Sunday, December 04, 2011


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


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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh my

It has been many years since I've lived in the south. Any south.

The south has existed for me forever - my mother's south. It was the south of my vacations - the beach, the heat, the family I both knew and didn't know.

I lived there for a few years a long time ago and while I enjoyed most of my time there, I remember swearing as I left North Carolina to move to Seattle, I'll never move back to the south. Too hot.

Twenty years later, exactly, I am back in the south. It's a different south, one that is unfamiliar to me - the south of lavender fields and olive groves and vineyards. But it's still really hot.

And by really hot I mean in the upper 80s this week kind of hot.

I have grand hopes of adjusting.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Map this

You and your maps. Intricate, beautiful works of art. Lifetimes of exploration and study behind every curve and line. Not like a tourist though, your map isn't just for beginnings and ends.

But even with those maps in hand, you have always used a compass, haven't you?

There is a shadow on every compass. Have you ever noticed?

Cast by the needle on that compass you have spent years - decades - following. There are those who might suggest the pull comes from that shadow and from nothing else. Do you really know how a compass works? Losing north feels so much better than you might expect.

Have you ever seen the space within limits? It is infinite. You can resist it, hate it, and call it names. You can even call it out.

Do it in a valley. The echos are better there. They will come back to you and whisper gentle truths you could not hear the first time around.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

One cup

If you are one sword, one cup is what you seek.

A chalice. A quest, perhaps, but one that begins when you find it, instead of ending. In seeking it, you agree to prepare yourself to find it, that's the real quest, allowing yourself to become someone who could find it.

Sacred and beloved, this cup stands, despite its weight. It is substantial. Heavy with symbol, precious metals and jewels, it is the only quest you've ever sought, the only cup you've ever really wanted to drink from, whether you knew it or not.

Your mind does not know if you will ever find it, doesn't even know if it exists. But your heart finds beauty in believing and not knowing. Nothing tragic, just the crisp clarity of faith.

This cup has your name written on it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The remains of the day

Yesterday I spent 8 hours on the train. And half of that was on regional trains. In France if you say regional trains what you're really saying is SLOW trains.

I don't know if it's the season or the time or the route, but all of the towns we rolled through looked so sad. Black slate roofs and pale stone and bare trees. That's really all I saw. Towns where old family money and industry have long gone.

I was relieved when we got back to the colors of the south. I have always resisted belonging to the south. Thankfully, the south has never resisted belonging to me.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Kiss my soul

A quiet tug. Persistent but there.

It turned into a yank and then could not be ignored. Some things are like that. First felt as a lack, a missing you could not fathom or explain. You asked the appropriate question, you're good at that. And you got a most unexpected answer. Really.

You were disappointed, of course you were. The eternal optimist, you were certain of a different outcome. Not even one that involved you, just one that involved some authenticity. Instead you got a glimpse into the darkest of rooms, one you were certain contained mystery and invitation. In this case, however, that is not where the darkness comes from. Shoe boxes line the walls you were certain would be covered with something plush. Chaos, your constant companion, is mastered here. Ordered shelves where you expected to find dark velvet. It would have been purple velvet - the color from your favorite mix of red and blue, your truest friends, blood and truth.

You do not know what will come of this, probably nothing. But that, in itself, is something.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Where it should be

You've always had a thing for blood. It has made you sick and made you faint but you're fascinated still. And it's not a vampire thing. It's something closer to the ground than that.

You've watched it swirl and gush and pool. These are all things you do.

You realize now, today, tonight, that you've always had a thing for blood not because of when you saw it, but because of when you didn't.

It is the witness we cannot bear to be.

That is why you have a thing for it. Because blood tells the story you can't.

Friday, March 04, 2011


Lost is not forgotten.

A road was taken, or maybe a path. You'll never know. Maps were not consulted in this case.

If you take one thing away from this, it is that. You will never know. You do not know what was meant to be, you do not even know what was. You only know what is. And even that you must work hard to accept.

You do, however, know about shadows. You've seen them before, been close to them even. Close enough to feel them.

You will take the time to remember it all. You will take note of everything. You will be the eyes and ears and you will take it all in. You will keep it all safe and when the lines blur and the shadow can speak, it will all be there, ready.

You know very little, you know that too. It would be arrogant to think otherwise.

But you do know that lost is never gone.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Let me tell you what I know

There are tablets somewhere. Marble tablets. Marble - hot, cold rock - beautiful because it is impure. Those swirls and veins, those things that make it look alive, are born out of random specks of minerals who lost their way. Or found it.

The truth is written on those tablets, truth that is not influenced by time or tendency or preference. It is not a version or a perspective.

Let me tell you what I know. Let me tell you what is etched in stone. It is not what you think.

You won't like it. Not because it's bad, but because it isn't. Anyway, it is neutral, as the truth always is. But it can only be seen through the eyes of innocence. And that is the part you will not like. You will not like what you will have to give up to be able to see it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1000 reasons

An incredible scene of colors. Graceful smudges and smears. This is your painting. Destiny in every stroke - nothing could be changed.

Grand and noble and bigger than you, that's what it is. Of course you're standing too close to it, you know this, the colors are just so beautiful and they take you so far in. You finally take a step back, museum distance. It's not as intense, but it's still beautiful. It is art.

And now? You're across the room. It's smaller, life-size. It's not the centerpiece, it's not what draws your attention when you walk into the room. It's still beautiful but not for the same reasons.

You had only ever imagined one reason. You found an army of reasons. Ranked, ready to fall back into line when the exercise is over.

You won't take it off the wall, it's still art. But you have a whole collection now.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Silent Siblings

Invisible members of the family. Not like real brothers and sisters. You know what those are like, no such thing as a half or a whole. They are always there, even when they are not. No, these siblings are unheard and unseen and unclaimed. Still there since you can remember - although you would've call them something else at that time - you know they cannot be your invention. They must have belonged to someone, been someone's responsibility. And yet they are clearly uncared for. Your mistake, or maybe not, was realizing that you were related. You can't go back from that. You can't unrelate yourself. Believe me, I've tried.

So now you need to listen, you have to see. And while they don't talk about you, they do.

You're back in 5th grade, it's your first dissection. But now you are the frog. You are both horrified and fascinated as you watch the scalpel open you up. You observe and realize that even observation is participation.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Idle hands

It is a threat you have known very well for a long time. You have brought it to its knees many times over - not because you are a skilled warrior - you are not - you are rudimentary at best. But simply because you were shown how, you were given the tools, so long ago. So long ago that the weapons you use feel like a part of you and the ritual kill feels like home. Metal and stone your skin and bones. Blood and the silence that follows a fire in the hearth.

You once saw a storm in a single raindrop. And must now accept that it is possible, probable even, that this threat may not be as dangerous as it appears. The danger, you realize, is your own. But you cannot imagine what you will do with your hands if they are no longer holding weapons.