Leaving Train

The cat smells different tonight, slightly sour. Earlier the musk of Grandmas hands released its fragrance when I handled the cats ears…She tells so many stories with her silent affections.

Today, Grandma was dwindling. She was weak in her feelings–of confusion, righteousness or longing. They were all a bit dull in their torture, only torn open at a special moment.

She experienced grief; enough to wet the rims of her eyes and fold her mouth. I haven’t seen her cry this way ever, an utterly worn mourning. This experience is one of the most important of my entire life in knowing her, and I don’t know how to express it.

Red vest

Red eye

bleak bleak bleak

shallow hazel

sparkling diamond

empty light

so much empty light

We ate lunch, and I tripped over words while her profundity blinded me. Later as she walked into her room, the flatness of her bottom and tar in her joints began to make my heart well. As I attempted to sigh them out, the hallway light caught a facet of the rhinestones on the backpockets of her jeans, and I was overwhelmed with the innocence again. The morphing of all the people she’s been, falling off in sheets and revealing something so tender it stuns my heart.

We bought ice cream and she asked why she couldn’t die.

Over dinner I told her that her hands were beautiful–Dancers movements but show the marks of use. She seemed flattered and thanked me, in her warm, shallow dish heart of a way.

Tonight, coming out in her lavender robe and slack breast, she shook her hand at me goodnight. I told her I loved her, and that I’d see her in the morning. She sputtered a little laugh when I told her I loved her, unaware I’m someone who’d intitled to love her. I came over and hugged her, and she pleasantly let me and she glided off to bed.

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December 6, 2012 · 5:18 am

Just look

Taking to the chair in my studio, I glanced out the window as I sunk down. I had come over to the table in the corner–you know the one, with the pitcher that looks like a Canary that holds my scissors and the sewing machine–to get some space. Grandma was ‘fuddling’, her wisping round the house becoming more flagrant and terse. At first, She would haunt the counters and pick up lemons or empty bottles to examine but soon began opening/closing doors with more impatience. When I came to her and asked if I may help, she was still too dreamy to understand who I was and would whisk herself from me. Dementia is like an iridescence, its like a sheen. At first you believe you can study its colors and therefor understand its ways, but then the colors change. The light within shifts its trajectory, and suddenly your feeble map is gone–enveloped in a fold of sick brain. But lo–A new color is shimmering in this mood, and we open again to observation. A shape emerges–a mysterious shape–something beyond how we’ve seen, or who we’ve known. As the brain sighs, the soul winks and weeps behind these folds, and we can sense the light beyond the colors.

  Beyond the glanced window, was my Grandmother.  I intended to work with cloth, to get some space and give her some, but found myself witnessing.

She sat, huddled in her constant red vest, over a magazine. One hand clutched the corner of the magazine while the other smoothed her hair, palm and fingers combing through the unbrushed shocks of coal and ice. Both hands shook, one self touching and the other trying to grasp onto normalcy. She can’t comprehend well enough to read anymore, using the magazines and sheets of newspapers like security blankets. The magazine fell into the light, and I could read the cover–“SELF”. A blond exposing her thighs was printed on the cover of the ‘health’ magazine, between headlines gushing foolproof diets and home yoga. My Grandma, who professionally danced for her living and has consumed more carrot-juice than any being on earth, held the magazine unable to comprehend it. She is 83, with an astonishing healthy body and failing mind. Our world takes for granted the concept of the ‘Self’, even beyond these violently contradictory magazines. We societally present the assumption that ‘being’ is a given right, that it’s understood we all have an idea of who we are in space. We can judge ourselves, our past, our futures, who we think we are and who we want to be–But what about these cloud people? What about these women who don’t remember why they are, what they’ve known? The tits on the cover speaks with her body language of a desire, an exclusivity that can be attained with physical perfection–But never is there a discussion of the completely singular consciousness of those unaware. The blond will never be part of my Grandmas world, no matter how many times she sugar-buffs her knees. She will continue to view her form as the prize, never glimpsing the formless shape of the soul under the rotting body. That isn’t much of a life.

 The day chaffed on. One moment she shook like an innocent, afraid of a sycamore leaf falling. Minutes later her brows raised as if to perry, and I had to stare into her hazel-eyed anger and tell her we loved her and weren’t stealing her money. I would spirit away and stitch a few more rows, but both my seams and temper became threadbare. Burnout began its slow smoke, and I found myself stripped of my compassion for the day. Beyond reactionary, beyond empathy, simply here with her. She boiled down to a job. Is she safe? Is she fed? I couldn’t care less about how she felt…and a nap, my god, how I wished for just a kiss of sleep..but she continued the need to walk and fuss and rail and demonstrate the cheesecloth she had become.

“Let’s get some veggies to steam for dinner”.

 A sarcastic and bitter Vons trip later, we came home with an acorn squash and green things. I had more emotional satisfaction in the brutal chopping of the chard than I had all day with her, and fled to my studio while the stainless trough of foods steamed. She sat on the couch, confused, and smoothed the cat now. For 15 minutes we coexisted, her staring off into space contrasted with my furious embroidery.

 The stems were soft, the flesh scooped, and dinner was ready to plate. I mounded foliage and fruits onto our plates, peppering and sprinkling salt among the rivulets of olive oil and turned to set the table.

  She stood across from me wearing her red sweatshirt. Her collared shirt underneath peeked out cockeyed from the neckband, her lean speckled hands holding one another. They shook like the beautiful butterflies they are, her petite diamond glittering in the kitchen light. Upon seeing the plates, she held her hands up in excitement and exclaimed ‘Oh!’. In this moment, she had completely forgotten the bitterness, the weight of her life, the cruel suffering of her soul in a withering body, and became pure. Her hair stuck up at the crown of her head, unwashed from her new fear of water, and a smile broke out across her usually thin and vanishing mouth. It wasn’t like seeing her youth, it wasn’t like seeing the immaculately magical grandmother of MY youth–it was like seeing her as an infant. Completely giving, completely present, completely pure.  My hands now shook, and after I poured her a half-glass of milk for her, ran to the bathroom and wept.

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Procrastipossession

I’m pregnant by them

but they’re also the fathers

and I’m bleeding from the moon

that we share

Their lives would have been

the most sincere art

since if I hadn’t asked

they wouldn’t have told me

All I want

is to sleep in that narcissus smell

and the houses made of pretty splinters

that reminded me of how you women feel

and now my ass hurts

and my back feels like a clumsy sailors work

as I sit for the eleventh hour

of procrastination

but ladies

my ladies

I will revere your words

and hands with my typing ones

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Brutal Breath

Thoughts about the devestation laid by a local windstorm, where everything was taken except for the seeds for the new year.

The wind rage

stripping trunks like koala tongues

or hasty stale stockings

and discarding the fodder

 with their menthol and stained heels

in guttered humps

The air raid

invis-imps uprooting

your TV dinners

and thrusting a branch

in your bedoir

left your mouth dry and tasting like paperclips

Entering the post-apocalyptic crescent

where I was born

you’re all exfoliated

and those cheeks are like cherry butts

but your house has a mountain 

using the rest room

Santa Ana is a weird saint

who throws oranges against your window

but this must have been his divine inspiration

who possesses tornados erections 

moon sickness

and slurring hurricanes

Drive into town with the top down

head like a polished nut

looking at the liquidambars diet

and the tentacles of a ficus

and wonder if they feel pain

or if they’d abuse fermentation if they could

Seems like the same holy ghost

who ripped them from being

has the same code of ethics

 the people run like napalm babies

with their slippers on

and their calenders ripped

but

the seedpods cling

like testicles

pearls

and plums

from the branch in the buff

and I know Kansas was just a name for a place in my head.

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Weaving

Staring at her earrings placed on the sink, I realized.

My face was only a nimbus in the sweat on the mirror, and as I sucked in the smells of his soap and what used to be my shower, I finally accepted I didn’t belong here anymore.

I moved to the oranges, and slept in the livingroom. The futon wasn’t a midnight nest now, it wasn’t a place for blushy dreaming or

wet tongues. It was just a place to cling and ache. For months, I lay staring at the greasy crack in the ceiling. Fooling myself to sleep.

From yards of wool, I dyed my world. One long coil was the olive orchard across the street, oily aubergine and numbing green. Another was strips of memory from my walk in Spain, that aqua freckled with violet like kiwi vines and the eyelashes of the passionflower. One handful of alpaca came out looking like neon cat grass, and I peppered my combs with just a few threads as a time for youth. Over months, learning how to dye, learning how to spin, I let those clouds of hair slip through my fingers into strands and wound.  Ecstatic hanks hugged themselves with insane limbs, coiling back and tangling. I steeped the armloads of wool in hot water, dipping them like tasteless teabags into my sink. The swollen chains of wool were now slender balls of thread.

Weaving. Too late, hungry weaving–only one piece ever finished. Without my job, without the profane, I came in the daytime and

saw my loom naked.  I took my world, and slithered it between my knuckles across the warping board. The yarn looked like long roads, changing their landscape from inch to inch, discovering stripes of  serendipitous color. Again the threads became a chain. I tethered their wilderness to the apron-bar, and began telling my story with each hook with the sley, with each eye of the heddle. The long roads became one road, glittering with flecks of silk rather than broken glass. Jacaranda rayon thread became the laces, and I began weaving.

The threads against the wool puckered and pooled in corners after the teeth of the beater gnashed down, and my warp began to shred. I gathered a tarnished spoon, and began placing the threads down softly, row by row. The threads looked like mitosis. I listened to love songs that felt like moon washed cactus, and reminded me of my regret.

The waist of my shawl became cinched, as I battled grief. Fabrications of them making love in my old bed severed my consciousness. My tension pulled in, breathed out, making my selvages flounce like a cuttlefish wing. Some days I was haunted, other days a void, but every day my hands continued tamping down the weft the same. Tight, loose, it still wove something solid as I battled with the feeling of being boneless. It grew as I rotted. It wound on as I unwound. I came to the end of my road, and looked at the roll awaiting me at my lap.

Peeling off my map, wrapped in brown paper. It’s weight surprised me, I didn’t know that 9 feet would feel so human. At lunch, I brought my prayer up to the formica tabletop to reveal to my weaving mates, and look at my first real piece.

Roll, roll, roll, roll, finish. The paper curled off in sheets, leaving dimpled yards of thought. The shawl came from one edge of the table to nearly the other, its fringe licking for the end. The women gasped and cooed, and my Teacher spoke into the quietude following “What is going on with those edges, girl?” Her 80-year-old hands draped in silver the size of her knuckles clasped on her lap, and I spoke back into the quiet “I just had a really bad breakup, and this is what it looks like”.  Now the silence was full, and as I looked up at the people who had only been classmates before, I saw my familiars. They knew.

Especially the eyes of the eldest.

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Woman’s Gamble

“You can’t hear knitting when the T.V. is screaming”

Prim that passion, define the dynamics of dreaming, instruct your inspiration and try a hand at your application.

I fled into the salty maw of the Pacific Northwest over the tail end of the Hunters moon, spinning free from the strangle-hold of articul/configur/ation for November UC applications. Over the year, over the months, I have been wed to the language of academia, befriending her hefty delights. My mind starves, and my heart is ablaze with the clarity of my dedication toward the unheard languages of making. I decided somewhere that school was the next acquisition in my bag of tricks for my mission to value the world of makers, but through the months the words have become tinny –just as the witching hour begins to drop her veil over admissions time. I have battled the clear-cut pathway toward this form of education, railing my rhizome-like wilderness against its academic topiaries. But in the wake of sating some mystery through my months of searching, it seemed as if I had resolved some of these odds and were prepared to play nice.I chose to sublimate my passion to a bobbing leg in class, channel my thought into doodled-borders, and save my explosive rants about the dying wisdom of our elders and the preoccupation with media for my mirror at home. However, deeper nudgings and symbols have begun shifting restlessly around my heart, casting shadows that illuminate the embers IN my heart. I wonder if academics can serve this purpose, can assist this mother language. Is this me trading a coppery fawn with her dappled hide for a painting of a deer? It seems to me that life is enough. And in my deep, I know this to be true.

Through the months, I have caught a hook in anothers eye when they really hear what I’m doing.

“You seem to already have what you need.” “I wonder if you’ll be wasting your time there.” “I don’t usually talk about this kind of thing, because most people don’t understand”. “I miss you, I hope you come back to weaving when your homework is done”. I’m watching the weavers age, I’m hearing the strangers befriend me, I’m seeing my own hands. Am I going to look up and have lost the road I was writing about?

I folded these rebellions into my bosom and boarded the plane to my ancestor place. I left my room a mess, I left homework undone, I left without toothpaste, and came to the black-edged body of Washington.  No clouds shrouded her, no bitterness—only a chill that helped me find my borders. I had set my worries under my pillow when I left, and fed my ravenous shadows of heart with leaving my responsibilities behind. I felt shorn and light, ready for the weight of Halloween and the thin time of year.  We were driving to Port Townsend for the weekend, and as we slipped from the car to meet the moon on the deck of our ferry, the shadows roused. The night was black cat dark, almost a glossy nut cascade around the startling moon. Enormous chunk of light, bleeding her dusty gold into the water caused the heart to bump and shiver, the pathway of her reflection leading straight to my womb on board. I couldn’t help feeling that we were trespassing into a truer place, a place of actual living and not conceptual thinking, and I could feel my palms heat up in their leather skins as we contacted the new world.

In the hush of the nubile night we drove to our castle, dressed as the dead, and slept in a haunted room.

When the sun had crested to maturity in the sky, we came outside to the silver light and started to Seattle. Birches shuddered their bronze coins to the wind, lichen adorned stone, and fields of leaf turned their blush like lusty cheeks  to the coming of fall. We decided to stop in Port Gamble and see what we had never seen. We peeled off the main road which fed us directly to town.

The main street was paved with fat leaves sticky with yesterdays rain, clumping together into slick puddles of yellow in the gutter. Tasteful Victorians and open-beamed wonders flanked the street, the buildings of necessity converted to those of luxury in this new era. Buildings that used to house village doctors now held boutiques, manufacturing lodges became restaurants. The invention of nearby Kingston as a chain-savvy town had sucked the need for sustainability from Port Gamble, and left the town a bedroom community rich with nostalgia and art. The mid afternoon light meekly poured through the arbored street, glistening a dull pewter off of the immediate bay. The majority of the historic town consisted of this singular street, with the exception of a quilt shop and a blustery cemetery erected on a hill nearby. Few people walked the street, although the rows of cars indicated many people has nestled within the solace of these elegant ladies,  buying scented soaps and yam fries.  It was October 30th, and the town was spun in the chilling spirit of the season that enlivens bulbs and burns the gut of pumpkins. The sense of the beast in the weather is nourishment for the churning frisson around my heart, and as I tasted it with all of me, I noticed a shop.

A signpost tethered a wooden sign reading ‘The Artful Ewe’, but I only noticed that once my eyes had feasted on the charms in the windows. The building was formerly a market, but now rested on its weathered haunches with eyes full of wool.  Drop spindles hung like pears from the sills, heathered chains of roving festooned the jambs. I travel with an artistic and tolerant bunch, and they allowed my immediate bewitchment as I left them to lock the car and bolted to the shop.

As I cracked the door open, breath came out.

All the raw of the outside world-the raw that burnished my nose, was immediately cooked. All the jagged edges were smoothed, and my gloves came off. A great ribcage of pale rafters sighed above, the wooden floor swathed in rugs. Tables groaned, glistening under woven reed stuffed with fleece. Walls pinned with hooks pinched miles of yarn the color of mushrooms, bloodtoned tapestries hung above the counter, wheels stood silent in a nook. Here, small dishes filled with lavender salves, there, antique sets of drawers with lolling mouths,  spilling tonguefulls of fiber like an eager child. I had left my wallet in the car, since I knew nothing but moths and trouble lived in it—but I was already beginning to feel as if I were possessing wealth. Something new, something familiar, something of worth. Square balls of yarn peaked from every crease, cloudy plaits of wool slithered between baskets. All the colors spoke to the landscape I had just been engaged—Waxberry cream, gold like mold, puce the color of wet stone. The light from the windows poured in like violent mercury against the warmth of this place, the light within reminiscent of the womby-moon I had felt the night before.

What is this silence? What is this pause?

A charging knowing, a belonging. Without realizing it, the shifting wild inside had quieted. Only the delicious mystery remained, the rest sighing. Something I battle with, chair and whip—EVERYDAY– was sated. I came to a display of rugs near the counter, and began fingering their edges. Without thinking, my mind began categorizing each type of process used to weave them, my curiosity asserting possible dye plants, my heart filled with the idea of the person who crafted it, and my soul alive from the beauty and imprint of culture. I was completely engaged, completely stimulated, completely belonging, completely natural.  It came as grace, a cultivated grace. In this singular moment, all of this was enough. My rampant search, my hairpins popping, my nights interrupted from the voices that don’t match my text-books. The begrudging wilderness within craving food, craving thought, craving—in this place, like so many I’ve been to and talked with—was overflowing.

And for once, I accepted it.

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Defunct Debauchery

Before, I saw New Orleans as Drunken Mardis Gras. Plastic beads tarnished by breast sweat, fake indians, indulgence.

The tourist bosom of  Bourbon pulsing with the acrid fragrance of the desperate, the revelrous intensification of ‘fuck-all’. People packed into streets like sweaty hotdogs, supporting the type of self-poisoning a liminal psyche can reason. Friends and strangers half naked, howling, wrapped in future regrets and toxic kidneys.

This is the Disneyland story we’re sold across the country, the basal and celebratory nature of those people in the South. I came to New Orleans for the first time two weeks before Katrina, stitching my perception of the Big Easy from stereotypes of Voudou and John Kennedy Toole. Alcohol was bitter and illegal to me at the time, and I didn’t like the feeling of being preyed on in crowds- thus I came with a different objective.  I came even then, knowing there was origin here–beyond the Hurricanes, the unconsciousness, the excuse. I could feel threads leading to something in the colors of the chaos–winking behind the toasted bros vomiting in gutters. A secret in the boiled peanuts, a mother in the Veves. Away from the electric debauchery of night, I could feel it humming into me on the lapping tongue of the Mississippi–chanting in the metallic song of cicadas. I felt it glowing in the handrails in the plantations, in the severed rougie shells of our seafood. It wafted, I smelled it–but the scent of bile and rum was too strong and masked it. I left with its perfume on my skin, right before the shore was taken with the tempest.

She grew inside of me while I was away. I didn’t know I left with more than an inkling, I didn’t know I left seeded. I didn’t know I had been taken root onto. I didn’t know that a love affair had hooked itself to my socks, following my steps across the Southwest home. For 6 years these little subliminals have grown into a mature wilderness within, a slithering mychorrizae. Not only did she grow in me, but I grew to her–forging myself in the shape of her crescent. I grew closer to her, all these miles away–and somehow became prepared to go meet her again, but this time as a woman.

When I came back, I felt like an open mouth. Mouths can release a sigh, can take in food, lick lovers, ready themselves for speech. I felt like I had been speaking to her inside for years, and now that I was back, was ready with my ears open and mouth agape. I drank now, and although had described Bourbon street as a urinating armpit in old diaries,  found the scent of revelry intriguing.  We came back in the end of May, taking up residence for the week on–you guessed it–Bourbon street.

During the day, I came to meet the land. I came to meet people, the people who work, the people who have grown there. Whatever had grown inside of me made the mystery of the place rich and familiar, and I found myself in a world of overwhelming home. I felt like I had returned to someone dear, and now spent the daylight hours tracing the lines of their face. But the looming weight of the town from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde at sundown was ever-present–I anticipated trouble.

The Inn on Bourbon rests on the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon, across from a Karaoke bar. It was a Monday, but as evening inked in, the lights winked on like great hung over eyes, seeking with their neon intelligence the next fix.The usual reserve of weekdays for the mundane don’t apply there, and the cast began trickling in at dusk, wandering sheepishly while their faces were still identifiable in the sighing light. As the sun fully sank however, the crown of guilt was cast aside and replaced with fist fulls of plastic cups and a  ferule need. Years before these people looked like the living dead, and as they stumbled toward some type of ecstasy now–they still did. They were still wild-eyed and ugly, but they looked more like Osirus, scarred together from old horror. The source of their stumbling was obvious to me now, the weight of their sublimation and self demise a patina to the real desire they were attempting to feed. The grotesque consumption of vices now spoke to the fact they’re hungry—from hurt, from want, from humanity. This revelation that had subliminally aged with me, made the lumps of flesh pickling themselves in the street painfully earnest, and daresay beautiful.

I stepped into the pulsing stream of the reckless.  My body merged with the raunchy cologne of night, the humidity concocting a scent indicative of sex and sickness. The weight of the Mississippi’s breath sent the smell of spilled liquor, hair gel and oily glands into the main vein of the street, and as I continued down Bourbon I became convinced by it. Intoxicated, the staggering troops of uninitiated men became Heros, subliminally trying to meet themselves in their abuse. The girls wearing synthetic shorts became Warriors, railing against their true needs with the chains of their circumstances–charging into the underworld, with the real possibility of coming back to land. The Bar Barkers became men who lived in the suburbs, housewives with frosted Kate Gosling cuts and fake pearls became ravenous gatherers. Everyone here had a need, everyone here was looking to release, forgot, encounter, find, or satiate–and this was valid. They became the hideously beautiful, no longer the dangerously tempting. They became innocents in their sin, clawing for something to fill them..and in this bold yearning, they were perfectly human. The knowing that had seeded in me came here, strongest than ever before, in a place that couldn’t be more different than I.

Sometimes we need to get fucked up to let in God.

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