I wish it were possible to be like Rembrandt.
In my genius
casual as a shawl thrown across my back
I could make
In a few words, just a few, I could tell you, reader,
that I have lost.
When does loss turn one into a loser? Is it a set timeline, something evolutionary, even biological? Is it a design? Once the design has reached some predetermined point along the scale, it’s over. The transformation, or the disintegration, is total.
When I was a girl, with my long braids and big angry eyes, looking out for the next betrayal, I fell in love with travel and Fred Astaire and Valentino red. Someday, I knew, I would be living in a small cottage by the sea. There would be music and books and all life would lie before me, something ephemeral but true, an essence mysterious but, for me alone, forever reliable.
I would always be an arrow. Quick, sure, sudden.
Waves, wind at night,
sunsets of aggressive loveliness.
When I was a girl I was always traveling. France, first and always. Italy, North Africa, West Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanke, Mongolia, Patagonia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Equador, Honduras, Mexico, begin again, take a small dart, point it at a beautiful antique map, go there.
When I was a girl….
Life was elsewhere.
Planes overhead, silk skirts and slender ankles.
Sex at dawn.
A day was a month was a year –
the greatest gift granted to the young:
How old were you
when you realized
that poetry was far
and there is no poetry
in the failures
of the middle years.
I have failed my children.
I have failed my ex-husband-
who hates me with such vengeance we both, now, agree
would be a boon.
I have failed at the bank.
I have failed on the zafu.
Failed. Failed. Failed.
Whatever potential I possessed, I fucked it
up and over.
The more the potential,
the more the fuckup.
“Failure” has its root in the Old French.
Have you ever been truly, truly hated?
Have you ever been truly, truly hated by a lover a husband a wife
who used to fuck you,
who held a glass of Pieper Heidsieck –
cold and elegant as a corsetted woman in its thin flute –
while you, dressed in hand sewn silk chiffon,
fabric draped in the back to the lowest hollow (Straight spine
giving way to vistas of undulating haunch and hip),
drunkenly gaze at this now-murderous stranger –
while he spoke
and everyone in the candle-lit room
of Love erotic and Eternity spelled out in decades?
“I love you, I love your face. I love this:
upon waking every morning it will be your face I first see.”
His rising sun.
This way, this way, this way, I am your East.
I think I could hand him my dead body
as a belated wedding gift.
But it would not be enough.
So here I sit
in the middle years
the ugly years
that speak loudly
these are the years of crude announcement:
“this is what you have done
this is what you will never do”
I used to be on the side of Nietzsche. I used to understand that human beings are weak incarnations of what they could be, that godliness is far from us, that our manifestation is of weakness, ugliness, grasping selfishness.
Failler. non. evenement.
We are not gods.
No vision. No interpretion.
We cannot live in the present,
to slay the gap.
All love is arrogance.
All lovelessness a violation.
I am out of mind.
Muttering griefs to small children,
weeping on the heart of a man
who sees nothing but weakened snares in my shoulders.
He shakes them loose.
“You cannot escape you”
“but I can.”
When I was small.
And the world was big.
The future spread before me like a quilt.
See her, sitting in her room, so unhappy, the horror of a lonely childhood hanging like a canopy.
Small fingers, with those untended nails,
set out long golden needles
strips of silk and old cotton, threads of many colors,
stitching the future –
outline the escape –
future on the forever-horizon,
by the stitches
of a child.