Friday, October 28, 2011

My hummingbird has been showing up regularly again, now that the flowers are fading and my apartment is a major source of food, and I wonder about why it is that the zugunruhe seems to vibrate more consistently along my bones than it does along hers. If it's true that the length of the zugunruhe is supposed to correspond to the length of the instinctual migration, it worries me slightly that I seem to be constantly fighting the urge to move, restless and adventure-laden basically all the time. Seems to be baked into my bones.

I like to consider the Valley of Flowers, a nearly inaccessible national park sitting way up in the Himalayas. It's a place of incredible diversity, they say, partly just because it's so hard to get to that no one willing to travel there would be willing to damage what they see. It's the sort of place where the only real reason to visit is simply that it exists, to look at it and then leave again. The fight between hope and experience is daily so much work, and it helps that the Valley of Flowers exists. If only for its use as a metaphor, and an anchor.

But I've been thinking about constellations, about all the paths in the stories that ended with being placed in the heavens. It was a punishment just as often as it was a reward, sometimes both in the same story, but immortality is immortality. Even if you're being held up for your mistakes forever, it's still something to be able to always light the way. Maybe that should be the goal, rather than spending so much effort on the execution.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Probably the first sign was the disorder in my circus train, all of the lions having tea with the trapeze performers, the elephants holding up the lamps and the clowns serving cocktails. Garden variety mayhem. It was obviously only a matter of time until the ringmaster shaved off his mustache and shot himself out of a cannon. There's a certain inevitability in the chaos I grow around here.

I keep watching the video of the baby elephant learning how to use its trunk, just over and over and over again. It's a major appendage if you're an elephant, such a large part of how you interact with the world, but I guess you have to learn how to use it just as much as anything else. I was looking at pictures of elephant brains the other day, thinking about how complicated it must be to be an elephant, but I left trunks out of the equation altogether. Maybe you'd need an extra limb to deal with all that brain.

If I were to run away and join a circus, I think I would probably want to be an elephant.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I think back to that lone Panamanian golden frog, waving to no one at all on a riverbank. The point of all the semaphore is that the water is too loud to hear anyone croaking, and so just because it maybe hopped off to run an errand one afternoon it is doomed to wave without answer. As though breathing through your skin might not be the most dangerous thing of all.

Anyway, it turns out that to your average Panamanian the sighting of one of those frogs is considered to be good luck, which is sort of a cruel joke given that all the rest of the survivors were scooped up and spirited away to a secret location. All that's left is that one hypothetical leftover frog, dispensing luck with all his might, friendly and waving and breathing through its skin. The secret is that its skin is also making a neurotoxin, because luck is a thing that should be seen and not touched. Maybe that's where the luck is, in coming so near the most toxic of frogs and living to tell, in wanting to hold it in the palm of your hand and yet refraining. Maybe they're just as lucky in captivity as they are next to cool green riverbanks, when the only option is to look instead of touch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The only logical course of action, given an unbroken stretch of wet cement, is to avoid it completely. We know already that an expanse of pristine snow is always better than snow that we've stepped on, that the satisfying crunch of the ice under our feet doesn't usually cancel our how our steps are left behind us. Given the relative permanence of cement, better just to leave it all to the leaves and the roots and the raccoons.

I think about your fingerprints, you know, all the ways you are leaving them on all the faces and the hands and panes of glass. Cavalier, as though you have an unlimited supply, as though it doesn't worry you in the least that some day they may wear through. As though the most significant danger isn't simply that we will fade away altogether. I wonder if the largest challenge of wet cement is simply that we might fail to leave an imprint at all, no matter how hard we press, that even when approached thoughtfully permanence might be just beyond our reach.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I understand the lure of Atalanta, running sure-footed and alone along paths and through time. Seems to me like being left on a mountain-top and raised by a bear would be an excuse, but probably not the reason. It's easier to enjoy running when no one's looking when no one is ever looking, hands full of wishes and eyes full of thoughts notwithstanding. I wonder about how clear those paths might be, Atalanta speeding down them in soft shoes and hair streaming behind. If this is the only way to become a warrior.

I was reading about Hinduism and tonsure, all of these pilgrims shaving their heads and sacrificing beauty and vanity in the name of a fresh start, and how when they leave all of the hair is gathered and sold to make artificial hair weaves. I know that sometimes the same process is used for humiliation and punishment, but as usual it's really the sacrifice that I'm interested in. I love the feel of sacrificing vanity to absently fuel vanity, the way all of what we give up in the hope of something better is so often taken from where we left it and turned into the opposite, the way we hide nettles just behind our roses and wonder why we come out of our runs all covered in welts. As though the only way to truly make a fresh start is without our skin altogether, only nerves and muscle and bones, speeding through time. Hands full of wishes and eyes full of thoughts.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In a box on the side of the road I found a quena, playing quietly. Maybe it was just the wind, wandering by, peering through the cracks in the box. More likely I think it was just that our bones play themselves, making music even when liberated from the confines of our skin. If our bones are flutes, maybe we don't need harmonicas for hands after all.

I've been thinking about the legend of the quena again lately, now that the rains are back and I can breathe again, about the Incan princess who never knew how long the memory of her bones might be around. I wonder about how the legend splits, how in half of the stories the forlorn lover is inspired by her memory to make the quena out of reeds and bamboo but how in the other half it is her bones themselves that form the instrument. And how the legends are equally split on whether he was driven mad by his loss or if making the quena was a perfectly logical act. In the way of most legends, the answer is almost certainly somewhere in the middle of it all, and yet nowhere near any of it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I can't even tell you how many things I am touching with palms lately, knuckles all sore from carrying these fists for all this time. Maybe it was the trees, sinking their calm and their quiet through my palms all summer while I was busy looking elsewhere. Maybe we've just followed the corpse candles all the way through to the other side of the swamp, and touching with palms is the reward for making it through the adventure almost entirely alive and intact. There are more swamps, of course, all laid out in a row and full of wolves and candy and shiny diamond monsters, but the point is that this one here has been crossed. The second rule of fairytales is to pause in your clearings whenever you find them, since there's no way back but forward.