we’d finally look at what we know

black and white graffiti of eyes watching the viewerHello Tuesday!

These posts have gotten a bit more sporadic! I’m sorry for that — I’m making some changes in my morning schedule which affects blog-writing time.

I shared this yesterday in the Writing Ourselves Whole newsletter: “Now that the workshops are on break, I’m doing a lot of work on a handful of longer writing projects (not least of which is preparing for the Tomales Bay Workshops), because I’m ready to be a Published Author with a Book. Will you keep some good thoughts for me as I work to shift my own and the puppy’s schedules so that I can rise between 4 and 4:3oam to write for a couple hours before the official work-day begins?”

I managed it this morning — and, whew, am I sleepy already.

Anyway, as I get more comfortable with the schedule, I expect to begin find a consistent blog-posting routine again.

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This month’s Writing the Flood is this Saturday, 8/20! (How have we already reached the third Saturday of the month?) Remember: Writing the Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long. Grab your notebook and come join us for an afternoon of great writes and excellent writing community!

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I’m going back through old notebooks (from the last several years), pulling out and typing up work that fits with one project or another, or that might fit here. Today, I’m sharing with you a write and prompt from July 2007:

this was the prompt — create 2 lists: one titled “what I know” and one titled “what I don’t know.” Choose at least one item from each list, and use those as your starting place.

Here was my write:

It’s difficult, the things that are known and the things that are unknown and when I say difficult, I mean shitty and infuriating and when I say ‘ are known’ and ‘ are unknown’ in that most passive voice, what i mean is the things I can say for certain and the things that I could possibly have never said for certain because when they were occurring I was without a place in language, my mouth floated out into an obliterating twisting and carnivorous extermination whenever I tried to find the words, and now, I am without a root in time or place or truth.

And then, even here, I wonder if any of this makes sense.

Sometimes all I want is to speak to other survivors, because sometimes, all that needs to be said is, You know? and you make a face and your affect says everything and you don’t have to explain and they say Yeah, and then you both nod and you’re sort of silent      not because now you’re trying to swallow,k once again, a desire to tell, to have someone else understand, but because she meant it when she said Yeah. She gets it, whatever the shitty thing is, and there’s no need to wrangle up into the terror of words that can never really speak the truth anyway –

What I want to know is a matter of fact timeline, but what goes beyond the point of contamination to the honest-to-god wreckage that is my memory is the fact that isolation during an experience means that somethings are just not possible to anchor in time. So, of course, they just float around in my body, my brain,a whole smeared fabric of my adolescence, a thin, dense stain on what was otherwise apparently perfectly privileged-ly normal and cohesing. What I know is what happened — hands on the only-budding places of my body, the truth of years spent readying me for his ultimate goal — and what I don’t know, now (besides Why, because, who cares?) — is exactly when. Was I fourteen or sixteen? Still in jr high or already in high school? Was it winter outside? Summer? were the birds throbbing alive in all the trees or were the outsides silencing in solidarity with my own?

What I don’t know is how to make poetry of this. What I don’t know is how to stop wanting to know — wanting these particular answers. What I don’t know is why it matters if I figure out now, twenty years later, that, oh, yes, I must have been fifteen when that part happened, when the thin body of me got pressed tight to his lips, when I felt all the air escape from what I thought was the security, the impenetrable mask, of my thick skin. I put a period there but I think I was asking a question — wasn’t I?

What I’d really like to know is how to, just once, twist that image of his body and my body on that cheap, squeaky, brass-framed bed into something that even my ears could find to be beautiful — no, maybe not beautiful, maybe not honoring, but no more pedantic and not any more pity-worthy. Id’ like for these images to begin finally doing service to some other kind of truth. I’d like to elect them out of their only residence in my brain and push them hard onto the paper, tape them cheaply down with crappy tape that quickly pulls up and dirties at the corners, push those bilious, billowy pictures flat for once, let them be seen in two, shallow, sullen dimensions, show them — yes, sure, finally – to my mother and father, let them see what was happening, share pictures with my sister like trading cards. We would sit cross-legged in the clover park with the summer bees all around and chew our big wads of gum while the wind blew the hair all around our faces and we’d finally look at all we could not share with words in the vast, thick safety of a summer afternoon.

Thanks for all the things you know, for the things you don’t know (yet or never will), for the peace you are making in the space in-between. Thank you for your continued reach, for your words.