It’s November 1st. Just barely. It’s 4:10 am. Light precipitation. I can’t sleep. I’m trying to adjust the power balance in my household. It’s been damaged because I broke my wrist. One little bone crack, everything changes.
I didn’t mean to write this. I’m not trying to write a story or anything. I’m trying to write a novel in fragments. Fragments of bone.
Some envy. I enjoyed a short story that included a line about envy.
I enjoyed John Ashbery’s line “I write in the afternoon.” It hit
me with a great impact. Why? Because I don’t like afternoons. They are a negligible, hateful time, a chunk of time to get through. I am optimistic in the morning (usually) and pessimistic in the afternoon. There’s a wish that I could heal this. What would a good afternoon look like? Sunshine? Satisfaction? Rest?
One of the things that I love about Natalie is her ability to make judgments about people and say them out loud. It’s thrilling to hear her sum up a person, their behavior, their motivations, their unconscious fire, all rolled into one or two quick incisive statements. Initially, I just bought into everything she said. I had never experienced such a wise window opening onto other people. I was hungry for the guidance. Somehow, I had been misled, led to believe that everyone was a Child of God. Christian psychology is very flat and its behavioral modification systems are very dumb. I had no ability to read people, to differentiate between them. I was like a person, a woman, in an arranged marriage with everyone. As far as Natalie’s stories go, later I learned there might also be other points of view.
My mother had very few stories. She repeated some familiar ones often. How great Christmases were. How she broke her leg riding a tricycle. Her problem students when she was a second grade teacher. How she developed a dread of throwing up from an incident in her own second grade classroom. How she ate the same thing every day for years. Now I can’t remember what that was—an egg sandwich? fried egg? maybe it was with tomato and mayonnaise, maybe not. The world of stories was very thin.
I wanted the juicier ones. The ones about menstruation. Her relationship with mother and sisters. Her thoughts about her father. I wanted the whole scoop. I was fed crackers. My next door neighbor said our house smelled like crackers. She found that comforting. Many people found my family comforting.
Suely told me about her sister’s breasts. So ugly, so ugly, one larger than the other, and after childbirth, even more misshapen. She sent her first money earned here home for her sister’s breast operation. Results: keloid scars and things are worse than ever. She cry, she cry.
smug somethings of her afterbirth
no stories please
especially no photos
I can’t bear it
thinking of her
trying to breastfeed
little ones failing to thrive
on the diet of America
how could she rise above
how could she contemplate
the fingertips of
No, not working. The sense of distance, I am not there. I am paddling in the mud, pawing, clawing, mud between my toes. I have itching on my scalp, dry mouth, stomachache. I have to do my taxes. Vague sensation in the nipple of my left breast. Vague irritation in my rectum. Slight sensation of a single hair tickling my right cheek. Maybe there or maybe not. A welling up of anger that none of my co-workers are sitting in a library trying to clear their head with writing on a Saturday. A story. A gurgle in my guts. A restlessness in my legs—why am I sitting still? Sensation in my left buttock/hip, a sensation around the back of my left ear. Mother speaks sharply to her child. Ticking, periodic sound of wind—or is it air conditioning?
This morning I listened to stories about the golden carp. And stories about stories. And resistance to the fact of stories. And the sources of stories. Beyond. All I can tell you.
You enters shyly. You has been driven away, off the mountain path. You has flown over the cliff in a blaze of herbal fire and lifting smoke. I feel your cloud on my arms. I feel cold leaching down my arms. I feel devils on my arms, in my hands. I feel dust coming up, dust and ash, clouds of smoke from the charnel grounds.
Her laughter—can’t kill herself because her son would then have to kill himself. I listen and might be tempted to be afraid, temptation to be afraid, mentally ill like everyone one. Everyone one.
I wish this could be warmer. Or more expressive somehow. I wish I wasn’t tempted by shit, and tales, and mentally ill. I wish I wasn’t haunted. And am I haunted after all? I feel like yes. I feel some burdens, but you know what—it’s no longer all that interesting.
I’m interested in the magical indigenous under the sound of rain.
The coldness of this spring to go out with the trash and breathe a moment in the cold air. To know yourself. I can’t really tell what’s going on. I feel an awful lot like a narrator. I have no story, just to let go of that tail.
The long tail, prehensile.
Happy tail, silly tail. Tail of my dreams.
And also—toil. And toile.
Old fashioned fabrics, what has happened to you? In Girl Scouts, I made a book of fabric swatches trying to learn their names like “Dotted Swiss.”
What is it? Questions. Answers. Paralysis. This is a point. This is a letter. This is a word. This is a story.
She is sad and discouraged, head resting in her hand. Head in hands. Objectionable behavior. Pressed into a diagram.
This is the geometry. This is the measurement of her. This is the slippery slope, the slide. This is the choppiness of commas. This is the desire to relax. This is hunting. Hunting for badgers. Hunting in puddles. Hunting under the microscope.
This is looking. This is devising. This is an insult. This is non-allusiveness. Allusion, illusion. Protrusion, contusion. This is desperate. Separate. Disparate. Apparent. This is desparent. This is disappearance.