We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes,
tastes we have swallowed,
bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom,
characters we have climbed into as if trees,
fears we have hidden in as if caves.
I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead.
I believe in such cartography--to be marked by nature,
not just to label ourselves on a map like the
names of rich men and women on buildings.
We are communal histories, communal books.
We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.
-Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
my first love was a boy in grade school who could grow a forest of a beard at only 13. i barely spoke to him. there were so many words i practiced in my mind but could never say, like sheet music scattered on a hardwood floor——the way fingernails can’t quite grasp them. i blushed every time he called my name. no one could quite say my name like him. he had the most gentle eyes. the kind you could hide away all your fears and skeletons in——and he’d keep them safely. i still remember the way he smelled. like i was breathing in for the first time. the way home might feel after being away for too long. his hand didn’t fit mine well, but i loved how that was the way the universe knew we’d never know the ending to our story. time never found a moment for us.
i was painfully shy as child. i’m sure he doesn’t remember it the same way. but i’ll still think of him fondly. as the kindest boy i ever wanted to love but never found the courage to.
I found him gently whispering his favorite passages to the gardenias while lying his head against a prideful tower of novels stacked in the dewy morning grass. I wandered the pebbled walkway with my grandmother’s pale quilt draped across bare shoulders. “Some words are too fragile to be read loudly,” he said as he smelled the pages like a man would his lover’s perfume, “some deserve to travel into the shifting sands of the desert or disappear among the faceless seascapes of still waters.”
It wasn’t his courage i loved, but all the words he could never afford to say. the unspoken moments left between blank spaces of poetry. the silence between every page turn of a book. the shapes letters were never meant to form.
a man once afraid to touch me. the way museums force you to gaze at treasured paintings behind velvet ropes and guardians. thoughts lingering between breaths swearing you knew the chiseled sculptures when they were once the mourned bodies of men and women. the way Lazarus’ wife must’ve watched for her husband to stir after his second death. the way Samson’s heart broke as he laid still when Delilah sheered his hair with a betraying dull pocket knife.
he was kind. he knew me the way the dawning Sun sets Everest’s snow on fire in the morning light. he whispered poems along my collar bone, he breathed air into my marbled lungs.
he lived his childhood by east coast beaches and felt the sorrows of young werther during his winter walks along the Atlantic. he watched the sand and snow’s infatuations like insecure misguided lovers unsure of how to touch. he adored the sea. and in a matter of years—i watched him become a part of her; her who drowned Edna Pontellier, her who overcame Virginia Woolf, the river who baptized a messiah, the sand storm’s unattainable love.
he became my rip tide, and i watched as he faded into the Black Sea; returning to a glass menagerie of immortally preserved faces—denied a death, unable to decay.
and so, i whisper his words to our gardenias. i whisper his words to the red clay of Africa stained in my hair. to the sky at Arthur’s Seat on the hills of Edinburgh. to the seashells I found at low tide in the Thames River passing through London. his words silently etched alongside the street art of Rue Saint-Laurent in Montreal.
it was the chandelier in her bathroom. a relic of past lovers who found her in the clawfoot tub of the chelsea hotel. the succulents in handmade clay pots and bee’s wax candles cluttering the window sill. she used a nebula print silk scarf to wrap her hair tied in a bun. her lips red with chanel rouge no. 104 lipstick.
wine crates repurposed into bookshelves hoarding her beloved le patient anglais and madame bovary she discovered during midnight strolls along the rues of montreal lined her bathroom walls.
i saw her dripping in gold. the way david found his queen, when he chose to love a woman more than a god. a delilah who longed to love the man more than his strength and the magic it brought the world. the flames within lot’s wife when she turned to watch her people burn.
my ecrit de compilation of 2012 was a self reliant journey of actualizing the stars that died and mended these bones are the reason for my inescapable need to take words and mold them into all the hell they bring.
“when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.”
i long for all this to be the reason i wander onto abandoned airport runways and why i stood silently as i watched my house burn into the ground rode the tallest escalator in london at angel station.
she is my venus in furs. she’s tattooed an ampersand on her wrist to remind herself she is plural in her creation; she within the oversoul—-the way dark matter branches galaxies together, like trees hanging soft leaves on strings tied to their fingertips.
she ate cereal out of polish teacups and drank honeyed green tea in our unmade bed. she was the first person to ever hear a whale sing while trapped in a zissou submarine during the cold war.
true beauty decays the flesh—-the ballet dancer’s feet, the pianist’s hands, a poet’s mind. she felt like the forgotten limbs who clean up murder scenes after the swarm of forensic photographs and familial tears leave the place where blood is no longer filled with memories of a human being, but stains on walls and carpets.
others love the dance, the music, and the words. i long to love the decay. to stain my skin with “&,” and know that i am an endling.
compilation test (08)
can’t seem to let go of the dead flowers in my empty francis coppola wine bottle.
the distance between where i am right now, and where i long to be. at the consequence of marrying young and reckless, we haven’t taken the “escape from life” journey yet. however next year, the husband and i are going to drive across the states from baltimore, maryland to indio, california. i want my skin to recognize the sun and sand differences between east coast beaches and west coast deserts.
afterwards i’m going to etch “2,601” into the soft nook where my arm meets my wrist, so years from now i can tell my children the number of miles it took for the words i’ve been waiting for, to finally find me. like how our night sky is filled with stars from the past, i pray every journey i take is followed by words that have traveled through the universe to reach me.
i’m peeling off the skin i once stained with watercolored paints mixed with mescaline and bitter tea. i am awakening. i’m burning in water, drowning in flames. i am the whore who stole bukowski’s poems off his night stand. i am the egyptian princess who fell in love with the baby in the river. i am the odor of dead flowers in the wine bottle. i am Emerson’s Oversoul. I am Ondaatje’s charred english patient.
the moment my words seep through the corners of my mouth and spill ink onto the paper i am no longer human. i am the fear everyone carries beneath their fingernails. i am the shame of a junkie refusing salvation. i am the skin of pleasure of the unrepentant rapist.
my words are born in amidst the breath of others. the way dying stars give birth to light. the same lens flares on a soft rainy Sunday afternoon where the sun still peers through the clouds and writes haikus on my shoulder blades. the vertical gardens climbing the walls of my living room. the fingerprints left on doorknobs.
most of the works lining my bookcase have been banned at one point or the author has endured an obscenity trial. I have the habit of falling in love with creatures others are most repulsed by. i would have kissed every leper begging outside of temple walls, and called them beautiful. the slight hunch of my back from the way my camera demands me to peer into it, not through it, shapes the way i know how to love. the same love that saved jean valjean with silver candlesticks.
i am born from the iridescent fires of books tortured and burned because they had a voice. when my children read the vanilla scented literature on my bookcase wondering why i underlined this sentence or dog eared that passage, i long for my bones to rest between their pages, like the forgotten treasures of four-leaf clovers and two dollar bills.
compilation test (06)
the other day, I wore a floral romper with my brown oxfords and stockings w the seam down the back of my legs, and this lady who was about sixty came up to me smiling saying she hasn’t seen nylons with the seam down the back since she was young. Her and her girlfriends used to check for one another to make sure the lines were straight. Haha she was a sweet lady and I could see in her eyes remembering when she was young and free, and it brought me to happy tears