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Archive for August, 2010

Wyoming Ave. park

I went to the park today with C and her son. He’s three and says the words he knows and then mumbles the ones he doesn’t and then continues with the words he knows like there was no break in communication. My mom made him a pillow case, too, with space ships on it and he said it was cute and how did she make it. He wonders about the origins of things, wonders how they are made and why they are made. Questions I still find myself asking.

He saved me from dinosaurs and we protected princesses from danger. I like that he thinks of me as an ally, someone to fight next to him and help his  cause. I don’t much care to be rescued anyway. Who wants to wait around for that?

We were pirates feeding sharks and tigers and elephants from the insides of a plastic jungle gym. Pirate Penguin, Pirate Big, Captain Galante. We were under attack and he fought them off. The city sloshing around us. Tin can trucks barreling down the main drag, ripped trash bags, KFC on the corner – I hear their chickens don’t have beaks. The dairy queen across the street was getting its nails painted red.

After dark the teenagers descend upon the playground. Write “I fucked a cop here.” “706-7658 for good bud” Penises with faces smiling, pubic hair, capes waving in false wind were inked all over the plastic canvas. At some point this little boy will know what this all means. His mom and I horrified at the state of things, the loss of decency.

Children play here.

We let the little boy save us as long as he can.

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My last memory of Missoula, Montana was driving away from her. East on highway 93 and ultimately east more still through strange highways taking me here.

I remember the feeling of urgency. grasping at something fleeting. hoping my eyes and memory would be enough to hold me through the next couple months of my tangled life.  I whistled for my heart to follow me, but I know part of her is still there.

And in a couple of days I’m coming back for her. To see what of me remains there. Old past parts I may or may not know anymore.

I fell in love there. I passed my heart from my hands and cast her out. I got fat and made friends and had sex and rode horses and stopped writing. So much fill from one place and I followed so many other voices, but my own. I still didn’t know what I was capable of, I still didn’t know how to make friends with it.

But I think now I do. I know now I do. I haven’t been back since graduation: May of 2006. And while I’m worlds away now from the me that I knew then I can’t wait to see the open mouth of  Hellgate, the Bitterroot mountains gold and blue, the M, the clarkfork river, the valley that held me and set me free at the same time. I hope so much has changed and I hope so much has stayed the same.

I’ve nestled myself into a lot of homes. But this one is dear to me. I haven’t let myself think of her too much in the past couple of years because I know I would miss her too much. I want to smell the air again, the paper mill. I forget what it smells like now or how the sun feels sleeping on the oval in the heart of campus. I forget how silent the snow is (it’s silent here, but here is not there). I’m going to see old friends who will recognize my face, but maybe not me.

It isn’t until we go back that we see how far we’ve come.

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I’m taking my friend’s daughter camping this weekend. She’s been afraid of the bears and the foxes. Asking us if they will eat her. I tell her no. I tell her they are more afraid of her. “Why?” she asks. “Because they think your mom smells bad.” And she smiles a little bit. I tell her we have flashlights. We have each other. We have tents and sleeping bags and protection from wild things, but we’re in the wild no matter. She’s 6 years old and has never been camping before. I can’t wait until she sees a bug’s home. The way they curl under leaves, in their beds, in their silk socks.

She is new to the world and so much to discover. And she always will.

My mom made her a pillowcase. white, pinks, greens. circles inside of circles. shapes bursting in bloom. I will tell her my mom sewed fairy Oklahoma dust in the cloth. All she has to do is dream into it. It will ward off all the harms and embrace the unknowns. But she must trust the wilds will come to her someday and she must trust as they look to her, eyes held out like hands and she must follow. She must trust the wilds will become a home.

She’s ready. Yesterday she said to me, “you know, I’m not so scared of the bears anymore.”

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you should have seen the moon last night. I hope you did. She was untouched. She was naked. The black felt night was cut. She a perfect circle behind it. What if there is more behind her? A woman robust in her hips, washing her body with bubbles, soap. The world full of peeping-toms. She doesn’t care. She likes showing skin. small slivers anyway.

I’m a student. curled into a wooden desk, blue plastic chair. I touch accidentally the gum before. The desks with empty bowl stomachs I like. Hiding silver swirl crayons and secrets. hunger keeps burping from its mouth. I don’t want someone to teach me how to write. teach me how not to write. only I can know how.

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“Once (Roethke) said to me, that nervous undergrad who wanted the love of the world to roar out every time he put a word down, ‘Don’t worry about publishing. That’s not important.’ He might have added, only the act of writing is. It’s flattering to be told you are better than someone else, but victories like that do not endure. What endures are your feelings about your work. You wouldn’t trade your poems from anybody’s. To do that you would also have to trade your life for his, which means living a whole new complex of pain and joy. One of those per lifetime is enough.”

-Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town (quickly becoming my favorite paperback professor)

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I was accused of wearing too many colors yesterday.

“How many colors can you wear?” She said chuckling as I walked in the lunchroom to warm up leftover chili.

I peered down the length of me confused. Blue dress, green and cream and black stripped cardigan, black leggings, purple sandals. I knew that morning I wanted to be a bit strange. pretend I was in a circus or a Tim Burton movie, but I told her that I didn’t really consider black to be a color so 4 at the most and she said some cover-up remark that only I could pull something off like that. No one else, but me. Maybe it wasn’t a cover-up remark, who knows, but she’d already put it in my head: you look weird.

Maybe Friday I’ll wrap my whole body in every color I can find. I can think of worse things to be associated with.

Rainbow Bright is my homegirl.

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the bone

I feel like running

into a tree

slap the bark with a pat on the ass

go get ’em

in a pink icing petticoat swallowing my legs

feet, skin

skin I keep peeling off my fingers

my edges fraying

I keep getting cold, my eye only stopped pulsing today

I’m trying to whittle down my use of I

to sit under something

the pot lid of tree branches

stew with pine needles falling down

stew until there’s bone

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