Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As the hurricanes in my hands downgrade to tropical storms I find myself touching more and more things with my palms. Not people, often. Not most of them. Still, all movement counts as forward.

This time last year I was planning a trip through the southwest and home, in that moment when it seemed like everything was changing before it all crashed back into the same old ruts. Before I went over Niagara Falls in my stupid clown shoes and barrel. I thought a lot in the late nights about how future archaeologists would stage those scenes then, sitting in the sun on my balcony with beers talking about trilobite quarries and the Grand Canyon. Speaking only in adventure and hope. One night last summer I was in an airplane that flew past the biggest storm I have ever seen, pillars of clouds and whole constellations of lightning, brutally beautiful and terrifying. If I could have I would have read all of our futures in those violent stars, in the lines and the booming noise and the violence. If I could have, I would have put that whole storm in my mouth.

Sometimes I like the feel of things in my hands: cups of coffee in the early afternoons of brunch, satisfyingly shaped apples. A few faces, the occasional high five. Most often, I find myself fitting my palms on trees when no one is looking and pushing wishes and good intentions into the bark and down to the roots. The trees will keep my secrets, their bark reassuringly rough at the base of my fingers, solid and silent and green. I'm doing my best to cultivate unexpected fruits wherever I go, to counteract my natural disasters.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I read a story a week or so ago about three teenagers lost in the ocean for more than a month, in an unlikely boat and without food or water. It was exactly as planned out as you would expect, which is to say not at all--just three kids who got a little drunk and decided that it was time for an adventure. That they made it through is maybe not the biggest miracle, but it's definitely not the smallest.

More immediately, NASA tells us that it plans to stop listening for transmissions from the Mars rover Spirit tomorrow. I think about that rover more often than I care to admit, sunk into the soft sand in the middle of a crater all alone, a tiny point in that vast empty landscape. The other one is still up there, wandering up all of those hills and through all of those valleys. Sometimes I wonder if it will come across its twin, fixed and sculptural there, if it would even recognize it as another of its own. If the communication links that have broken down between the planets can work between robots. Or if it won't, and which would be worse.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Right now my garden is almost the exclusive property of mysteries. You would think that, given my obsessive attention to detail in almost all other arenas, each pot would be meticulously labeled and separated into sections so that I would know just what to be expecting and when. But somehow in the early spring I tend to disregard the possibility of plants from last year making a return and instead scatter seeds without regard across all of the exposed dirt, figuring that by the time I am ready to visit the farmer's market for new things to grow everything there will either be coming up or else never to be seen.

And so now we are in the days of revelation, where all manner of things are becoming green and tall, appearing each day unexpectedly somewhere new. I don't have any idea what is going to pop out of any of them. Is it the sentimental blue coming back, the sweet peas returning to climb delicately over everything, or the four o'clocks rubbing their leaves together in anticipation of seducing my shouty little humming bird friend again? Will I be growing a growling monster with diamonds for eyes or a cluster of elephants hanging by their trunks? A rainbow or a pot of gold or the secret to eternal happiness?

Each evening, I water my mysteries. I'm sure that they'll be beautiful when they bloom, but just now I like them better this way.

Friday, May 13, 2011

From what I understand about resonance, everything has a natural frequency at which it vibrates. Elephants and wizards and whatever else too, buzzing along all on its own. And somehow sometimes that thing might be moving through space and hit the same speed as its own, becoming incredibly flexible and then flying to pieces. They say that resonance is how our clocks keep time and so forth, but it seems to me like someone should have mentioned the dangers. With so many other possible ways to disintegrate, we might as well have some warning about the ones we can predict.

Essentially, what I understand about resonance is nothing. But if science is willing to admit the possibility of resonance disaster, I'm pretty sure I should be too. Catastrophic failure has a certain kind of ring to it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It probably wasn't the best idea to follow the corpse candles so deep into the swamps, but we paved the way by avoiding the wolves with such success. Breadcrumbs and broken shoes, and out the other side alive. Who's to say we couldn't do the same thing again? I only really wanted to feel that cool fire under my hand.

I dug all of those paths, even though they filled right back up with water, just for the sake of doing something. Progress, or at least the next best thing, and all the time being followed by trucks with no headlights and a hand on my calf. As usual, much too vulnerable. Anything for the sake of those flames, the green fire soft between my fingers.

The truth of the matter is, I will almost certainly follow that will-o'-the-wisp to whatever swamps and woods and canyons and deserts it chooses to traipse through. I'm not sure that "astray" is the same thing as "lost", and even if it is there are worse things to be.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

I've been carrying around all these wishes for you, just inside my eyes, in case you ever need them. The lucky thing about wishes is they don't go bad, but I am starting to think that they might go a little less, instead, a little softer. All of this time just sitting there, waiting for someone besides me to need them.

I have been reading a book about Haitian voodoo in which they discuss the components of the zombi poison. They grate the skull of a baby and an unrelated leg bone into the concoction, explaining dismissively that every good potion contains bones. The book goes on to discuss the pharmacological properties of the rest of the ingredients, but I think it's really the bones that are the important part. Bones are where we keep our secrets, and most of our magic.

But it's also true that I am filled with all of these spare wishes, all of these love letters, doing all of this looking, just in case. Because I don't know quite how to do anything else, and you never can be sure when any of these things will come in handy. Prepared to draw a soft shining net around whatever you might need hidden, holding everything safe in the creases of my palms.

When I think of all the time left to come I wonder about what will happen to all of these things, piled up in lovely sweet layers in all of my rooms, still waiting for someone to need them. If that's what the future dictates, it's lucky that each of them will keep. It's the secrets and magic inside my own bones that I worry about.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Friends, I have been back in San Francisco for the last few days.

My adventure started, as so many of my adventures do, with sitting at a bar talking to a drunk old man and then a second one about poetry and love. I don't know why they always come to me, but poetry and love are two of my favorite things to talk about anywhere, even in the middle of the afternoon in an airport bar.

I was there to celebrate a wedding, which is great because two more of my favorite things are celebrating and weddings. San Francisco itself clearly felt like this was a wedding worth celebrating, as it was sunny and warm the whole weekend. The bride was beautiful and everyone was happy, and I cannot wait until the next wedding. (There's another one in three months.)

The last time I was in San Francisco was very pleasant, with nice weather and great food and very funny people, but the city really stepped it up this time in the shenanigans and flattery departments. I did a lot of lounging and making friends with strangers, learned to meringue at 5 am, and nearly got kidnapped by a wandering band of partiers. I'm still not interested in moving there, but if the town was trying to convince me to visit more often, it definitely succeeded.