good morning good morning– it’s early, the tea is cooling, the sun is pearling the morning clouds, the candles flicker over everything.
How does your morning lift you so far?
I’m in the quiet writing room where I can’t see out any windows, where I don’t look out into the quiet uncommutered street, where I am only focused on the screen, on the notebook, on the words.
Above me, on the built in shelves, are the sticky notes I brought back with me from Hedgebrook (such as this one from Christian McEwen’s World Enough and Time: “Fall if you must fall / The one you will become will catch you”), a short string of Tibetan prayer flags (which can’t strictly pray, since there’s no breeze in this room — maybe sharp exhalations of frustration, though, would flutter them, would offer movement enough), the poems (Wild Geese, yes, of course, and Roberta Werdinger’s fabulous “Poem,” which opens Give me your blood your bone / your sockets your breath and closes with the lines Open my body leave in a mark / Open me river me do what you will.), and image of Artemis the moon dancer that I received from a friend many years ago back when I lived in Maine.
Good morning! It’s wet and chilly here — what about where you are? I’m learning about space heaters in houses with very little insulation, but more I’m learning about how grateful I am just for space heaters, and a house.
Yesterday was the last Write Whole workshop for 2010 — we had a gorgeous potluck (a plenitude of chocolate offerings!) and powerful writing. (Thank you!) This morning I was up at 5 without the alarm, and went ahead and let myself get up, out of bed, make tea and head out to the small space that I’m reallocating for creativity. I put my candle on and wrote my morning pages in dark and quiet and hope. A lot of my writing these days is about being in my body — what if I let myself be in my body? What if I got help as I re-find myself here? How do people do that? I have a project in mind — I want to tell you about it, but I think I better do it first, get it started, and show you along the way.
It’s important to me to have places in my home that are devoted to creative energy, to my own dreaming. Yes, I make altar space around my desk, which means i put up images and words that help me dream and remind me of what’s important to me (nature, healing, radical queer feminism, poetry, my sister, etc) and, too, there’s something to dedicating spaces to creative impulse, to creative engagement. Something about a corner or a room that begins to accrue creative energy and expectation — so that when I go to that corner or that room, over and over, in the early morning (which is my favorite creative time), I know & my creative self knows that this is a good and safe space for emergence and play. In the space that I’m settling into, I’ve covered the walls with images and phrases, color and faces and windows. I’ve put up the hangings that so often can’t find a place elsewhere in my home — suddenly, the space feels like a container.
(Once again the power goes out because we have on heaters in both the office & bedroom. and why not? why should two people be warm at once? So now I need to finish this quickly and get into the shower so I can get warm.)
So, a prompt for today, and a write.
Last night, for our second write, I offered the word ‘Thanks’ as the prompt. Just that.
(Of course, we are always welcome and invited to alter the prompts in any ways interesting to us, which sometimes includes adding a “no” or negating the prompt — so another option was to write to ‘No thanks.’)
Here’s my response to that prompt:
I want to find thanks for the ways that the workshops make it ok to hear, teach me not just to listen but to be witness, be solidarity, be not a fly on the wall but a body in the room with open eyes and breath, aching and accepting into horror and loss and also the strange glitter of celebration when a wrong thing has had words found for it.
Yesterday I did an exercise with some folks at a leadership retreat that I was only part of by marriage and in one of the exercises we were paired up and one of us was supposed to be in a strong visible emotion and the other was supposed to meet that emotion exactly and just walk with the first person in that emotion — so I paired with someone called Joe and he played the one with the strong emotion and scrunched up his face and squinted his eyes and balled his fists and he’s slender and scrub haired and goateed and muscly and he started rarr-ing and growling, so I fell into step with him and scrunched my forehead and growled and argh-ed and we paced shoulder to shoulder and then started laughing and he said, It gets so much lighter when you take half of it —
and isn’t that true even so much fucking later, when suddenly there’s someone else, there’s a roomful of grace-laden warrior artists, in the room with me and her or him just bearing witness to atrocity, who can see the shape of the couch under him, the one who’s over me, those artists who can hear the tv blaring, hear my mother’s key not unlocking the door — time is unlaced this way, the pages open up around us, I am each of those girls at every age and I am here now, too, and there with the circle of fierce writers who are watching and listening and taking notes and wheat-pasting those notes to the concrete sides of buildings, who are not alone, who were never alone, or were and are and still shimmer around the edges with lacing like light through the tellings that were never meant to escape our throats
I say thanks for this sacred thing, placing word upon word after word in your presence and reclaiming a home and a hand for that young woman that girl there on that couch way back then.
A short post today — I was reminded this morning that setting the alarm is all well and good, but you’re not likely to hear it if you don’t also turn it on. So I had just enough time to do my three morning pages before it was time to get ready for work.
I want to talk with you about creating play spaces (I’m in the middle of re-appropriating a part of my home as a place just for creativity and play), movies about following one’s creative instincts (we saw the visually-stunning Book of Kells this weekend, which I didn’t know was a real object d’art ’til I went looking for more information just now), and roadtrips as regenerative practice.
And maybe tomorrow morning I will be able to — for now I want to offer you a prompt for the day.
The prompt is this poem by Martin Jude Farawell; read through it and notices what comes up in response for you — begin with whatever voices or images arise as you’re reading, or begin with the phrase “If I…” (or “If he…,” “If she…,” “If you…”):
If I Sing
If I sing, I weep.
If I sing joy, even sing joy, I weep.
If I weep, if I weep, if cries splatter from me,
if I sputter snot and spit
down my chin, my shirt, your shirt,
if I shake and shake until you fear I’ll shake apart,
don’t be afraid for me, don’t be ashamed;
I will not break from this, will not die,
but from lack of it, from the closing,
and I will not close anymore, will not deny anymore
the child I was who could not
cry out has kept crying in
me. And now that I can cry I will sing,
even if my song comes shoved out
on the wave of snot and spit I swallowed not
to cry, I will sing.
(Thanks to John Fox who introduced me to this poem this summer at the Healing Art of Writing conference)
Here’s my response to this prompt:
If she’s been drinking, she cries. Jocelyn doesn’t drink much, but when she does it’s with a purpose. She heads to the one par in her area that could conceivably be called a women’s bar, the place where all the cowgirls pour in to for Budweisers and whatever game is on that night, for their drama and electricity, even though the owners will never hang a rainbow flag out front or send representatives to the gay pride march that happens every August about 50 miles away in Northampton, even still, the owner does keep a bat behind the bar for any local boys who get it into their heads to fool with his good clientele come closing time, and the women grumble about one more man who thinks he has to protect them, but they keep frequenting the little bar with the torn stools and bad ’80s disco on the jukebox.
And Joss goes there, too, ’cause she wants the company, ’cause it’s a place where most of the women she’s talked to or worked with at the shelter will not show up, and so it’s a place where she can slowly sip her way into a gentle disintegration.
The bartenders know Joss, keep her bottle of bad Canadian whiskey full so they can make her cheap whiskey-n-Cokes like she thinks maybe her folks back home would be drinking. She doesn’t know the folks back home, left before her stepfather was done with her and her sisters, which meant she left before she could find her own kind of connection with her kin, her cousins and uncles and aunts. That thought, just exactly that sort of thought, starts the tears pooling, pulling them up from the ache in her shoulders, up from that always-knot in her belly. She folds tired strong arms on the scratched and worn bar, she takes long gulps of her drink and she starts to fight back crying while she watches the women gather and fill up the bar with too much need and dust.
Someone puts “Gloria” on the jukebox and Joss thinks about how much she wants to be easy with people the way these women seem to be with each other. Some of them know Joss, just recognize her stony presence, how familiar she is there, her face wide and weary, crow’s feet just beginning to pull at the edges of her dusky hazel eyes, and always looking like she’s about to cry. Joss’ll smile, or try to smile, at one or two of the women, nod, then order another drink.
She doesn’t come out to this bar often, and she doesn’t come but for one purpose. After three or six of those whiskey-n-Cokes, Joss’ll be in her car, door slammed shut, head on her hands, sobbing — the kind of crying that sounds like someone’s trying to relinquish their guts through their throat, the dark night clutched tight to her shoulders, alone, hoping this time, finally, she will be able to get it all out.
Thanks for the ways you make room for your grief, and also make quiet sparkling room for your joy. Thanks for your words. Thanks always for your words.