I’m still in this place. Sometimes it seems I never leave.
Imagine, if you will
a gallery piece
a row of plants at progressing
stages of growth, lined up in
pots and flash-frozen in time, breathing cold puffs,
the moment the exhibit
to disintegrate, freeing
gouged and frozen cells one by
one by one by
unwilling surrender to Death
nutrient-free, famished, value
Imagine, if you will
our lives, taken
out of sine, cosine, curve:
I can’t find my incense. I don’t want to write. I desperately want nothing more than to write. For ever. So then, perhaps I’m just a stymied masochist at heart(less), doomed to miserable inaction for the rest of my days.
I do not dedicate myself as I should, as I need. . .
There’s a llama on my printer. A small one. A wedding gift, eight years and counting, staring me blackly in the eye. It knows. Trying to escape, my eye rests upon a small picture sat beneath my computer. It is my own babyface peering out with merrily blank baby eyes. The photo is overlaid with the thick shadow of a chain-link fence. This is me. Trapped by a shadow. Waiting for the world to do something. Trying to grasp the significance of the strange, cold eye that trains itself on me so often and aloofly clicks.
There’s so much crammed into this tiny office I could cry. I used to think I would write always and anywhere — give me a closet and a cardboard box, set me free with charcoal under a bridge and I would be unable to refrain from wordplay, perpetual swordplay with man and nature alike, taking the measure of everything by means of soul, squished then through a kind of linguistic strainer until all I had left was the juice, the essence, the concentrated taste of experience in this undeniably awkward universe.
Now that belief has shattered. It may have been true once, but I have lived into a future where I hide from myself — and everyone else — quite effectively. So here is a journal that is lacking all pretence, simply my words, simply me, all my flaws on my sleeve.
Can you see the chainlink fence?
I can. It’s all the mouldering critique in my soul. Surely if I put organic stuff in there it would become mulch instead of poison. Perhaps I am now more than part machine, and the organic materials cannot breathe. If I lived for aeons, my mouldering mulch would become the solid stuff of the planet, sandstone, limestone, volcanic rock jutting out of soft soil at awkward angles, baring its bones to escape unfathomable pressure. But I don’t want to be the solid stuff of earth, I want to grow. Become green in the sunlight, swing in gusts of wind, evaporate through expanding skin and rise to join the clouds, journeying towards a body of water and aching for the ocean deeps. Even the rocky shore submits to the tireless ministrations of moisture.
The cold, cyclopian eye is back. I think it wants to eat me. It’s everywhere, and I fear if I pay too much attention to it it might just absorb my essence. Like native people distrust photos, I distrust the all-seeing Eye with a maggoty, crawling kind of fear. I am sure it can erase my life, my futures, my Being in a moment’s time. How does one go about retrieving one’s essence from the maw of the beast? Can it ever regain its form? Its motivation? Its mind? I am not sure, but I will fight.
To possess or be possessed by one’s own identity?
The self, the anti-self in dire embrace.
Instead of embracing God, he hugs himself.
~ Theodore Roethke, from The Middle of a Roaring World.
“See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all day he fears, not being immortal or divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds.
Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. . .
Think, also, of the ladies of the land weaving toilet cushions against the day, not to betray too green an interest in their fates! As if you could kill time without injuring eternity!”
~ Henry David Thoreau, on the (hu)man
Bread Crumbs, by Kate Gough
(previously published here )
Wrinkles sagging with weariness, Gretel June seated her crooked torso on the last clear surface in the house: a padded footstool. The world swam in complete and terrifying circles around her, and closing her eyes only made it worse. She felt a lump in her throat that had nothing whatsoever to do with her heart, and much more to do with her stomach. Everything swirled so fast! Continue reading