The winged woman sang our songs and told us our stories. When she called, we were waiting to answer, and our voices were unlike we had ever imagined they could sound. We were butterflies, manta rays, fish––circling her in this song. Everything sacred was what we could touch and witness with our own eyes, and none of us could bear to look away. We looked at her. Singing, we beheld one another in that space, in that light, in the place where she called us together, and no one wanted to leave.
Inspired by this article.
Notes for the weary traveler.
After the long travel, squandering it all in a distant country, there may follow an arduous journey home. Approaching return, cross-eyed with the effort of owning yourself, the threshold only looks like an abyss, but this step is no step at all. The space is no longer space. You dissolve, along with all the words you might have used to describe this–––no, not experience. Something comes to fruition, and it isn’t you.
Inspired by Thomas Merton’s “Pure Love” in New Seeds of Contemplation.
Even the so-called visible is hard to see, like one of those creatures abundant only in captivity, for whom a return to the wild means likely death. All my best attempts at sense-making amount to a series of interruptions and asides. Some say it was different once, but I wouldn’t know.
Having no access to that other once, I run along this seawall by flickering glance and jagged line, between the dream and whatever this is. Now a blurred portrait, then a caped figure from behind, silhouette dissolving in a field, and what can follow any of these but another exception?
There is no paradise until you lose it––or the key, so now I play locksmith with these filaments of letters borrowed from lines of blue swallows against sky and skaters’ blades on frozen ponds. I am looking for a clue to help me mourn this thing before me, writhing in a net. I do not know its name.
An atmospheric river pours dreams through the night, drenching our words and pooling at our feet. One takes us in its boat, drops us, picks us up again, evades us in its thrall and escapes upon waking. We spend so much of each ride asking how it will end, and will it? And what if it won’t? Until we end up beginning again.
When the end escapes us, where are we? Climbing through spirals of remembrance, children at a playground, one and another occasionally stuck, fallen, left out, carried away. The arrangement shifts constantly, like mountain weather.
From here, we cut swaths of sky for new wings. Once lifted, we rain intentions into our shadows, raising the tides against the impact of the next one to drop from these clouds.
In an era where it often seems like time itself has run out of time, when the experts of the moment loudly proclaim the absurdity of a continuance far beyond now, where an ever-expanding past narrows as it passes through us and into a vanishing point in the space once reserved for a future, it seems we are long overdue for a sustained effort of radical courage and love.
What if we dared to breathe it wider, this space before us, for children so far ahead that we can’t even go around calling them ours with the same clenched fist that pulled us into this point?
May this coming evolution be one of dreaming forward, not for ourselves and the empty achievements we’ve learned to wave like flags into battle in the days of permanent war, but for the absorption of these husks of selves into a greater all, and for the delicate hearts still far from being breathed into their lives.
Notes while reading Toni Morrison’s stunning essay “The Future of Time: On Literature and Diminished Expectations” as it appears in her essay collection The Source of Self-Regard
The shape of things to come.
You seek to make art as event, not product. What happens, you wonder, when you open clay with found objects? Here is a sweater between God and your mother, and here, another mouth. Open, your hands whisper, open. Now an old bus shelter, fused glass. Look.
What is it? someone wants to know, in an unintended effort to avoid the long look, the absorption into the blobby forms that melt and lean into one another, a gathering of materials in various stages of becoming.
And what else are we, but these bubbling amoebas, opening and melting and falling endlessly into each other, in defiance of the neatly angled forms we keep meaning to hold?
Inspired by the work of Jessica Jackson Hutchins.
There is an elsewhere here. It breathes in the margins of activity and swims among the vessels of the plans we forever work over––arranging the sails of this one and that one, checking our courses and whether the knots will hold. Elsewhere is indifferent to all of this, or else amused.
Elsewhere can’t hold the music she holds if she keeps the door open for every cacophony that presumes to invade. She thrives in forgotten spaces and in dreams that dissipate before we can fasten them to words. Her only allegiance is to the country of lost countries. There are no flags.
Without Elsewhere, there is no one here. How may anyone name this central element of a life after the moment of recognition that it is not yours at all, but something possessed entirely by some other out there, in that nowhereland between continents, beneath these vessels, behind these words and all things seen and named; arranged and rearranged?
But even this final recognition of futility offers no freedom from the impulse toward making the worlds we keep creating as offerings, tempting her unmaking, her not-naming music, her long-shadowed disappearance of all that seems.
Anchoring breath to breath.
If time is the rhythm of a group, breathing, consider the befores an inhalation. When tomorrow comes, we will exhale; and again, and again.
How different this is than the model of the pointed arrow, to pierce the next flesh of its landing.
If time is the rhythm, it is now, an anchor point that moves nowhere, holding the beat of our breath.
Imagine a dream where the bed is pushed aside. The dreamer overflowing from it. Then the ladder. The steps we make. And remake. Who comes. And goes in what light. Who carries. And leaves what stones. Who finally. Whispers I am who. Understands the voice how. It is not outside but inside the dream.
When we were keepers of the universe
we would tickle its edges by the tips
of the fingers of our outstretched hands
and we would hold those hands out
as we spun with its edges tipping our
heads daring to be knocked back
until we were flat on our backs
laughing the sky beaming back
seemed to know us
and later we. were
not. so sure.