lunes, 26 de marzo de 2012
lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012
Don't turn your head.
at the bandaged place.
the Light enters you.
And don't believe for a moment
that you're healing yourself.
I sit at the table eating quinoa and greens and I think of a friend who said to justify development, something like, poverty always goes down when the United States goes into a country. And another friend who wrote, while in a village in Guatemala on the edge of a volcano, maybe we are missing the point when we exert so much energy into the preservation of life, rather then the spirit of life.
And I see women bending over to pick up tunics draped over branches drying on the side of the river. I imagine drumming and dancers in a circle in a village center. I see women cooking all day.
And it hits me in full body how our culture’s better or worse is completely of our culture. When we say, it is better to have a democracy, better to have material wealth, better to have individual freedom, we state what we are, what we value. We state how we believe in filling our void. Better and worse come from what we are, and are for us to follow. They cannot be transposed. I know the women in other cultures are rich in ways I will never be or know. I have freedoms they will never be or know. Life is simply lived, it is vast and different, there is a beingness to it all.
I ponder this because I have been thinking about what I want to do and my place in the world and where my care comes from. I realize I feel broken and I want to work with women like me in the United States. But for some reason some cultural voice in the back of my mind tells me to look to the poverty and suffering beyond.
Yet I feel my womanhood has been lost. I don’t know what it means to be a woman. That’s something I confront sitting at the small table pushed into the L of the sink and wall of my narrow kitchen (the clock is ticking). I don’t know what it means to be a woman.
I have a vagina, I have breasts, no one can say women and men do not each possess things the other does not (yes the line is blurrier than we thought). So that is a physical fact, but what is the beingness, the livingness, the magic, the corporeal essence that I as a woman own? I know she is there, I feel my own bodily power snuck behind what I know, living hidden as my own, so that I know one day I may possess my body, my being as distinct, as mine. It is so faint I cannot even speak it.
My identity has formed around traits that are not my own.
I can barely even move, sitting in this power, in this space, sitting in myself in the light at the kitchen table, scraped clean plate in front. I am a woman!!!!! Yet I have no idea how to act as a woman from the beingness that arises from within, I can only sit with her, still, besides my scratching pen, like the purple tulips on the window sill, reflected on the glass against the black of night.
So I ponder the place of this task. It is that small, to belong to my body sitting at a kitchen table in a thin wooden house in Berkeley on a Sunday in February at night. And to me it is huge. It belongs to the world around me. Because here I was born, here in the United States in Miami, and here is where I don’t know what it means to be a woman. Here in Florida, in Connecticut, in California, is where I can see you don’t know and you don’t know and you don’t know and you don’t know. The question is from here, of here, for here. For all of you here right now, it is we who don’t know. It is my gaping hole that I must know to be whole.
That is why I know it is absurd for our culture to say better or worse for others, for an individual to say better or worse for others, for me to think I should be looking to fix something beyond. We as humans, as cultures, find it easy to see another’s lack from what we have. We think our negative space is their hole. It is easy to try and fill our negative space with what we have.
But our own gaping hole is our lack of what we have. Their gaping hole is their lack of what they have, not their lack of what we have. An amputee lacks a leg, not an elephant snout. I want my womanhood, what I have but do not possess. These are the holes that lead to wholeness. These are the holes that the light shines through. One’s hole, a culture’s hole comes from the earth in which it has lived. It is that particular, that personal, that rooted, that small. That large and absurd to the one who feels it as she sits at her kitchen table.
Every culture and being lacks and has. I do not know what the women washing laundry on the riverbank have or what they want to fulfill their beingness. But I know it is theirs and intact. To bring wholeness we must build into that true void with what we have been given, using the tools with which we have learned how to build. Tonight I have a pen, paper, a computer, words, and my kitchen table. It is not ours to take their space, to pretend to know their void. It is ours only to know and create from our own.
miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2012
Many forms sit. The still walls and pillars of homes jutting into and out of the fog. Vaulted roofs so the sky too must make itself triangular. The unintentional force of form. This place has more cracks than some. More colors, purple walls and purple flowers smashed into a corner, behind a chain link fence, taunting the wild yard of shadow, scattered junk and planted vegetables across the street.
The houses haunt me, are an absurd facade. Especially the orange ones. Through them I imagine a life so different from my own. Maybe a woman with long dark hair, two children, pudgy, speaking spanish, a love affair across the street, across the blue steps, crosses on the wall, jangling bracelets, collapsing on a chair after a long day's work, writing at the kitchen table, cooking pollo for her mom, wailing at an end, watching tv for hours and dancing to salsa on a packed patio miles away. Yearnings for another land. And whisps, two women with slicked back hair pushing a stroller turn past the oak bush with its thick mass of leaves, a nebulous leaf conjuring itself in my mind. But the orange here sits still.
A man in jogging shorts, curly dark hair adorning his somewhat toned arms, sweats by on the sidewalk across the street. And the street stares. He a flash, the houses a flash, intimations of a deep cycle, of the rise and fall of seasons, of life. Maybe that man is here every morning.
But I am not. I am only house-sitting at a studio apartment with exterior and interior white walls for a woman whose life I know little about, see through her books and fierce sculptures of African women. Today I wander from this sanctuary shrouded in palms growing into banana trees and gargantuan spiked plants, into the fog.
At ten am the neighborhood greets me in honking buses, tweeting birds and its stillness, its refusal to reveal anything of the intimacy that occurs beyond its straight and colored walls. Behind yards scattered with burnt wood chips, trees decked in Christmas light and porches of curved iron railing, everything cramped, everything cracking, everything a little grey. We meet in passing. The flow, the turning behind the flash is ours to sense but never know.
domingo, 22 de enero de 2012
picking up objects, asking, is this the way?
Brushing surfaces, turning logs, asking, is this the one?
But to what are you matching the world?
What lock lives inside for which you seek a key,
for which you can say, no that is not the one.
That is your mystery, that which you will never know.
That folded over map that says to you,
as you palpate rocks and stones,
no that is not the way.
Or yes! a trace!
So you face the abyss
with only a vague feeling of camaraderie
Between your skin & the texture of the rocks underfoot
Between your palette & this sweet air.
Nothing, not even a light up ahead.
On either side the forest calls,
come rest in my embrace.
Paths to faraway castles glowing from their stones
caves stretching to dark dimensions.
They pull with their infinite visibility,
Their promise of a known life,
Or the rock ledge your foot scrapes up against.
And you imagine the exhilaration of falling
But there you will be another guest, the perpetual child, the eternal king
Wrapped in blankets, yes, warm, but half-dead
For your feet, sensations of the ground ignored,
have long forgotten how to feel.
Listen to stones
Trust the wrinkled texture of the air to lead you home.
For that felt present is your mystery,
only for you is the air so sweet
To the next traveler it may smell of dung
Only for you will this road take you home
Create its beauty with you assent
Ascend, descend, turn corners,
breathe life into this dance between,
this space between yourself and the way
That is your mystery.
You and the air, these stones, these branches,
these travelers & this darkness.
Trust them to lead you home.
sábado, 5 de noviembre de 2011
Walking down the street I usually think I know what I see. The houses are namable, their shingles their porches, their piles of junk and designer cars. But there are moments when the world lets you sink. A mile down from my house, near University, a central vein of Berkeley, a woman crosses my path to pass through a wooden gate to ascend the wooden stairs to cross through an anonymous door. The yard is a shadowed cavern with yawning oaks. And just like that the houses begin to speak. I feel their weight surround my body, like flashes of color through a thicket of leaves, all you know is something else must reside beyond. I pass each one, sitting mysteries lined up, meager hints of deep lives, intricate webs of relation that exist through each shingle, each porch, each lexus, each manicured lawn or forgotten patch of grass and dirt. They fall past me, rain drops I will never touch, each full and far away. I cross pavement, the sidewalk continues, and then here is mine. Yes there are shingles, peeling yellow paint, the oldsmobile, but overwhelmingly is the invitation, the opening, the knowledge of vastness, of the whole flower that exists beyond the color in the dark. This is a mystery I have begun to penetrate, whose edges exist beyond the façade, in the lines of faces, the gestures of friends, in countertops and crumpled towels, a mystery that tumbles, that I build and consume. I hop over the locked gate, walk the stone path to the kitchen and remove my shoes. I sing out loud to Sarah McLaughlan’s Building a Mystery as I fry eggs.
sábado, 5 de marzo de 2011
Music lives everywhere.
On a deck above
the silver-haired neighbor sings,
soulful and melodious,
as she sweeps beneath cloudy skies.
From behind the other fence
a piano concerto dances
whimsical and proud
up and down and around the trees.
Birds tweet and chirp and caw and chipper,
while the dogs engage each other
in a gruff and abrupt rap.
Walk these streets and
hip-hop bolts from car windows and
mingles with Tracy Chapman
hiding behind blinds.
Around every corner,
within every backyard
and through every window
a song lives
and declares itself to the afternoon.
This is the new earth,
where we proliferate
like leaves, like petals,
everywhere differentiation mingling in rhapsody.
An absurd conglomeration, an impossible harmony.
Once our bodies moved to a single beat.
Now rhythms collide,
we weave around them,
and through each other,
jumping, prancing, shaking,
knotting ourselves into eternity.
A long shrill voice jingles on Stuart street.
The ice cream truck vibratoes out front.
A blue jay picks through leaves.
An absurd conglomeration,
The speckled face
an impossible harmony.
sábado, 29 de enero de 2011
I sit in front of a windowpane and listen to the rain. Its full thumping and intermittent splotches appearing on an old wooden bench tell me of its presence. But the atmosphere is only a grey mist interrupted by falling leaves.
A voice inside of me used to whisper, “how dare you sit and watch the rain.” Watching the rain is not productive, they have told this voice. Why watch the rain when I could be drawing, cooking, reading, working, running, learning physics, why watch the rain?
The rain knows. She knows how to sit in puddles, to collect, to allow the wind to move her and a vine to carry her down his spine.
Two weeks ago the skies over Miami opened and I stepped outside. I twirled and jumped and splashed and soaked, and full of waiting rain and running rain I screamed to an old tree, “WHY? WHY? WHY CAN’T I WATCH THE RAIN WHY IS IT GOING GOING NEVER STOP HOW DARE YOU FUCKING TWIRL WHY ARE YOU OUTSIDE AND SO CLOTHED AND FUCKING WET SIT STRAIGHT RUN FORWARD LEARN GO AND GO AND NEVER STOP? WHY?”
The rain kept falling. She just watched. But then I knew that she knew and I knew that I knew that it’s okay to watch to rain, going and going, falling and falling,