I think I wrote this when I lived on the hill above Beaver Falls, PA. When I had a husband, and he had a lesbian for a wife.
I wonder about the time it will take for children to tell stories about rock salt that transforms into lime over red-bricked pathways to doors we no longer know how to open. It was a trip I had to take. Down blue highways of the Midwest. Into the South where people sing because that’s all they know. I needed to go to places where people sit on porches for a living. I had to see the carbon copy of my life. Different colored eyes. Different voices. To hear the voice so like mine that there was no use in recognizing it. It was time to drive. It was time to let children stare at old ladies. It was time for days to become weeks. Hours into years. To sip a bit of gin. Rock back and forth on the swing. Feel the ridges of a steering wheel. Let muggy wind into my pores.
If there’s a story in it. Maybe I’ll find it. Maybe I’ll find out about nature. Sleek pavement, potholes, dead trees growing higher. Maybe I’ll find my story traveling fifty miles over the speed limit watching grandmas shake their heads and mothers running, screaming from front doors.
Oh, how the look of God’s eyes frightens the hell out of me.
There are no names in this untold story. There couldn’t be. No characters in time. No protagonist nor antagonist nor round nor flat nor sound. Writers are too generous to themselves when they create people out of reality. Writers are really too self-involved to not put something of themselves in each character. Maybe this is just a poet’s epiphany, but every character has a characteristic of you, of him, of her, of me. Maybe not the dog, but maybe not the cat either. That is why this story must be about place. Every story must be about place. The place I never see. Writing only what I think I know. My other reality. And then I bleed.
I wanted my next book to be a political one about that fucking male-dominated Texan. Maybe I just need to write a little shit before I take a drive down the interstate. I’ll stop in Lexington, Birmingham, Little Rock, what’s left of New Orleans. Still big cities. What I need to get the fuck away from. I want to see houses without siding. Torn paint. A 90-year-old black woman wrinkled by sweat. Letting the imitation-Chinese fan rub away at her eyes. Her butt sticking to the splinters of a wooden step.
Then there are dirt roads. Dust, I think. Not quite sand. Never soil. Lots of rock.
I get thirsty on Saturdays. There’s enough tea to go around. Where has all the bourbon gone?
I’ve seen Kentucky. No blue grass. Merely tinted by sun. I went there once with a friend of mine to become one with horses at Churchhill Downs, but I thought I was to write about places I do not know. Like the inside of a Utah polygamist’s home. I was supposed to read Kerouac’s On the Road for a college class. I never got past the first chapter.
There’s nothing in middle earth they tell us. I don’t even know what my neighbors look like. Twenty feet away on both sides. I hear them whistling, fighting on the grass sidewalk outside my home.
Sequence is for the talented. Dismay is for the real. Imagination is for all the little children of the world.
So I must write poetry. If nothing else. A poet can sing all she likes in air meant for men to breathe. But this is not to be a feminist monologue. A-sexuality is the key to my existence and cliché runs the world.
Seven is a scary number. Even the roman numeral of it creates turmoil. The big V belittled by two, skinnier, vertical slashes. Slash one, slash two. Come get me V. For I’ve taken your children out from under your skin. Your womb embeds itself into mounds of salt.
I stop at a diner where they serve poached eggs and greasy toast. Gallons of coffee sucked by men in dirty baseball caps. A sticky, red, plastic stool with a rusted stem. Oils spread over a black oven top caked with singed pig’s fat. A young child. A boy. A girl. It looks to be something more than that. Brown hair cut just below ears, sleepies in corners of eyes, blue mesh shorts, orange juice stain on a white t-shirt. It eats a bowl of cereal and stares at its mother smoking a cigarette. I look down at my eggs over-easy, sausage patty, cup of tea. The child eats marshmallows. I wish for Captain Crunch.
I leave my plate untouched. It’s arrangement too delicate for a water-washed fork. Cautiously squeaking the stool around, I find rest for my feet on soiled tile. White beneath stains of nicotine and bacon sweat. The child looks over at me. I cannot smile. Its face has highways written all over it. Its stare like pupil-covered eyes. It raises its left hand while mother reads The Star.
The child is great with letters. The child lips the number of soggy marshmallows left it the bowl. I slam a glass door on a brick wall and sprint to my Chevy.
What are we to do when clouds move that fast when the body of a dead doe drowns in a God made puddle on the interstate. Her head submerged her body and hinde legs disgraced by hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline. Archery season brings out the dead more so than rifle season. It’s harder to shoot when a bow’s off target. It’s harder to pull that string. It’s harder to pierce the soul of earth with an arrow.
Then we mark our spot.
Listenting to: "Kostantine" - Andrew McMahon
"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." - Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
It's not dramatic. It really isn't. To say that the end is what matters most, that is dramatic. Because the end, essentially, is death.
What you look back on at the end is what you took for granted. Then it's too fucking late.
Ok, let me stop being so dramatic and bring it down to something personal, something smaller. I have three main goals in life (and they are in no particular order): 1. Publish; 2. Teach; 3. Have a family.
I have done all three, in one way or another. I have "sorta" published. I have "sorta" teached. I have "sorta" had a famiy.
So, I'm not completely there yet. I have not published any of my finished books or chapbooks. I do not have a full-time teaching gig. I have a family, but I'm not married, am not raising a child that is, essentially, my own with my partner, and I do not own a home, and so on and so on.
There are all these end goals that I have. All of these things that, sometimes, I wish I could just snap my fingers and they all become true in an instant.
That's not how life works, and it shouldn't work that way. Here are the things that I know.
I am not a full-time teacher because I chose my writing before my "career." I am not published because I then focused on "work and money" before my craft. And, I chose the wrong people to begin relationships with in my past.
Here's what else I know, I'm GLAD I did all of these things. This is called living. I haven't wasted anytime. No one wastes their time. It's life. One day. Then the next. And then the next.
The only thing that has changed for me is that now I am completely focused on all three of my goals. And, instead of following impulse, I am following my heart. Instead of going right or left, I'm headed forward.
And guess what, I'm still going to do everything I can to enjoy every single minute of it. Even if you believe in reincarnation, we really only get one conscious chance at this gig.
6 years ago