Boundaries are weird. Cosmically weird. I’ve always had a problem with boundaries.
See, I walk around with my ribcage cracked open and my lungs on display for anyone who cares to watch me breathe; you’d think I would unlearn surprise at their love of this softness but my lungs are not my heart and I recoil from anyone who tries to reach out and touch. What if they take hold and squeeeze and get lung tissue under their nails? They can’t be trusted.
My sternum, unattached, sits a floating, ineffective guard against whatever may come my way while I navigate this strange grapple between crippling fear of intimacy and desperate starvation for the softness of the skin webbing between fingers and the soft spot beneath the ear and countless other places where it would be so nice to touch and be touched.
Where does freedom begin?
With the absence of fear. Where, despite the void or because of it there is a river of potential heretofore unnavigable, unknown. The water rushes and sings grey-green off the mountain dragging down moss, old bones, bees, poison hemlock. You never learned how to swim but the best part about being free? No one will push you into the water. Come and sit on this boulder in the dappled sun and let your toes get a feel for the snowmelt water rushing past and let the cosmic radiation burn the rot of stagnation right off your back. It’ll hurt a little but you’ll be better for it. Sit a while and talk. Stretch and take up all the space you never could before. Take up all the space you need.
Ink bruises in high enough concentration turning the backs of pages brown and green. Bruises unhealed become sores when the skin sloughs off and, undrained, left wet and unclean, they rot. This is why I refuse to leave the desert content to live on the river with her shifting shores. Rivers are supposed to have banks not shores but here– landlocked and lake-fed heading west for the lowlands where she will attempt to fill the unfillable– there is a memory of the sea. We were beneath it once. Primordial salt floating beasts the likes of which only whales and immortal jellyfish remember. Whales and jellyfish and the desert.
The river is two feet above her banks roaring with heavy white water ever eastward from the mountains.
Yesterday, a man threw himself into her and a helicopter sharing my name spent the afternoon looking for him. She found no trace of him, no corpse, no clothes, nobody gasping for life.
The news reported that he fell.
I can hear her over my headphones, rushing grey, eddies tumbling over each other taller than I stand. She’s overfull and if she’s like this any longer the trees that have grown alongside her since I was an infant will rot away from the roots, going the way of the wild grasses, and be swept toward the mountains in the east until they, too, cause more flooding. There will be still more water for men to drown themselves. No reservoir can relieve her.
The Catholic church across the bridge with its stained glass and polished bronze doors counts out the hour with a bell as old as its presence in the city but try as it might she is still louder; that must count for something.
Between the stitches of pavement something resembling a city grows up around us, timeless and with time less to take stock of us. No moloch yet but you snapped another pen for the sake of feeling something and got ink all over your fingers, the cheap kind of Bic black that looks like pigeon feathers, iridescent greyvioletgreen bleeding your cuticles and spiderwebbed palms. Good luck reading the future in that mess. The city doesn’t have time for those jagged plastic bones, all twenty-seven of them exquisitely formed. There’s municipal planning to take care of– music in the parks, bus routes. Priorities.
There are days, rare days where my lungs are enough and these are the days I live for.
The eyebright days. Sunwise curlwild mindsharp toothsome days. Days when I write too much too fast to get ink on my hands —
— but somehow rake ink stains through my hair between every sentence anyway.
When I could kiss the Sun until she shook or anyone as long as they don’t put a stop to the words that couldn’t stop if I wanted them to. Days where it doesn’t matter whether the Sun shows her face because I am shining,
burning bright enough for all of us regardless of whether I’m happy
I am Hubris and that is enough
I am enough.
A collection of unsent letters written 2014 – 2017.
Continue reading “it just begins to live that day”
Today keeps getting better and better and I am telling you this without an ounce of cynicism or suave sarcasm. I woke up with the sunrise and my cat’s purring vibrating the pillow beside my head. I spent fifteen minutes taking pictures of bees among spears of lamb’s ear in the hopes of making a brilliant girl smile. The sun has been the barest kiss across my skin; she’s shy this spring but I do my best to encourage her. I spent another fifteen minutes smiling my own smile like a loon because of the smell of iron and sagebrush and salt beneath clean laundry and his arm around my shoulders. I could spend all day in the sun and I would never feel quite as warm and soft as I did in that moment. If I could I’d spend the rest of the day braiding my hair with honeysuckle and the scent of Earth I caught from him but instead I’ll smile and write and keep count of the gifts people don’t seem to realize they’re giving me.
His arrival is foretold in the borders of ancient murals, graffiti on bluecollar bar bathroom tiles, beer left out on his brother’s back porch, blood and chalk on the pavement. Food for a stray. The sky printed on the underside of the King’s road is a poor timepiece for a laughing dog better suited to the open air. He turns up when he’s needed. No, not when you’re bleeding, when he’s really needed. That’s how he sleeps at night. His eyes are gold but that tongue is quicksilver and wouldn’t you do anything for the privilege of its poison, city girl? Be careful. No one alive could eat that much sin and kissing it won’t do him much good, either.
Once my dearest friend told me she was afraid she was a black hole, that no light would ever escape her again. I reminded her that the quasar of a black hole is the brightest thing in the whole universe. That surrounding her was a light that could never be matched composed of every element she could name, burning. Where all matter refused to go gently into and loved too fondly to be fearful of the night that lies at the end of all things, the heat death of the universe, the unknown stillness at the center of a black hole. The night in the center of her chest where sometimes there is more darkness, more hurt than breath that she is certain it will swallow the world whole. There is more light and life and brilliant mutiny surrounding her, made by her, caused by her, intrinsically tied to her, in existence solely because of her than she can imagine.