I could begin this post with a long explanation and apology as to why you haven't heard from me in weeks or months, but how painfully predictable. Instead, you get a poem.
Leviathan: A Rapture
Every night I write silver, nectarine, puddle,
on the curve of your ear. Each word a tether
to bind you to the world you're so desperate to leave.
Every morning you awake dream-stained
and dazed, and say, Let go. I don't want
to hurt you. I tell you to remember the boy
who tied you to a tree so he could kiss you.
Remember you danced the bolero in a bar in Rio.
Remember the way you learned to slit an eel
from gills to tail and strip the muscle from
the spine, or the way when you split open
the word enthusiasm to untangle its roots,
you found out you've been saying filled with God
all these years. You've been saying passion,
meaning to suffer, endure. You say a whale has stranded
itself every winter since your marriage failed.
When I go to the beach, it is empty. Like blood
tossed into the sea to bring up the sharks, I sing
to summon grief, and by night a whale succeeds
in pulling itself to shore. I lay my head against
its colossal ribs. We hum undersongs. We drift.
We row the godawful dark. The treadle
of its monstrous heart insists, Repent, you disciple
of silence. It isn't the message I'm afraid of,
but the voice, like a tree on fire. I say Hosanna,
meaning, deliver us, and cover my burnt tongue.
I have been reading Traci Brimhall's incredible collection, Rookery (2010), for the last few weeks, going slowly because the language is so visceral that sometimes it sears me and I must put the book down for the night. I think that Traci and I would get along quite well, she with her heartbreak and her strange god, me with my talk of forces and staunch elementalism. Yes, I think we would get along.
That poem, Leviathan: A Rapture, is one I keep returning to in this book. It is, like many of her works, a poem written to herself from the two sides of herself. I, too, wrote one of those recently, and, so, I'm going to do something I don't usually do and let you all in on the writing that occupies my time when I'm busy not blogging.
I am a child,
child with a scarlet torch,
all once of Gaia, but faces turn black in the presence of soot —
a marvel of dichotomous nature.
Nourished by a lineage of ancestral fallen things, ghosts of bark and amber sap,
obsessively compelled to remember any pagan origin I may claim,
driven toward that death of secret mythos beneath the ground;
but fire I am quiet about, gentle with the knowledge of.
Bursting, the oceans broke upon the shore this morning,
carrying shells and a glorious infusion of color upon the sands, turning everything dark.
I watched from a window in a black tower,
my eyes hungering for the lowest ocean, perfect darkness in which strange fish reside.
I, too, may become alien with them.
This land was a desert once, left alone for centuries
before some spirit of wave and foam made a sea to wet its border, mist to confuse its air.
There is no acceptable science, only the mythology of my own creation.
I do not believe in kings or systems, only forces —
I succumb to only forces.
Repeating this in high libraries prepared for me by men with large heads,
I heard phantoms in the rustling of old paper – the perversion of wood –
so we ran.
My companions each a tree from that sylvan side of myself,
this is our caravan: wagons painted red.
Fleeing a raging flame, perhaps we will happen upon a hamlet
where some creature will offer salvation, passing by like the wind.
We will ignore everything if it fails to blow the candle out;
acolytes of movement, without foundation, we cry out to the forests,
but I am a forest, still.
I tremble with the howls that tear from the spaces between my varied cells;
nothing is as foreign to the body of man as my encircling arms,
which block even rain from the heads of my beloved.
Do not be fooled by the illusion I work in your baseness — this is the home of bears.
Reduced to bindle sticks, axe and flame are nightmarish in content and form.
Those varied hymnals of wolves:
a lament anathematized.
Child with the scarlet flame,
strange, consumptive sunshine —
the core of the earth is thermal in nature:
Take from this what you will. It isn't what I usually do on my blog, but — though this isn't the best poem I've ever written — I think it is the most honest. I think, or at least I hope, that I am not the only person who feels themselves in furious battle over the nature of self. I hope, and choose to believe, that the conflict in dichotomy, as infuriating as it is, is not the end of self, but its beginning. It is the burning that produces the true person, rising from the ashes. I once wrote about phoenixes, by the way. But since I've already done it, I won't do it again.
So maybe I'm writing this because I know a few people on a precipice, not entirely sure who they are or, more importantly, who they are going to choose to be. And I have to say, the process is messy, rough, stupidly difficult,
May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.