Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with the raw material that we create in workshops – and often, it’s not necessary to do anything; there’s powerful work done just in the act of writing, in the act of creation. Yet, there are times when I want to return to a piece, and I’m not sure how to pick up where I left off… the first thing I have to do, of course, is transcribe the work from my notebook into the computer. And one of the things I’ve decided I’d like to do is put more of this work up onto my blogs.
From a mid-July meeting of the Monday survivors writing workshop, one of my own exercise responses:
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 root 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, cause 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 hen you both nod and you’re sort of silent, not because now you’re trying to swallow, once again, a desire to tell, to have someone else understand, but because s/he meant it when s/he said Yeah. S/he 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/disconnection/dissociation during an experience means that some things are just not possible to anchor in time. So, of course, these rememberings just float around in my body, my brain, a whole smeared fabric of my adolescence, a thin, dense stain on what was otherwise apparently, to the rest of the world, a perfectly privilegedly normal and cohesing existence.
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 junior high or 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 peculiar answers. What I don’t know is why it matters if I figure out now, twenty years later, that Ok, yes, I must have been fifteen when that part happened, when the body of me came pressing tight to my lips, when I felt all the air escape from what I thought was the secure solidarity, 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 a work of art that even my ears could find beautiful – no, maybe not beautiful, maybe not honoring, but no more pedantic and not any more pity-worthy – I’d like for these images to begin finally doing service to some other kind of truth.
Really, 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 these 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 words of gum while the wind blew the hair all around our faces and we’d finally look at all we could not share or see before, in the vast, thick safety of that warm afternoon.