Sometimes I lose my life, only to find her again in a bar, in a conversation, in a completed task, or in a run through the park. She's mine because she has a will, energy, and direction. When she walks in the sand she leaves footprints and they're often crooked, stepping to a jazz that she listens to on her own. The rest of the time I leave scarcely a toe print-jutting off the edge of the communal impression where my shapen foot doesn't quite jive with yours and yours and yours. Its our path I suppose, but we possess it soulessly, without contemplation, with a murky purpose. And all the while phantom ways dance inside my head, leaving vanishing toe prints on my play dough brain and I feel them as something that could be, that could have been. But nothing more. The impulses fade before I can shift even a little toe. To translate a potential into action, imagi
ne the neural pathways that must be run. So we walk, trod, plod, as indicated, aware of a settling unease and oblivious, just oblivious to a source, an escape, to ourselves marching to no end. And then I feel a peck on the neck or forearm and warmth spreads down my spine, into my soles and into my soul. A peck from full lips, anxious and loving, reincarnated upon meeting my molting skin. She's my life. Today I found her in the restaurants and bars of quito, as I shuddered and extended an arm and bent in a demi-plie, listening to myself dancing on my brain. And she grabbed me tight in a sprawling waltz as a stranger laid his life before my eyes. Because I saw how much deeper my feet sink with her and how good the sand feels between my toes and how much happier the course. So me and my life, I think we might shine for a while now. I think we might laugh loudly, and I think we might hope not to get lost again

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

That's where the light enters you.

Don't turn your head.

Keep looking

at the bandaged place.

That's where

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

Writing I return to you.

Walking in the morning a strange clarity holds my body, standing fastened into the fog. This, where the buses rumble by and screech and much is grey and cracking pavement, is a neighborhood of intricacies. Grey walls like the grey fog.
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.