Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fragments from a Week

The Prosthetics Ward

Everyone missing something, no one fully intact. No one fully intact anymore. Oh how to speak of brokenness without feeling joy, without knowing its true purpose. We’ll think first of salmon and then of machines, parts lying sprung and rusted. I keep trying to get at something, about the breathless between, the lifting and handing over, what shimmers just beyond hearing even in the falseness of us. It is as hard to know love as to not know love, so where love is we create our fictions, a narrative of trade. We swap out our limbs, politely, allowing each other our dignity. 

Lords of Tight Pants (Las Vegas)

What doesn’t change is how enamored we are of the body, but I don’t believe that this is evolutionary. How many times can I talk about its fragility, the way a brain can go, or an eye, or the most important of your fingers--one flash and it’s over. Sometimes, I would like to pray for the young and supple among us, but I realize that the whole point of being young is to be lacking in protection. God, it is tiresome, the body, the body.  

 It is very warm here and the warm is hot only a kinder hot than I am used to. Everywhere inside is cold and slightly dirty-smelling. I am sitting here in something that is very clearly a Burger King, which they are going to great lengths to disguise as not a Burger King, and I am looking at a lit billboard of seven smiling men with individuated abs and bow ties around their necks and tight black pants. I can see the reflection of the TV from the not-Burger King across from me in the glass. On it, there are more men, with little quilted squares for abs. To me, a ridiculously handsome man seems innocuous--amusing, even slightly un-masculine But a truly beautiful woman seems dangerous and powerful and compelling. A blond man poses on the not-Burger King TV, smiling, the camera fixed on his abs. A woman and her young daughter watch raptly, while the woman’s husband snaps in mock exasperation, “You want I should just buy you the calendar?”

I am afraid that I going to be facing much about the death of the body in this is new job, and yet there is something about that that feels right, that feels real and to some to degree to peaceful to me about it. I need to be somewhere authentic, (Angel Card: I will communicate clearly and honestly), somewhere where messages are not “crafted”, but words are spoken from an impulse of compassion, where bodies are valued for the spirits they house, not for their use as aesthetic devices. 

Write A Poem About An Inanimate Object:

For once, I would like to write a poem about a rock, about a paperweight, a plastic shoe, about anything very surely dead, about anything that will not one day be dead, or that is capable of betraying us in even worse ways. You go, too. Post your inanimate object poem in the comments section. 

Pink (Las Vegas)

The Flamingo at the dead of noon, in the flat heat of Vegas and the dull air, looks like a sad old dump of a relic. But at night, it’s really beautiful. Pink! Brilliant, glowing pink. All of those flamingoes, those hot birds. I do love them. I keep thinking about Vegas: I hate this place,   then, I love this place, then: Well this is just us. This is America. This explains everything.

I find it is too hot to fret much; my long and insistent worry list has shrunk. Maybe Vegas has taken a toll on my ability to take anything seriously, including money, especially considering how much I have already put into slots. Someone, some ex-boyfriend, once told me that he had “a healthy disrespect” for money, and that is only thing he ever said to me that seemed truly wise, in spite of all of his hours of meditating. There is something about putting cash into a machine that you know full well will just eat it, that is a recipe for a healthy perspective on holding on. Maybe in some ways that is what this place really about; it’s about learning how to die. How to let go of everything you think is going to fill you up. There are so many things here to consume.

The Tale of the Seahorse and The Water Hag, Part One 

The seahorse lived a careful life among reeds and corals with his devoted mate. He made sure to avoid the tides and spent most of his days between mating times gathering food and keeping a close eye out for enemies. A cautious and scrupulous sort, he was quite startled when the Royal Page of the seahorse kingdom appeared before him with this proclamation. “You,” announced the Page importantly, “ have been summoned to the lair of the water hag and must journey there by dawn, for she has a task of utmost importance to which you must attend post-haste.” The Royal Page then spun off without another word of explanation, and the seahorse steeled himself for a frightening trek.

At sundown, he made the long and tiring journey to the cave of the water hag. She did not offer him drink or respite, but merely gazed at him with her glass-green eyes. After a time, she spoke:

“You will spin and you spin and you will go down with the tide. You will allow yourself to be   torn. Your babies will be flung from your pouch, breathless stars, and you will not know their fate. Your mate will grow restless and will not wait for your return. But you will continue to submit to the thundering tide, you will go deaf from it, you will not be returned intact. This is what must be done: Each torn piece of you will return to me one water lily petal, under a half-moon at the hour of nine, for there will be nine fragments and nine petals. You must return them by the ninth day of the ninth month. This will be done, and done unto you. Now, you will begin.”

--Kristen McHenry

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