Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I’m Home
People who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.
From a special edition of 15 copies of Frank O’Hara’s Meditations In An Emergency (1957), which included an original drawing/collage by Grace Hartigan.
via Yale Library
He was pointing at the moon, but I was looking at his hand.
THE PHYSICS OF TEA
Sitting in the living room
drinking tea with her and
talking about special relativity
and the fact that the most distant
galaxies are racing away from us
at 80% of the speed of light and
as she considers this
pulling a wayward strand of hair
from her face, she begins to twirl it,
worrying it between her fingers, and
I am touched by the girlishness
of this gesture, as she says very seriously:
"Gravity is a fear of being alone."
setting my tea down on the table
hearing the percussion click
of a china cup meeting the saucer and
as she smiles the freckles on her cheeks
gravitate together in Newtonian fashion
and I know what holds everything together.
She offers her hand to everyone,
with a clasp of letting go.
When I first met you, I felt a kind of contradiction. You’re seeking something, but at the same time, you are running away for all you’re worth.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
What happens when the world’s pace demands more from you than you can currently give? When your value begins taking a backseat, becoming second priority, or third, bumps down to fourth, …fifth? What if we always gave into work, our goals, always focusing on the destination over appreciating where we stand now? What happens if we keep driving, out on an open road, reaching out so desperately for the light that will make sense of the future; all the while what surrounds us becomes obscure. Ignored. Focusing just on time passing… running faster… commitments shorter…
Or what if we found the way to stop. To listen… to turn around and embrace the person/people wanting to help you through it. Listen to that heart ache and tend it with a little support and conversation. To not drive over those bumps in haste, but to speak of it, and give back to them with understanding and thanks. How they may slow us down, but only enough for us to make the colors out, a building’s details, the falling leaves, the length of her hair… What is truly important.
I wish I had any idea of where I’m at right now. I wish a lot of things. The year is almost at an end and I must admit, I am stagnate. I am stunned. I am hurt. The days roll over so quickly until sometimes we forget we are muscle, a brain, a heart… Until we forget what is worth keeping, what is worth losing. I hate the bumps now, but still I try to understand. Trying to make sense of them, or if they were meant to hold any sense at all. I have stretched out my arms, opened my palms wide, love with a love that is heavy and true. Tried whispering my words carefully, my joys, my pains. Letting them be known. I thought I could see in that light. Something delicate and full, but how I have forgotten that there will always be uncertainty. I kept running forward, never noticing the cracked door, the spiral staircase. I am trying to deal.
Although I am confused, and my heart incredibly sore, I have to keeping swimming in darkness. I can’t give up. I have to hope for something amazing at the end of the tunnel. To be okay and accept the choices that have been given to me, even though I want to shout from a rooftop; the flame pent up and burning still.
I have to keep expressing, keep feeling, keep hurting, keep loving. Drive a long and slow drive, but soon, maybe someday soon, reach a positive ending.
”do you know how it is
when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me…”
Ultimately, we will lose each other
to something. I would hope for grand
circumstance—death or disaster.
But it might not be that way at all.
It might be that you walk out
one morning after making love
to buy cigarettes, and never return,
or I fall in love with another …
It might be a slow drift into indifference.
Either way, we’ll have to learn
to bear the weight of the eventuality
that we will lose each other to something.
So why not begin now, while your head
rests like a perfect moon in my lap …?
Why not reach for the seam in this …
night and tear it, just a little, so the falling
can begin? Because later, when we cross
each other on the streets, and are forced
to look away, when we’ve thrown
the disregarded pieces of our togetherness
into bedroom drawers and the smell
of our bodies is disappearing like the sweet
decay of lilies—what will we call it,
when it’s no longer love?
Sasha Banks - “Turn” (TGS 2013)
"My father was a small thing once, and maybe knowing this is like seeing fresh-born wolves and knowing they will all have fangs."
Performing at the 2013 Texas Grand Slam.
Hair is a vessel,
you have taught me.
The ruins, the remedy,
and I did not think it
selfish, then. Did not
see it as the thick
winged bird through
a scarlet dust storm.
Did not think of you;
the day you lost your
husband, five years past.
The morning of you upon
our sofa as the window’s
light cut half your body
into dark. Those days
I have spent holding my hair
in silence to severe it, rashly.
Watched my thick black years
fall in the hollow of a rented
sink, not because they passed,
but only after their goodbyes;
the bed’s emptiness of them.
But how the iron braids stretch,
grandmother; your every inch
a rythmn. There is his scent
in the garden, rustic eyes
in your stove’s narrow smoke,
and hold your buffalo heart,
keeping the strands in tact
for there is no mourning
to be had when there is
wandering in your worn comb.
Know that a blade is not as strong
to the body as when it moves
silently, shadowed before the sun
and out on your burned land,
far off and breathing.
Of course it was a disaster.
The unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
The danger when we try to leave.
Going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
But for those short times
we seemed to be alive. Misled,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. Still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.
Jack Gilbert, “Going There”
I am not a person to say the words out loud
I think them strongly, or let them hunger from the page:
know it from there, from my silence, from somewhere other
than my tongue
the quiet love
the silent rage