There are Many Types of Resurrection

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There are Many Types of Resurrection

Thanksgiving Evening.
Alone for the first time in 17 years on the strange holiday. What is Thanksgiving anyway, particularly now, under the false rule of a small idiot whose primary claim to power is simply that he wants it, and has achieved it largely through crude tactics of overt racism?

As a child I made turkeys out of finger tracings, and read stories about benign pilgrims being taught to raise corn by mindlessly beneficent Indians. Thanksgiving, I vaguely understood, was about the first people on this continent – well, the people who counted – figuring out how to feed themselves in their great New Land. It’s a bizarrely Protestant celebration, both suffocating in its formality and messy underneath, and it didn’t take long in my girlhood to see that my archly blue-blooded grandparents were celebrating something slightly more macabre than abundance.

Now I see the holiday, its history and its traditional execution, as more a victory dance than beautiful obeisance to the incalculable riches of this Earth; gone is any reverence for Harvest, which thanks to Monsanto doesn’t exist anymore anyway, and in its place lies that great American disease, obscene gluttony, which extends beyond the dinner table to Black Friday sales of shit no one needs to begin with.

Something tells me, though, that our man-baby in the White House is still cutting out those finger tracings, and counting down the days until his Lady of Education, Betsy DeVos, can issue a decree that writes the presence of original peoples straight out of existence. And then the day can complete its (de)volution to being little more than a command to eat and shop.

 

 

Such are the musings of an aging cynical progressive sitting by herself on this particular Thursday evening in late November. Underneath it all, though, is the haunting reality: I miss my children. I miss my (X)husband. I miss having a family. And I am exhausted from this solitude and the grief that threatens daily to metastasize to a full “episode” of Major Depression. I think, actually, I am there…. and those of us who live in this territory also know that one episode is usually more like a series, and that there are many seasons ahead.

I loathe the sentiment of the Holiday, and my loathing, I know, protects my bruised ache for love, for companionship, for some kind of guarantee that I, we, might get out of this thing with someone rooting for us, remembering us; “let me leave,” I think we all mutter to ourselves, “an imprint.”

Buddha said: “Leave no trace,” and instinctively we recognize a truth that begins and ends with these three words. And yet still we stamp our feet in the wet earth, hoping, needing, something to stay behind.

—    —-          ——          —-            —-              ——           ——-         —

I despise potatoes. I despise myself if I eat bread, pie, or cheese. And I don’t eat feathered creatures. But I love my children. I love my (X)husband. And despite my years of being intellectually and emotionally averse to the sentimental trappings of holidays, I feel right now like a half-dressed raw urchin standing in an empty wind-swept field. Nothing but mind for miles, and that sort of vista, at least for me, is enough to launch a free-fall beyond the strata of sentiment and grief, all the way down to mere madness.

I have developed an eccentric method for keeping the keening witch within appeased, at least for a few hours. It is a waste, of time, of energy, of life, and it will pass. For now, though, the technique allows me to live in my mind without losing it.

It’s like cards, only with real estate. Pick a state, any state. Well… I must admit to cheating my hand, and skewing hard toward places of great greenery and tremendous bodies of water. Connecticut is aces.

And then, as if my hand bore the heavy diamond of a newlywed, I slowly, with great intention, search the MLS for small farms, historic homes, bucolic villages. On a bad day I’ll even look at schools.

As the game progresses, it ceases to be just lonely fantasy: it transmutes to prayer, perhaps a chant, that I believe will drift magically to (X)husband’s closed heart. “Look. This home has wide planked darkened oak floors and a pure white kitchen with skylights overhead. Outside are trees and a treehouse already in place, a small barn down the road. The attic begs to be a school room for 3 children and there are a few acres of land to roam.

It’s so big. It’s so big and lovely and filled already with children and childhood memories (the lizard that got out, the owl in the attic, the shrieking joy of forbidden rollerskates on slick floors) and I can build a studio and teach and you can work from home, and really, really it’s so perfect and grand and old that you, my husband, will melt into it and I can truly disappear into practice, our children, our bedroom, my studies, that you will hardly know I am there. Seamless, I will be, like the plank floors that lead in perfect patterning to every room.

You will hardly know I’m there. If you can just look. At this House.”

And so through the children and the land and the home, this shroud of invisible thread, and the melodic chanting of this sacred image, my life is returned to me: family, lover, home. And the shroud transforms to tapestry, vivid with silken color.

It breathes.

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After

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After

Little girls
know a certain sort
of alone-ness –
empty blue-white
summer sky

a single plane

flying high, high, high
overhead

The thin plume
trails behind
widens and opens

like a single wing
lightly feathered
against the domed sky –

It is
the moment
remembered lifetimes later
as the small upward-turned mouth

whispers
they do not know
my name –

Apres

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Apres

One thousand petals
fell to her feet
as she rose
from damp sheets
twisted
to a sailor’s rope

or a bough
thorned and heavy
with violet, rose, Arum-lily –
scent of fading lilac
woven to the whiskey-breath

of her lover,
whose eyes
drifted around her
serpent spine
like smoke from a fire pit.

A liquid dawn
drew shadows of
blackened lines along
her cheek, throat,
pale chilled limbs
S-curve down the middle –

He took his thumbnail,
traced:
hook
beneath the shoulder blade
arrow-point
of hip
full moon
on each knee.

Crown of dripping blossoms
laid upon her head
she knelt
to a hand at rest
’round her neck:
knight
to king
diadem
for a queen.

Upon Arrival

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Upon Arrival

At dawn
the black-based
grey-rose clouds climb
the shoulders of unseen light.

Departure
is either the result
the cause
or another name

for Division,
as when energy
reproduces itself
through decay.

Night is like this:
diving into itself, tight ombre
knot of shade to shadow
to soot spilled

over flat meadow.
I have heard those
who rest their hands
upon the dead and dying

say that death comes
most often
just before the dawn,
as if a body strained and
weary from the foreign effort
of its own leave-taking

cannot bear to witness
one more
astonishing resurrection.

A Winnowing

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A Winnowing

1.

It is autumn. An unexpected solitude. Children, gone to play on the hills outside my mother’s summer cabin. Friends disappeared, for the most part, along with the marriage. The husband is an X, still so strange to pronounce. He’s been gone for centuries I think. My hands will grow to gnarled claws. Aloneness a relief, but hollow.

When I was young and first introduced to Plato (Formal as a King’s Ball, my gloved hand in his lined ancient paw), I was enthralled to the ring of Gyges and its power. Common questions: ethical limits, temptations of greed, the never ending invitation to live fully, exclusively, in realms of Id and desire. But also: what does it mean to exist unobserved? Then the questions become existential, not ethical, or enters a territory in which the two mix like tangled river beds.

A beautiful married woman becomes an aging divorced mother, wears that ring like a noose.

It is a living poem, for one to observe those who cannot or do not care to return one’s gaze. But as any fairy tale or moral philosopher will tell you, there are no creations given freely; something must die along the way.

This evening I went to a bar. I was loaded down with headphones and Thucydides and Dexter Filkins. My hair is short, no longer white-platinum, my eyes weary from days and days of toddler tears, sleepless nights. I drank vodka scented with lavender.

A birthday party of beautiful Korean women got louder at a nearby table. They had long hair and red lips and seemed like true friends. Next to me sat a couple enclosed in a womb of New Love. The woman’s skin changed by the minute, growing flushed, darker, her lips full. The bartender was out of a film: perfect skin and gold hair with a voice to match. I thought vividly of bedding him without telling him my name.

The once observed is now the observing. The wind blows against my bones. There is no cover, the little deceptions that were the great comfort of marriage, of youth, of babies and beauty and all the fecundity of children, family, husband – gone. There is no comfort. This is an evolving fact, if such a thing exists: a life without comforts can lead to infinite possibilities. Or at least a satisfied eccentricity.

Noisy solitude, nameless yearning.

And then I picked up Dexter Filkins. He knows something of bones, and strength, and pure observation. Fallujah, 2004, black night lit not by stars but artillery, advancing yard by blood-smeared yard. Kabul, before the U.S. invasion. Men and boys murdered, slowly, with showy imprecision, in reluctantly filled stadiums, orphans gathering by the dozens.

Orphans. I thought of this. The plural, that devastating sOrphans. The heart twists, lurches to the unimaginable void of the word.

There are many types of solitude.

2.
I do not know which to prefer
 The beauty of inflections
 or the beauty of innuendoes,
 The blackbird whistling
 or just after.”
            – Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

I had just turned 18. My addiction to “thin” had just turned 8. To this day I adore the feel of my hip bones, and the sense of my spine emerging like some amphibious spiked creature when I bend at the waist. Deprivation, for some, is safety. The calm of fleshless limbs: so many of us know it, and only belittle the need without comprehending the benefit. Everyone wants for refuge.

Even if that refuge takes shape as its denial.

Speeding in a black sports car, leather jacket, cigarette permanently attached to bony fingers. The best friend circled her hand around my thigh.  “Too much.”

I did not look. At her, at my thin (not enough) exposed leg.
And I said, “I cannot have anything extra. I want my life to be utterly spare. Clean.”
She curled her mouth in that charming, wise way she had, even in elementary school, and even now, all these decades later. “I understand,” she said. “I understand that.”

The sweetness of this brief memory arrives almost daily, finch at a windowsill. The irreplaceable understanding between girls… She still knows my interior, but our lives are lived far apart, territories rarely joined. And I’m still the girl who wants to roam, loveless but somehow safe, all through the world. Untouched.

Understanding. Necessary futility. Filters, mirrors, want, needs real, needs imagined. My husband (X) knew something of me. Didn’t he? Once we danced on a graveyard in Pennsylvania.

There are many types of understanding.

3.

“And we are alive in amazing times
delicate hearts, diabolical minds

Revelations, hatred, love and war.
And more and more and more and more
and more of less than ever before…”
  — Mos Def, Life in Marvelous Times

My life is a shadow.
The shadow moves, sometimes, but is for now changeless.
The stagnation will end when the shadow grows weary of itself.
Through brute foreign masculine strength I must ensure that the shadow is not replaced
by another one.
There are children who surround me. They are my own, of my own making, of my own
force – their faces reflect parthenogenetic antecedents that are both royal and primordial.  X, in our case, never marked the spot.
They are part of the shadow, the poor small aliens. They are too beautiful in their grief, their anger and dis-connection. Look: they are blind. I weep to see their small fingers explore this new habitat.
Cruel cruel land: uninhabitable for a child’s evolution of dream and waking. “Catch Up” – catch up to our insanity, our anger, our incompetence, demands the warring lord and the deposed queen. Race through heartbreaks that should be slow, and I will catch you as you leap, though there are but two arms now, weak from the lifting.

Our Earth has a sickness, a fever. Only she will know its resolution.

This morning: I am in a park crowded with dogs and sleek running women.

Visitations. Sometimes they linger, and some unnecessary part of me is killed off. Surgical. Often it is so quick I don’t know the pain.

See the slaughters infinite: Duterte, the Rohingya, Boko Haram in North Nigeria, the new (old) right wing power in Germany. The ruin of Syria, elegant Damascus, with its scholars and long boulevards; see the ancient stones bombed to ruin, while the North chokes on toxic air. Once women wore miniskirts in Kabul, and they lit cigarettes after dropping their children at school.

Trump sitting happy rich and stupid on his throne, this ugly spoiled child with a new toy. He brought his crayons to work, made his House White again. His eyes are small as a sunning lizard from the years of counting, hate, and keeping secret score. Power is an Etch-a-Sketch, and he will erase the wisdom and grace of the Black man who lived there once, in a time long, long ago….

A madman sits atop a hotel, aims his gun(s), watches the bodies fall like puppets. He loves the lights on the Strip. American life is a video game, thrilling wildly to itself and numb, all at once.

Stillness. A rare visit now – snow leopard heavy on a branch – it vanishes before the mind can capture it. Imprint. This stillness brings a small gift. A man, just a man, sitting in a clearing. Whittling. Blackbirds overhead. A man. Silver glinting blade, tiny, efficient. Quick hard fingers. I cannot see what lies between hand and knife, patient on a table. I see only, for that flashing moment, this quiet man, silent in his creation. It is an act of discarding, and a bringing forth. Then he is gone.

There are many types of death.

 

 

Something Like Venice

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Something Like Venice

There are remains, even after the mind
is scrubbed raw as an old surgeon’s hands
even after the skilled scalpel fails to find
a remnant, there is something still that stands

behind memory before thought beneath
the past the future the never-always
present too. It is a shade, or a sheath
of wending color, coiled on silver trays

like Murano mosaics in that shop
you swore you’d return to, somehow never
seen again. World within a round raindrop –
the numinous union no name can sever.

Parallel

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Parallel
One of the great failings and discouragements of my intellectual life is that I can’t write politics. I admire and love astute political writers and commentators; without them we would have little guidance and insight into the broader reaches of our society, other societies, history, indeed the human condition in general. The best writers offer perspective and context, always, and they are usually the least read. But it is my habit, gift, failing and need to turn most events, whether personal or the furthest universe away, toward metaphor and the reflective patterns of what humans repeat again and again and stumblingly again.

Donald Trump’s egregious election and administration, if one can even call it that, has erased my higher, broader mind, taken it captive. In its place is an inarticulate rage, a helplessness and disbelief, that is a truly useless attribute when attempting to comprehend the selfish idiocy of this person, his political groupies, and the pathetically ignorant (or purely self-interested) people who elected him. A racist showman who began the blushingly backward “birther” distraction, a father who spoke about fucking his own daughter, and who was caught on tape admitting to assaulting women – we took him on, swallowed his nativist lies and race baiting fear mongering, drop by eager drop. My Buddha heart wilts and falls away: I cannot find compassion for people who support this person, and what he has done, will do, to his own country and, more importantly, our dying Earth. I hate him. Part of me hates every single person who voted for him. There is simply… no excuse.
I was thinking the other day, as I often do, of Barack, and how innocent and silly I became during his administration. I loved him – I still love him – despite his failings and overly intellectual pondering on humanitarian crises like Syria. His failings are rooted in a deeply refined intellect and sense of humanity and grace. This country responded to such a presence in a manner so violent, so racist, and in a way so utterly, there is no other word, idiotic, that I don’t recognize myself here. I am ashamed upon hearing the broader, wiser commentaries from black people, brown people, anyone not white and comfortable: “Wake the fuck up. And so it has always been. Trump just gave public permission for these people to more openly align and vent their horrible, ignorant rage and fear. It’s nothing new.”

I am a mother of three children. Most days I am a broken record: “I am single now. Broke. Single mother and fucking broke and as lonely as I’ve ever known.” But then I think: “If I were a black woman… with a black son..” how would I go on? Shame. That’s the primary emotion I feel. Shame, all my love and pride over Barack and his brilliant ambitions shattered by the blind seething larvae that lay beneath that whole damn time.

In the 80’s Barack was going to Harvard, head of the Harvard Law Review. He did community work, and then, as everyone knows, went to Chicago and met Michelle at the great law firm Sidley Austin. (In the oddest personal aside: my grandfather many decades earlier did the same, attending Harvard, Law Review etc, then worked at Sidley… I used to love the idea that a black man with a mixed race background could follow the exact trail of a white Southern boy working his way up in the early 1950’s.)

And, as we all know from such erudite publications as People Magazine and the New York Post, the 80’s Trump was snorting coke and making shit deals to ruin the landscape of Manhattan or New Jersey or Florida or wherever his pathological narcissism led him. The pasts of the two men reflect precisely what they both brought to public service (or public destruction). One, a humanist, an intellectual giant who understood the forces of history, the ugliness of nationalism and the belief that being forever a solitary ascendant world power was a dangerous belief indeed. The other: no belief at all save the most primitive kind, like an Id stripped to its basest form: money, power, more money, submissive women, ownership, and fuck the rest and whomever or whatever got in his greedy way.

Barack is as dignified as the current occupier of the White House is vulgar. Where the latter can barely put two tweets together, and never coherently, Barack is a brilliant student of strategy, history, politics, music, and literature. Who would ever imagine we would have had a great man for president who can also sing like Al Green and reads Alice Munro, a name Trump might hear and think, “Didn’t I fuck her once?”

And so in parallel I place the two together, and compare, like a child handed two toys for evaluation and preference. But unlike the child I can feel the veins of bitterness move into my heart: this administration does so much damage to everything it touches, and is in power at a moment of such profound importance to the planet, to the stability of other countries, that I feel myself grow exhausted from my own hatred. And this trait is, of course, the old and easy path that allows oneself to become mirror and puppet to the thing one least admires. This is the common way of history, of human emotion, of attachment and the desire to see life unfold in ways beyond the control of an individual’s egoic passions.

This evening, after a particularly painful day of loneliness and fear – sometimes I feel I can only wake for a moment to the huge pressures surrounding this new identity of “Single Mother of 3” – well, this evening I poured a lovely, small glass of sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley, and it promptly spilled all over my freezer and floor.

Anger, frustration, Small Mind: I became the muttering middle aged woman complaining about her lot in life, and I knew it, which made the moment all the harder and all the more comical.

Suddenly an image flashed through my weary mind. First I saw the smallness of my anger, the waste of it. But that was a micro-second. Next came a picture, a real picture, though still impossible to describe: indelible, real as flesh, a painting, but a truth, too.

There was a god. The god was holding something in his hand, something I could not quite see, but knew. He was holding the body of the Earth. And it was a true body, corporeal and shaped, as if the molten core had emerged but was no longer a supporting sphere. The god was watching with just one eye the slowly writhing, tiny creature, our World, our lives, our Planet. And he said, in the softest voice, “That was a good death. It was peaceful, short compared to some others I’ve seen.”

We are only a passing, quicker than a leopard at hunt. All the parallels, all the loves, the raging battlefields and the awesome peace of a high desert moon; even, dare I say it, the silken first touch of the child just as she emerges from her mother’s hard-heaving body: Passing. Passing. So fast we never know it. Not really. Maybe at the end, maybe at the last breath, when the god breathes us in, and we might share his sight before – oh! – the mind shuts the eyes the heart the heavy lungs.

There.
It’s gone.

 

At Play

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At Play
I

Too wide the eyes, the usual truth
of beauty and deformity.
Inhuman and unblinking,
though still black orb’d with youth.
Eyes somber and new.
Eyes of a long dead artist’s etching –
The child perceives some totality
that was born and dies within him.
Vast the vision, open and proud
as the last rose of autumn.
The world
as we agree to it
intersects rarely
with the kingdom of his creation.

He is his own
best invention –

and though I am Queen to his Pawn,
moving freely, but for
the protection
of a constrained King,
in Truth even at birth
he was already gone.

II

There is no myth between us
no distance and no intimacy.
We take strange turns, as
the one who entered this our world
regal, tall, never born,
and the one whose searing pain
transformed wild and wise ether
to beautiful form.
Ours is a rhythm violent and tender
and this is the way
of all Love
and other ancient games
of skill.

(When you emerged from my
exhausted groin you did not breathe
and then you did.
For three years I held you
hard to my swollen breast
until I realized your love
would forever be
far across a windy field
and this field had no end
and therefore no capture.

From birth you cared it seemed
only for the difficult
the strata of what could be
 dug up and in-to
layers upon layers of solitary play
 reveling in pale puzzles of palimpsest.

You spoke in tongues when you dreamed.)

III

Recently I watched you play.
But there is no play
in your play,
there is only a going in
further
further
a depth of exclusion so precise
to see it makes one lonely.
Where are you, Prince?

But there is no prince, no soft lines
that might allow for
the inheritance of
improved repetition.
In this game,
as with this child,
there is only
one chance, but
there is also no chance
only cunning,
only the going in
finding the untouchable
point of pure mind,
where gentle dreams are slayed
by some force impersonal,
sharp and cruel.

Pawn moves first,
then the ruthless knight.
Castle quickly,
move the stunted King
to Queenside
and do not neglect the busy power
of a conquering Bishop.
All good Bishops
cast sidelong glances,
and use their influence
in ways that seem to skitter
across the board.
I do not trust them;
it’s the sad Pawn I love,
and the straight talking Rook.

This is what the child sees
especially vivid
now that his White Queen lives
in solitude,
and devotion to his dark King
has become a matter
of severed life
and blooded death.

His mind is a sun,
heart buried in blacken’d ore;
he sees himself as Pawn
even as the grieving Queen
her hair and robes undone
for days, speaks of family lore
and paints a picture drawn
from battles hardwon:
“Beyond the hidden door
of War, Grace and Strategy,
there lives something more –
Love. Illuminating Love. My son,
You are with my mirror-eyes truly Seen.”

—  For A.M.
and for Nabokov, master of hearts and games

Courtyard – A Moment

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Courtyard – A Moment

I.

Two winters ago. Paris, daily rain for three weeks. Stolen passport, stolen money. But not lost, or scared, not really. It is Paris, after all.

The wait was long, for the passport. The French like to do things properly, and time moves in slower waves there; it is one of the countless reasons my love for the place runs so deep: my true nature is both slothful and awake, qualities that seem unable to intermix in the either-or of the United States. It is possible to be both sleepy and piercing, Godard proved it.

Grey skies that turned pinkish blue every evening, as the lights of the City refracted against the heavy clouds. Headlights were blurred stars, taillights the brilliant tips of embers.

That winter I had been married many years, none of them particularly happy, and as each passed there grew more and more polluted space between us,  tiny toxic rivulets carving intricate gulches throughout the landscape of our life. His life. My life. Joined, by then, only by the three iron threads of children. They formed, poor innocents, the dangerous bridge between us, and the bridge served as a mirror in reverse to our growing offspring: the more they grew and thrived, the thinner and more rickety became the passage between us.

Passport, gone. Money, gone. Concern or worry from my lover, gone. (No. Not lover. My husband.) It was his moment to unmask the years of rage, the years of perceived betrayal and impatience, even hatred, that had grown in him like a shadow turned, through its neglect, to something solid and corporeal.

II.

Trip extended for the wife, which created anxiety but of course also joy: Paris! She was trapped in the web of embassies and papers to be filled out; she became friendly with the head of security at the U.S. Embassy, who on the last day told her she was “magnifique,” and gave her a perfectly timed wink.  A man at home with three children. A man at a home that didn’t feel like a home, waiting for a woman who didn’t feel like a wife but a series of necessities, unexamined promises, lists gone stale through repetition:
1. Save the vulnerable wife.
2. Save the vulnerable wife.
3. Have sex, never enough.
4. Fight about the children.
5. Fight about the wife’s constant lateness. The disrespect.
6. Fight about money.
7. Fight about money.
8. Just in case (6) and (7) were not covered in full, fight with more vitriol. Over $.
9. Feel guilt because – despite the debt – flowers, jewels, remembrances of any sort
have never been given.Ever.
10. Fight about not going out.
Which the wife now understands was never about
money, but the tedium of the wife. (Knife-pain, shivering lips, still, to write that
particular Truth.)

Now the wife is not a wife, and knows she has not been for many years. What is a wife anyway? Now the not-wife thinks often of the etymology of husband – from the Old Norse Hus, or house, and bondi, peasant, householder. And of course, Husbondi as Master.

Now the not-wife understands that she hates living in and owning a house, and keeps the days marked on her office wall until she can rent a studio in some ancient part of Paris. And she is certainly not a peasant, either in antecedent or taste. The Master element… this is more complex. Perhaps the now-not-wife was searching for a Master. Someone to lay waste to her appetites, her peripatetic nature, her groundlessness. Perhaps the now-not-wife wanted to slaughter (husbandry) the delicate ether of her half-embodied nature and become a woman, rounded and busy, unafraid to touch the Earth, beast of burden to Hus and Master.

Tame me. Slay me. Put your hands around my neck on Friday; I’ll join the corporate sisterhood on Monday.

III.

It didn’t quite work out that way.
When I was in Paris that year we fought. By text, by email, occasionally by phone. I could feel the messages delivered to me. Not the messages sent through crude technology, but the messages of the invisible companions who have always traveled beside me, within me, and have been silenced to an alternating grief and bemusement at what their charge has (not) been up to all these many many years.

As he typed furiously the words
“You are a selfish bitch.”
“You only think of yourself.”
“I have lost hours of work trying to get a card/money/ID to you”
those Daimons slowly stirred, and their song, inseparable from action, woke me to the loneliness, the nothing-ness, of attempting to shape-shift my shapeless Self into little more than a sweet smelling mare in a well-kept barn.

The Daimons sent me a cruel gift, or was it a test? Both.
They placed my bodily form, tiny and freezing in the early winter twilight, at the very center of the Louvre’s Cour Carree, which still bears stones from its early life as a 12th Century fortress. The light lifted, the courtyard seemed alive from every angle, every height, as tourists took photos in the precious brief glow of the soft sun.

Sound. Light. Cold facades briefly blond-white before the coming darkness. Lovers. Space. So much space, but of the joining kind; I felt held close to the city and its most charming hour.

My phone lit up with many letters that formed just enough words that I finally understood. Despite Daimons and books and poems and travels and children, I am terribly slow to face the realizations handed to me. But that moment, I saw.. I felt.. I knew. I stared at the hard mean words and grew colder, deep in the bone.

I am sure many thoughts drifted about my frightened mind, but mainly they settled like small birds with tired pale wings on slender branches:

“Over.
All gone.
Or really
never
was.”

With thanks to Anne Carson, without whose tangos I don’t think I could go on.

Nina

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This morning I listened for hours to Nina Simone. Sometimes it is too painful to listen to Ms. Simone. Too much pain, too much truth, too much prescience, too much beauty. She blinds one. And then forces one to see. And then blinds again, witchy and sexy and one of the sublime American soothsayers in this country’s entire bloody history.

During one electric moment with her audience, Nina said, “They are gunning us down. One by one. You know they are.” And a man shouted from the rows (pews), “We love you Nina.” And she said, and we all believe it, “I love you too.”

I saw her a year before she died. Now, I am almost relieved she is gone, though she saw this coming with such clarity she would have been the least surprised of all of us.
This picture was taken yesterday, of course. Not 50 or 60 years ago.

I know only shame and anger about the United States. Then I think, well, Nina came from its haunted depths.

But her pain was shaped in large part by the forces depicted so crudely in this photograph. And she left.

All these words: tolerance, progress, peace, acceptance: empty. The words of a white world, blind to the reality of our history and history’s constant repetition, record on repeat.
Nina became ill with rage.
Or was it Sight?