Friday, November 16, 2012


A strong impulse to withdraw, to head for the hills, to wander in the oak savannas of the central Willamette Valley: I want nothing but the sound of running water and sight of hawks high up in the sky. Too much. I'm tired of cajoling people out of bed to face another day of disappointment, tired of washing other people's dishes and cooking other people's food, tired of buses and trains full of damaged people and halfwits, tired of obscure struggles with rules that slyly shift so that they always favor the Haves and keep us off balance, so that we're always running and never catching up, and so that we always blame ourselves and not our masters. Tired of it all. Tired of trying to maintain a spiritual equilibrium at the same time, a compassion that recognizes that our masters are just as frightened and wanty as we are, that they're cruel out of panic and desperation, just like we are. That we are, globally speaking, ourselves the Haves, clutching more than our share. I just want them to be bad, so I can hurt them and enjoy it, or anyway spew poison out on my blog, or on Facebook.

So. I breathe a few times, touch the ceramic of my coffee cup for its warmth, think of Carolee coming to Portland and of Antonio Machado's verse. I think about the light falling slant across the table. I think about the thick glasses of Christopher Luna and the way conversation roils around you, when you can't hear well enough to understand any of it, but you are rocked in the warmth of it, at a party. I think of a coworker coming into my office every evening to give an the end-of-the-working day's hug, something I find stupefyingly improbable, and for which I'm terribly grateful. Touch, you know, is all I have ever believed: the words just rise and fall, crest and ebb, like bubbles around a boiling egg. They don't mean anything. They bobble me back and forth; maybe they crack me, if they're hard enough; but they never reach my heart. A strange thing for a writer to say, maybe, but it's true.

Hands, flesh, breathing, the knocking of a heartbeat against my fingertips, the arch of the small of a back that's covered with ribbed fabric, so that my fingers run up and down the rivulets, the lines of force. Have you ever thought about the relentless verticality of the human body, its up-and-down-ness? Like a sunflower; like a poplar tree. It's a queer thing, and I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse.

Still: the air I breathe into my nostrils is cold and dry, and the pale light that falls across the table is a winter light. Barely a month to the solstice. The trees across the street are despojado y deshojado, despoiled and unleafed, and their branchlets are yellowish whips in the cloudwash. November.


Leslee said...

I saw a documentary last night on PBS on our local Wampanoag tribes and how some surviving members are re-learning to speak their language from old texts (they wrote everything down to petition the Massachusetts colony government against the taking of their lands). Anyway, it was interesting that the words for having one's land taken away meant being knocked off one's feet, because having no horses or carts they always had at least one foot on the land. There were lovely illustrations of vertical people/trees connected to the land. Anyway, your post made me think of it - how vertical we are. Or used to be before we sat all the time.

Dale said...

Wow. That's poignant, Leslee.

Zhoen said...

Words mean nothing without the actions. But then, they mean everything with them.

I am also sick of my job, everyone I see, everything I do, until I realize, I will have five days off in a row, I will be ok, then. Just time to listen to my own voice, move to my own rhythms.