The Woman Warrior

Ever feel like a book comes to you at the perfect time, describing the exact emotion you have been wishing to capture for so long?
We all know the feeling, and I’m an addict. I confess I have a vice for getting used books each time I pass a Little Free Library or find a free or cheap book bargain shelf. All of them spoke to me in a title or a passage. Most of them now sitting on my shelf, waiting to cozy up with me at a cafe, couch or park and be devoured for hours. It’s real.
When I went to NYC last week, I found The Woman Warrior at a vintage clothing shop where nothing I tried on seemed to fit quite right. I put on a nice poolside cover-up thinking Hey, this will motivate me to swim and get in shape this summer. A woman waiting in line told me I “looked like a lady of leisure.” I had just gotten off from my teaching job for the summer. My mother, just retired, after 30 years.  Yet, the passage I picked up out of this book was about work, as the narrator is talking to her mother about her life after immigration:
“See what I mean? I have worked too much. Human beings don’t work like this in China. Time goes slower there. Here we have to hurry, feed the hungry children before we’re too old to work. I feel like a mother cat hunting for its kittens. She has to find them fast because in a few hours she will forget how to count or that she had any kittens at all. I can’t sleep in this country because it doesn’t shut down for the night. Factories, canaries, restaurants — always somebody somewhere working through the night. It never gets done all at once here. Time was different in China. One year lasted as long as my total time here; one evening so long, you could visit your women friends, drink tea, and play cards at each house, and it would still be twilight. It even got boring, nothing to do but fan ourselves. Here midnight comes at the floor’s not swept, the ironing’s not ready, the money’s not made. I would still be young if we lived in China.”
I have been feeling this for the past two years, but really lately, trying to explain to others how deeply my friendships, relationships, and experiences unfolded when living in rural China. How expansive life felt, and yet bitter at the same time. I couldn’t seem to quite touch that again in the US. Only a few friends stuck around enough to get “bored,” which usually left us singing, dancing or sometimes sleepy.
At times, I feel blocked between the knowingness of “time” and its natural flow, and a culture where acquiring more money, more material items, and less time is bounded towards our eventual death. Not enough for this, not enough for that. Everyone moving about with deep seeds of unworthiness in the lack of our “productivity.”
The stars have it out for us as well. We are all healing the mother wound and our relationship between our focus on the masculine essence of linear time and the feminine co-creative universe. Despite a messy election cycle, there has been a tidal wave pop culture art of women in the past year and few months – the Women’s March, the Handmaid’s Tale, Beyonce’s photos, Hidden Figures, Moana, Wonder Woman, etc – ya know what I’m saying. The list goes on.
I see the fruits of the long evenings in my friendships bearing gifts to the world.
One of my closest friends from China just made a return, and looking at her pictures reminds me of this feeling.
Another friend has started her own clothing business, another will deepen her passion for teaching and the healing arts in grad school. Another, falling in love again like it’s the first time.
I wonder if those changes came about in those long evenings – movements we took to pause, sit, share our souls, and simply be.
Our modern, culture does not allow for this. Political action wants you to think otherwise, but see what happens when you stop living in resistance, and rather in receptivity.
For the next week, I challenge you to sit with a friend as if time would never end.
Hold that space in your heart and see what change comes about.
– Blessings

The end of the green line

The end of the green line
At the end of the green line, Sonia swooped Mae into her arms and carried her out of the train.
Strollers were too sleek, expensive, and took up too much space on the train. Leave those for the couples from the northern suburbs, with spacious yards and gardens. She used a back sling, like the one her grandmother used to carry her through the wheat fields. She chuckled to herself – some kind of people we are Urbanites who desire to return to something that felt pastoral. Who are we kidding? The strap pushed too hard against her collarbone. Yet a part of her preferred to carry her baby from here to there, always knowing where she was, never letting the weight of Mae leave her, as if she was still a part of her womb.
“Mama!” Mae said, chubby fingers reaching for her mother’s dangling earrings. 
“No!” Sonia scolded, craning her neck away from the baby. She held her right hand up to block the baby but in doing so, knocked Mae’s pink face mask to the ground. Mae started to laugh.
 
“Don’t smile!” Sonia commanded, slipping the loops of her facemask back around her baby’s ears. “The smog might get in.” 
I have to protect that smile. Yet she hadn’t see it in weeks. Actually, she hadn’t let Mae out of the house in over a month, since the Great Fog. And when they were in the house, Sonia still demanded that Mae keep the mask on. No faith that air purifiers, 20 yen piece of shit. Maybe her father took the mask off when he stayed with her. She shuddered at the thought of it. She shuddered to think about it. How he chose the raise the child was no business of hers, but if she could take control on how to raise Mae on her time, she would.
I have to make up for the mistakes of my past. The mask that led Mae to get the tumor in the first place. She never wondered why did I choose to move to this dreadful city? Or why did I choose to marry that man, but rather Why did I choose to even breathe in this air at all? That she could have controlled.
Five years ago, when she was in college, most doctors did not think the masks did much good.
They might have blocked 20% of particulates, like small ones that came from motorbike exhaust or small cars. Why bother? she thought, and her friends agreed. After coming from the countryside to one of the biggest cities in the nation at one of the most exciting times of the century, why cover up shiny red lipstick and straight white veneers with a piece of foam? How else would he have been attracted to me? she wondered. 
Yet the research started to catch up with the realities, and the robotics department had developed the NH-720 mask model. It was a monster of a mask, with a long tube sticking out like a hungry anteater and making a small hissing sound. News sites reported hundreds of young children having nightmares about being snatched by mask-wearers. Unlike previous models, this one was guaranteed to protect the user from 99% of particulates in the air and its ergonomic design gave the user instant air almost as clean and pure as an oxygen tank.  At first, the frightening design drew no customers, but when the WHO announced near deathly levels of smog about the descend on the city, able to kill elderly citizens and children alike in a mere instant, the device flew off the shelves. The panic saved the city billions in lung cancer and other medical care costs. How else were the citizenry going to listen? Those who used it loved it. “It’s like I’m walking in a cloud!” she remembered from an old man in a commercial, although she wasn’t so sure what a “cloud” was or what it was supposed to feel like. “It’s like the feeling you get after having sex,” her friend once told her.
The NH-720 faded in popularity with the youth, but those sensitive citizens didn’t mind, and would rather risk public scrutiny for wearing something ugly than risk their own lives.
She felt the worst when he wore it in public. On their walk back from school she remembered hearing her friends whispering – “How could she stand to be seen with that mole rat…” Although in public, they all pretended to love him and his endless sense of humor. Most of all, she missed the way he used to lean down and kiss the tip of her nose at the street corner when they wear waiting for the light to turn green.
She looked up at him, under the streetlight and raindrops.
“Why did you wear it?” she asked him. Longing brown eyes staring back.
“For her,” he’d say, holding Sonia’s belly with his warm hand. “For her future.”
They were unmarried but hopeful that a hasty elopement would throw off their relatives when the child arrived only eight months later. Two lovers, crazy mad an anxious for love, they booked tickets to a small island in the east and even bought each other platinum Peruvian rings at a foreign goods dealer. But the night before the flight she lost it, and she lost him too. A whole college romance gone in one night when he woke up and saw the blood stained sheets. He blamed her, she felt. She came back from the bathroom and saw the NH-720 laying in indentation the mattress with a note saying “Use it.” 
She didn’t leave the room for five days. Her friends brought her fresh fruit from the vendor across the street.
“It happens,” the tried to tell her. They’d all lost a child in one way or another by now – by their own choice, or by accident.
“It’s not uncommon.”
“He wasn’t one to stick around anyway.”
Even after all of that, she never questioned the quality of the air. The skies of the city began to clear up the year after she graduated. The Crystal Revolution (or so they called it) brought purity to the city when a man found that simply holding a vacuum cleaner to the sky would suck out bricks of pollution, that could then be recycled to build houses for low-income villagers who were rapidly moving to the city’s outskirts. Along with that, small changes in regulatory committees reduced emission by 50%. That year, she began to fall in love again, time with a high-society real estate mogul, who wasn’t afraid to explore their deep passions under the red moonlight on the streets. She promised to herself she’d never loose him, and five months later they wed.
Many considered rain on a wedding day an auspicious sign, but the toxic muck that began to fall out of the sky could only be considered disastrous. Whatever so-called “Crystal Revolution” that government touted for half of a year, was eroding slowly as Natural Helio sources were being tapped from the sky, relating a slow leak of Biotoxin into the air stream. The plan was quickly abandoned in favor of previous coal burning. But this time the government didn’t let anyone know, for fear of violent uprisings. The burning would be such a shock to the cities skies that climate experts were bribed to call this hazy weather not smog but “The Great Fog.”
Not everyone bought it, of course, but not everyone really seemed to care. Those who had lived through the smog-filled says could sustain another. After all, the economy had been much better. “At least we had jobs,” popular editorials would say. The wheels of the factories began to turn, with more fury than ever before, and the so-called “revolution” was forgotten in a fortnight.
Thankfully, Sonia didn’t need to work with her husband profits coming in, but she found herself bored as a childless housewife and set out to work part-time at a clothing boutique on the riverside plaza, earning her a tiny commission to freshen up her own closest. All the tight-fitting jeans would go by the wayside when she found out she was pregnant again. Her husband never knew about the first loss, but he didn’t need to. After all, it already felt like a lifetime ago, and she had moved on.
Despite the government admitting very little about the environmental changes, pregnant women still fell into the “sensitive” category and were advised to wear masks. The N-720 had a newer model, the WPX-515, which didn’t come with a long protruding nozzle, but even that was only worn by the elderly and disabled, occasionally by friends of hers when they came down with a particularly bad cough that they’d attribute to accidentally smoking too much pot at a particularly devious dance party. She would slip on her cover daily, only to take it off and stuff it in her pocket after work when she went to pick up a street-side snack. Her proclivity for red lipstick had waned, and the mask did make it easier to breathe, but she had never adopted the habit of slipping it over. With her increased appetite from the pregnancy, she found herself stuffing her mask in her purse pocket more and more.
When Mae was born, the doctor told her she had a benign tumor and had to be taken away immediately for surgery. Sonia had never imagined she’d feel such an immensity of loss again in her life. Her husband had been called away by a business emergency only days before, but quickly rushed back to the hospital. He found her too tired to weep and she collapsed in his arms.
She would have held him forever in that moment. The doctors brought the baby girl back three days later, a now seemingly healthy child who had to take a daily dose of medication in the foot to assure no new growth would appear during her infancy. Sonia almost got pleasure giving her baby the shot, hearing her cry reminder her how the little girl fought so hard. “This is so you can live,” Sonya would whisper in her ear. There was no way she would let another one leave this world on her own accord.
But another man? Perhaps. For it was only five weeks after Mae came home, that Sonia found a pair of red lacy stockings rolled up in her husband’s laundry. She certainly couldn’t fit into anything that small of a size. And there was no room in her life for him either. It was time she cut away anything she couldn’t make love her.
Divorce papers were filed, although he still wanted partial custody over the girl. Fair enough, she’d thought, yet she’d still spend sleepless night anytime Mae was out of her arms, so eventually she begged him for more supervision hours. He conceded but took away his portion of the child support along with it. Mae’s schooling would be paid for, but Sonia would have to work.
She started a job receptionist at an accounting firm, giving her normal hours and childcare during the day. Most days she felt like nothing more than an invisible pillar of sand at the office, flipping through lifeless days in front of a computer screen. When there was a lull in the paperwork, she’d search for things she’d always wanted to know about – clouds, scuba diving, the Third World War, the possibility of Alien life – until nagging client would interrupt her daydream flow.
On a particularly slow day, she found herself typing
    birth defects
Causes, symptoms, the endless pages, and scrolling. She’d even carry the search into the subway on her phone when she’d pick Mae up from daycare, and into the house at night while cooking dinner. For the next few days, she read. And when she couldn’t find what she needed (the government censored at least 80% of image content) she’d order virtual private network software that would allow her access to sites from London and Taipei. Mae, now a healthy child at home, was fine. But still, Sonia couldn’t help but wonder. “Why twice? Why me? Why did the doctors never say anything?” How unusual how her friends had said “This happens all time” and “We’ve lost one too.” What about the mothers on the street? The ones she walked by with blind, longing eyes?
“It’s not just me, is it?”
Her investigation grew deeper. She started at the childcare lobby when she went to pick up Mae after work, just casually asking another mother how her baby was, recording their long conversations on her phone, typing up notes in when she got home. Long days became sleepless nights, interviewing mothers in hospital waiting rooms and pulling out bibs at the laundromat. She had never felt so exhausted yet energized by anything in her life. The desire to know, the desire to want more. The whole time, Mae by her side, wrapped in a small bundle on her back. Protected by a mask.
She simmered down, and spent the month of sitting in the house, never leaving, and finishing her book. “The foreign press will be all over this.” This world deserves to know. “So this is how they decide to solve our population problem? More bricks in the air for better houses in the East?” She told her boss she would telework but as the days went on perhaps there was less and less for her to do and before she knew it he had put her on part-time. It didn’t matter much since she had enough saved up to feed the two of them and didn’t have to pay for Mae’s daycare. Finances were the least of her concerns right now. After all, she was sure money would pour in from foreign investors interested in her data and she’d be set for life, if not granted asylum in another place for at least two years while the commotion settled down.  
She sat down and began her first email to the Guardian:
“Five years ago, I dare not ask what the smell in the air was – but now I know. And that smell, is the desire for a massive death. The desire for money.” 
—–
A loud knock at the door awoke Sonia from her stupor as her stack of notebooks fell from her lap to the floor. Who the hell could be visiting me? She lost contact with friends, lovers, and family.  Her heart stuttered. She clutched her chest to look around for Mae, who had crawled away to the corner and was kicking at the baby mobile on the floor.
She opened the door. Longing brown eyes, with an emptiness inside.
No longer did he have the boyish charm of her college days, the scrawny legs and the wide grin and playful gait. Last she heard from her old classmates, he had entered the military and achieved some high ranking position. Now, standing in her doorway, towering over her with the eyes of a man who had touched death.
She breathed in to speak, interrupted by the sound of heavy boots pounding on the cement stairways. Eight other men in blue uniforms and black masks slipped into the doorway. He pulled on his masks on and ready to give them an order.
“What is the meaning of this?” Sonia stammered as she reached down to pick up Mae and cradle her into her chest.
“You’re under arrest.”
“For….for what?”
“Divergence from state priorities.”
He slipped Mae out of her hands with gentle and tender touch, despite the aggressive tone of his voice.
“You’ve been missing work. Your boss knows why.”
Sonia felt her entirely become limp, wanting to curl up like a fetus on the floor.
“She’ll be safe with me,” he said, as he placed the baby girl into a large yellow backpack and turned down the stairwell.
She crumbled to the floor, sobbing and holding herself; in as much pain as if she was missing a limb. The remaining officers took hold of her wrists and ankles and zip-tied them together.
After all of this, all I have researched, all that I have come to know about the plight of a mother on the city streets, what will become of me?
 
And at once, they picked her up and threw her over the balcony, into the density of the smog-filled night.
—————————-
Story Inspired by the Life of:

Better in My Body

Better in my body
Better to be on the ground
Better to heal some eternal hurt
          with the patchwork that I’ve found
Better to hear music
          and dance my life away
          greet the sun with glory
          and fade into the day
Better to have lovers
          that I know will break my heart
          bend it out and backward
          so that I may make some art
Better to lead children
          into the great unknown
          in a world that limits their expression
          before their bones are sown
Better to learn languages
          that some tongues will never know
          speak some truths around the world
          from my palm and its light glow
Better to make mistakes
         and take the wrong turn going home
         so that I can be more present
         in the places my soul has flown

Compassion

Eating seeds of compassion
From my hands
An open pomegranate
Of thick tears
Crying for those I lost
   A soul mate
   An idea of mom and dad
   A grieving brother
   A friend I call sister
Crying for those who rule over me
    A powerful woman
    Who in passing
    Awakens me to love
    Like all of us
    She walks in her own hell
    Talking to her
    Leaves me with
    Pools of reflection
    That wash away
    My mask of denial
    “Why do you do this?”
    “Listen to us, like this?”
     She says, “Because, I care for adults here
like
     the adults here care for children.”
     How then, does the heart
     Translate those words
     To a crying lover asking
     “Why do you do this for me?”
     “Stay here with me, like this?”
     “Because, I care for my friends
like
     the children I care for every day.”
     From inside, I hear
     The voice
     Of a child
     Whispering
 tenderly
     “Actually,
Because,
     I love you.”

Simone’s Diary

(***trigger warning – graphic sexual imagery)
I feel so delicately intertwined with him, like a fly caught in a spider’s web. In the web of all life, she believed, lead people together, even into entrapment and venomous harm.
 
April 7th
It’s been a week since I’ve seen you. I expected you would call me today, but it appears that you are out of town on a business trip to the coast of Southern California.
Instead, I called my cousin, Maryanne, who isn’t really my cousin but the daughter of my aunt’s first husband, who killed himself when he jumped off the side of a bridge in the 80s. We don’t talk about that.  Maryanne comes over with a J, and we sit on the front porch. I tell her I’m not going to smoke because of the interview tomorrow, but I do anyway. We start to discuss things like how miserable we are at our jobs, the weirdest sex positions we’ve done and how the pyramids in Egypt align with the stars in Orin’s Belt. I tell her a read a book by an Egyptian author recently for my translation class. As always she nodded her head and scrambled to change the subject and not focus my college education. I know she resents me because of it.
“Do you remember Aladdin?” she asked me.
“Yeah, sure, but that’s in Saudia Arabia, not Egypt…”
“Remember the time where I put your Aladdin Barbie doll next to a hamster cage, and he bit it’s nose off?”
“Yeah, Mom thought that was pretty horrific.”
“She never let me forget it.”
“Yeah.”
“And do you remember the part when Jafar traps Jasmine inside of an hourglass? At the end of the movie.” 
“When she can’t get out and she is crying for help? And then Alladin comes and breaks the glass so she can escape.”
“Yeah. You know, sometimes I felt like that.”
“Oh yeah?” When I reveal something about the how I feel to Maryanne her eyes perk up, as if she wants to know more about me to confirm that something I feel about myself she could feel too.
 
“I never told anyone this, but I used to think about sex before I fell asleep. And not the usual kind of sex. After seeing that movie, all sorts of torturous devices came inside my head. I couldn’t fall asleep without thinking about it. I used to think of a woman inside of a spider’s web, the spider’s silk slowing wrapping around her body so that a man could later have her. I never really knew what it meant I just know I used to think about it.”
“Yeah, yeah, kind of like subliminal advertising. It gets in your head and makes you think things that you don’t wanna think.”
    
“I never told anyone this either, but our godmother’s son used to touch me, while we were playing video games. I was only nine when it started. I don’t know for how long it went on. Maybe I was only seven or so, but I think nine. He was thirteen. I remember sitting there with a controller in my hand and his arms wrapped around me, feeling me. I forgave him. I remember a voice in my head saying ‘Maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing. ‘Maybe he thinks it’s okay because someone did it to him.’ I thought my parents would be angry if they found out, so I never told them. ‘Maybe it does feel good,’ I used to think. I learned to forget about it so quickly. He used to invite me to play board games with him under the covers of his bunk bed. I remember thinking ‘Maybe if I asked my little brother to play with us, I would be safe.’ My brother shielded me. But then there was this time, I think at my dad’s work, in the childcare room at his office, and he pulled me into this rocket ship made of cardboard and pulled down his pants. All I remember was his Ninja Turtle underwear, and maybe something happened, maybe it didn’t, I don’t know…I guess I’ve blocked it out. It stopped, I think one of the teachers walked into the room or something. I remember wanting to tell my mom so badly about what was going on, but I told my best friend at school who convinced me I had to say something, so I did. My mom was shocked, but I don’t think she ever told my godmother.” I started to cry. “I know I shouldn’t feel bad right now, but I do. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t be wasting our time together telling you about this…sorry, yeah, I don’t know why I’m telling you about this.”
“You’re not wasting our time together.” Maryanne sat there pulling in a big puff of air from her the J. “I just think that it’s pretty fucked up.”
May 22nd
You asked me out and took me to my favorite art gallery where they had poetry and jazz and paintings and everything in the world that I loved, maybe, including you. We took a walk back in the cold, and you gave me a piggyback ride and I could tell you wanted to kiss me but we had to pee, so I said I had the keys to the store where I worked and where we met. Maybe my boss would be mad but she would never find out if I didn’t tell her. You kissed me and said come over, then you drove me home while the radio played a song I knew, and I ended up on your soft mattress, and I made the bed the next day after you left for work and you texted me later to say thank you. I went to work late. I think my boss was mad. But I didn’t care because I felt so happy.
June 30th
While on vacation you asked me to send pictures of the beach. I sent you a picture of a face I made out of leaves I made while talking to my father on the phone and then a picture of me wearing a mermaid’s dress made of scales. You replied hm, that’s sexy.
Today went for massage because I felt like it. I thought about how men always get tricked into a happy ending massage. After the masseuse had left I noticed the size my tits in the mirror for a bit. They used to be so firm and perky when I was in shape, but now they seem heavier and rounder. I pose in the as I imagine a pin-up model would.  I go into the bathroom and give the happy ending to myself.
July 31st
I came over hungry even though I already ate dinner and devoured some peanut butter cups you had leftover while you taught me to play chess. We watched the news, and you said wow shit is seriously messed up out there, cops killing people. I said Maybe they shouldn’t carry guns. You said Yeah, but we don’t want cops who are pussies you know. Later you ate me out on your kitchen counter-top beside the chess set.  In the morning you left for work, and I ate the rest of the peanut butter cups while I watched TV alone. You texted me to tell me you ran into the homeless lady that we fed and housed a few weeks ago outside your workplace on the other side of town. While watching TV, I learned something about those indigo children on Ancient Aliens. Then I read an entire book by Herman Hesse. It felt good to be fed by you and be given the to keys to your empty house.
August  14th
Let me tell you a little bit about the way we have sex. I don’t feel like I need a shield with you. You talk about things I use to fantasize about often, like getting spanked or choked, saying please before I came or do anything you asked me too. It scares me a bit, and I think you know it. I had a boyfriend who used to do things I never asked for but he’s in the past.  You changed your tone a bit one day and instead started saying “May I touch for my own pleasure?” and honestly I had never felt so liberated by a question. To be used for your pleasure and knowing you would be pleased by it without having to communicate that.  Knowing I could use you back too in any way I choose.
You asked me How do you feel when you watch porn? I said that I don’t. I used to I always felt kind of gross afterward. You said Yeah, me too. That’s why I don’t either anymore.
It never felt like we had a separate transition into sex. It was foreplay, all of it. I would look at your body, all of it, even the light bluish glow that surrounded you from the motion light from the house across from my window.
I had a lot of beliefs about myself that would simply disappear from my mind. 
“I’m nothing more than a sex puppet cashier from the store you frequented.”
“Sex with my ex- was better.”
“I’m only attracted to your material wealth.”
“I never really thought I was sexy until you said it.” 
You clung to me afterward. We moved to separate sides to sleep then embraced in the morning. You asked me what I dreamt about, and I always told you. Sometimes I dream about you and sometimes about you and your mother. And then I asked you what you dream about and you just said Your dreams were strange. I made your bed again after for you after you left for coffee with your friends. I sat on your porch and read a book that my mother sent me in the mail about love while I combed my hair. 
Between the things you tell me, I suppose you are seeking freedom for yourself too. I have a question for you. If you too are a seeker, who knows God’s power constantly and asks God consistently for guidance, and with whom I feel God’s love considerably, why do you still reject anything that resembles intimacy?
August 20th
After work, you said I want to take a walk with you. I took you to a log I liked in the woods. You said I can’t help but feel like something is missing between us. I said Yeah, Maybe we need to end this. I straddled the log, and then I kissed you. You said Okay, maybe we can keep trying for a little bit and see where this goes.
September 18th
Took a bath in your tub after your house cleaners let and you left and read this DH Lawrence Poem.
 
THE DEEPEST SENSUALITY
The profoundest of all sensualities
Is the sense of truth
And the next deepest sensual experience
Is the sense of justice.
Then I tried to send you a picture of me naked in your tub, but I don’t think it went through to you.
I never read DH Lawrence before today, but he reminded me of my uncle who wrote a book about him.  When we traveled together, he would look at the advertisements in the airports and tell me which models were also porn stars. I asked him how he knew that (because I didn’t think he had the Internet) and he would say Well, I’m a man so of course, I know that.
November 11th
It’s a holiday, and I text you Do you have the day off?
     I am about the head into the woods.
     I am in the woods right now.  I said. Come chase me down.
     Let me know when you’re out of the woods. In the meantime, I’ll come try to find you.
     Okay, see you in the meantime.  I wrote. But then I changed my mind for some reason. I write I mean, see you then.
Ten minutes later I saw you pass me in your red sweatpants and we went down to the river together where we sat and watched a little boy skip stones into the water. I held you on a rock where we sat and I said I think my high school boyfriend may have emotionally and mentally abused me and you said If I ever had a kid I’ll name him Nico like the boy who was skipping stones.
December 11th
I had a dream that you put a ladder against my window and climbed in. You joined me on my bed on the floor and cuddled with me amongst my pillows. You seemed safe and cozy in my arms. You put your head in my lap and cried started to confess everything to me until you changed to topic to my mattress and said I’d like one of these too. Even in my dream, I remember thinking how That’s so like you, to change the topic to a material object like the mattress before you got real with me. And then to put everything you desired in the future tense, and never think of the having of it now.
So I just said Thanks for coming over.
January 4th
When I remind you all shadows need light, you asked me Okay, what do you mean by that. We suddenly hear two cats screaming, and we look out the window to see on a patch of grass a black cat and a white cat staring at each other waiting to see who will back down. You remind me animals never hold on their fight or flight response.
January 20th
I brought you over and said maybe we should end things and you said maybe we should just be friends without sex. You said that You’re really messed up in the head and I asked you how. You said it’s hard for you to see women as people not just sexually.  You said Your mother never said anything nice to you.
I said that reminded me of a story I heard once about a man who watched City of God and then couldn’t get the thought out of his head that he wanted to kill his wife for months so he started meditating so he could stop thinking about it.
I thought That sounds like something I heard my aunt say about my uncle and why he never slept with any of the women he worked with.
February 2nd
You held your palm to my head one morning while I verified the meaning of the soul.
“Your soul is that part you loved when no one was around, when you were free, when you did the thing you loved for hours and felt like you were lost, could never get out of it, felt like you were at peace, like your parents didn’t even exist, and you were pure.”
You said do you know what that is. I said Yes, of course, it’s writing and working with children and I can never doubt that.
You gave me a hard kiss, like the kind of kiss that says damn I love you, and then you hurriedly wrote something down in your notebook.
I got dressed. For some reason, I couldn’t find my bra. I walked out, and you said I like your bright red pants.
February 4th
On your birthday you sent a car for me. I could taste a bit of alcohol on your breath, but I liked how you weren’t sober like usual.
In the morning you asked me Why are you bothering to stay here with me? How do you not find me annoying? And you looked like you wanted to cry for the first time.
I said because I guess I care about the people in my life. And you are someone that I care about. I am there to emotionally support them.
I thought When I met you I felt my whole heart open. I draped myself living room couch unable to move and my roommate saying I’ve never seen you so happy.  I wanted to listen to voicemails to hear your voice and now I have it hear.
A month ago I decided by the end of the month I’ll stay or go. We decided to be just friends and not sleep together, but did we really decide that? Now you want to open up even more, but your mother never loved you, you never felt whole as a child. I thought What’s that all about? what the hell am I supposed to do about that? I spoke to you in a way I had never spoken to anyone. I never told you I made a promise to myself to fall in love this year and maybe that’s why I’m still here.
February 22nd
I came to your house to retrieve the bra I left and watched you do your work. I sat across from you at a safe distance and drank the water you offered me. I don’t believe we leave the things behind by accident, a part of us always wants to come back to claim more than the object itself.
I’d listen to you type away furiously. I needed to sit near you. I needed to read all you had written, some critical report you had completed yourself. Seemed to me to be more about the economic fate of some developing country with no option to opt out.
You began to massage my wrist delicately  Suddenly I knew why were hurting me. I said I need to talk to you. I need you to see more.   I asked What value am I to you? You said I don’t know.  I thought maybe I am just a whore to you. I said Look. I really like you. Look. You are hurting me. I couldn’t even look at you. I started to cry. You said nothing. I asked you What are you thinking? You said I’m thinking I’m worried I’ll run into you again at the store where we met. I said You know I don’t work there any more. You just stared at me. I said Why are you looking at me like that? You said Well, Why are you staring at me? I said I’m sorry for taking you away from your work. I thought Why the fuck am I apologizing? You said You don’t need to apologize. I thought I just want you to say you love me. You said I’m glad you were brave enough to do this. I said I need to leave now.
At the door, you stuffed your hands into your pockets so tightly that your veins were protruding and you hung your head down. You asked me Do you want a hug? I said  Yes, I do. I started to cry over your shoulder. I said Look, I know you are a good person. I thought I don’t know how you managed to be both an abuser and my healer. You said Tell me how I’m a good person. I said You think about it. I thought You know it’s not my duty to heal the depth of self-loathing you’ve had last April. Your roommate was coming in the door and I didn’t want him to see me so I left right away.
When I got outside, I folded myself in two on the stoop next to your house. I started crying. In the dark, at least ten people walked past me before a man wearing ragged clothing stumbled past.
“Yeah, the same guy just did that to me too,” he said.
He moved forward a few more feet before turning over his shoulder and looking straight at me.
“Do you think we need to go back there and tell him how we feel?”

An Invasive Species

Those who thought “I don’t see this world way others see it,” are the ones who pushed on evolution. Looking at an ant colony, I see them moving around methodically. They don’t allow the others to die off because they need each other like a small organism that has different parts that move and swell and fade. So when did the first ant decide to pick up a leaf? Or when did the first one grow wings? Why did that ant who grew wings survive? How did it decide it was time to fly away? What was that “stuff” inside that pushed it to grow faster?

 

She picked up her leather bound journal. She walked. Trying to understand. She spent most of her days doing nothing more than that. Wondering why God has brought her here to this lonely place with Nelson. He spent many days, drawing the beaks of birds and napping along the coastline.

 

And what did she do? Most days she found the heat unbearable. She learned to cook a few dishes from the locals and sat and read the three books she had brought with her. She had read them enough times that she could close her eyes and recite them from memory, line by line.

 

In the evenings, they would sit and watch the sunset together, and she would nuzzle her head into the crook of his arm as he stroked her hair and told her about everything he had seen that day. He would talk into the waves about his research, and she would listen and slightly nod, offering an occasional question of which he would always try to answer. He would lean over and kiss the middle of her forehead, and with her eyes closed, she could see a bright white light flash from the point just below her hairline. She would begin to recite to him lines from the latest book she had been reading and use dramatic voices, feeling the rise and fall of his chest when he laughed. When the stars came out, they would build fires from palm leaves and driftwood and nearly fall asleep. The beach became a haven for scorpions and other creatures at night, so they would always retreat to their small cabin to make love, but usually, they would just fall asleep. She would always ask him “What dreams do you think you’ll have?” and then they would play a little game. She would try to think of an object before they fell asleep and see if the other could secretly send the image along while they slept and then check back on their accuracy in the morning. Him, lying on his back and her, curled up like a newborn at his side. They would usually wake up and report that they had had strange dreams, but could never completely communicate what exactly had happened to the other.

 

Every morning, they rose with the sun, and she would prepare him a cup of coffee in a small tin mug with a red flower on it before he left for the day. He would review his notes, and she would finish making breakfast before he left for the day. Nearly six months of this simple life and she had recorded almost every day in a small pocket calendar she left at her bedside. When she wrote, she imagined addressing writing a note to her mother, asking questions like Are the kittens growing? Has my sister purchased a crib for the baby? The thought of going back to her former world seemed so far into a place unknown; she hardly remembered their old address or the names of her neighbors. Everything there seemed very mundane, and she hardly cared to wonder anymore.

 

—-

 

She could not communicate orally to the locals in the village, but that had not stopped her from attempting to socialize. After all, she needed social interaction outside from Nelson. On market day she would see her two close friends. The first, an old man who sat on the side of a linen shop and hummed tunes into an old flute. He had given her one, and they would play together on occasion. At first, he was not the best teacher. He would simply take the flute and rapidly flow into an old folk song he had memorized by heart, nodding to her and expecting her to repeat in turn. But after listening many times, she became fairly nimble with the instrument and came up with some tunes of her own. Before market days, he would always bring her a freshly picked bag of mangos from his orchard, yet she never knew how to express gratitude to the old man that provided for her, unconditionally.

 

Her second friend was a school-aged boy with a lazy eye who spent his afternoons out of school by the yogurt cart in town with his grandfather. He spent his days drawing pictures of animals on the back of his school primers. One day, she came to buy a cold yogurt and sat with the boy, giving him one of Nelson notebooks he had brought along. She would draw a picture of something and say the word in her native tongue, and he would write the word in his language in return.  She had learned quite a lot from him that way, and soon she found herself sitting with him after he had left school, doing homework from the same third-grade textbook he used for class and learning as much as she could. Occasionally, he would give her small gifts – a shiny pebble he had found on the shore or a piece of hard candy, and she would return the favor with a coin or a postcard from home. But her favorite gift of all appeared when she sat next to him, and he handed her a plate of fruit on which he had carved a pineapple into the shape of a small bird sitting on a branch.

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—-

 

Aside from her two local friends, she had befriended another foreigner on the island. She remembered the shock she felt the day at the marketplace when they locked eyes and looked as if the other had seen a ghost. He was an American who had spent two tours fighting in the Persian Gulf War and had come to the island as a way to recover from all of the tragedy he had experienced, and in time married a local from the island. She felt overjoyed and immediately ran back to the house to tell Nelson who she had met. The American came by the next day. It was the first day she had seen her husband take his nose out of his notes and pick up a beer. The three of them talked until the moon rose over the shore. Her heart rejoiced in the male companionship her husband had found. After all, a husband and wife could only keep each other company for so long before they felt as if they were talking into a mirror.

 

The American told the couple his stories. After two tours in the Persian Gulf, he came back to states to find himself homeless, drinking soup from a tin can he had pulled out of a dumpster until one day a woman from a Catholic charity mission cleaned him up and gave him a place to rest. He did not want to stay in the church for long, for fear of becoming converted, so he found work in a packaging plant and moved into a basement apartment of his own. One night, while walking home after a long night with his drinking buddies, a group of three teenage boys mugged him and broke his right leg, and he found himself out of work again and living off of his unemployment checks. He carted himself to the library on the weekends to an art therapy group reading Paradise Lost and making painted collages.

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“Me miserable! Which way shall I fly

Infinite wrath and infinite despair?

Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell;

And in the lowest deep a lower deep,

Still threat’ning to devour me, opens wide,

To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.”

 

He decided once he became physically healed he would heal his mind and spirit through travel. He had seen so many men die in the Army that he began to question the purpose of life itself. He wanted to see what was out there beyond the crumbling streets of America and war-torn villages of the Middle East. So after saving up enough for a one-way ticket, he sent himself to Africa, then hitchhiking his way through Asia, and eventually flying to Central America before settling here on the island where he married and built a small home on the side of a mountain. Both she had Nelson were so captivated by his stories that they would invite him to the cabin after his weekly trips to the market for produce. They always promised to go up and see his home, but terrible weather or illness always seemed to prevent them from taking that journey.

 

One week, while Nelson’s was consumed in his research, she spent some time along with the foreigner. It was then that she began to notice things about him that didn’t seem quite right. He said and did things he had not in the presence of her husband, such as commenting on how overly lavish her clothing was for the island or occasionally brushing his hand along her waistline when he passed her while preparing dinner in the kitchen. One evening while the two were smoking cigarettes on the porch, he pulled out his small sketchpad from his back pocket. “Want to see a picture I drew of my wife?” he asked. He flipped through pages to reveal a picture of a woman with full, round breasts. “Aren’t her eyes so beautiful?” he said as he paused his index finger on the corner of the page.

 

He began to talk about his wife and his plans to take her back to America with him and show her a civilized life. He expected she would cook and clean for him while he took a job at a financial institution, and put his degree in business to use. He hoped they would try to have children, but had come to suspect that his wife had been drinking some strange type of mountain herb that prevented her from “producing” the heir he desired. She did not understand, for when he drank with Nelson the American could always talk about how he could live forever on this idyllic island of bliss with his wife, and never return to home. When she asked why he never brought his wife along for a visit, he said the journey down the mountain would be too much of a strain on her and hinder her ability to carry his future children.

 

When Nelson had left for a two-week-long excursion at sea to study the mating patterns of turtles, a terrible storm came to the island. In fear and loneliness of her husband’s return, she invited the American to stay with her for company and protection. He slept on a cot on the floor in the common room and occasionally on the hammock outside when the poor weather subsided. At night, she would sit and with him and chat while sewing and repairing holes Nelson’s torn trousers, sometimes tuning into the news on her AM radio or putting on a record to keep her mind off her longing for her husband’s return. She had stopped drinking and hardly ate more than a few pieces of fruit during the day, yet the knot in her stomach remained. During their evenings together, the American had taken up the habit of drinking vodka straight out of the bottle, chasing it with a beer. One night, the power went out, and she huddled next to him on the porch of their cabin, watching the rain pour mercilessly.

 

She took his hand in hers. “Tell me that we’ll be okay,” she said.

 

“Will it be okay?” Tears welled up in his eyes as he told her what he had seen in the military. The hundreds of men coming across his operating table, with missing limbs, open wounds, fractured skulls that revealed the bloody bits of ruptured brains.

 

“My body, when it dies, it just is gone, nothing else,” he said. His tiny pupils looked at hers as if he was looking into nothingness. “And that terrifies me, death. I don’t know what comes after.”

 

“There is another side,” she replied. “You know that of course.  All of the near death experiences that you hear of, the white light that people see. The way they feel they are floating out of their body, going into heaven’s gate.”

 

“Once, in Tibet, I witnessed a Sky Burial on the side of a mountain,” he began to speak as if he hadn’t even heard her comment. “I stood 500 meters away while I watched two men take their dead brother and lay him out for a pack of hungry vultures to pick apart. The flesh disappeared in a matter of minutes. All that was a stack of bones. The monk came with a knife and hacked away at the skeleton, then ground the bones into a paste with a motor. I watched the whole thing until nothing remained of the dead man’s body. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. But I wondered, had they felt invaded by my voyeurism?  How would I feel, if these men had come to America, and stood on the sidelines while they watched a priest lower my brother’s coffin into the ground? Maybe they wouldn’t care.  According to the Buddhists, death isn’t the end, and we are all reborn. Maybe we are all just a part of the circle of things, and it’s true that a man’s flesh is no more valuable than a vulture’s. He goes to the sky through the belly of the bird until it then too dies, decays, and becomes a part of the endless circle of things once again.”

 

“Hmmm,” she whispered, “perhaps that’s how we go.”

 

He took another swig from the bottle.

 

“When I go, I want to have a party, go out with a bang! You know? Prop me up in bed, give my friends a round of champagne and let them drip morphine into my blood until I take my final breath.”

 

He pulled out a book of philosophy by Alan Watts from his pocket. She had no idea where the book came from, but she looked at it hungrily, wanting it to satisfy the thirst for knowledge three books she had already eaten could not give her.

 

“There is a beautiful quote in here that says: ‘I pray that death will not come and find me still unannihilated.’ In other words, man dies happy if there is no one to die, which means the ego has disappeared before death caught up with him. But you see, the knowledge of death helps the ego to disappear because it tells you that you can’t hang on. So what we need is to go out with a bang instead of a whimper.”

 

She let out a faint weep. The American leaned over on her shoulder, twisting a lock of her hair with his index finger. “Does your husband ever tell you how beautiful your eyes are?” he whispered.

 

She gently pulled herself away from his soft grasp and swiftly returned into the darkness of the cabin. She curled her knees into her chest under and dragged the thin layer of sheets up and over her ears. She knew in that instant that she did not want to see the American anymore

—–

 

The American returned to his home on the mountain the following day without a word. Nelson returned from his journey seven days after that. The two of them sat in their usual spot on the shoreline, and he habitually leaned in to kiss her forehead, but this time she could feel the quiver on his lips. Something was not quite right.

 

“We found a lot about the turtle’s mating habits and even more about their evolution,” he said. “The world needs to know this. It’s time I go back to publish our findings. Can you stay here? And maintain our cabin? As we promised, you know that.”

 

She nodded. “Of course my love.”

 

“I will be back in three months, once the committee has approved my second grant.”

 

She could feel the skin of her breastbone tighten, and she began to curl her knees into her chest. “Yes, of course, my love.” Looking up into his brown eyes, she twisted a lock of his wavy hair, hair that now nearly reached down to his shoulders.

 

“I may get a haircut while I’m back to,” he laughed, brushing her hand aside. “Will you be okay? Three months alone is a longtime alone for you. Perhaps the American and his wife can come down to keep company.”

 

“No, no, I don’t think he wants to see me anymore” she replied wanting desperately to tell her husband of their earlier encounter, but she held it in, wondering if such a wife even existed.

 

“I’ll continue my flute lessons, and I’ve found some new reading material,” she said, forcing a smile. “Just promise me to bring back some books?”

 

“Of course, my love. I’d bring back the entire bookstore for you.”

 

The next morning she stood at the shoreline, watching his boat sail away. On the ship, there was life and noise; she saw him searching for her; sorrowfully he gazed at the pearly foam as if he knew she had thrown herself into the waves.  She gracefully walked away, and her feet left fresh indentations in the sand, the only mark of life aside from a pack of vultures gnawing on a decaying fish by the jetty. She took a seat on the log by the anthill.

She closed her eyes and pulled out a pocket Bible and opened to a page at random “For when the ear heard, it called me blessed. And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me.”

 

She lifted her head to the sun, and felt the, for the first time, her eyes filling up with tears.

 

She was in his thoughts, and the knife trembled in her hands: then she flung it far away from her into the waves; the water turned red where it fell, and the drops that spurted up looked like blood.

 

Her legs gave way, her limp body becoming one with the sand. She allowed her flesh to be coated by the music of the waves, dissolving into the water from which she had come from and to where her immortal soul would one day return.

 

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Femme

I came over hungry even though I already ate
I watched TV alone
Learned something about
Those indigo children on Ancient Aliens
While knowing it felt good
To be fed by your hard work and provisions
And be given to keys to your empty house

As a child of addicted healers I want to know –
Are you an addict to your own abandonment?
Or is this how you treat everyone?
Running from one thing to the next and away from
The only woman who will accept your pain
As you accept mine? ~

Dance, life’s finite dance.
I spin my web, to whatever side lands up first.
This is how I don’t go crazy

And into the forest of which I get lost
There can never be too many days
To devour their art
That explains all that is within and without me
It becomes all of my dreams
A place where all the motions go crazy

And when I feel stuck
Can’t stay living on this planet
Longing to go home
It doesn’t scare me
I feel whole at once
And ready to eat
All other things that
Just fuel my fire
Ready to pounce
And pull a trigger
Of a tragic trajectory

So I suppose that in this lifetime
I can rest upon the laurels of
Feminist mothers
To then feel, at once,
That I am one of them 

#writersofinstagram #poetsofinstagram #poet #poetry #poems #poem #writing #writerlife #writersofinstagram
#indigo #indigochild #healers #healing #rekationshios #relationshit
#feminist #feminism #femme

In Your Eyes Now

I am in your eyes now
Fall out through some and valleys
Fall into that lost space
I am in your eyes now

Falling for formations
Motion set to pass
For I am in your eyes now

Rising sun and rising moon
Set apart and set too soon
I am in your eyes now

Too late to find a friend
One with motion, one with end
For I dream too much
And able to say as such
That I am in your eyes now

The Child

我要让孩子长成的样子

而不要我期待的样子

因为我知道孩子并不属于我

他只是经由我来到这个世界

去完成他自己的梦想和使命

I want the child to grow into the way he wants to grow into

Not what I expected

Because I know the child does not belong to me

He just came to this world through me

To complete his own dreams and missions

Four Cats

Four Cats

I. April  


The way he made her feel sober 

When she was drunk

The way he was too shy

To look into her eyes

They way they performed something 

Closer to making love than fucking

The way he’d sometimes tell her – 

“You’re incredible”

The way she’d always whisper back –

“No, we are incredible”

The way she sent shivers down his spine

Before he turned over modestly

To leave her alone on her side of the mattress 

A habit, he said, he’d learned from his fiancé 

Before she returned the ring

They way his cat would hide under the bed

Flinch at her touch when he left the room

Until she coaxed her to cuddle

Pull a moonbeam from sliced eyes

They way he said

“She’s quite found of you,”

From halfway across the room

Dressed in a robe

With one foot out he door 

II. November 

She had no idea

If he thought of her as much as

She thought of him 

After she’d forgotten what it felt like

To be revived 

So as you search for healing and completion

I wonder to myself –

Did you buy the car to drive to the mountains?

Or the plane ticket to fly to the sea?

You are a hungry bear hunting, searching, and seeking

Rather than taking the medicine that rests deep inside of me

After you drop me off at my front door

The landlord’s cat sneaks up into my room

“He wants up,” I’ll laugh. 

“No,” he’ll sigh. 

“He never knows what he wants

To go up or down

Or to even go at all.” 

III. December


Could it be possible?

Becoming awake together

Through the night 

To first be bound 

In order to know liberation 

To first be found

In order to be lost

When I remind you 

All shadows need light

When you ask me 

How it could be done

We hear suddenly 

Two cats screaming

Out the window we look

On a patch of grass

A black cat and a white cat

Staring at each other

Waiting to see who will back down

When you remind me

Animals never hold on to the fight

When you asked

If you could touch my arm

For your own pleasure 

I knew inside

It would not matter

Because I do not feel

That we are separate 

When I knew inside

It could mean that

People like us are destined to

Heal the immune system of the whole 

When the heavy sweetness

Whispered truth

From the sub-elements

Underneath your pillow

You sent me green

And I saw it in blue

Released from some

Taught string on my heart

Do you know?

My soul begs you to

Tell me to have

Some wonderful dreams