Thursday, May 09, 2013

spill


watch a child hooking fingers through the cracks in its egg
watch the wind take a dried husk


my heart's memory is strong.

i can still recall the first hand that touched my waist
five fingers
then five more
and suddenly my cheek is resting warm above a plaid pocket,
and four feet are squeaking on linoleum
under paper banners

the music lasted longer than I could
so I broke early,
sitting on the curb outside the school
trying to identify love and not-love by the shape it took against my crowded organs.

even now
ravaged by love
spilling love from so many seams sewn in haste
my edges made ragged and soft by love
my center scooped savagely empty and refilled to bubbling bursting by love
i do not quite recognize its face.

is it
the boat that floats shallowly over a teeming sea?
the juggernaut of bare-toothed determination that growls and thrashes through years of poverty; of isolation; of a death in your arms?
the breathless promise of forever between two children?

part of me is still sitting hunched on that curb,
fingers worrying the wilting flowers strapped to my wrist,
wondering what this is.

this delectable violence;
this mouth of a thousand tickling teeth.


a love letter to salty, written far far away


I. 

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” ― John Green


II.

the cerulean patchwork of salt pools stitched into the bone-white shoreline of the great salt lake, as seen from the open door of a King Air slipping up to altitude


the sweet hour of rocking, trainbound peace between my doorstep and the Ogden wind tunnel

tucking myself into a wood-paneled corner of the Brighton lodge to write after a long day on skis, snow-softened sunlight pouring across my hands on the keyboard as I wiggle my toes in the fireplace warmth


the moment when my motorbike curls around that uphill corner halfway into Little Cottonwood Canyon, where the stinging, slightly mineral smell of forest pours in to fill my helmet


standing on tiptoes at my window, fingers balanced against old brick, to watch the Wasatch blush with alpenglow

lying on the teddybear softness of the climbing-gym floor, the muscles of my forearms ratcheted tight to the bone, burning and smiling


the sussurus of a needle on my father's records


climbing up to bed on the hangboard, just because

the beautiful barista in my next-door living room, peeking her blue-eyed hellos through a thick fringe of bangs as she draws my third espresso of the day

the green canvas of a summertime Liberty Park, Pollocked with dogs and ducks and hulahoops and slacklines and tattooed flesh and dervish children and balloons and so much dancing

a city chosen mine, keeper of my only root.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

alone


I.

I should have known that, after the initial struggle with the biological imperative to stop at the edge, BASE jumping would be relatively easy.

After all, "risking it all for nothing" is all I've ever done.


II.

Doing one's first solo BASE jump is the conclusion of a long internal conversation. Mine started months ago, as I saw myself constantly wiggling out from big-group commitments in an orgiastic summer Valley. I knew this isn't why I'm here -- to joke and flirt and gossip and goad and sticker myself forcibly to the collective memory of the sport. I'm not here to geek the camera.

I've always chafed at the group dynamics of a busy exit; always disliked the banter of a group hiking out. I stopper up my ears with headphones. I hike far ahead or far behind, never in the cluttered middle. I hide.

I thought I'd need babysitting much longer than I did. As it turns out, I found my solitude quickly and easily.


III.

I ran the boys out late that afternoon, flashing just enough tooth to move them along without being concerned by my sharpness. I waited long after they left, dawdling, until the sun started visibly fading in the sky. I wanted to be sure I'd follow through; wanted to be sure the press of darkness would send me over even if I stood there whinging.

I started my hike in a spirit of collected certainty. The calm surprised me.

When I rounded the first forested corner, a little orange fox stopped in the path in front of me, white tailtip painting wide strokes across the green as he wagged it. He dashed away almost as soon as I registered his presence. It felt like there was luck in that, as in the bighorn bullgoat I caught grazing in a little meadow a few moments later, and in the family of deer I spooked from the trail farther along. I felt the Valley encouraging me, somehow; urging me along as night began to close in.

I stepped up my pace. I started singing to myself.


IV.

I thought it would be harder at the exit. The terror I had planned for doesn't live there anymore.

As I methodically applied my gear, I thought about how little I actually wanted to stop. I thought about how delicious this was: the simplicity of this solitude, the feeling of fabric and metal in my hands, the snap of the pilot chute in the undisturbed hush of forest twilight, the warmed-butter quality of the last sunlight, dropping through the fringe of trees. I let myself down the rope to the gravel at the exit and heard, for the first time, the sound of the nearby waterfall suspended in the air.

I heard the smile in my own voice as I counted down, then my outbreath replaced by building air as the evening Valley enfolded itself, it seemed, within the wrap of my solitary, hurtling embrace.

Clarity. Exactly.