It's only been a month, but the Atlanta I knew no longer exists. It is having a gas crisis and I'm paying a dollar fifty three at the pump. The people I love there are still moving in concentric circles. Are meeting on purpose and by accident in any number of places. Are battling six foot cockroaches under the deck and drinking beer. They're looking out at the city from the patio of the Standard and trying to get comfortable in those unreasonably high metal chairs. I know it would be easier and healthier for me to put these aside. Live in the present. But the smells and sounds of that city are with me. As you are with me. And it's not so easy.
You ask me why I chose the things I did. Somehow every time I try to close my hand it's forced open down upon itself and straight through again. The point is I have no idea. You. And I. Are always at it's mercy. At my heart's whim. With no way to forgive it. There's nothing to forgive.
an egg burst open a pregnant and contagious happiness, immeasurable, runs the length of my body and cannot be taken away. my harp is a harmonium woven bit of tantrum not afraid. of bees a chrysanthemum night-blooming cereus eats these
except everyone's desire is to be known. as close as you can come anyway. what this indicates is complicated. played out so many ways. I remember going through the bible in Ms. Robertson's class. so and so knew so and so. that was short for sex.
maybe the desire to get close. closer. everyone's desire also to be loved. to form relationships. connections. inserting our lives tenderly sometimes violently into the stories of others. and we're not alone. we're a little closer to something. maybe ourselves.
sometimes I am lonely without realizing it. sometimes I catch myself on the brink of no longer being lonely. and that person in me wants to draw closer and is not ashamed. of this need.
I'd like to joke at myself and my language my loneliness, because what I've just written has made me fidgety and vulnerable.
I won't because sometimes we shoot for honesty and fall short. Then we go home and write about it, bravely resisting deletion.
the people and the space they provided allowed me to be. neither good, nor bad. I was there to learn as a beginner, not pay for my deficiencies as a person. and because I allowed my self to be, Iwas what I needed most. and even more surprisingly magical, by my being my self, I also became what others needed.
that's all I want in a relationship. any kind of relationship.
what about love, you ask?
that is love.
tonight I am a prisoner in this house. paper mache breasts exposed. exonerate my true body under the light, words betray us. not birth-
mark fingerprints on a mirror or extra glasses emptied then edited
out or swallowed down it wasn't my real heart that stopped beating
but another. layers of glue and smeared headlines. a woman kid-
napped. taken into custody gunned down choking. on silence
Azar means scarlet in Farsi. Though I've studied Farsi I didn't know that until I looked it up just now. I had drinks at The Standard with Paul this evening. You can see the capital from there and Azar, which I guess is a liquor store. Z is a seldom-used letter in the English alphabet. I can imagine the proprietor of Azar having trouble purchasing the neon Z required for his sign. Perhaps they don't bother to make Zs. Perhaps Zs are more expensive. In any case, it's clear that the Z in this sign is really a horizontal N. I contemplated that this evening while feeling mildly impressed with myself for having noticed.
I walked into the orchestra room one afternoon for rehearsal and heard this. It was one of Mr. Kim's many gifts to me. I was floored. I sat motionless in front of the speakers, completely fixated. I still can't listen to it without having galaxies swirl around in my head - fabulous, colorful nebulae, with me floating amongst them. This and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 used to put me to sleep every night in high school. If I could gift these two recordings to you people right now I would. We could all lie on our backs and stargaze.
the story of a girl silhouetted by lamplight and mist. smoke swirling from her lit cigarette. a blotted scrap of paper she holds up to the light (trying to decipher its code). she thinks it means nothing and is right.
I prefer the smell of chai to the man sitting in front of me. This is an immediate preference. I'm drinking a chai and the man in front of me reeks of patchouli, hair gel and salty food - food that would give me indigestion were I to eat it. I have indigestion anyway. And my body doesn't fold like it used to. I like the familiarity of buttons. This too is immediate. Right now I prefer the word button to zipper. Tomorrow I might fancy a different word, Salat perhaps, in Farsi or something else I saw while sitting idly and somewhat displaced in a book store. I'm tired now so I don't mind lingering on tastes. My body doesn't fold like it used to. A bend at the hip or waist creates an uncomfortable bubble of flesh-not-muscle. If you were to fold me in half you'd find it impossible to create a single crease. It would instead be a succession of three or four.
A man in a jeep (on his way to me, wondering if I'm mad at him for being late) doesn't walk like others. He lopes. He'll be loping his way here in a few minutes. Maybe relationships themselves are nothing but this. Not what is said, not what's done and undone by time, stepped in or out of, but the timing of the entrance itself - into my life and then into this book store. Relationships carry their own unique rhythms and pauses, starts and stops. I am drawn to and repelled constantly by romantic love. How infuriating always winning and losing each other to time and circumstance. One day you might find me searching endlessly for those red, beaded earrings I swore I left atop the dresser (to the right of my grandfather's picture and to the left of my hairbrush, also tangled and floating, strand by strand in time). You might commit yourself to writing your name on boxes, annotating carefully their contents only to later refill them with something different. The permanent marker marks remain, everything else changed.
trying to close our mouths to each other our ears. letting the water flow in. is tender the strange and somehow incorruptible heart as it reaches out. we reach for the sides. each man to himself and in another. rocking. how we try to hold onto it.
I've gotten soft. My mind is soft, my belly is soft, my writing is soft. Jelly soft, not babyskin soft. Contentment will do that to a person if they're not careful. Contentment and allowing oneself to age too long too comfortably. Because along with this softness, has also come its reverse. Certain beliefs, certain ways of thinking have begun to calcify in my mind. I still enjoy the unknown, but I've never been this afraid of losing myself to it. At the same time, as though the nature of everything is to always be in complete contradiction to itself, it's clear that the impossibility of my getting lost (in Atlanta) has made it almost a certainty.
I've always enjoyed pomegranates. perhaps I'm just drawn to disaster. to inevitability. everybody leaves if they get the chance. I wonder who and where I will be leaving from or returning to next fall. a new season has come to Atlanta, as surprising as ever. I've begun knitting. it's easy to appreciate bead-work and lace in Spring. the dogwoods have come alive so many other blossoming trees.
I was sitting on the front porch, sock monkey flannel pajamas, watching the storm roll in. I've always lived close to a highway or railroad. trains are sentimental (who doesn't enjoy the passing of a train?), but no one ever told me I would grow to love the sound of the highway. a poor-man's substitute for living by the beach.
there's a tornardo in the city and I'm easily swept away. I don't understand love. a night in Chicago. so much time to have passed. this was in 2005, a week before my marriage. I was there for a conference. I think I told you about it, the one where I was massively impressive?
my sister met us at our hotel. we had dinner at the navy pier. the ferris wheel climbed its great height. none of us could deny its beauty. the city spread before us and (I shit you not) fireworks went off as we reached its apex. lake michigan. the fairground swings. I suggest leaving your shoes behind. round and round bare feet and buildings spinning. I've never written about it. I have to say it was one of my happier moments.
and of course the blues bar we ended up at. I was a hoochie-cootchie woman. these past months I've had a crash course in embarrassment. bit of a light weight. but that night was absolute abandon. I may never be myself again. that night I was beautiful for sure.
does it ever mean as much to others as it does to you? I think not, but I digress.
thanksgiving reminds me of Lucile. when we arrived she would always be in the kitchen, working a pie crust or checking the turkey. her hands covered in flour or some other ingredient, she’d be careful to wipe them in her apron before giving you a hug.
we move a little farther from her as it moves a little closer to us. the familiar clock of nothing unexpected. everyone bothered by death they make a list. leftovers become more valuable and are fought over. everyone bothered by death. my father next to my mother can't sit still. my mother describes his mother. fetal position, blood-soaked tile, night gown lifted up, toilet full.