the cumulative impact of reaction

“As if a tenderness awoke, a tenderness that did not tire, something healing.”
— Sylvia Plath, from The Collected Poems; “Three Women,” (1962)

I was born into an isolated, literal Evangelical culture. A place where time was on always on trial and faith was righteous as pride. Our promised future had already been written. We were urgent. The rapture was past due.

All of us who knew even a fraction of the story internalized why Jesus hadn’t returned. Acts of a vengeful god are common and welcomed in this scenario. It was also true when you knew the ending tipped in your favor, knowledge became seductive. A blessing disguised.

To have learned about the world this way feels like a subtle theft. Trauma works that way too. False recognitions bound to real sounds, smells, touch, twists of phrases, and, if lucky, fading re-creations. A true con.

Decades later, I am still carving an existence that is receptive to invitation. There are no answers inside all these non-moments of relentless judgement. That clarity is its own rushed reality. Adapting gracefully to change is an ancient sermon. This is a map to all this undoing.

reconciliation

“everyone is a conscientious objector to something” — William Stafford (from Every War Has Two Losers)

artist unknown

The sun was warm. Flowers pop and stretch.
I sang softly into the deepest darkness.
I was not afraid.

Even here, I struggle what to say.
Bending under the weight of unwritten letters,
I want to succeed
differently.

Morning news push violent denials.
I wake softly into fading darkness.
I am not afraid.

graceful omens

America in time of war (September 11, 2018, Mission District, San Francisco)

if attention is the beginning of devotion
then acknowledgement of witness is where I will begin

from street level view, I am an island

a butterfly, hummingbird, & a dragonfly
float through smells of rotting oranges

jump cuts of urban landscapes

in complimentary opposition
the people bartered & exchanged energy

an elegant observation of intimacy

cleaving to an aesthetics of division
loyal to self & other

in chorus, our mutual true horizons were laid visible

_______

quote is Mary Oliver from Upstream: Selected Essays

no lightning, no danger

ocean : prairie (photo by edwardatlee)

a series of lines / unbroken
as promises they hold their value

remind me, again, what constitutes forgiveness
fairness                     and faith
where hypocrisy fits in context to perfectionism
in a universe of endlessly revised incarnations

most mornings I stare out the kitchen window
wishing I was moving at the speed of a morning commute

horizon note

Huseyin Sami, Cut Painting (Light Yellow), 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 183 x 152 cm.

I’ve never had the same address for long. My current streak is seven years. I’ve far exceeded all prior knowledge of living in one place. I am as far west as I’ve ever been, which means my reverence for home has changed. Somewhere between this nostalgia and the truth is the hard edge of acceptance.

In all this stillness, I forgot how to let go.

So I start over.
Again.

As a habit, writing is its own method of reckoning. An ecstatic attention to spirit. A positive deviance. Specifically, I want to create a feeling of communion. I want this feeling in spite of its dominant religious significations.

The concept and practice of being “reborn” was an early fascination. I’d watch my father make his way to the front of the church and confess his weaknesses. Our sins were made public. We wanted to believe, as much as he did, that each confession was his last. His liberation bound so tightly to our survival.

I choose to keep these collective epiphanies to remember how far from home I am.
_________

*horizon note = the beat or pulse underlying the whole of the poem (Denise Levertov)