Thursday, June 25, 2015

swandive



it couldn't have gone any differently.
i still believe that.
i was already taking off my shoes
when i reached the bank.

i had never seen anything like it, before.
that blue.
as if it had pulled in
pieces of the sun
and smothered them before they knew they had gone under,
still pouring a surprised light.

it's deep,
they told me.
it is so deep
that nobody knows where the bottom is.

people have gone in, of course,
because it's hard not to.
their bodies have never been found.

so i looked at it again.

it's just a river, i said.

i've been in so many rivers before.
i love rivers.
i love how they surge around you;
how they take you on their course;
how they curl around every part of you
and fill you so full
and you laugh and you sputter
and you bruise on a couple of boulders, maybe,
on your way out,
but in all fairness --
you dove in for the ride, and you like it rough.
and then there's the shore.
and you dry off,
because that's enough for now.
and soon you forget that river's flash and turn.

anyway --
if i really needed to, i said,
i could get out.
it's not so wide.

so i jumped in.

and now
i don't remember what it felt like
not to drown.
there must be others down here with me,
but they have not found me,
and it's so much darker than it looked from up there.

up there.

where i can see her face, now,
so lovely and so curious,
watching the way the water moves.

stand back, beautiful girl, stand back --
but i can't make sound.
my lungs are so full of this river.

and she smiles
because i am pouring a surprised light
as beguiling as wormwood and night breeze and fireflies.
and she's thinking, as she pulls off her shoes,

it's just a river.


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

If Losing You


If losing you were a falling tree
I'd write to you, "Wish you were here --
I've always loved the sound of leaves"
As you howl "timber" in my ear.

If losing you were a trolley car
I'd miss your metal-rubber roar
Laugh at the screaming lookers-on
And wonder what they're screaming for.

If losing you were a grizzly bear
I'd match his wide-armed bonhomie,
Smile as his bellow stirs my hair
And wait for him to snuggle me.

If losing you were a part of this,
My heart would drown your parting tears
In wedding bells at the final kiss
And wait for you a thousand years.


Friday, February 06, 2015

The Ballad of Angrboða

Your woods were quiet
when you saw him:

A fire god, slightly singed.

(Let's not put this out yet.
Let's nurse it a little longer.
Come here and help me.)

You could have bolted.
He would have let you.
But he stood smiling
and you came shyly to his
outstretched hand.

Loki knows something you don't know, Angrboða.

Look at those eyes.
Only ancient eyes can laugh like that.

He will laugh at you, Hag of the Iron Wood,
for the thousand ways you are laughable,
even as he fills you.

He will laugh with his bright wolf voice
He will laugh with his eyes like the sharp full moon through still water
that is not as shallow as you think it is
He will laugh with his hands on you,
so sweet you could cry
He will laugh like he sings
And you will stand among the redwood sounds
and feel the comfort of their bower.

He laughs because he sees you.

He's not as you expected him
But you were born Angrboða,
darling,
and the story was already written.

He will burn your body to ash,
then gather you back into his arms
and burn you again
and again
and again
and the oceans he melts from you
will carry you to new lands.

You will bear ideas together --
beautiful
terrible
powerful
ideas.
and you will raise them as your own.

And though he will find his Sigyn
(for that is written, too)
that day is many pages hence.

Now,
spread yourself beneath him
like a meadow of fragrant flowers
like a book waiting for a pen

like the goodbad witch he loves to love

and show him your softest places
and invite him to your deepest depths.

And when they say
"I don't know about that Loki --
I've heard he's a trickster
and so he must be wicked."

You will laugh

because you have seen him.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

saudade



i wonder, love, if you remember me
when you have washed me out of every sheet;
when there is empty space where I should be.

(your laughing face, suspended in the sky)
(your mouth's sharp corners slipping into sly)
i wonder, love, if you remember me

(the life restoked by every little death)
(floodwater in my lungs but, somehow, breath)
when there is empty space where I should be

(your way of catching words like falling eggs)
(the perfect knitwork of our tangled legs)
i wonder, love, if you remember me

(the way you stand invitingly alone)
(your fire, your air, your water and your stone)
when there is empty space where I should be

(your sudden laughter in another room)
our warps and wefts invent an absent loom.
i wonder, love, if you remember me
when there is empty space where I should be.


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Second Time Up


I wasn't even half an hour in before I was sure I couldn't do it.

It was the second time today I had tripped over that selfsame root; crossed creakingly over that same cable bridge; stepped the same pattern across the same rocks. The first time had taken me to the top wingsuit exit of the Jungfrau -- which I use as a speed launch. It's three hours up the face of the mountain at a brisk pace. The trail is a grassy, stony staircase from top to bottom, interrupted only by a single short traverse that leaves you clinging uneasily to the peeling rock at your right as you arrange the inside half of your feet to thin striations running along a knife-sheer slope.

It is not easy.

But here I am again.

The first time, I had arrived at launch shaking and sweat-drenched, as everyone does. I had taken a little extra time to sit before launching, pressing my palms into the Jungfrau's glacier-buffed shoulder and watching the far, far-below treeline comb the clouds. I was deliciously alone, and I had enjoyed the simple fact of being-done; of having-arrived. I had launched with the intention of heading straight to the sauna and ironing the wooden burls I felt forming in my thighs.

But then I was a little careless.

I launched beautifully; flew triumphantly. The flight was a delight, but when I landed I discovered that I must have tucked my brand-new phone too shallowly into its pocket. It was gone.

I arrived home somewhat deflated, launching into insurance claims, filling out the forms. Suddenly, it occurred to me that there's an app that geolocates lost and stolen devices. Hey, I thought. This'll be a funny screenshot: a little green dot that shows where in the impenetrable Swiss forest your phone has fallen. A little bitter, maybe, but funny. So I popped it open and prepared a wry laugh.

I never got the chance.

The green dot was not over impenetrable forest. It was perched right on the edge of the shaded grey that describes the edge of launch from the top view.

It was up there, probably.

And worth a thousand dollars to check.

And the rain is coming, so it has to be today.

So there I was, alone again, half an hour in and stumbling a little already, my speedwing bag digging deep into the groove it had already worn in my shoulders from this morning's adventure, wet and cold with sweat.

I can't do this, I thought. Way too much to ask of these legs.

But I have to get past the treeline. There's a launch at the hut there and flag to judge the wind by. A simple launch that even my tenderized body and brain can handle. Hey, I tried. It's not even a failure. Not really.

But when I got to that launch, I heard the thunder of the waterfall just over the ridge.

I'm out of water and I'm so thirsty and there's another launch just beyond the water, I'm pretty sure.

We'll just get there, huh? Just a little bit further.

And once at the water, I remembered that there's an even nicer launch just up this little steep bit. A little more work for lots more flight. No-brainer.

And then I was *so* close to the turnoff for the second trail. I could see it up there -- such a nice bookend for this adventure, with a nice place to sit and have a snack and drink from the spring and launch nice and high.

And then, sitting up there, it stopped being about the damn phone.

There, next to me, was the steep spill of the traverse, sitting silent under murky silver skies churning up rain. And at the end of the traverse, the almost-kinda-bouldering bit where you pull chunks of the mountain off in your hands until you find a rock that sticks and mince your way up to the next one. And then after that, the little chain section, which snakes up a chimney to the green hummocks that drip with snowmelt all the way to the top.

The top. Which is far over my head from where I sit, but where I know every step to reach. Because I've just done it alone once today, and I suddenly know that I can do it again.

Twenty feet further, my cooled-off muscles start to seize up.

I'm on the rope section when my thighs stop being able to contract without cramping into near-uselessness. I start to hear a rubber-on-rubber sound coming from my knees. I pick my legs up with my hands and place them on the next foothold, like I'm learning to walk on stilts.

Every step is a fight -- but the rain is coming in earnest, now, swirling petrichor in my nostrils.

I am almost out of time.

I place every step with religious intention. Every. Single. One. Hurts.

I'm staring so hard at my shrieking, howling, stubborn, refusing legs that it surprises me when the marker cairn suddenly appears at my left.

There it is. One more slope, shrugging a truckload of knife-sharp scree from its white shoulders, and I can get the fuck off this rock.

It takes me half an hour. I zigzag up the hill without pattern, suddenly aware that I'm suddenly in the possibly-maybe vicinity of that dropped phone, casting my eyes along the gloomy ground, suddenly realizing that finding one small, jet-black piece of plastic on a mountain of loose stone is a fool's errand entire. It might be here. However, if it is, it is certainly hiding, buried in the endless tumble of dark, phone-sized stone.

But this wasn't really about the phone, was it?

It's about the fact that my body; my brain; my focus did not crumple. I am here, sore and heaving but with -- miraculously -- a bit of energy to spare.

And then it's there.

Suddenly. Sitting alone on the slope's single bare rock, like an offering. It's whole, and even unscratched.

I'm still mystified as I pick it up, call down my flight, carefully restow it and unfurl my wing. I launch moments before the weather bursts. This is a running takeoff with the wind working against me, sprinting down the shifting pile of knife-thin shale...but I nail it.

I fly.

As I gather up my wing from the grass at the bottom of the mountain, I remember the words of my favorite yoga teacher. "Your body can do so much more," she'd say, patting a lazy leg into action, "Than your brain wants it to."

Couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

the widows in waiting



you will die.
you will die like the others.

maybe
you will push your
last breath
against our wailing chests.

if we are lucky.

maybe
they will find your husk
eaten, wasted, the bone
shoving through your meat
after they have already forgotten
you were lost
everyone but us.
everyone but those
who sleep by your pillow.

our faces
will curdle with tears
sharp ribcages
caving in
and everything will bleed
everything will bleed
everything will run red
and everyone
who walks with us
will track it through the world.

this love will knife us,
screaming,
as we try to crawl away.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

this is why


i
hold on.
i keep you
like muscle to bone;
like words in a language i knew
and spoke once, fluently, but now my sentences strain;
like an ache nursed in some deep bone,
twinged by bad weather;
the far-off
smell of
rain.

this
holding --
this keeping --
is unmuscular --
a branch that grows over a rope;
like the footprint of fortissimous sound on soft ears,
or a song that keeps repeating,
or a falling dream
as i drift
into
sleep.

so
neutral,
the press of
this accustomed weight
hanging in-between my breathbeats;
swelling and contracting like a tide that carves my shore
and somehow, the shore holds the sea
even when the sand
feels naked;
the moon,
far.