swirl hands/river heart/dig me out of the sea/see me not willing to see myself
we flew through the landscape, fields fragrant and flying by, cities popping out of the hillsides like hungry, electric beasts. dayton swirled around us in a puddle of newness, fake plaster walls and flat, pastured fields. my grandpa sat like a king in his recliner. eyes piercing blue and stories tumbling out of his mouth like a last reprieve. he seemed wild for life, ready for release, longing to stay all at the same time. medicine churning through his blood like fire. i tried to hold his eyes, to stay his hands, to rest inside his brow, release the tension in his forehead. he seemed mountainous, rubied, wise-eyed and well-lived. i was grateful for the moment.
we sailed on, prowling towards pittsburgh. dancing in the grass in the suburbs – hurling around with cousin sprites and backyard bubbling stream. the sandbox and my feet met like wonder-strangers. the city pulls steel out of its spine, hacks at the hillsides for fertile land and pulls every spare root from the crumble of mines gone by. the city curls around the water/the water spins around the iron/the metals hide themselves away – tucked into the earth – prayed into a hiding spot – sucked like miner’s teeth into the open air. they gutter, they sprawl – the hillsides house a thousand lives still marching. warm, working people filled with stories in their own tongues. full of white teeth, shined gleaming by the modern age. the city too, breathes simpler now, shined gleaming by the modern age. the teeth of the hillsides still rattle, though/ ragged breath from mines still dirge-ing in the dirt.
home now and the world twirls about me in a canopy above my head – river road snakes and i funnel down the delaware, light bright in my hair and black coffee singing out of the speakers. i feel lucky to live where i live; to be happy to be home; i have not had a home that i feel that way about…hardly ever. i always had a hard time coming home to kingston. but the trees sing around me with their lush heads and the canal barrels on with thick, clay soil and little streams of water trickle through my toes. the world keeps opening, and the winds keep changing. the chill comes to walk with me in the morning again – but i am not afraid this year. i am huddling with my boy in a nest made of open air and leafy greens and i am afloat. i am a boundless wind, and i change too. i am willing to change. and i am not afraid of fucking anything.
hills of the valley, take my brittle hands and sand them clean – tip the edges of my water to the shore – let me be a tongued wave again. whirling away, whipping away, turning free the roots and brambles of my fears and shadows. let me be the best of myself – let me work towards cultivating the fire bright enough to light up my own cave. show me the shadows, show me the mountain, show me the valley. show me the road, let me keep wandering it. tell me, bones of the earth, are we the hungry mountainside, are we deepening caverns of a cliff-face falling into the sea?
san Diego, we pull through your valleys. we channel over your inlets – the water, the sea, the gravity of the Pacific. the elegance of your rapture wraps up the coastline, tucks Tijuana in for an afternoon nap, soaks California in golden sunshine hum. just humming – sea breeze and cooled blue haze, you do not shout/you swirl, the tipjar of time chimes/bold waves keep racing towards themselves; self-reflecting, self-refracting, self-soothing. you tuck yourself in at night, hungry hallows of san diego – you are self-sufficient. you are the patient silence of the california coast/the whisper of golden mountains and cliff-faced vistas echoing back to the moon like a promise of what life is supposed to be. and the people honor that promise – they honor the gift – they get out and use the magic/they soak up the gold in the air, in the sun, in the streets.
i am endlessly grateful. for the blue turquoise at the edge of the sea/for the curling edges of the coastline that open at your feet/for the hungry valleys of california that stretch out on all sides with wistful, brave flower dottings. for the thrumming song of my little boys joy – splayed out in singsong corridors and billow shake dances. little bent tree dancing. i am grateful for cousin, for brother, for laughter. for strange, unfolding journeys that keep taking me places somewhere i never expected to be/with the wind at my back and the gold of the earth shaking its dust out and dancing.
i’ve got all of the above inside. i am what i am what i am. my own wounds and insecurities placed just above the ribcage. they sing when they are jostled. i try to play dumb, to slice off my cancer. but hey, if this is your heart in your hands, this is mine too. this is my fear, my insecurity, my bundle of complexes. here, here it is, will you hold it in your hands? i am trying to do the things i said i was going to do when i broke up with ceilidh. i told him i needed to come in to myself, to know myself as a single person, as a person unreliant on another. i need to know my own rhythm, to go slowly, to hold space.
let go, let go, let go. keep trying to find your own rhythms. your own life held in your hands. try to hold your own heart. learn how to hold it, how it feels, what it needs. see if you can give it what it needs.
and i think about you girl, my angel. this day, 8 years ago. your life, your light. the prettiest girl in the world. you were joy, and you are love. you give me bravery, when i am scared. i think about you, what you would have done, and then i fucking do it. i leap in to the cold water. you were bravery and beauty and love and all things bright and worth living for. you are always and forever. keep blowing in the wind, dear, keep crashing in the waves. i’ll keep trying to dive in, to be brave and alive and fearless for you.