Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We learned that the third rule of fairytales is to abandon the brambles the refuse to give way, to not waste away trying to see through the thorns when there's a scenic overlook just up the road. And still I stood there for a while, feet planted firmly in the road, sure that if I looked at the problem for long enough I would be able to see through it. It never happened, of course, but the best thing about fairy tales is how much can be fixed by plain old magic, and while I waited the thorns magicked themselves away and I could walk through. Scratched, of course, from all that time stubbornly thrusting my hands into the heart of things just to see if it still hurt, but intact and slightly wiser. It turned out the sun had been hiding behind the brambles all this time, and as I walked the love letters that I had hung on the thorns in the rain began to dry out. All of our faces lifted toward the light.

I don't speak very well, and sometimes I talk myself in the opposite direction of where I was heading. Partly this is because of my habit of chercher des chichis, the French phrase that translates basically as seeking frills but more closely means to look for unnecessary complications in things. The trouble with talking is that I get tangled up like a kitten in a ball of string, careening off and smashing things when I should have learned by now to stay still. I should learn to speak only in haiku until I can be trusted not to break things simply because they are unreasonably good. I should learn to trust the magic.

I should learn to say what is actually true as simply as a poem by Izumi Shikibu: "In this world/ love has no color/ yet how deeply/ my body/ is stained by yours."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Off the coast at Vik there are three spiky basalt fixtures. The beach is a dangerous one, the currents too strong for swimming. The story is that the trolls were pulling their boat up to shore too late and were caught by the sunlight, turning to stone. People have been navigating by these trolls since forever. I'm not sure it's the best idea to navigate by the landmarks of folly, but I suppose that in a turbulent landscape anything fixed is comforting.

Anis Mojgani's poem "Come Closer" says, "My heart was too big for my body so I let it go and most days this world has thinned me to where I am just another cloud forgetting another flock of swans but believe me when I tell you my soul has squeezed into narrow spaces." It's a lucky thing sometimes to be lighter than the trolls, to be air instead of stone. It makes our mistakes harder to see and impossible to navigate by, here in the calmer waters. Almost as though they never happened at all.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

It was two years ago this past Sunday that I stopped for a drink after class and found a world slightly different than the one I had been living in, a stop different enough to shift the path I was walking down in a new direction even though I wasn't paying enough attention to notice. We didn't think to notice the milestone for a few days, which is funny because at this time last year I was heavy with anticipation given the way that everything had gone off the rails. It's easier to quantify what we've lost than it is to illuminate what we've gained. The Greek phrase for the goings-on of the past year is "istories me arkoudes", "stories with bears"--the kind of stories too narratively complex for believability.

Spring is here, a little, up in the tall branches of the trees, tossing the magnolia petals down to the sidewalk. I still have some trouble thinking about this time last year, the months between when things went upside down and when they turned right side up again, the mayhem that resulted. Better, then, is to think about this time this year, with the cherry blossoms at the tops of the trees and adventures on the horizon and everything the way that it should be. This time this year makes this time next year look even better, and of all the bears in my stories I prefer the brighter ones. Even if they are harder to pin down.