The sunset hit the mountains right where it wanted. Long, slow strokes showing how time moves with us rather than against us. The clouds manifested into curled thoughts above me: smoking pigs, deformed angels, naked divers, schools of fish with a solo seahorse, dusty cat tracks, dancing rabbits. The cloud shadows performed vignettes on a landscape that, up until that precise moment, had been a light and a topography I had only seen in movies. Swimming to the sound of my breath, I found suffering gave way to resistance and eventually settled on intention as the palm trees swayed to the rhythm of jet trails miles and miles above me.
“Burst of orange bombs shatter the tranquil skyline”
was the only thing I could think of last week
to describe the sunrise over the Financial District
after traveling three years across the East Bay Bridge
a witness to the construction and now its destruction.
“I wish I knew how to say good-bye to you” was a way
to compartmentalize desire after watching a worker
steal bites of their lunch for breakfast. Always realizing,
or is it remembering, that these feelings are not new.
Wedged between these thoughts, the radio told me the Swiss
had bought the leading producer of the heartland’s chocolate
in between stories of Syria, Iraq, and economic forecasts.
A confession of a shocked customer revealing they weren’t
going to stop their daily routine no matter who owned production.
These truths are the only way to understand how gravity influences
our daily lives, a routine showing progress and distance.
They walk like cowboys, recently dismounted.
Think about how many details we leave out when we tell stories about ourselves. Those intimate moments where spectacle meets nuance. All those ways we understand dimensions as coordinates – maps of contested margins. I don’t assume you read any of this, which is why I can be so matter-of-fact.
In fact every Sunday, until I found an alternative, I learned about the consequences of taking things literally, from a biblical perspective. It was my orientation to the world. Now, I find myself drawn to phrases like loving witness and learned that the prescribed strategy for getting out of disasters is to assist others.
We are racing to the airport. I am anxious. She tells me her depression is incurable. So deep that strapping electrodes to her brain won’t help, or if it did, it would only be temporary relief. So deep that she can’t wash knives in the kitchen sink when the bottomless darkness sets in. She can see herself slashing herself to death, making the motions, trading hands to make the gestures of listening to those urges, one hand always on the steering wheel. She tells me she is no longer afraid to die and that is how she has been able to survive.
I want to believe this means you found a way to see light differently.
As the sun sets California Orange, I am grateful for the Post Office. This is a dispatch so I will keep it short. I wanted to say the only difference between elegy and eulogy was the degree of reflection. Also, I learned that I should ask more questions before saying yes; the word agamy is an apt descriptor for me; and setting plans in motion is its own thrill.
I don’t want to alarm you.
The house is empty and without running water.
An escape tunnel is being built,
a series of connection points.
We will live underground again.
The shawl looked forlorn.
The socks draped over the freeway fence.
Morning commuters wove patterns
inside lanes designed to maximize tension
lulling casual passengers to the hum
of wheels hitting mile markers.
He said, “You need to put your breath behind it”
as she told a story about a place in New Mexico that contains light
found between the spikes of cacti and rotations of tumbleweeds
hues of yellow, orange, and blue if you knew how to look for it.
Is it a luxury to be clueless?
movie star faces
We dream of different reasons
to perform the same routines.
Money is not enough of a lure.
We have been poor before.
Status is not an option.
We have been poor before.
In order to believe in tomorrow,
we occupy contrasting spaces.
That is what we are trained to do.
We have been poor before.
Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them. – Amish proverb
We are tired; it is June. We are at the midpoint of a rogue year. As I rest, I am forming a plan. This plan is just beyond my horizon, like those childhood summer storms we saw coming days in advance and were the most talked about event weeks after they blew past us. Those summer storms a result of collisions, of mixing extremes, of letting go. Perfectly orchestrated chaotic conditions that result in epic reverence, a beauty best experienced first hand. These are the kinds of moments I’ve been hoarding as the day’s light provides sustained warmth and has exposed vulnerable possibility. It’s a ritual, a strategy bent towards inspiration with hopes of reinvention. I’ve been storing these impressions – that are destined not to fade – in a section of my mind loosely bordered by conscious desires and authentic needs. They are nested within categories as broad, and as narrow, as intentionality, kindness, and forgiveness. I found this extra room after carefully packing and laying to rest accumulated regrets. I even took care of those regrets that fell through the cracks simply because of time and those that became normalized through tenderly laid bad habits. Regrets embedded so deeply I felt the weight of the space they left behind. It was a performance much like the cooling impact of a thunderstorm passing through on a sweltering languid summer day. A relief beset by joy.
title credit: line from A Ritual To Read Each Other by William Stafford