Friday, April 30, 2010

You could almost set your watch by the revolutions in my runaways, how as soon as the spring shows up somewhere under the clouds and behind this terrible wind all I want to do is run downhill and away, someplace new, into space. Adventure or misadventure, or both.

Soon it will be time for coming home at dawn soaked in sweat from dancing and laughing, shoes coated and sticky from liquor spilled down bare legs in crowded rooms and damp from running through unattended sprinklers, smelling of smoke from bonfires and tasting of bourbon. I think a lot about my apple tree, this time of year, and how in the first burst of spring it puts all of its effort into making flowers that are unlikely to be visited by the right sort of bees, only making leaves once the blooms have faded.

If it turns out I'm missing, it will be because I have tired of fighting the wind and have hopped on a tramp steamer bound for Argentina to start a new life learning the tango and making maracas and hunting crocodiles. Adventure and misadventure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm thinking almost exclusively in boating metaphors, lately, all about ballast and tempests and ports, under the water and the nature of the sunrise, and the last three lines of Gregory Corso's "Leaky Lifeboat Boys." It tends to make one a bit seasick, of course, but on the other hand the world of boating is rife with the sort of forced metaphors that I so dearly love.

We knew all about boats once, or at least enough about them not to get swallowed by the waves, enough to find scallops for cooking and shallows for swimming. But then we moved away from the water and the sun and our stride slowly lost the soft rolling motion of the sea. I don't really know anything at all about boats anymore, although I still dream in heat and sand. Still, there is a certain kind of truth to be found in the tang of salt water and ropes of windblown hair, a truth forgotten over all these miles and lost under all these words.

But then, one that we might find again, remembering under trees and skies that are different but still softly similar.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Angry inchworm

I met this inchworm this weekend. He seemed friendly enough, inching along the picnic table, until we nudged him. Quick as anything he reared up, back legs anchored firmly and front legs splayed, looking for all the world like he would gladly chew our faces off with his angry little jaws.

I took notes. I'm not sure that this is a bad way to react to all of this in the unfortunately lately and now-and-again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A thing I think about at least once a day but almost never mention, because I tire of knowingly raised eyebrows and that pout that says oh man, next she's going to start talking about aerosolized pig brains again, is how strangely long my arms look from the perspective of my eyes. (Honestly, half the reason I don't do drugs is because there's no real need to.) It confuses me, how terribly far away my hands are, how disproportionately spiderlike they look, as if someone stretched them and they never quite sprang back into shape. I wonder if this is why I knock things over all the time, talking with my hands, not because I'm so clumsy but because my arms are so long. My hands are practically on the moon.

I think about what it must have been like to be a dinosaur, to peer back at your heavy long tail and wonder that it could even be a part of you, something so distant. (Full disclosure: I wonder about what it must have been like to be a dinosaur maybe more often than I think about my arms.)

I was in Florida this weekend, memorializing and talking and getting bit by no-see-ems like it's my job, and a picture surfaced in which my crazy skeleton arms were just too obvious not to exclaim about. And it turns out that they run in the family, these gangly disproportionate appendages. Which won't make me marvel at the distance between me and the end of my extremities any less, but which makes me feel less like I'm imagining it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm not sure where the path out of these woods will be, so I am throwing tiny paper airplanes weighed down with matches in every direction. There is too much space that is dark and cold, and too many monsters waiting behind trees and in bushes and in tiny spider holes to grab us as we walk by. Fast as lightning, we might go missing.

It's troubling, the amount of time left, fighting to change what doesn't want to change in an effort to shift the view of all of those years. One long corridor of days after days and only monsters grabbing at our ankles to break up the time. From far away they sometimes look like kittens, which is how they get us to come too close. It's easier to snatch than it is to chase.

The flowers are here, springing up everywhere, unfurling and breaking up the winter's greens and browns. With luck, one of them will have some good news somewhere inside. My supply of optimism is running dangerously low.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mostly, I am thinking about the end of a Tony Hoagland poem about a dogwood tree:

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.

I feel like our options are either that, or nothing at all.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I dreamed of flying Cadillacs, burning, and you standing under them letting the ashes sift softly on to your umbrella. You didn't understand the screaming or the panic around you, strolling and whistling softly, as though the chaos and the flames just over your head were nothing out of the ordinary. From where I stood, in a window across the street, you seemed a quiet island, and I wondered about the peace you hid under that umbrella.

Awake in empty rooms I see faces from the corner of my eye, in bushes and under streetlights and in the center of spider webs, and I worry about Charles Bonnet Syndrome or whether it is just too much time alone with my books. Surely, if I were going blind, the lady would have noticed while she was peering into my head just a few weeks ago. Maybe my brain is bored, and my visual cortex is playing its own game of solitaire. There's always been only a little bit of a divide between how the landscape looks in my sleep and how it holds itself when I'm awake, and maybe for a little while that line is blurring, spurred on by the spring and the grief and the lack of sleep.

I always have trouble unseeing secret images once I know they're there, in magic eye posters and Dali paintings and Rorschach blots. Patterns refuse to smooth themselves and the image looks like an old woman and a young woman at the same time. Of all the things I could be seeing everywhere, faces are definitely not the worst.

Monday, April 05, 2010

You know, when the SS Eastland fell over on a calm day in the Chicago River it was just doing what it was supposed to, mostly, adding more lifeboats and reinforcing its deck to avoid repeating what had happened to the Titanic. If it has paused and thought about it, the boat might have realized that its center of gravity had changed, that it was feeling a little wobbly and slow to react, but somehow ships never really think about those sorts of things. It just readied itself for a party while inside of it everything went wrong.

Whole families were wiped out that day, laid out in makeshift morgues with no one to claim them. They all just readied themselves for parties, too, while around them everything went wrong. The boat was raised pretty quickly and made seaworthy again as a training gunship where it was useful for quite some time. The people, those who made it and those who didn't, all faded into obscurity just as quickly.

I wonder about the moment when the band stopped playing to abandon ship, when the only sounds left to hear were the snapping of lines and the creaking of decks and the stampeding of panicked passengers. When the boat finally shrugged its shoulders and settled sideways into the shallows and mud, tired from holding up all of those people and that concrete and those boats, and what it sounded like in the fractions of seconds between when the music ended and everything else flowed in.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Last year we learned that our bodies glow with lights we can't see, and this is what I have been thinking about lately. In my head are these continents populated with soft lights--dim moving trails from people pacing, sleepless and wandering, billions of softly breathing people emitting a low glow just like everyone else, not knowing about their light and, for a time, not caring. Animals, too, raccoons glowing and stealing your trash, birds shining softly in their sleep in a tree branch, fluffy bunnies bouncing brightly like a child's toy.

At the end of things, I imagine, that glow slowly fades until in the dark we match our background. Surrounded by all of those lights but no longer one of them.

Our molecules are always around, somewhere, even when they're not in our shapes. We've talked about this before, about how it takes a decade for the molecules of each breath to completely disperse around the world. I've always found this comforting, the idea that my parts are made up of your parts and the parts of everyone that was before. My grandma's molecules are still there, some of them still together, traveling around the world, never really gone.

I'm going back in a couple of weeks, to leave what's left of my grandparents somewhere beautiful. I've never had any feelings about this sort of things before, but now I find myself solaced some by the idea that they will sink into the ground together and eventually become part of the glow from something else. That they may have left us, but they're never really going to be gone.