rainy day: full of lovage on repeat, the last of the best batch of iced coffee i’ve ever made, editing, pruning, reciting, crossing fingers, browning butter, baking, watching, waiting.
One wartime winter when I lay sick
a huge icicle grew outside the window.
Neighbor and harpoon, unexplained memory.
Today my dreams all had to do with losing important objects and finding objects that used to be important to me.
A phone turns into a sacred text, illustrated with red etchings of human figures doing ghastly things to one another.
The correct car turns into an empty street that used to be plastered with wet leaves, even when there was no rain for weeks on end.
The phrase “You probably aren’t going to like this” echoed by every stranger I met or dreamed of meeting or dreamed I met.
Tomorrow is an end and a start, tomorrow is a newness that I’m not sure how to handle. Today she was hugging a new bear she got after partaking in a wedding last weekend where she was the flower girl. She likes hugging soft things, hard things, all things. I often hug her and say the word ‘squeeze’ as it sounds: Squee-eeeeeze as she whinnies and buries her face in my neck. She was doing the very same squeeze hug with her bear and I was sitting on the couch, while she balanced on my legs crossed at the ankle with the bear propped up against my shins. She looks up with her gorgeous eyes that of course have a small scab above each from an overexcited fall at the playground and says, “Love you.”
“You love me?”
“Yes! love you Ma-reen.”
Fifteen months ago she couldn’t say a single word and now she can bring me to tears.
I’ve been pushing those tears away all day, so coming home on the train that took me to her and her family for nearly three years now while the storm finally subsided and it took on that glow of gray over luminescent blue felt like a relief. There were a small line of planes preparing to arrive at Midway that also helped resolve that pinch of sadness. I remember calling those planes “our stars” with my friends and siblings as we were growing up in this neighborhood. I often hated the fact that growing up in the city I could not see the stars, even asking for a telescope in the fifth grade as a birthday present but with the light pollution and constant whirring jets, I couldn’t see a thing. Instead, this time I took this as a sign of what is to come. Three great things seem to be lining up in my life: acceptance, travel, revelry of love and loving. I am freer and I know I have her to thank for some of it. There are things coming, so while it’s always hard to leave memories behind (let alone fifteen months of memories), I know that there is more.
Folk tales and folk beliefs are told and kept alive by those who have no power in society and therefore provide you with the “unofficial” version of how it is to exist in a certain place and time in history. They are still with us today and as usual are hidden in plain view. This is the prima materia for any writer who wants to write universal stories and be part of what I have called the Grandmothers’ Archipelago.
It is based on the last lines of Halldór Laxness’ novel Brekkukotsannáll (The Fish can Sing). There the story’s protagonist is leaving Iceland to become a famous singer in the big world and the old pair who have brought him up are seeing him off at the harbor. Then the grandmother, who has barely spoken throughout the novel, says:
It seems to me that that is what authors of books we consider “world literature” are doing all the time, they are simply bringing their grandmother’s greetings around the world to whichever grandmother might be within earshot. And as those old women are the keepers of everything that really matters to their folk, it is the folk stories that they want to share.
We often do think in prose. But we don’t think in the simple past, and we don’t think by the agency of an omniscient narrator. We just think. We didn’t go to the bank and withdraw some money from the cash machine. Nor are we being looked into by somebody who stands outside of us with complete knowledge about our motivations, and a sprinkling of depth psychology. That problem with the mechanics of the conventional prose novel are not true to my experience of life—which is chaotic, immediate, present tense, and not directed by some supernatural being. I just can’t do conventional, narrative fiction.
So many feelings for this man.
The family photo that Charlie Duke left on the Moon on April 23, 1972, NASA.
Their movements have grown softer, and they sleep,
but their most secret thoughts begin to meet
like two colors that meet and run together
on the wet paper in a schoolboy’s painting.
The herb of memory,
imitating the blue robe of Mary,
is not too legendary
to flower both as symbol and as pungency.