Good morning good morning. Outside the day is thickening into itself. Outside there is something to make yes of, and maybe. Outside the hummingbirds match the hummingbirds in the living room. We make flowers out of a glory hole. Yesterday you said, what is that bird? and I said, that’s crows doing cartwheels in the fog, and you said, write that down.
This morning, while waiting for the tea to steep, I go to do my sun salutations, and for the first time since I started this morning routine, my fingers went all the way to the floor. The loosening does happen. The tight places can relax, can come to trust relax. The tight places can lengthen you, allow you to lengthen. I thought about how I have valued a flexible body, wanted to be limber and loose, where others have valued strength and endurance.
I stretch, feel what wants to loosen in these muscles, feel what wants to relax. For the first week my back hollered at me each time I folded myself over at the waist, reaching hands toward the floor. At first my hands didn’t go much past my knees without my back complaining into tomorrow, without my back yelling no. So I just let my arms hang there, swinging a bit, feeling the pull in the muscles around my spine, where I have gone tight, where I hold things in.
… well, not sick. Recovering. Mostly. Better, anyway, than I was last week. Still stuffed up, not breathing right, headachy and sore. The ick makes writing challenging — or, more accurately, makes writing wholly uninteresting. When the brain can’t get enough oxygen, I find it’s difficult to form coherent sentences while speaking, not to mention finding the right words when writing. So, yesterday I conserved my energy for November’s first Dive Deep meeting — the rest of the day I rested.
Just now, I’m listening to a sixth-grade boy talk with his tutor about subjects and predicates, adjectives and prepositions — discovering the parts of the sentences. Do you remember diagramming sentences? It was one of my favorite things. (As I’m writing this, there are different feeling-memories percolating up. I think that’s a lie — I think, actually, that I wasn’t a big fan of diagramming the parts of speech, because I was always so anxious about getting the answer wrong and having my teacher think less of me. Ah, revisionist history; it makes childhood look so rosy.) Still it’s fun to listen to this conversation about what words constitute which parts of speech — I find myself wanting to interject my thoughts about the joys of prepositional phrases, but no one asked for my input on this matter.
Today was a small day, a quiet day, a day with some anxiety and worry in it, a day with some help and new resources, and a day with some sun and some garden. I spent a bit of time moving around the new nasturtium plants that have erupted in the lucky garden out front and in the back yard; I planted some mint, salvia and aeonium from cuttings. Little by little, the garden grows, even in winter. When I was transplanting one of the nasturtium plants, I almost dug up a daffodil bulb, which is already putting out its winter green. California seasons are madness.
Consider the hands
that write this letter.
Left palm pressed flat against paper,
as we have done before, over my heart…
from “Consider the Hands that Write this Letter,” by Aracelis Girmay
I am outside on a back deck in Oakland, listening to the morning sounds: the suctiony bark of the crow, the meandering and variegated warble of the mockingbird, the the tidal rush of traffic from the highway a few blocks away, the barking dogs, the gas-powered lawn trimmers and leaf blowers — the kids are on spring break this week, so the schoolyard is quiet: no bells to announce when to pass to the next period, no shouts and screams, no corrugated rise and fall counting through sets of exercises. The sun is warm, the breeze cool, the construction finished on the road out front of the house, and I have a little green tea in a “women unlimited” mug, a slice of sourdough banana bread, and an hour before my first appointment. I stayed up late working on an editing project for WritersCorps, and so slept in, am only just getting to the writing now when the sun is more than a quarter of the way through her day’s arc — I dreamed through all the good fertile dark time.
The first thing I did this morning was to walk through my little garden in my pajamas and my bare feet. What a deep pleasure this is, to have dirt on the toes while still wiping the remnants of dreams from my eyes. I watered a little bit, checked in on all the flowers, patched up a watermelon mound that the puppy had clomped through, and ensured that none of the bush bean seeds were trying to escape from their little hillocks. The puppy fled to the porch so as to avoid getting sprayed by the hose, and from there surveyed her dew-damp kingdom, ensuring that all was well. As I watered, I was draped with the scents of alyssum, blowsy rose, and nasturtium — the jasmine was quiet this morning. I pulled some snails off my nasturtium and strawberries: the snails and I are going to be enemies. Sometimes it’s good to have an enemy you can see, and lift up in one hand, and toss into the compost bin.
What a gift, to have a quiet morning, to let the body rise when it’s ready, to let the words come as they rise, to sit in the middle of this thing that is life and understand that I am not outside of anything — I am welcome.
I’ve cosmically transmuted the atmospheric bone
the dementia enveloped by protest
by turquoise weight
& somnific solar inclusion
singing by eclipse torrent
by waves of flame erupting from mirrors & dreams of post-
– from “Song in Barbarous Fumarole of the Japanese Crested Ibis,” by Will Alexander
Then, there! We watched the thin edge disappear—
The obvious stole over us like awe,
That it was our own silhouette we saw,
Slow perhaps to us moon-gazing here
(Reaching for each other’s fingertips)
But sweeping like a wing across that stark
Alien surface at the speed of dark.
– from “Sublunary,” by A. E. Stallings
Last night my sweetheart woke up just long enough to see the earth’s shadow slip up onto the surface of the moon and take a bite, but we missed most of the libran lunar eclipse. This morning I sit in front of the low illumination of the computer screen, listening to the candleflame flickering in its glass containment, and imagine what magic was cast over our sleeping bodies when the whole of the earth passed between moon and sun. What new songs did the garden plants learn to sing from that shining halo of refracted light? What leftover glow will catch itself onto my fingers when I reach for those new leaves today?
the swallowed grain
takes you through the dreams
of another night,
the deer meat becomes hands
strong enough to work.
– from “Inside,” by Linda Hogan
Outside the birds are already waking up, even though the sun isn’t up yet. My body is sore from a weekend working in the garden — we got ourselves connected and grounded and rooted over these long, warm days.
Write in the notebook, take care of the dog, get the day’s bread ready, work in the garden, be with the child. How is this not the work we’re supposed to be doing? All the rest is about making money to pay rent. All the rest is about living under capitalism.
Yesterday, the poem asked: What do I do with my body if it’s not a secret? Today, the poem says:
This soup is alive as any animal,
Good morning, good morning. I’ve got the decaf with soymilk this morning and nothing can stop me — look out. The birds are making their insistent songs under and around the morning serenade of the garbage trucks. Thanks to the folks who collect the garbage, the folks who take away what we have decided can no longer be used. Thanks to those carry the scent of our waste on their clothes, on their skin. Thanks for doing that part of our dirty work.
…If I could not have made this garden beautiful
Good morning, you gorgeousness out there. It’s all sun and cool breeze and spring open outside the window, almost warm enough to take the notebook out write directly into morning. My mother writes a couple of days ago to tell me that it snowed back home in Nebraska — in May. It’s just not right. I look out at my garden while we’re texting back and forth, I think of the lettuces, the spinach and broccoli and herbs that we’re already harvesting; I think of the tiny green tomato taking shape on the vine. I remember how devastating it used to be, when I was living in Maine, when the crocus were well blooming and the redbuds had taken firm hold on the maples and I’d begun to trust that finally, finally, spring had arrived — my bones could relax. And then, boom, more snow.
I don’t tell my mom that I spent her snow day out in the sun. She has only just begun to set out her garden — has the potatoes in, is turning over the wintered soil to prepare the space for her many tomato plants, the okra and eggplant, all the annual flowers. Her garden is my best hope. It’s from my mother’s gardening that I learned about the longevity of faith, about persistence of effort, about doing it anyway. She kept a garden all the way through until the very end of the time with her abusive second partner; through all his control and rabid mania, through his sobbing manipulations, through the spending that forced her to work more and more hours trying to reconcile the books and accounts that he refused to be responsible for, through the hostility and hatefulness that he forced her to refer to as love, through all the behind-closed-doors horror that she has never described to me, she found time to hold on to her connection to the earth, to find solace in a thumb so green she could lift life from a toxic wasteland (which, it turned out, she would have to learn to do).
I don’t know how late into that marriage she kept her garden. I don’t know if her tomatoes were putting out fruit when he was arrested for incest and child sexual abuse, and she was arrested alongside him as an accessory after the fact. I don’t remember, just now, what time of year it was, and I’d been away from home for a few years: he may have driven her away from her garden, the way he’d driven her from cooking and baking and writing, the deep loam of her creative life.