I love basking in the words of the ones that can’t bear to hold it in, the ones that actually talk about it. Out loud, on paper, to my face.
I’ve always stumbled and struggled with speaking, talking, articulating out loud. My damp eyes betray me, my voice shakes, my grasp of the English language wavers.
I write, though. Not well, though sometimes I write in the face of rejection. Sometimes I write in the face of non-response.
But mostly I hold in too much, for fear of being unable to keep anything at all of myself.
All writing will tend towards what’s important in our particular worlds. A lot of news stories report on risk, tragedy, doubt, war, anger, threat, defeat. Perhaps we must be patient and look closer, or even beyond — perhaps we can break through the negative and create a different examination of what is happening.
In photography, a negative is an image in which the lightest areas of the photographed subject appear darkest and the darkest areas appear lightest.
I don’t think of it as repetitive to talk about heartbreak again. It’s truthful and compelling because it’s one of the unavoidable human conditions.
So is love, though. So is joy.
There is that.
* * *
I remember that sunny afternoon, walking past the abandoned warehouses, the rusty door locks, the broken windows. Wandering toward the water (ever towards the water and light). J crooned, “Baby let’s not ever get that way, I will drive you to the ocean every day,” and I thought to myself that I would be ok with that particular kind of forever.
You took photos of the buildings, the sky, the boats, the walls, the horizon. Aimed yourself attentively towards everything but me. A purposeful exclusion, I suspect. We walked home amicably at orange dusk, flower petals falling around us, the sun burning holes into whatever was left unsaid.
* * *
Despite my very best efforts lately, I still feel all this sadness wrap around me, this sense of how the last flower petals feel when clinging to the branch while all along knowing what comes next.
The tree whispers quietly, “You are part of me. Stay awhile.” But it’s only for a season, we all know this. The flower petals sigh with the weight of that gravity.
There is a man blowing soap bubbles on the street corner. They float in the air awhile, luminescent in the full sunlight. The wind blows them towards me as I pass by. They are beautiful for awhile. They even fly. I feel them collapse gently and disappear with barely a sound when hitting the backs of my knees.
Another man is creating horses out of clay that thought it was shapeless two minutes before.
A little girl is cartwheeling down the hill. She falls a lot. My friend whispers, “Now that I know that I’ll fall every time I try, I don’t do cartwheels anymore.”
A man at the grocery store walks up next to me with his headset on and says quietly into the microphone, “How can I make you feel better, love? I’ve got pears for you. The sweet kind that you like. The organic kind.”
The organic, sweet kind, isn’t that what we hope for? In growth, love, life. The passing of days.
It’s hard here. I don’t want to compete with the pretty girls in expensive gowns with youthful, perfect bodies and eternal nights. It can be tiring, you know, the feeling that it will never be enough. I like to wander outside with my head in the clouds in my old shoes and ratty T-shirts, belly getting soft from homemade bread and too much poetry.
I feel unstable in my footing, perhaps ever stretching beyond my reach — but as Carl Phillips says:
Let those plants
that can do so lean away on their stems, toward the sun.
A friend wrote this recently and deleted it. I’ll borrow her anonymous words and hope she forgives me:
The thing about the boy is that I can see how hard he is trying. Trying to love, trying to be good. But it’s hard work, having to convince yourself of something like that. It was easier when we were apart, because there were fewer questions to ask. Just dealing with it. Now there is the question mark of a future; no light at the end of a tunnel.
You know, it is harder to keep somebody around than to just get rid of them.
So what can we do? Try harder in the direction of where we hope light exists. Bloom anyways, despite not knowing when we will fall. Open until we break so that we may stay open. Make our own light at the end of the tunnel. Dig ourselves outwards so that there is no more tunnel. Remind ourselves of sweet potatoes and pineapples, of cold midnights during which the sun never sets, of the blue hues that expand as time passes.
The organic, sweet kinds.
As Miranda July says, “What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real.”
And every night before sleep, Mary Oliver helps me in my attempts to swallow harder my penchant for letting go of the branch before the season is done.
For some things
There are no wrong seasons.
Which is what I dream of for me.
* * *
Also I wanted to be able to love
And we all know how that one goes, don’t we?