thirty-eight: windy

free association time again…

  • the nickname of one of my good friends
  • a long, pebbly path up a mountain (as in, winding…wind-y)
  • how when there’s a lot of wind, i kind of love it…
    • the way the trees rustle and creak
    • the white caps on lakes/oceans, and the sound of the crashing of the water as it gets pushed to shore
    • how quickly clouds can rush across the sky
    • how a hot hot day can be transformed into a tolerable one, and a cold one into a blustery, bone-chilling one
    • the comfort of turbulence on airplanes (yes, really…it makes me sleepy)
    • how the leaves from the huge magnolia in our front yard can end up two blocks away
    • how your skin feels on a scorching summer’s day, after a refreshing splash in the lake, when a warm wind dries the beads of water on your skin, and then finger-combs your hair
  • a memory from last year, captured on video, of our daughter on her scooter, being carried down the street by strong, dusty gusts of wind…i could hardly open my eyes to take the video, for all the grit and sand and leaves lifting into my face
  • the same line to which pocketbrit refers in her post…such a beautiful stanza in that poem of a book
  • this song. yeah, yeah, they’ve got bad hair. but listen with your eyes closed…and hear the lyrics

twenty-four: time

i have always been petrified by the passage of time; that i would forget sweet and wonderful and delicious and beautiful things, never to be recovered. like grains of sand swept out to sea, rendered unrecognizable when they are returned to the shore with the tide, i feared losing all traces of them.

even as a little girl, i can recall lying awake and feeling panicky, as i imagined not remembering all sorts of things in my life: moments, tastes, smells, feelings, people, names, faces, experiences. i have always been so so scared that as time went on, i would forget, i would lose sight, and lose track, and lose…i don’t know what. become lost, in general?

as i grew older, i compensated for this terror by capturing moments, in a near-obsessive fashion via writing, photographs, music, and sometimes, keepsakes. i hold on to them, to help transport me back to the things i won’t remember.

so you can understand the irony of that anxious little girl becoming a woman whose world has been rocked by memories that i purposely forgot, as a way to survive my childhood. memories that i didn’t want to remember, or revisit, or be transported towards.

*

right now, there are lumps in various places in my wife’s body. we don’t know their nature, or their intentions, but they have cast new lines in her face and shadows under her eyes. they make her wince, interrupt her sleep, make wearing certain types of clothing uncomfortable, and have inflamed her lymph system. they are showing themselves on ultrasound, they are physically palpable, and they are getting louder and more threatening.

tomorrow, we find out who they are. or hopefully, who they are not.

and all i keep thinking is, as the hot stupid babyish tears flood my eyes, seventeen years is not enough. please, please, please let us have more time. 

*

a couple of my favourite songs have the word time in the title. this ani difranco song. this version of time after time. and, for days, through the seemingly-permanent lump in my windpipe, i’ve found myself humming this verse (from this version of sting’s beautiful, musical poem – so much love and thanks to pocketbrit for reminding me of it):

i never made promises lightly/and there have been some that i’ve broken/but i swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold/we will walk in fields of gold

*

every once in awhile, i get lost in my google drive, looking at photos and videos. me, her, our daughter…faces fuller or thinner, hair all shades and lengths, baby turning chubby toddler turning sassy willowy girl-child. sunsets, holidays, ordinary days, snow, sun, fog, rain. friends past and present, family past and present.

the times before we knew, and the times after. we don’t look much different, but everything is different, all of it changed.

i’ve said it before, even here, some point in the past twenty-three days, that i’m not sure i have enough life left, enough time, to actually sort through all the mess of what i forgot. and lately, there is so much fucking grief; it’s everywhere, and it’s sticking to all my old throbbing wounds and my new scary ones about ticking clocks and draining hourglasses and please, goddess or god or universe or whoever is in charge, i just need more time.

*

in the midst of this terror of loss, though, are flashes of memories, of smells, of sights, of sounds…tethers to the past i did not purposefully garner: the huge furry head of my beloved first pet, giggling as his wet warm doggy breath in my ears sent shivers down my spine…the lusty wail of our wee girl, shock of dark wet hair, as she first emerged from my body…the warm doughy smell of my grandmother’s apron against my cheek, as i pressed myself into the refuge of her lap…slipping a silver band smoothly over her finger on our wedding day, her joints yet-unravished by disease…the tickly whiskers of a now-aged cat against the curve of my calves…the upside-down views of the world from my dangling perch on the monkeybars in our front yard…the acrid smell of incense competing with cloying frangipani blooms in the heavy, damp monsoon evenings of mumbai…

i didn’t take pictures of any of these moments, have no visual or audible recordings or keepsakes. i’ve no proof that they happened at all. and yet…tonight, they arise, unbidden, flushing me with comfort and warmth and reassurance. as maybe, the timestamps of my life will reveal themselves, and fade, as they are meant to. maybe there are thousands of days left, maybe there are endless fields of gold. maybe it will be okay. maybe it will be okay.

fourteen: stories

okay this is one of those words that had my brain splintered in a million directions.

but where my mind’s eye kept landing, for some odd reason, was at the album cover of tracy chapman’s 2000 CD telling stories. which i must’ve owned, coz i think at one point i owned all of her albums. and there was a song on her special double-cd touring edition, that had some bonus tracks, including a live version of a song she had released in 1988 on her inaugural album. this song.

the lyrics continue to be so so relevant, 30 years (!) on, and her voice, singing them, is just as haunting as ever. please click on the link above – if i knew how to insert the video within the body of this entry, i would’ve.

behind the wall

last night i heard the screaming
loud voices behind the wall
another sleepless night for me
it won’t do no good to call
the police…always come late
if they come at all

(repeat first verse)

and when they arrive
they say they can’t interfere
with domestic affairs
between a man and his wife
and as they walk out the door
the tears well up in her eyes

last night i heard the screaming
then a silence that chilled my soul
i prayed that i was dreaming
when i saw the ambulance in the road
and the policeman said
“i’m here to keep the peace
will the crowd disperse?
i think we all could use some sleep.”

last night i heard the screaming
loud voices behind the wall
another sleepless night for me
it won’t do no good to call
the police…always come late
if they come at all

 

five: wail

i don’t know what i think about this word. except it makes me feel so, so sad.

i know i likely wailed as a baby, and maybe as a very little girl, before i learned it wasn’t safe. but i’m not sure i have ever allowed myself to wail, as an adult. i feel like i haven’t. but just writing this word makes me feel unsettled, makes me hear it in my mind, a high-pitched, soulful moan, and somehow i think that wailing must be the purest expression of grief.

so it’s surprising that i haven’t done it in the past three years, really.  i’ve howled on rare occasion, scared myself doing it, actually. i’ve keened. i’ve sobbed and wept and choked and bawled and cried in all means of gut-wrenching ways, because one of the things i’ve learned? is that there are oceans of grief in me.

but i feel like wailing is uncharted territory…except as i wrote that, i am realizing that no, that’s not true.

i do remember wailing, i don’t think it was that long ago, maybe this summer? i don’t know what exactly precipitated it, but i was alone, my family was away i think (?) and i was in my bed, and the sounds that were coming out of me…i didn’t even know i could make. they were wobbly sorts of siren sounds, long and mournful oooooohhs that happened with every exhale, and they came somehow from my chest and my heart and stomach and forehead and diaphragm all at the same time… and yeah, i remember how the tears seemed to pour out from everywhere, like constant torrential streams down my face and into my ears and pooling above my collarbones. and it didn’t stop for ages, for almost an hour, i think. and when it did finally wind down, from those original prolonged, shaky sounds to whispery, shuddery ones, i switched out my sopping pillow and closed my eyes, and slept dreamlessly for a few hours. and i felt clean, somehow, in the morning, and empty, and my eyes were slits but it was all clearer than before the wailing.

it’s so weird, that only as i started writing this post did i recall that experience, but also, that it just occurred to me that bob marley’s band was called the wailers.

(now that would’ve been a less sad, more interesting post. but it’s late, and i think that’s enough from me for now. except here’s one of my favourite versions of one of my favourite songs that bob and his wailers sang…)

four: remedy

i have a confession to make: i am a big adele fan. and although there is nothing wrong with that, i have this sort of shameful feeling about it, because she is incredibly mainstream (my taste tends to be eclectic and more folk-y/indie/grassroots-y) and because i have learned that she is one of those polarizing artists: you hate her, or you love her, no in between.

although there are plenty of things to love that are about her (i find her incredibly endearing, silly, and personable, not to mention that voice, jesus), i think a part of it is the timing of her last album, which came out just before the last time i saw my parents in december 2015…which was just before i began remembering the incest. i can recall, very distinctly, sitting at the table in my parents’ kitchen one evening, showing my mom the video of ‘when were young’…and having her not get it. i mean, not only was she not transported, as i was, by that voice and those lyrics, but she also didn’t seem to feel anything, or hear anything special in the song, when i clearly did.

the whole experience was reminiscent of how it always felt when i would try to include my mom in my life, among the things that were important to me (my poetry, my secrets, my fears, my politics, my hopes), in that it often fell flat. she rarely got it, and i was often left with the feeling of being missed, of not being understood or seen. i mean, in this case, it wasn’t a huge deal, it was just a song, it wasn’t like i wrote it and wanted or needed her approval, but it just sticks in my mind – another time i felt alone in an experience that i tried to share with her.

so…the feelings i have about that album are complicated, and imbued with the terror and love and sadness and fear and shame and comfort that darkened most of 2016 for me. and the very, very first thing i thought when i saw today’s word was of the following lyrics from adele’s song, remedy:

when the pain cuts you deep/when the night keeps you from sleeping/just look and you will see/that i will be your remedy…

except i don’t exactly think of myself as a remedy, as much as i imagine that my presence is one, just as pocketbrit’s presence is to and for me. our friendship, our sharing space on this earth, our daily talking, the love we have for each other, is incredibly healing. over these past years, she has been a remedy for so many of the things that have hurt me and kept me up in the night: my loneliness. my shame. my fear. my conviction that i am inherently wrong and bad and faulty. my solitude. my shame. my shame. my shame.

and the fact that her presence in my life is an antidote to those things that sting and hurt and ache does not waver, not even with disagreements, or misunderstandings, or strife between us. because, as the song says (and i paraphrase), our love, it is the truth…and i will always love you. 

and i really, really will, and do.  Purple Heart on Samsung Experience 9.5