The Flowers Come Home

from February 18

Something I am discovering about medicine is that everything begins to tend toward it, like a magnet. Dreams, especially, poetry and art and heart and mind. Music, intention, environment. Flowers demand to come home in a bag, be planted, be cut and arranged, keep dream company on the bedside. There is no demand, there just is. The flowers come home.

Last night I was overtired after drinking a little and painting flowers from last weekend, and completing a notebook with a poem, and I began to have visual distortion in the edges of things, and because I noticed I didn’t jump too hard.

In bed I searched for an Albert Goldbarth poem I have been looking for and finally found it— To Be Read in 500 Years —and read it, and my heart was beating like a ball bouncing off a wall and started to double skip again, for the first time in a week. The poem is 4 pages long and in me behaves like sex, rolling up through my body, my chest and head filling with blood in calculated waves, creating a sense of wonder and confusion, which, as cheesy as that sounds, is true.

And so after the poetry I tried to sleep, and here is this owl, from behind my head, and I am already at the very edges of the physical world, and I allow the memory of the malevolent pushing force to surface and he/they/it begins to walk the room, and my heart is double beating and the owl is hoo hooooing in the small patch of woods and there are no flowers on the bookshelf to look over the dream—I left them on the table—and he/it begins to round the corner of the bed and I also don’t have any Frankincense and then I remember Thuy is on the floor at the foot of the bed and I call a stop. I breathe flowers into my body and reorder my heart. I know where order rests, and how to quickly calm a rise of adrenaline, in my own home.

I try to sleep. The owl is calling and calling and there is this other animal, this other owl, or dog, in call with it. I think it is a dog, and imagine shouting out the window at night, to ask some neighbor to put the dog in, or have it shut the fuck up. And then I start to think it is a fledgling owl, or some other injured party, who does not know how to properly call, and I think this other owl is being very patient with its call, responding to the exaggerated and obnoxious, incorrect one. Out of order.

I fall asleep eventually and the owls are still calling, and what happens is: they begin to build an icaro. I watch it being weaved. Circular, with patterns being called by the top to bottom, branching out to the edges. The two animals are calling the patterns next to each other, and I am starting to feel the feeling of being able to understand how the medicine is to be used, and the stitching is reaching the bottom and edges and

Thuy calls out, calmly, in an awake voice, not a night terror voice, “Mommy? Mommy?” and the dream begins to dissolve and he is cold, his blanket has shifted and I get up and lay it back over him, on his little pallet, and I say I Love You and Good Night and Stay Cozy Baby and I try to stay in the dream mind and lie down and imagine the edges of the weaving and where the magic and the medicine was starting to lead out into two sticks maybe and it didn’t come back. And by now the owl too had moved on or gone to bed and I let myself hold loosely to the image of the unfinished edge and fell back into dreaming but of something else.

xoc

Allegiance

Eastern Hellbender Cryptobranchus allegeniensis photo: Bronx Zoo

Listen to this writing on SoundCloud 

“To Whom and//or what do you give your allegiance?”
“How Does Such Allegiance impact your sense of self and thus your writing?”

Aham, my allegiance is to the trout, the stars, the folded cups of mountain laurel, pale pink centered.

“How is your writing a form of peyote?”
“How is your writing medicine to bring back to your community?”
“Take these 15 minutes of peyote time.”

Is my allegiance really to the shovel?
I bought such a beautiful one—German-made, expensive,
not from Home Depot.
I sparkled over its heaviness, its “heirloom” quality—
my five year old asked if it was his and I said “sometime.”
I hacked through 4—or, really 2 square feet of crabgrass and
cursed the roots, cried about deforestation of my place,
which isn’t really my place,
which doesn’t feel like my place,
without any living trees,
and hoped the cherry tomatoes would volunteer again,
and glared, sweaty, from my kitchen over a glass of cider.
This is work for machines.
And as I write this I think, “no.
I will take the shovel to the decorative parts of the land and
put in my peas and my radishes where the crabgrass
has not yet taken over.”
I will water the pear trees and make offerings to the
one great oak left—
I will tie it round with ribbons and flags
and people zooming by with confederate plates might wonder—
“what the fuck is that little girl doing, dressing up a tree?”
and will I have the bravery to make shrines?
Will I have the peace in my heart to walk with questions to the native peoples and request introductions to places.
I need an invitation, a calling card.

And the little, pointing, laughing, curious, drunken, activated little spirits say:
Stop with all that lamentation. You have had your introductions,
you have made the spaces and the fires in your heart and the
mountains see you, darling,
and the rivers love you,
dear one,
and the fishes and the dreams request your
full presence.
So turn your eyes TOWARD, instead of AWAY FROM.
Turn them into eggs, turn them into bellies, turn them into
honey and holes.
Listen with your spots, with your salamanders.
Speak with your stones and your hands and your bloody heart and your toothiness and your
radiant eyes. Speak little one, speak young one, speak.

Give your heart fully to the things you love
without fear that it will be removed from your body—
for it does not reside there anyway.
Remember the green, the smell, the water full of toes and
hellbenders.
I give my allegiance to the hellbenders and their
ugly, magnificent kin,
to their riffles and ruffles and
nose holes and hiding places,
I burn pyres for their deaths and for their lives.
I give my love and my honor and whatever I have—
my voice.

from a writing prompt at Asheville Wordfest: Geopoetics
session with Todd Levasseur: Writing Through Collapse

xoc

Asheville Wordfest

for breakfast

I weep for the magic of the world. And yet. And yet. Does it need my weeping?

Holding a small round of bread spread with white cheese and Imladris Farms raspberry jam and thinking of [slipping into] some far off homey fantasy perhaps populated by hobbits my still-physical body/eyes sense that the bread is steaming, though it is not hot in my hand and my dreaming-mind is providing the perception of molecular events…I hesitate to use the word “reality,” it has myriad personal connotations and while there are facts existing and we all share this world, etc, where our filters meet there is a glamour..[of…]

So my brain and mind are trying to make amends/make sense of this observed phenomenon and somewhere in there, in the next few [following] seconds I see the coffee cup, partly obscured and steaming in the background. And I am overcome by the desire to cry.

Though I do not believe I am a particularly special specimen, physically or chemically, my allowing of events to unfold in their own time gives me something I cannot find, could not find if I looked (and I am looking) [that i cannot find though i am looking] elsewhere. Somewhere other than my own mind. It’s not that it’s fascinating (here I am considering what my counselor has to say) but that time seems to slow down/alter in story. It is not My Own Story. It is a story of being in the world, and the curious moments that open up when the sensory input says something is happening [that is not happening] that is not corroborated by other senses. What then? That it is not “real”—well, in a sense, “who cares,” or “everyone already knows that.” But for a moment, I don’t know.

I am thinking of the parts of life the memory immediately erases, unable classify and place, and this small occurrence among them—a fucking piece of toast and some coffee steam—that would disappear before I leave the table, without this examination of the brief confusion I felt, between breaths. Most often they are in nature, colossal and unreal to the modern mind, unused to such patterns, unable to identify and store—a nearby breaching whale, huge beyond belief, a murmuration of birds (my, I really must have overdone it, or overnight without training become a mistress of object manipulation), the last moment of birth—my own body doing something beyond my imagining or processing though I have seen it on film and with [viewed happening in the body of] others. Those seconds disappear, replaced (if allowed) by wonder, by a sense of profound order of Earth.

And so here I am again, my hands covering my eyes and a lurch in my stomach. We need the magics imagined by women. We need the creation and the recovery. We need the rolling of the heavens, of the stars, of the…of the beauty swelling through. We need the memories, the singing, the trades. Do good deeds with your hands, I am tasked, I am asked, I am given. Do good deeds with your hands. My son sings seeds into punk music. Respect, love, honor, true love, true love woven into everything we do—the net must be created, or repaired, recreated for this era, the strands unravel, all hand-created objects must have care, must be made with care. Must be made with care.

Where is a place where we could go to figure this out, some fallow valley land, some mountain green nearby, some stream, some place, some heaven. Where could we sit on the ground and run in the sunshine and let our hair grow long and our minds grow wild. There were places like this and somehow the weavings were not enough—aha I am now thinking of old California and the idea of freedom The Idea of Freedom where there is already a system of unfreedom, of oppression, of struggle. I am thinking of the societies before ours, based in art, in making, in creation, in pulling the threads from the very atmosphere and I have seen it. I have seen the threads and sat in prayer and here I am with my eyes closed and my hands clasped and the streams and waves and waters of knowing and disbelief descending on me in ribbons of light. All parts of myself making amends, I stretch my arms and open my eyes and here this strange experience is happening to me in public, in an unassuming coffee shop, and I am thinking of my friend across town and perhaps she has been lost, separated from the web, and I don’t want to write about that.

The Space Whale and Permeability to Dream

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The Space Whale, Black Rock City Nevada 2016

Photo from www.thespacewhale.com

I. Two weeks ago I dreamed of a permanently flooded city that had been re-designed to match with the water levels. Swim-up doors, resolute folks wet-suited for errands, makeshift boats picking up floating garbage. As I paused in a doorway and looked out to the bay I caught a huge movement. A baby humpback whale playing, slowly twisting in the water 20 yards away. I was filled with love and appreciation, and something larger. Shock, surprise, a tightness in my chest being so close to this huge animal, sadness, and knowledge that the mother was somewhere close, hugely, underwater. I pointed and exclaimed to others busily swimming, and they stopped to look. “The mother will be there too,” I said.

The baby swam close, closer, passing by us ten feet away. I could not even gasp. My body swelled, constricted with rising blood thrumming, panic and anticipation and wonder and there, underwater, almost touching us, almost crushing us against the building edifices, there was the mother. Colossal. Almost beyond belief, her movement, her body parting the water, designed for curving through, deep sea diving perfection, designed for singing, created by the water itself. If not for the dream, in waking life, I may have died right there, exploded into round particles of ecstasy, my brain and body ready to move on after this moment of contact with this embodiment of creation.

Holy moment. I am moved to crying, even recalling this experience. I could become, my whole body, the lump in my chest moving upward, a representation of tremendous quantities of water moving through. If I am listening, I can hear. If I can just keep my eyes open, I will see. The water, the trees, the living things of lands and waters call to us, singing. I am You, the mother whale sweeps through my dreaming, We are Become together. I want to say I cannot yet believe this. I want to deny, but we are at the very edge. We are osmotic. I am permeable to the dream. I am. We are.

II. Several days ago a friend shared this sculpture and my heart wanted to leave my body. Here they are. Our dreamers. Our friends, Our Relatives, Those who would warn and remind and inform us. We believe we cannot fathom, but we can. We can. Together.

Thank you to The Pier Group and Android Jones for creating this dream into physical space/time. It’s now.

For more information on The Space Whale project and mission, please visit www.thespacewhale.com.

With love,
Charlotte