to prove that I'm not broken.
The fault lines across my thighs
shiver as the cracks in my soul give way
and crackle like an ancient statue life has forgotten.
It's clear that History has been unkind:
she left me only empty eyes, a gazeless stare
a bust without arms to touch the world.
Chipped paint, used,
This remnant is intriguing or perhaps
has the air of something that was beautiful (once)
or has that potential somewhere in its core
if only the light is right and
the kindling beneath your faith is lit.
As for Time, well, she does nothing to speed the healing.
Everything you heard of her
is lies: even she
was not meant to be trusted.
Two years or two thousand
History has a way of breaking into my flesh via nighttime,
the smell of a damp new springtime
when everything but me
is born anew.
Undaunted, though ignored as she has been,
Time marches steadily forward
leaving my Now ever in the past
like an earthquake, on this night,
she shakes me from the ground up
leaves me breathless, again,
but not destroyed.
She is fickle, after all, even in devastation, so
she leaves the pieces and I
survey the wreckage around me
search for new ways of picking up the pieces.
I reach for them with limbless arms and soulful,
empty eyes that beg you to
and prove that I'm not broken.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
"Are you scared of dogs, or do you want to say hello?" I asked the little boy on the sidewalk. He was frozen, turning his head to see me and Marshall out of his right eye. He didn't answer, but continued to struggle in an attempt to see me and the dog. He looked up at my face, which was clearly not in focus for him, and then down at the dog, his head turning back and forth, making the distance between us look much greater than it was. I looked to his mother sitting on the porch, still unable to read Little Guy's body language. "Is he scared of dogs?" I asked.
"Oh no," she said, "he's great with dogs. We just taught him to stand still and never run around new dogs."
I turned back to Little Guy, still frozen in his tracks and knelt down to his level. "You did just what mom taught you to do, didn't you?" He nodded and his thick glasses slid down his nose. "Good for you, you must be a really good learner." He nodded again and his glasses slid down further. He reached up awkwardly and smashed them to his face with a flat hand, leaving dirty streak marks across the already smudged lenses. I looked from his Thomas the Train shoes, to his Thomas and Friends shirt, to the blue eye patch with train tracks covering his left eye. "Hey, I love Thomas," I said. "It looks like you like Thomas, too."
"Mmmhmmm," he said. "And Percy."
"Oh definitely Percy. What about Gordon?"
"Yeah!" he said, excitedly. "And James!"
"How could we forget about James!" I asked. Marshall tugged at his leash, desperately wanting to kiss Little Guy all over his smudged glasses. "Hey, do you want to say hi to Marshall?" I asked. "He's very friendly." Little Guy nodded and walked closer. I made Marshall sit and put my hand on his back so he would remember not to jump up on Little Guy. Little Guy turned his head and looked at Marshall before extending a flat palm for him to sniff, just as his mother had taught him. Marshall licked his grimy fingers and Little Guy closed his eye and giggled. "He gives lots of kisses," I said.
Little Guy took another step closer and patted Marshall's head. Marshall attempted to lick his knees and Little Guy stepped to the side of him. He closed his eye again and buried his fingers in Marshall's fur. "He has long hair, doesn't he?" I asked. Little Guy nodded and then dropped to his knees, rubbing his hands and arms up and down Marshall's sides and back. "He REALLY needs a hair cut!" I stated.
"Why?" asked Little Guy.
"He is going to be too hot in this warm weather!" I said. "Plus, his hair is getting too long and tangly."
Little Guy closed his eye again and wrapped his arms around Marshall, putting his cheek against his back. "Don't cut it," he murmured. "It makes him soft. And cuddly. It feels good and cuddly." I was quiet for a moment and let Little Guy sit and hug my good and cuddly dog. I know what the good and cuddly warmth can do, and Little Guy clearly didn't need my words or attention.
I hope Little Guy had a dog inside his house, and, I hope, his dog is soft and in need of a haircut.
Missing: one writer.
I'm pretty sure my internal writer has gone missing. Died, perhaps. My muse is still around doing the wanting and infusing me with the desire to write. She'll inspire me sometimes; throw me a little prompt, a little elbow to the ribs, make me trip over an awesome string of words that ignites the desire in me before swiftly burning out. Before I can even get to the pen, before I can put fingers to the keyboard, the words are gone and all that's left is a black hole of unfulfilled potential. It creates a hole in my world that can never be filled as the words that could have created hope, or wholeness, or even pain or uncertainty, vanish into nothingness as a piece of me that Could Have Been Something becomes Nothing At All. It hurts in a place in my soul that I can't describe. It's like an aching for something that never happened, like when you wake from a fantastic dream and realize that none of it was true and your world is still the same old world you fell asleep in.
Perhaps this is what made my writer run off in the first place: she realized that there was so much potential in what could have been that now can never be. In spite of myself, it feels there is so much that Could Have Been that will never have the chance to be realized As It Was. Maybe my writer went off in search of it. She's been gone a long time. I guess As It Was is a pretty elusive creature.
March is a bad month for me. I am hard-pressed to think of anything good that has ever happened in March in the 26 years I have been alive. And particularly this week, I find myself thinking about the fact that I will never know how things could have been. I will never know the way I could have been now, if things hadn't happened the way they did. Yes, there is some anger there. And resentment. And hurt. If I'm honest, it's pretty raw, and I don't know if it's the month or the events of the past several weeks, but it's a pretty rough looking wound that's having a hard time healing. The fact that my writer has "r-u-n-n-o-f-t" only makes it more difficult: it's not easy doing all this work in my head and my heart without my words.
To be clear, it's not What If or If Only that are haunting me right now. I've done rounds with them, too, believe me, and ultimately, I beat What If in the final round. As of today, If Only and I are tied. If Only is looking a little weak these days. I'm pretty sure I can take her next time.
So no, it's not What If or If Only, but Could Have Been and As It Was. It's been so long (both so long, and so little time at all), that I know for a fact Could Have Been and As It Was are both hopeless fantasies. In fact, it's been so long that I don't even know As It Was anymore. She is just an illusion I hold onto in the hope of making some semblance of a change to become who I think I could have been. She is also a fantasy, and one I need to let go of at that: who I think I could have been is probably different from who I would have been, and is definitely different from who I have become.
As for Who I Am...I'm sure she is in there somewhere, underneath the What Ifs and If Onlys and Could Have Beens and Would Have Beens. Ultimately, I know, that she is the only important one, and that she is the most constant, the most stable, the most secure. It just doesn't feel safe to let her out yet--she's been hurt before, you know?
Lately, too, I've been running across those quotes about how things happen as they should, and the universe is unfolding in the way it is supposed to, and how the events of our lives lead us to where we ought to be. I saw another quote about how the most beneficial events in our lives are the ones that were also the most difficult and painful. In this writerless state in which I am forced to exist, this sort of global perspective and acceptance is lost on me. If things are happening as they should, it's because I'm making it so, not because any sort of force put the right obstacles in my way. If I am overcoming and moving forward, it is not because I am seeing the pain as beneficial or as what I needed to become who I am, but because I am overcoming and moving forward and I have the blisters and scrapes and sore muscles and bruises to prove it.
Regardless, my writer is missing. Have you seen her? This disembodied piece of me is longing for a place to land, I'm sure, and the writer-shaped hole in my body is a black hole where wordless emotions and unprocessed stories are going to die. If you see her, look into her green eyes and tell her As It Was is gone. Let her cry on your shoulder - she needs that, even though she'll deny it. She likes dark chocolate and wine. Fuzzy blankets calm her and make her feel safe. Let her cover her head with it and pretend that she's not crying as she won't want you to know. Make her shower and shave her legs and put conditioner in her hair so it doesn't get too unruly. Let her dress in big cozy sweatpants. She prefers unlined paper and black, smooth pens. Sit with her, if you will, until the words come. Pour her another glass of wine, and sit again until the tears fall and anger shakes her through. Let her be quiet. Trust the moments of not-writing, as long as she stays at the page. And then, when she is writing again, send her home to me. I need her to help me turn As It Is into As I Will Make it Be. There is much work to be done, and I can't do it alone.