your way home.  Pieces of a vintage quilt you'll sew together one day.

Your hold your discovery in your mind, alchemist for a day, that day when you took red and blue away from purple and saw how it was made.  The darkest mix of hot and cold, blood and truth.  

Separate perhaps, at least for a time.  You see now they were never apart.

How much blood does it take to get to the truth?  Follow its river, study its stains.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oh the places you'll go

Indian food first though.  It's hard to find spice here, the palate is accustomed to subtlety, and spice is much more overt than that.

And after?

We wander a labyrinth filled with sights and sounds, whips and chains for our minds to play with, find a spot and stop.  We ignore infringements and invitations, we lock ourselves in, or at least you do.  I follow your lead, however badly.

I see nothing there, neither going in nor going out.  Though I have been there before, a thousand times.  I came here as I child, even worked here as a child.  There is nothing here for me now, just burning incense.  Sage that carries away the ghosts.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

You cannot lie

Focused bliss, capturing a memorized moment in flight.  You were altered.

Imagine your shock, when you hit the ground, no longer running.  

It's a metaphor isn't it?  Immobility your body needs you to witness.  

Can you though?  Do you know what this means?  You cannot shake it off, you cannot slump under its weight.  There is no future for your action and your body knows that.  

Frozen not in time but in freedom, unable to assume, unwilling to cave.  

Friday, November 09, 2012

On the nature of rights

It should feel uncomfortable, or even worse, you know that it should.  You even try to make it so.  Amongst friends, even recent ones, you paint it as unacceptable, inadmissible. 

Careful examination, a wineglass full of truth, paves a different path.  Cobblestone upon living earth, an effort to smooth out something that will never stop moving.    

This isn't their story, it is yours.  They are not witnesses, they are victims.  Neither their crime, nor your punishment - this is a jigsaw puzzle of your making.  Pushed to a corner of the dining room table long ago when it seemed too hard to finish.

Friday, October 19, 2012

On the nature of framework

There is a place where everything is permitted.  It's a small place, relatively speaking, and only one language is spoken there.

The key, and you know this, is establishing the framework.  Nothing seeps out of good framework and you've seen what happens when it isn't good.  Bruises and blood everywhere.  Little stains you can never get rid of.  You've tried everything, or at least you thought you had, to establish some rules.  A boundary or two.      

Imagine your surprise when you realized a whisper would suffice, a gentle line drawn in soft sand.  

And here, all this time, you thought you needed a whip.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Raspberries and red wine

In one month, I will have been living in this country for 15 years.  15 years is a consequential bit of time, it cannot be dismissed as an experiment or an act of whimsy.

When people ask, as they will, how long I've been here, where I'm from, why on earth I'm here, I answer with facts. But that's not what they're looking for.

Behind their questions I hear hidden ones, or maybe I project them there myself.

How can you remember who you are when you are so very far from where you grew up?  From everyone who knows you?  What anchors you?

I never really answer.  I weave pretty tales of cross-cultural communication and assimilation and integration.  But I do not tell them how far from stable, in the most literal sense of the word, being a foreigner is.

I always come home after one of those conversations unsettled.  My perpetual state, but worse on nights like those.

And so I end it the only way I can.  I pour a glass of thick red wine.  A tale of the dirt and sunshine and wood that surrounds me but is not my own.  And raspberries, like those I picked off bushes at my grandmother's house decades ago.  A fruit that can be sweet, but not that much.  An echo of home but no more.  

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Some of my people

I read a book a long time ago.

It was an ethnography and spoke of literacy and poverty and race. Of mill towns along a southern river and the lives people led there.

It took a chapter for me to realize it was a book about places where part of my family comes from.  I was a graduate student, reading case studies about people that lived a life identical to that of my grandmother.  Of mill workers' children that mirrored my mother's childhood experience.  Gunny sack clothing and food stamps for the school cafeteria.  Tobacco field work in the summer and citrus fruit once a year.

I didn't tell anyone in class.  Not because I was ashamed but because I didn't know how to explain what had happened within the space of one generation.  I didn't know how to accurately describe what they had given, fought for, lost and learned.

How could I? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Over the top

Or we could call this

Monaco.

Pastel streets lined with orange trees.  Orange trees with actual oranges on them.  Although they might have been clementines.  So maybe citrus-lined pastel streets is the best way to describe it.

Monte Carlo felt like Vegas if it were owned by Disney.  Or like Candyland for very rich adults.

Anyway.

The coastline was beautiful and made everything next to it look like it was made of marshmallows.  And that is exactly what I needed to see.  A reminder of what is real and what is not.   

Sunday, December 04, 2011

views

Blackest darkness, harshest rain, most penetrating fog - these are dangers you know.  You have known them long enough to call them familiar, they are cigarettes you've smoked a thousand times.  And as many times afterward you have wondered which ones you have actually enjoyed, which one was actually a pleasure.

In the dark on the way there and in the light on the way back, the view is really the same.  It is you who are not.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Turn left

I've been living in France for 14 years.  I'm not sure what that means, other than the fact that I arrived in 1997. But it seems like it should mean something.  Two cycles of 7 or something like that.

It feels like I should be completely at home or at least completely something after that much time.

And yet.

I am here, 14 years later, much less sure of anything that I was when I got here.

So.  What do I do now?

Turn left and move forward, wherever that is.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Subtitles

You speak, clearly even, everyone tells you so.  Your words are careful and thoughtful and precise, like you are.

It's surprising not to be understood.  But the day comes, doesn't it always - even if you never thought it would, when you meet someone who doesn't take your words at face value.

Subtitles.  There is talk of subtitles.

And as someone who has spent a lifetime gauging the accuracy and the reliability of subtitles, weaving in and out of cultures, making temporary homes in the honeycomb of language, you find yourself in the delicate position of having to evaluate your own. 

Turn on a bright light, the full spectrum kind, the kind made of rainbows our eyes can't see. 

You will see it here, a shadow that is wiser and more substantial than you, saying the words you cannot.  Speaking of dreams you think you must not have and desires you believe you must not follow.  Silent subtitles you never knew were there. 

 You will realize you've been living in a second language for longer than you thought.  You will understand why feeling foreign feels like home.

What can you say to the person who saw them, spoke of them?  Nothing really.  In cases like this, it is best to let the shadow speak.

Shadows, not just time, take care of things we cannot.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

To love is to bury

Bury in the dirt. And to decide what goes with it. Acknowledge what mattered, keep the gifts, and then render the rest to its owner. Burn it all, watch the fire from beginning to end. That part is important. Watch your intention while you're at it.

Then pack your things, take only what you really need. Leave and don't say goodbye.







Saturday, June 04, 2011

Hear this

Be quiet and write, she said.

Tell the tales of how you won, battles and wars of epic scope. Tell the stories, the ones we all know but never say out loud. Stories of silent violence, purple rivers of blood and truth in every bruise you wear. Tell the family history, more darkness there than any one generation could bear, an ivy that climbs and clings and slowly tears down the walls. Tell the story of every bridge you burned, every boundary you crossed.

Acknowledge error of perspective and translation. Blow the candles out when you’ve finished. Words, once spoken, once written, are no longer yours.