Posts Tagged 'storms'

Ritual

In a normal circumcision, there is a little bit of drama, of course. The significance is there, hanging heavy in the air like incense. Like incense, this is a sin or a virtue unspoken. A little drama in a piece of skin, establishing forever, viscerally, the concept of guilt, resentment, forgiveness, redemption.  The connection of regions and religions speak a shared vocabulary of hierarchy, a shaking of walls. All of life is suffering. Suffering, then death.  Then feast days, the feast days of corn and mutton and fry bread and birds flying high overhead, looking down on the land of the people, fields ripe and heavy, the heavy hanging bells of Castilian guilt, the wine, the blood, the suffering of our lady, the suffering of our lord, the dragging of the cross, the piercing of the breast, the blood, the snake, the butterfly, the dragon, the quickness of water, air, light, and wind all blowing together and apart. Dust devil is a saint in some religions, you know, delivering change, confusion, delight. If someone says church to you, what do you say back? Rebirth, renewal? Rejection, redemption?  Confession, repression? The four directions, the trinity, the one-ness, the nothingness, the void? The gods reaching out are feeling us, lost little shapes in a black velvet bag – they cannot see us, just feel, the feeling of each of us is unique as every marble, every stone, every leaf, every feather.  What can be seen without looking? What can be felt, heard, smelled, known with fingertips, with breath, with thirst, with longing? Knees are for kneeling, for praying, for seducing, for begging, for holding arms up, reaching toward an offered embrace.

Concatenation

I come from the island country of Concatenation. The commonwealth of Concatenation was named by the state poets and accountants who were held responsible for balancing the books, booking the best artists, poets and musicians; and the doctors, who raised the technology of health care to a single point of light. Every citizen of Concatenation was entitled to unlimited hair removal, dermabrasion and cold laser therapy. They were uniformly smooth, soft and silky to the touch, but unfortunately utterly unable to tolerate touch of any kind, and so the pedestal was actually invented in the commonwealth of Concatenation, a little known fact that has nonetheless shaped the past and future of the Catenates who first migrated to the island in 1846 from a small atoll on a deep current that passes Concatenation during times of climate change.

There was a heavy wind that day, I remember distinctly, with a sunset that was mango colored and shot with clouds. There was a ringing in my head, and a sense of warning, as of shipwreck, the shipwreck that is in the bones of all natives of Concatenation, the one that brought us here, and threw us away, stranded, on foreign soil.

Standing on the prow of a sailing ship is a young boy, or a young girl, no one ever knows in these stories, but whoever or whatever he is, he stands tall and looks far as the ship tosses. Only the very young can be tossed like this without severing an artery or rupturing a disc, and so we know that the young boy or girl is rubbery and ripe for the hard action of adventure. The slim bare feet are dirty, the kerchief ties the tangled brown hair back and away from the face, which is both brown and mischievous. This child, regardless of age, stature or gender, has been traveling like Pan on the seven seas, and here has come to the island of Concatenation, where the adventure changes suddenly from swashbuckling and overt to spicy, mysterious, and internal. I saw the child there, hanging onto the ropes, nearly falling into the wash, and I saw my future. Pulling against my mother’s skirts, I tugged away, away from her brush and her braiding, away from the skin, hair and nail care that made up my predicted path, and ran into the foaming waters at the edge of the sea on the island of concatenation, where I heard the sea birds ringing in the changing of the season, tintinabulating, sang the birds. And so what, you may ask? That was the first day of my life as a pirate, is what I say back to you, the me who is little and wild and still hairy as might be. Saved.

Bottom feeder

another giant squid

This is what it’s like to be a bottom feeder. First of all, we love ink. Ink is invisibility. Ink is darkness. Ink is what we write our history with. Look out there, out there into the vast whiteness. It has nothing to say until the ink drops into its wide open. No turning back once the ink has been spilled.

You want to tell your history, that’s fine, nobody’s stopping you. You want to tell someone else’s history, that’s different. There’s danger there, smells like sulfur, smells like burning cactus, smells like the brushfire or the war that can rush in and wipe out an entire clan.

Once I was playing cards in the back room of a little trailer house in Four Corners and I heard the wind pick up suddenly, and it was like I could see them even from inside, tumbleweeds rushing across the black night and suddenly igniting, igniting like monks in red robes, self immolating and taking down the fragile open country and everything that lives there with it.

I understand the meditative life of the tumbleweed, I understand the need to move, to feel the wind catch and carry us somewhere new. I knew about that even before I left Navajo country after the fire. I found my home on water, water green and blue and dark, almost black, where I fell in and never went back to dry land again, not for more than two, three days at a time. Long enough to find myself lurching when I came back to dry land, feeling the hitch and pull of gravity and rotation more strongly than I felt them on the water.

My family’s been landlocked for hundreds of years, most of them. My sea ways made me foreign, weird and unrecognizable as a giant squid, coming up from the deep only rarely, with gifts for my sister’s children, and then her grandchildren, until I am the only old salt on the Navajo nation, bringing seaweed ristras and monkey balls and painted tentacles. I stay a couple days, give them the salty sweet taste of my bottom feeder’s life, and then I leave again, leaving behind nothing but a trail of ink, and a history they can fabricate from the secrets hidden in the bright open sky and the black mesa reaching in the four directions around them.

For me, I add two more directions: straight up into the heavens, and straight down, into the cold, dark waters, where the wild shy ones live, where I feel most at home.

Storm

Then all hell breaks loose. My front tooth is chipped as I am thrown forward and against the ceiling. The windows break. Something is wrong with gravity, and with the street itself, buckling and kicking, a wild horse, an avalanche, a flood, an earthquake.

Every disaster movie ever made is dancing like sugar plums in my head. I’m waiting for ancient indian burial grounds to vomit their dead, I’m waiting for giant dancing spiders to descend, grinning, to snap me in half with monstrous jaws. I’m waiting for tsunamis, one after the other, to smack against this inland city like concrete, a wall of water harder than diamonds. This is about the right time to reconsider religion, or whiskey, or all the incredible sex I might have missed, or the books I might have written. Instead, I had been sitting up in my bed in my flannel nightgown, with a cup of chamomile tea and a Lilian Braun mystery. The disappointment I feel in myself at this apocalyptic moment is hard to describe. I wish I’d been doing something else. Something mysterious, deep, sensual, creative. I’m tossing around like a rag doll still, looking out the window as the city collapses and debris begins to fly. I am waiting for a white rabbit, waiting for a waistcoat, waiting for the fall to come to an end. When it does, I am returned to gravity with a thud and there is, suddenly, an absolute silence.

Sky caves

Clouds, Albuquerque

Clouds, Albuquerque - from Albuquerque Daily Photo

Sky caves collect where ice and air interact with heat and wind. I collect sky caves. I collect sky caves and gather them high where the clouds are piled. The clouds are piled and at the top the ice crystals form. I wait.

The winds blow, the grasses lay flat, storm crashes against the sky bottom all at once, and then there is fire. I gather the fire and pour it into the river and it boils up again into the sky, where it hits the sky caves with a great crash and then there is rain.

There is rain, sent down by the air gods, not me; they gather the ice and shake it hard with fire. When it comes down to earth the trees hold their hands up and shake their wild heads and laugh and cry all at once. The tree people cry for water, joy and sex soaking into the roots, and for pain as their arms are broken and thrown down in the wind, and the branches lay on the ground, which is clay mud and runs red like blood to the river. The ground is a river running red with mud, my collection has shattered, glass in shards have scattered and broken against the bosque floor. The sun warms, the water runs fast, the morning birds wake. They sing the air gods to sleep, high in the sky caves that rest, now, silent and still in the thin air.

 

20 minutes, writing group. Topic: Ice. Thank you, Mike!

To see a storm in central New Mexico, see the link below from You Tube. My neighborhood has more cottonwoods, wild giant trees, being in the bosque itself, but this is beautiful viewing also.

** The embedding feature for this video is disabled, but you can still watch it by clicking on the You Tube logo. My understanding of protocol in You Tube is limited, for now.

Billy’s funerals

I am so shocked and celebrated, celibate and debauched. I knew there was a typhoon, I knew there was a storm that would make my mother’s hair curl. My mother, who goes to Larry’s to have her hair washed and set every week. Please understand.

No, don’t, I don’t know about begging. My mother went to Larry’s every week to have her hair washed and set. Before the storm that drug everything out of Mayhem, everything. The pet store, the garden and farm supply store, the pharmacy, the liquor store, the churches, the churches, the churches, the banks, the banks, the banks that rose with the water and washed away our sin.

I remember it, I was planting bulbs and thinking about the wisteria and the wind was rising. Mayor de Troi was holding a press conference to say we are all prepared, we are all prepared, we are all prepared to meet our makers, and she said this with a salt shaker in one hand and a lime in the other.

I’ve been writing for this little weekly newspaper for 12 years now, since I came home to take care of mom, who’s been washed away, washed by the blood of the lamb, only truthfully it appears that it was high tides and bad management that washed away everything in Mayhem, Texas, other than Helen’s big mouth and that parrot. I suppose if I’m a journalist, I’ve got a responsibility to write what I see. And so I did.

 

Billy Gumball became a man the day his mother was washed away by Hurricane Margarita. Zola always thought so, and when she came home to attend the funerals and wear the hair shirt that the prodigal children all wear, she saw him and he was not the same. They embraced, cotton meeting cotton with the familiarity of cousins, and she smiled at him.

That first funeral was numb like novacaine, like stroking out, and half of your body is missing. Half of your body is missing, and my body is my home, my neighbors, my mother, our candy shop and my celibacy. It rained and the wind blew and on my knees I met my maker and I was good and made. Then mother was dead, the parrot was sitting in the window of the candy store where the glass used to be and he was singing yo ho yo ho far away on the Santa Fe Trail.

That was when I knew I would be leaving, and when Zola showed up with her little girl and that coat with the fringes hanging down like she’s Custer only tougher, I knew we’d be going together.

Have you ever been to a funeral for an entire city? Have you ever carried your pen, your laptop, your tiny voice recorder with you to death after death to record in the mud and the stench that all is lost and somehow that is not a dramatic overstatement, but an actual statement that is more literal than anything you’ve ever said before in your life?

I had insurance. Not being dead, I was actually able to collect on it, unlike most of my neighbors, my mother, and Zola’s entire clan. We shook hands at the funeral, I gave her some lemon drops, some ginger chews, some extra hot peppermint, and some rye. In the evening, as the waters receded and the bones of my life were exposed, we drank the rye, and we planned out first steps out, away from Mayhem.

Predictors

flower arrangement
When my mother-in-law came from Manila, she brought flowers. A week later, the boxes came. I was wrong about everything.

The mother-in-law gives birth to a pollywog who eventually becomes a banker, an addict, a husband, a brother. She will tell the story of her birth, the belly, the bursting, the blood of the ancient warriors in that walled city, coating the streets like monsoon rains. The mother-in-law will prove to you the absolute power of matriarchy.

And if you are thinking that is such a bad thing, the evil mother-in-law who picks and deflates all the happiness out of her child’s lover’s life, think again.

The mother-in-law makes predictions – the sex of your child, the time of the first snow, the reliability of friends. The mother-in-law does not bring flowers every time she comes. Only in times of change.

By the time the baby arrives, she is not the mother-in-law anymore. She is Gin, mother of my husband, a lion, a priestess of the fine art of preparedness. She has painted the baby’s room, dug up the weeds and planted the cosmos and poppies. She has ordered the stars in the sky and the bones in my feet, and pushed them all into perfect readiness for the son of a son of a son of a son.

By the time the baby is walking, he is not the baby anymore. He is David, grandson of Gin, predictor of miracles, just like her.

He starts with the prediction of floods. He has a globe; he is so little, but he spins the globe and puts his tiny finger lightly on its surface. When it stops, he says “Rain. Here. Look.”

The first time, we laugh and squeeze him and give him a sippy cup. We don’t think much about floods in the far away island, where we don’t even know exactly what language they speak.

Grandma Gin sits in front of the Weather Channel for two days, and we worry that she is aging, that she is slowing down. But she is not.

 


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