I write because I cannot imagine a world without words.
I am not myself.
Today I hum like the power lines
sending their thoughts far away,
sing like the creak of the doors
as they open and close and repeat.
My hair shifts in the passage of others
just as the leaves beneath the feet I do not have;
I stretch like the light of the sun in a
parabolic curve—brighter and dimmer.
I am as hardy as mid-autumn grass,
as rough as poured concrete,
as soft as the murmur of conversation,
as loud as horns blaring down the street
and sirens screaming past.
I am the bold smell of coffee grounds,
the rising, fragrant steam of cups
cupped between chilled fingers.
I rub like wool and cotton against the skin.
I flutter like the fringe of scarves.
I am my surroundings and my season;
I am everything I have experienced;
I am not myself—
I am more.
Every once in a while I withdraw from things. These are the periods in my life when I am overwhelmed with duties and responsibilities and relationships. I have been in one of those times since just before the end of summer, mostly stemming from family affairs, a liberal dose of depression, and a gigantic helping of introspective reflection. I know that my writing has not been the best these last few months, and posts have been few and far between as well. I can’t really apologize for that—it was necessary—but I am grateful to those who have stayed with me while I was, for the most part, incommunicado. I can’t promise that I will post with any regularity, or that what I post will always be good or cheerful, but I think that this time of silence is coming to an end.
At almost eight I woke to a weak sun grasping,
scratching, at the billows of smoky white all around.
I should have gone out then, but I waited.
I knew, from living near mountains, how it would sound;
echoes of footsteps falling and rustles nearer than you’d think.
I waited too long to step outside. The sun was glaring
down at the earth when I did, burning a hole in the air.
It melted the fragile bonds of the fog, and I was past caring
where I wandered. I had missed the fog,
and now the mystery of the cool dawn had taken leave.
What was left? The world revealed too soon;
a harsh view of trees more stately half hidden, half shrouded.
Exposed, I walked wearily towards the life I knew I needed,
no longer able to pretend that I was half concealed, too.
feed me a lullaby
of lake waves, scooped up
a spoonful of wet moons
to sleep to.
There are sounds to the seasons that I hear
standing still or walking slowly by myself.
Not when I am speaking with someone—
humanity shouts over all the melodies of the world
then, when I am gazing into the eyes of a person.
But when I am alone I can hear the songs.
They aren’t the sounds of nature physically
knocking about in my head—I hear those, too.
No. There are songs without words
ghosting about and echoing off every surface.
In the spring something light floats like
dust motes in the sunlight. Summer’s song
is drowsy, long and low like a purple evening.
Winter is bursts of percussion that bound along
senses like sunshine off of snow—blinding, loud.
The one I know best is autumn because it is so many things.
I am not one person and it is not one melody.
Sometimes autumn hums like a honeybee
perusing a field of wildflowers. Sometimes it leaps
like the waves of the sea in a brisk wind.
It winds through the trees and rustles like a gossip;
it whistles like a bird on the breeze; it wails as if
its heart would break; it is strong one moment,
gentle the next; the chill sings soprano and the blue
sky bass; autumn rains ping and shine; windchimes
jangle in protest of their harsh treatment;
my heart joins in with a sound that I have
never heard elsewhere.
It sounds like a feeling that I have felt before
on roads and tracks and trails in the sky.
It sounds like a restlessness in my heart.
A ringing in my ears. A roaring from my heart.
Autumn sounds like the deepest depths
of my soul, in the places where I am
everywhere at once, borne on the wind
and a feeling and a sound.
This year a primal instinct reared its weathered head,
ears pricked, on the first day of autumn. Something
deep inside of a box locked tight by reason and
morality scrabbled at the hinges and the well-worn
planks that held it, trying to free itself from the cage
we call civility. This year I knew without a doubt that
autumn was here the moment it arrived. I knew it
by the quality of the sunlight—long and streaming
and warm, but not hot. Like still water dripping over
the landscape and pooling in every crack and cranny left
untouched. I knew it by the touch of the wind, with its long,
lean fingers that caressed every leaf like a child tapping
a stick along a white picket fence. It ran chilly tendrils
through my hair and across the back of my neck. I knew it by
the sighing of the shadows, bluer than on any day of summer,
softer than winter but sharper than spring. They edged along
rivers of sunlight, cool banks to burning ripples. I knew it by
the way the trees and grasses whispered to each other as I
passed beneath them on my way to church, to a little white
chapel that stood pale and glistening amidst the first flickers of
flame in the foliage. I knew it by the startling cry of the geese
that only knew one letter, even though they were trying to write
novels for me in the sky. I understood anyway. In the end,
maybe it was not me who knew these things, but the soul
of that primal part of me that still believed in superstitions of ghouls,
ghosts, and the cry that autumn gives, forewarning of the
tyranny of winter.
On her own head she placed a crown
of nails, cold steel to ground her mind,
laced with all the wild flowers
her aching hands could bear to find.
She jeweled it ‘round with blades of ice—
they melted slowly down her face
and left pale tracks across her skin
that ne’er detracted from her grace.
Her mouth forgot, then, how to smile.
Not long after, so did her eyes;
her shoulders, though, were never bowed
beneath the twisted weight of lies.
I asked her why she wore that crown
of nails that was with daisies gilt
and sparkled with those knives of ice
that looked like tears she might have spilt,
but I received no answer save
a sad remembrance of a smile
that was an effort to her soul;
she was jeered at all the while.
They told her she had placed the crown
upon her head by her own will
so she should learn to live with it.
They circled ‘round her, never still.
And yes, I saw her place it there
above the lips that used to beam.
It came about just after dawn of
that day whereon she lost her dream.
The nails to keep the fae away
and cleanse the magic from her soul—
some boon for those who told her that
for ‘maginings she was too old.
The flowers to bring back innocence,
since that was what she had no more;
her heart was broken like frail glass
and scattered ‘cross the world’s own floor.
The ice to cool the passion hot
that hovered just behind her heart.
It occupied that little space
and other spots within her art.
She always walked away from them,
towards some goal I could not see;
the path her feet traced said this:
"The world did this to you and me."
It is liberating to finally
be brave enough to pull the string
that unties the knot of dread
seated deep in your stomach;
to say “I am running out of time,
there is no space in this world
for me to be timid.”
I am nervous to smile at you,
but this time next year I will have passed
beyond the point of our interaction.
If I do not smile, or speak, I will
never see you again.
It is freeing to be afraid,
but so very, very hopeful.