Leaving Myself

Haven’t been in touch for a while.  On the run.  Avoiding you, maybe.  Avoiding words you might hurl against my head.  Trying not to hear you.  Because you  might tell me what I already know.  Who writes “dear John” letters to themselves?  Who makes excuses for avoiding themselves?  Who wishes to be lost in happy stories to avoid reality?  You want me to say “I do”.

I have the urge to hang blood red silk velvet curtains across the windows like a garish swath of insolence against the eventual sunrise.  I want to crown the draperies in funereal roses of pink.  I want them to crack exuberantly against the hours you clock.  I want them to be always almost open, with promises undelivered.

I know the fate of poets.  I know I walk the same tread, the same tortured thin steep path they have all walked before me.  I add only more footprints, I add only more wear to the establishment of dead dust and gentle deterioration on the weathered climb to the edge.  The same edge I’ve reached before and pulled myself back from with inches to spare.

I wish to smear my soul across the sky like northern lights.  I wish to stop being collections of words crowding a thin head and become ephemeral like gossamer dove-grey mist streaking across the world with liquid grace as though painted by a single genius brush-stroke.  I wish to be seen from the skies of Morocco to the wide expanse of the flat endless tundra of Mongolia.  I wish children will see dreams in my shape and make wishes in my margins.

But I’m not sure I want to talk to you.  I know what words hover close on your late night breath.  I know what plaque of thought is breaking free in your head that I haven’t got the magic to dispel.  Not today.  Not this week.  I promised I would check in more often.  I promised I would take your temperature every day and then I ran.  I hope you’ll understand why I’ve stayed away.

Got my rucksack over my shoulder and the slumber of self to see me go.  My path is free of emotional sediment when I don’t ask myself to weigh in.  I can fly, I can sprint, I can soar for miles across the desert plains, across the wet forests, across the sweeping golden prairie grains, through the sleep of the damned.  The answers flicker insistently in strobe lights beating behind cloudy unconscious eyes.  Fly on, sister, before you wake up, before you remember you don’t have arms.

I know it always comes down to you and me.  I know I’ll have to answer and I wonder if the pain will be less if it’s today.  I wonder if the pain will be muted in the present, under the quiet cushion of black ink on cotton stationary as I tell you how much I wished I hadn’t missed you.  A lie we’ll both accept because it’s easier this way.  I’ll apologize to you in the morning over coffee and toast.  We’ll avoid another omelet because we can’t afford such extravagance.  I’ll try not to remember the hats, the purses, and the liqueur glasses from the night before.  I’ll try not to hear the child crying inconsolably at my feet.  The party of people I don’t care about attached to me as though by blood.  The A-frame houses we photographed in amazement.  I’ll pretend I don’t remember your velvet indifference.

I was appalled by the fake snow – the white batting fluffs you suspended from string in front of the window where the dogs were playing, where the white water was rising.  I believed for two seconds it was real and felt naive and hated you for it.  I couldn’t fit down the basement escape to get out there in the weather either, a greater crime I drank over.  It was all one big trick of your mind.  Our mind.  I woke up angry.  I think you were angry too.

I still have blue silk purses with clasps of silver and red shoes you can’t find the ends of.  I raise my hundred year old etched glass to your dour face, your smaller hopes, and your disapproval and I hope you wake up to brand new skin.  I toast you, I salute you, I give you observance.  I say a tiny wish and a smaller prayer.  I bury words in the path for you to find later when you need them.  I write this letter so you’ll remember I didn’t forget.  So you’ll have something when I’m gone.  So you’ll see pictures in the mist.  So you’ll dream something new when I’ve embroidered the past in fiction.

I’m here now.  So listen.  Just listen.  This minute will pass faster than you imagine.  We’re nothing but shadows to each other, who used to be the same.  If I cut your string you must forgive me for wishing you might sail across the ocean without tether.  There is no prison you didn’t make yourself.  There is no prison I didn’t make with you with the same hands, the same imagination.  So let’s let go.

Let’s let go now.

At the same time.

Note: This was based mostly on the last couple of dreams I had.  I was trying to capture the feeling of them even though many of the details escaped me.


  1. jen says:

    what incredible sentences you craft – such gems of thought, you definitely captured (and released for us to read) such feeling.

  2. jen says:

    This might be odd, but would you possibly email me privately? I can’t find any separate contact info for you, but know I used to have an email for you – I bought an apron a few years back. There’s a festival here in Seattle I volunteer with and I keep thinking that you might enjoy it too – I could offer you a place to stay and help with a train ticket if you’d like to run away to the circus for a weekend this spring. I am not sure if you’d like it or not, but there’s a kindred spirit connection I feel with you and would love to host you for a weekend! I can send you more details privately if you are interested, if not that’s cool too… or if not a visit for the vaudevillians, you are welcome to crash here if you want to visit Seattle another time. Hope this doesn’t sound too strange, but I wanted to invite you last year and chickened out, so this year I just have to bite the bullet (ha!) and give it a try…

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