Happy December. I wrote the following ‘a while back’ when I lived in Maryland. Pre- 9/11. The kitten has been up since two thirty. So, too, have I.
Shivering, I am always cold or always hot, sometimes mildly comfortable for a few hours. I like how socks look on my feet. As if my feet were small, delicate and fashionable. However, they are wide, callused and stubby, but they get me around. Which is what feet are supposed to do. Poor feet, I am always losing my socks. Sometimes they don’t match, sometimes they have holes, sometimes they’re new socks. Will I be old someday, still looking for a matching pair of foot coverings? Wandering about in some room that no longer exists, looking underneath imaginary chairs for my socks? Calling out, as if they will answer. I’m cold. Come do your job. I’m shivering. Naughty socks, to hide that way from an old insane lady.
I looked at that picture and went, whale clouds. I saw clouds full of whales above a landscape I’d seen since a child. Dust and yellow fields of wheat and duty stones and houses full of dull good people living dull good lives. I’ve been trying to write something poetical and deep. It comes across as trite and laughable so I will just write this. Poetry is honest little nibbles, yes? Or it’s supposed to be. I should hope that someone reads this and wants to quote it or make a poster around it to tell them something they wish to hear or that sparked some ‘ah, there it is!’ moment. Is that not a moment, to see a whale in those careful or careless cloud smears? Or do I see what I want? And before I can descend into something depressingly precious I’ll end this little shriek with something about hawks and panting coyotes and a black fence that seems quite aggressively divisive and old man ‘keep off my lawn’. Probably just me. Probably just me.
At the noodle shop, Shenyang, China, November 2011
Filthy words played into the air; A jangle of sex, the flush Of belly laughter. Tensions that encircled and slowly fell, then rose, fell then rose; each bump of breath, each spume of slang, each spiked phrase and dangle of kink, the syllables traced with veins that turned red as the skin of an old leaf turning, spinning, turning in the indifferent wind.
Thai beer sipped overlooking a spoiled river. That strange notion I have traveled, that I have been somewhere now, that I have seen the world a tiny bit. That I can tell stories featuring exotic words that will draw wide eyes as if I had visited the moon. Scarves, key rings, post cards for sale if I but turn my head or go a few feet. The call of tuk tuk drivers looking for fares. Other tourists with leather skin and silk shirts drinking cocktails and munching fried shrimp nearby. Their air of many stamps in a passport polluting the air near their sun-fried heads. Durian, mangoes, dragon fruit offered along the street leading back to the hostel where Buddha lounges on the stone wall. A mural that stretches rather too large and too long for my camera to obediently capture. Cats everywhere as I return to the green-walled room with the hard bed and the single sheet. Lizards and monks go about their business. The city bus rolls on by. A mini water garden dedicated to the local gods and I stop to watch the water flow over and over. Spiders judge me, wonder when I will pass on by. Backpackers speak of heading on to India as they march past me still staring transfixed at water bubbling slightly over dark stones.
note– written last month or so. The three pictures are all from Bangkok, Thailand.
I want someone to tell me the truth. That judgment that I should give up and turn back from this road. That the sky holds no wonders or joys for my consumption, that grace will not better me into some sort of badly mended maniacally grinning human pot of perfect clay. That the wind does not know my name, that the birds get eaten by stray cats indifferent to hope and struggle. That nothing good will arrive like a warm pie from the oven of the heavens. Tell me the truth so I can rest. So I can stop hoping. Goddamn it, hope cut me into a thousand pieces. And I have nothing remaining but a bitter cup of dust to sustain me now.
note– written last year or maybe this year. All the days seem the same day anymore.
Soon that fence will crumble and let me walk into that land of wheat and whale clouds where I can pretend how free I am. My lips form patient words for the silly dying of weeds and dreams and illusions that make my eyes fill with salt. Gratitude that I know I’ll never get to walk there and I’ll never have to be brave and never have to be honest. Because I have words that will get lost in those whale clouds that sink below the blunt little hills. Such a relief that I kept them inside where no one has to make polite faces over the ordinary agony expressed.
note– found this tucked away, as you do. It was one of several versions.
Something about mist and time and pumpkins in a patch. Something about children and candy and costumes. Something about the turning of the old year into the new. Something about snow and angels and trees dressed up in decorations not yet broken or lost. Something about love and apple cider and chilly nights. Something about beauty and peace and how fast time is. Something about hope and death and leaves recycled. Something already said many times in dull ways that we look forward to like a handful of candy corn still left from last Halloween.
note: I wrote this for the monthly poetry contest last year or the year before that. Time seems oddly fluid anymore.