my first boyfriend got engaged yesterday. and Bekah got married. and life rolls on. and youth dissipates. but does not scamper. peels. twists. contorts. and some of the faces are gone. and some of the faces are still there. and the things that endure – the people that endure – there is something wonderful there. about the things that get stuck in the wash. and the things that wash out in the river. that keep floating downstream. the faces of people gone by.
the hum of insect reverie slips through me. i am an opal of heat still rising into september. i am a ball of cotton sopping up humid dreams. i am still summer, i am still green. i am still wild – i still churn onwards.
and the best air is yet to come. and vultures can’t feed on my carcass yet – i am still flooded with fire.
we arkansas moonshined down the freeway – signs following us like ghosts, ancestor stories lurking in the hills. we pulled at memories we didn’t have, like teeth splayed out; like ozark rock shining in the glint. we arrowhead aimed for places in time lost, horse-back travelers, abandonment and gap-toothed storefronts. ghost towns ship-wrecked by time, by poverty, by an anchor pulling somewhere deeper than rock – sedimentary and solitary and sedentary.
i thought about typhoid fever taking old aunt lena, my great-grandmother flossie riding bare back in her dress down the middle of the town. i thought about the flu taking grandma without a name. i thought about old grandpa medlock buried in the cemetery; riding on one solitary horse to Flippin, Arkansas; tending the grocery store in town at the turn of the century. i thought about racism embedded in the rocks, the silt of magic baked into the earth’s crust. i thought about the rainbow trout splayed out in the White river. i dipped my hands into the river, imagined the wheel of time spinning my great-grandmother in a cotton dress, on a summer’s day, hands fresh in the water – 7 years old, dripping ghost-fire. brave, strong, full of meadowlight and beauty. i thought about my great-great-grandfather getting dragged for miles by a pack of runaway farm horses; the public hanging in the town square of a stray cowboy for raping the sheriff’s daughter. i felt the ghosts in the air, or the ancestor stories still flowing in the white river. i greeted the strange gravel of time, walked its planks, hurled its seasons onto my back. tried to imagine the bodies, the lives they lived, the stories they breathed. when i silted my hands into the enormous body of the clear river, i tried to feel her hands inside of mine. tried to feel the endless grace of a century or two wrapping around me. the playful stream of lives gone by still swimming in the waters all around us. embedded in the crust of the earth. storied earth, oh wise-old grass; blowing. always knowing things that i will never know. the way my great-grandmother’s hair looked like in the august light of autumn. twirling around ghosts even then. the vision of her dead sister walking up the lane towards her/vanishing at the eaves of the porch. the distant memories of dna laced into our bones. like the silted crevices of the earth encrusted/entrusted with our stories. like rib cages splayed wide in rock teeth/gulping/chomping/keeping our secrets safe/keeping our stories safe/silting out like erosion, the strange ghosts we don’t remember/the old bodies we cannot unearth/the unmarked graves we cannot find/the ancestor songs still swimming in the streams; rainbow trout, or golden oxygen named chemistry. or has the river kept flowing? or has the river kept flowing. and do the rocks dream only to forget?
Circumstantial words, or
coal in reverse – carbonizing back to plantlife –
keep it in the ground, it will form a circle.
A circumstance of stances not taken yet;
dances still flirting in dis-repose/
I said – to me, you are the alwaysman,
You said I cannot remember the shape of your hand, or
why you think mine should fit in yours
Heavy metals, though, they need supernovae to form/
We can manage it –
large hadron collider and such,
but the time
it will take
to match gravity
to your memory/
quizzical destiny looking itself up in the dictionary;
like two timelines clinking champagne glasses –
a salute to our cellular happenstance
and the fate-magma bubbling inside
(i told you i don’t believe in fate – you said,
but i do)
upon being 22
in a nation clean and bright – whistling, courageous but out of step with the sea and the sight of the shoreline
i raged orange peels through paint drips, sallow metro cards, wallowed shoes caving in at the center
i broke my arm in a tiny fissure
i healed my arm on a purpled couch under the overhang of the bypass; painting under the leaky shower where the pink rings stuck on the sink
i tucked myself in to the bus stations; i tucked myself in at night (i fell asleep
in arms or blankets or pillows or on top of the wooden slabs called floor that kept creasing in the corners)
i hurled myself around this suburb called Toowong, i read a biography of grace and goodness traced onto the city steps
i tried to find the culture, sandwiched in between the pacific and the pedestrian – i found my own pretension, i found the pretense that a place is more than a past and present tense
i pressed hard – there was a
road to keep rumbling;
i radiated outwards.
i swallowed donuts/couscous/raw flour mixed with eggs (desperate for cookies but where is the time)/sushi that rolled inside and out
i blend my memories now – toothbrush and horse hair, i swirl them around like a seive
i mirror my memories now – tunnel visioned and circumscribed (i, the scribe, you, the scrivener)
i hunt my memories now – filo-pastry-doughed and fleshswollen – bits of something real comes seeping over the edges of the pot (i always let it boil over, i always let the yeast rise higher)
i bake myself (my self turns brown at the edges if you watch it carefully/burns black if you forget to keep an eye on it/singes white if you remember everything at once)